The title of my blog is Midwife and Life. But the truth is, I haven’t worked as a Midwife for the last 18 months. The writing I do for this website – research based, education and tips does contribute to my continuing education and my Midwifery registration, but I haven’t practised as a Midwife at all in the last year and a half, and I’m now working as a Nurse. Why? This post aims to shed some light, be warned it’s a long one, so grab a cuppa and settle in.
I left my permanent community Midwife job in February 2015. I went back to my 3 day a week job after having Daniel when he was 10 months old. I didn’t want to go back, I wanted to be a full time Mum. I’ve written about my struggles with work before. I’ve always been jealous of those Mums that have the choice about whether to work or not. The truth is, I do have the choice. We could curb our lifestyle, live in a different area with cheaper housing and then I wouldn’t need to work. I would always still blog, as it’s something I enjoy both as a hobby and a profession, but it would take the pressure off. I started blogging during my maternity leave. Through each of my maternity leaves I’ve thought about other jobs I could do, ways of making money from home that aren’t scams or MLMs, anything so that I didn’t have to go back. I even tried MLMs but I just can’t do the spammy selling thing.
After my local hospital changed the way they gave maternity services after I had Phoebe, I was left with the option of working in the birth centre or going to the new unit a 40 minute drive away. I applied for the birth unit, but because I only did one night a week at the time, it didn’t fit in with the team. When I went back I started at the new bigger, newer high risk unit. The two local hospitals had merged as did the staff. I found it impersonal, there was a bit of a staff divide, and the way the services operated was more like a conveyor belt than anything. Don’t get me wrong I helped facilitate some lovely births, and the care is good there, state of the art. I hated it from the moment I started there, particularly on delivery suite. The not knowing how the night would go, the exhaustion and feeling like I wasn’t giving the care I wanted to. I felt bound by policies and procedures which were designed to keep women and babies safe, but which ended up giving them an often medicalised birth. Once my eldest started school or was due to, I asked to transfer to community. The only vacancy was in a team about 45 minutes away, but I was desperate so I took it. I decided on 3 days a week and to stop nights. Anything to stop the dread of going into work. It was only one night a week but the minute I was finished I would start to dread going back and on the day I would be in such a bad mood. It was also around the time that I had to have extra counselling to deal with I guess post traumatic stress from losing Amy and William’s twin in quick succession, then going on to have two healthy children in quick succession without dealing with the grief properly.
It started well in community, I enjoyed the difference in pace, the time I could spend with the women. I got on well with the team, apart from the team leader who was a lovely person, but I think we just had very different personalities. The only thing I didn’t like was that once a week we had to take a turn being ‘on call,’ which meant that if any of our registered home births went into labour we would be called out to attend, or we could be called as second midwife to another team’s home birth, or we could be called into the main high risk unit to help out if they were busy. I hated being on edge, not being able to relax, and being woken up! We would often work all day, I’d be dealing with the kids at home, then out in the middle of the night, or sometimes being called out at 8pm to work pretty much all night. I didn’t feel safe working being so tired. I also didn’t like the unexpected situations.
Then I got pregnant with Daniel. I was so happy being pregnant with him but it was a pretty difficult pregnancy. I still had to be on call all the way through which was a struggle. Again during maternity leave I frantically thought about anything else I could do that wouldn’t burn me out. I stumbled on blogging when a friend suggested it and Midwife and Life was born. I wanted somewhere to put all the information I was constantly telling women, the common questions I answered. I’m still nowhere near done with all the issues I want to cover, hopefully I never will be. I managed to make some money and did a fair amount of product reviews. Not enough to not go back to work, I returned reluctantly when Daniel was 10 months old. Daniel was not a good sleeper so I was a zombie a lot of the time. My team leader could tell I didn’t want to be there which didn’t help. I gave my all to the women as much as I could. For the three days I was at work I had to leave early and my husband had to get everyone ready and off to school and nursery, which he struggled with. The house was a bombsite for those 3 days and when I was off I was constantly catching up with everything. The whole situation was stressing everyone out. As well as that I felt like I had 2 jobs with my blog as well. Because I was so passionate about it, I was spending any free time and days off working on the blog. It paid off and I was enjoying success with it. I decided the best way forward was to move teams to closer to home, once a position became available. Then I would be able to take the children to school and not get back too late. I asked in the October/November time, and it got to Christmas and I made the decision if they hadn’t moved me by the end of January I would hand my notice in. They claimed there were no vacancies. I heard on the grapevine that there were, and then I heard someone else was moving teams to the local one. This made me feel that they weren’t trying for me enough, they didn’t care about my need for flexible working. I handed my notice in at the end of January, telling my husband I would work on the staff bank and on the blog.
