As a nursing mom, I am given access to a small locked room in the office for pumping purposes. Since I’m currently the only mom using the room, I have the freedom to use it as I please. The only other personnel who have keys are the office manager and cleaning staff. The office manager has no use for the room, so she and her staff only have the key for emergency purposes. I was told that the cleaning staff vacuums the room once a week, on a specific day/time. Other than that, I can use the room whenever I want, without having to consult with anyone.
The room has become my safe haven. I enjoy that “break” that it gives me from the office. I still work while I pump, but it’s just me in there. If people have questions during that time, I can answer via email. It’s my way to feel both productive and to get my mom duties in order. At lunch, I would pump and then use the room afterwards to write my blog entries in peace and quiet. I turned a stressful “chore” at work to something more positive. The days went by faster because I would go to the room every few hours. I loved that room. I felt less stressed because of it, and slowly, work was getting better. That room helped me get back into the groove of things. If I felt stressed, I’d retreat to the room for a few minutes to help calm myself.
Today, that feeling of comfort was stolen from my hands. Since it was Monday, I made sure to wait 30 minutes after the scheduled clean up time. I set up my things, and did my work. Nearly 20 minutes in, when I was about done with pumping, the door unlocks and I see it opening. I panicked immediately, because I was in a vulnerable situation. I urgently cried, “I’m in here!” and the door quickly shut. I heard the cleaning lady startled and apologize. During that moment, my reaction was to stand and try to cover myself, which caused the bottles to come loose – the precious contents spilling everywhere. I stood there in disbelief, with liquid gold all over myself, the floor and my laptop. I felt violated. I felt scared. I was visibly upset.
I tried to compose myself, and attempted to clean up the mess. All that hard work was gone. My hands just wouldn’t cooperate, and I kept missing spots. To top it all off, I was late meeting a friend for lunch, who wanted to talk about new parenthood (they are expecting in the next couple of months). I went to the restroom to clean up, and became weepy and overwhelmed. I went to lunch anyway, hoping a change of scenery and topic would uplift my mood and help me get over things.
When I came back to the office, the feelings came back. I needed to pump again in the next hour or two, but the thoughts of what happened persisted. The culprit was obviously the cleaning lady. Why didn’t she knock before coming in? It’s her fault that she’s late in cleaning. I wasn’t interrupting her time. Why am I still upset about an accident? This is so small and insignificant? Why can’t I get over this? What is wrong with me??
In a matter of minutes, the tears returned and I could not keep my composure. I felt like my safe haven was stolen from me. The room no longer felt mine. It wasn’t safe, because at any time, someone else could just walk in. I didn’t want to go back in there. I knew it wasn’t going to happen again, but yet, I couldn’t stop replaying how I felt. Violated. Unsafe. Loss. Hard work gone to waste. I ended up having to go home because I couldn’t stop crying and was unable to focus on work.
I cried the entire way home. I couldn’t get over the fact that this accident had affected me so much. I was so strong. I was better. It had been more than two weeks since the breakdown. Why now?
Eventually, I took a nap and feel somewhat better. I will have to really get over things, but for now, talking with my friends and the support group has helped. I will have to learn that these things happen, and it’s ok to feel this way. I just need to know that it’s not permanent, and after I deal and recognize the root cause of the feelings, move on in a positive way. Easier said and done, but definitely a work in progress.