Holidays are always bittersweet.
The build up to them is almost the best bit, all the possibilities, the excitement, the planning.
In no time at all though, our amazing week was over and we’re back. Not only back, but this week I’ll be back at work after 7.5 months off on maternity leave. I’d have taken longer, however the initial plan was to work out my notice before moving on to the teacher training course come September. Now I’ve decided to defer my place, but I’d already made the arrangements with work. Either way, I’ve got to return.
I’m also overcome with emotion when I think that this is almost certainly the last mat leave I’ll ever have, and that I’ve spent it raising the most beautiful baby girl I’ve ever set my eyes on. That I’ll never get this again really does tug on my heart strings. Time has just flown.
No wonder my emotions are all over at the minute!
Really though, Cornwall was just great. The absolute best bit about being away was seeing how much my boys enjoyed themselves. They were so busy all day every day, totally buzzing and so hyped by it all that they struggled to get to sleep at night (not helped by the fact they kept falling asleep in the car to various places!).
Everywhere we went there was something for them, even places we initially had slight reservations about, like a national trust property. I was shocked at how well behaved they were, they actually managed to refrain from touching/grabbing/hurling all the Victorian artefacts!
Even the pretty miserable drizzly weather at the start of the week couldn’t put a dampener on spirits.
Makena just slotted in and didn’t make any fuss. I think she just enjoyed being out and about, watching the world go by.
I know these days that holidays with kids aren’t always particularly relaxing. For me, I still had the night feeds and I still had the 5.30am wake up call and ultimately the responsibility that comes with having three little ones. Having my parents with us though, turned it into a holiday for me too. Mum did all the cooking and made up picnics, Dad helped with kiddy entertainment, and I got a much needed break.
It was also great this week for the kids to tune out of technology for a while. It was a downfall of mine to stick the TV on or hand one of them my phone to watch videos if they were getting tired or aggravated by something. I think they were so much better during the week without it (time and a place, of course! I won’t be dumping the telly!) that we’re going to continue our phone amnesty and shift our focus elsewhere.
I won’t deny at times I still felt less than chilled, constantly worrying about the boys (in particular little Riri who is just a bundle of energy)running off or getting lost in a crowd, falling off something, etc.
It led me to end up spending some time one reflecting on my anxiety and how it had and continues to affect me.
I used to think when I was at work that it was purely work related. Sad to say, I’ve realised that isn’t exactly true.
I know a lot of people would ask how can I give up a career in medicine, and also whether I could not have carried on if I’d have got better support.
I also sometimes wonder the same thing. Did I do enough to combat my problems, try hard enough at CBT (via occupational health), do whatever I could? The answer is, I had support from a lot of places. Many of my clinical supervisors were very supportive, I had placements changed, taken off the on-call rota several times (mainly coinciding also with pregnancy), all sorts. I never hid my anxiety from anybody – well it was practically impossible to, but what I’m saying is I asked for help.
The thing was, I didn’t love my job anymore. Even behind all the worries about it, I just didn’t feel like I could carry on doing it. For a start, I didn’t feel like I could manage all the shift patterns for the next few years with very small kids, finite though it was. Anxiety just wore away at my passion for it all. Medicine was no longer my vocation.
And when I realised that there were other options which were viable, including giving up altogether and staying home to be with my babies, I just knew. Handing in my notice a couple of weeks ago was a piece of cake. I didn’t hesitate.
Sometimes I’ve worries that people will think isn’t it a shame she’s wasted her degree and all that time and energy studying medicine.
I wonder that too. Is it wasted? Not entirely! I’ve got skills that are in demand. Just because I don’t practice the bits I learned from textbooks, everything else I can transfer anywhere.
And it’s just a chapter of my life. I did medicine, I tried it, (yeah i got a nice hefty student debt but we shan’t worry too much about that for now!) it didn’t work out. I say all this to myself because if I didn’t I think I could end up feeling pretty low about it all. I have, occasionally, because wouldn’t it all just be a much easier to have not suffered from anxiety and been able to keep on going and enjoy being a doctor? Of course. But this is life and we only get one life and I’ve got to make the best of what and who I am. I’m not saying I won’t continue trying to beat this anxiety and constant worry, but I need time and space to do it and by stepping away from career for now seems to be the best option. I’ve got enough stresses in daily life being mum to these three.
I’ve still got a couple of months to work before I officially leave. It’s going to be tough returning from mat leave knowing I’m not there for long, but I’ll get my head down and plod through it as best I can.