Before I had my daughter, I worked a job that either had avalanches of work or incredible dry spells. Each day began at four thirty in the morning, with ten plus hour workdays, and a two-hour commute. I didn’t think twice about putting in overtime either. When I got pregnant, I just kept that pace up. It should have come as no surprise to me that the company didn’t prepare for my maternity leave. The avalanche of work continued to flow until one day my feet swelled beneath my desk and I could barely walk. I developed a suspicious pain in my side like pre-eclampsyia. Just like that, I was on bed rest until I delivered. I felt guilty too, as if I was betraying my co-workers. It took the doctor saying some pretty harsh words to me about the possible fate of my baby to take bed rest seriously. I figured I would be back to work in a few months and this rest would do me good.
Then maternity leave happened. Despite sleep deprivation, my typically cantankerous self showed signs of solace. I started writing again. I created a blog about this new life. I realized I now viewed returning to work as a countdown to lockdown. Time with my daughter would shorten from 12 hours a day to barely two. My writing, well there would be no more time for that.
My return to work was less than stellar. I was a wreck. I cried upon entering my office building. I felt sad, overwhelmed, and alone. As the weeks wore on, I realized I was always tired, irritated, and nasty. I hated our life. I found myself alternately crying or screaming in traffic as my daughter cried in the backseat. Images of Joan Crawford would flash into my head and felt a little too close to home. My husband, a terrific father, was launching a new business and career. Rock bottom was fast approaching our family.
Then, the spider bite happened. It was just a small bite on our daughter’s arm. We weren’t overly concerned. I worked long hours that week and wasn’t home to see her. My husband arrived home one night and inquired about the bite. I had forgotten about it. I looked at her arm. It was a ghastly red ring with a scabby mid-circle and a puss-filled center. My husband said, “Ooh, it looks worse than it did this morning.” “Worse?” I asked. “Yeah, much worse.” he said. At this hour, only the emergency room would be open. I howled with rage and worry.