A New year, the end of maternity leave and becoming a SAHM
Happy New Year all. This year brings a few changes for me and my little family. My maternity leave officially finished at the end of December. Now it’s holiday entitlement and then once that’s up my career break starts.
To those of you who don’t know, I’m a midwife. I spent 3 years in intensive training that led me to gain my BSc (Hons) Midwifery in 2006. I held down a part time job in a bar, whilst studying at home, studying 2 days a week at uni and working 3 days a week doing my student placements in a maternity unit. It was tough and I worked blumin hard. Our placements included all the shifts that were expected of qualified staff including nights.
Midwifery for me wasn’t a job I had always envisaged myself doing. I stumbled across the vocation whilst studying for a degree in biomedical science. The more I read about midwifery, the more I wanted to do it. I left the course in Preston after the end of the second year once I had a place on a midwifery course confirmed.
I started my training and I began to see how truly amazing pregnancy and childbirth really is. I’d made the right move. What a privilege I had being a part of something so special for each family. I’ll never forget those precious moments of handing a newly born baby over to mummy and sometimes daddy. The look on their faces as they embrace their baby for the first time. Or seeing a new family leave the unit for home to start their journey, clearly doting on their new addition but completely clueless to what lies ahead.
I worked hard at gaining experience in various aspects of the job. I regularly rotated around the unit for the first few years of my career. I did a stint in midwifery research. I then gained specialist experience in our Fetal Medicine Unit. This was an eyeopener to the hardships some families go through. Pregnancy is amazing but nature can be so damned cruel sometimes.
On returning to work in 2013 after my first baby, I began my time in the antenatal clinic. I missed the action of delivery unit but I had a family now and I was lucky enough to have regular days and normal hours. No night shifts and weekends off! Bliss. I spent the next 3 years here and then in 2016 left on maternity leave to have my second little pudding.
Here is where the big change lies. Whilst being off I began to think about going back to work. As you do, especially second time round you know how quick mat leave goes. With my eldest now at school I wondered how we would manage childcare. For Pud, it was easy, he could go to the same onsite nursery Pops went too whilst I was a work. The problem was before and after school. Working so far away from home none of the usual options would work. As the reality of returning to work slipped away I began to quite like the idea of not going back. I surprised myself with this as I’d always thought I needed to work. I applied for a career break for 5 years and I got it.
Now I faced the prospect of being a stay at home mum. I have always worked since being 17. I’ve always had my own money. My work gave me a sense of being. I took pride in my work. It was my identity for so long. After having Pops I felt I added ‘mum’ to my CV and now I feel like I’ve dropped a 10 year career and lost a part of my identity. Can I actually call myself a midwife now I wonder? Technically yes, as I have to undergo something all UK midwives do called revalidation, which means we keep up to date. I have to do 450 hours over 3 years. So I will have to go in to work for these hours in order to pick up my career again after the break.
It feels a little strange that for the next 5 years I’ll be a SAHM, I’m actually looking forward to it. When I talk to others about it though I feel a little embarrassed. You would think that after being on mat leave for a year it’s not that big a change. Physically it’s not but mentally it’s a biggie.
I do feel so lucky that I’ll be able to stay at home with Pud without paying for childcare and that I can drop off and pick up Pops from school. I can be the one who makes their tea and listens to Pops about her day at school instead of getting home and rushing them through bathtime and bedtime. I know this is an opportunity that most do not get and I will never grow complacent of this.
So as 2017 starts, so does my career break. I intend to make the most of it. Here’s to being a SAHM and enjoying it.