From the end of February 2015 to June 2015 I worked on the blog earning some money but not enough to pay our bills. I also did some community bank shifts. I was struggling with my blog’s direction and how to monetise effectively. If anyone has been self employed before then you know how hard it is to manage your money when invoices are not paid on time, or work isn’t coming in. I then had to bite the bullet and work more as a midwife. I worked some night shifts at the birth centre which I enjoyed, but I didn’t feel 100% part of the team, and I was a little wary of doing an emergency transfer and again I didn’t like the unexpected. I had the training and experience, but it made me nervous. I also did some days over the summer in the high risk unit. By the December of that year my blog work was becoming more consistent, and my bank work petered out. I did my last Midwifery shift just before Christmas 2015, thinking I would go back after the new year. My blog continued to do well after Christmas so I just never went back.
Through 2016 I worked exclusively as a blogger, making enough to get by, but not enough to do extra things like the work we wanted to do on the house, or build any savings. Money was a source of arguments between me and my husband. He felt like I was indulging my fantasies and he had to be the responsible one, which to a certain extent was true, but I was also contributing by being home more. By the end of the year I said I would look for a part time job to get some financial security. I didn’t want to, I was so happy working from home doing something I loved, but the financial unknown was putting stress on us both. I looked into all sorts of work – retail, admin, working with animals, even working as a kitchen designer! I wanted something local and that would fit in with school times. That seems to be the focus for a lot of people, especially Mums, so there is a lot of competition out there. I saw a couple of nursing jobs I fancied, I am dual trained so I have the choice of working as a Midwife or a Nurse. I registered with recruitment agencies and signed up for job alerts. The strange (or maybe not so strange) thing was I didn’t even get an interview for any of the minimum wage jobs. I think being older and with little relevant experience held me back.
In the new year, I saw an advert online for a Nursing job in a local care home with really good benefits, and showed my husband, who of course was keen I applied! I got an interview at last. I wasn’t sure if it was something I could do, I had no clue what nurses really did in care homes. I had about 3 weeks at a care home during my nurse training and all I remember was the blister packs of medications, helping the same couple of ladies to the toilet and doing a couple of dressings. I read up about it and went for the interview. I sat waiting and wondered if it was something I could do. It’s like the opposite end of the scale to Midwifery! It also felt a bit like admitting defeat, like my dreams of being a ‘proper’ professional blogger wasn’t going to happen. The interview went well and I got the job. I also got another interview at an even closer nursing home, literally a minute down the road from me, which I also got the job. I thought people are either really desperate for nurses or I talk a good game. I did say I would need help to get up to speed. I ended up taking the really close job, the home was smaller and friendlier, and had a nice atmosphere. The pay was good and I could do 2 long shifts (12 hours) a week, making it 24 hours a week. I wouldn’t have to do nights.
A new start
I didn’t put too much pressure on myself and I just thought I’ll see how it goes. I started there in March and haven’t looked back since. My blog is still making the same amount of money but I’m not putting in the same amount of work into it bizarrely. The pressure is also off with it, I’m not constantly trying to make it the best it can be, I don’t take on unnecessary reviews or work I don’t want to do. I’ve made it manageable, and it’s also much more enjoyable, I feel more free with it.
What really surprised me was how much I actually like my new job. Don’t get me wrong if I win the lottery I wouldn’t do it, but it’s very rewarding. At first I thought I’m never going to be able to do it, and I had little confidence in myself. Then I got the hang of it and remembered my lost skills. The long days can be physically hard, but the pace is different, there are regular tasks that need to be done and a routine which I find comforting. The patients aren’t going to get better and walk out of there, but I can make their time with us more comfortable and as smooth as possible. I think being older, I respect them more, and I can relate to the families. My own parents are physically and mentally well at the moment, but I can sympathise totally with the dilemmas and feelings the relatives have. I’ve had four residents pass away and although it was emotional, it was their time, and it was nice to help their transition be as smooth as possible. I’ve been brushing up on my wound care and remembering why I loved nursing in the first place. It’s given me back the confidence in my abilities, a sense of perception and a sense of place within the community. I still suffer from depression but it’s much more manageable. When you see poor health both physical and mental, it makes me so grateful that myself and my family have our health intact at the moment, and that life really is too short. The regular wage has been great, and we are now able to do what we wanted to the house and I can start to save an emergency fund and holiday fund. Being able to provide properly for my family is an amazing feeling.
So is this the end of Midwifery for me?
The answer is I don’t know. Midwifery stays alive in my blog and my passions, I love that my readers, friends and acquaintances come to me for maternity advice and chats. I don’t miss the way I worked as it wasn’t doing my mental health any good. I go through re-validation next March and I have enough evidence to re-register this time, but three years down then line I really don’t know where I’ll be. I could be still working as a nurse, or I could be writing full time. Daniel starts school next year so that will add a new dimension into things. For now I’m happy with what I’m doing.
Got a question? Ask me xx