Guest post by Rachel www.northeastslinglibrary.co.uk
Eight years ago, fresh faced and without a care in the world I was packing my bag for my second week of my first job, teaching history in a 13-18 high school. I had that 'Sunday night feeling'. I was tired but just couldn't get to sleep. This routine continued until this week. But I has stopped. After having 2 children and a prolonged period of ill health which would not improve if I returned to work I made the decision to stop teaching and to become a stay at home mum. Being a SAHM was not something I ever thought I would do. When I began my teaching career I had a plan and it did not involve staying at home. I wanted to be a head of department and looking for promotion. Children changed my perspective. Suddenly having a child I realised there was more to life than making, planning and schemes of work.
On the return from maternity leave with my first child I began working part time. My flexible working request was accepted and I hoped this 50:50 lifestyle would let me see my little boy grow up but stay active in the profession. The problem is it didn't. I could not be the mum I wanted to be or the teacher I wanted to be. Yet I am a stubborn woman, just ask my husband, so I continued. I brought marking home every night, spent my evenings when Henry was asleep doing prep. I did not want anyone to say that I wasn't doing my job properly, and well no one did. I got outstanding lesson observations, I was regularly praised for my planning and marking. I was doing both! That is until baby number 2.
My second pregnancy was a breeze......until 24 weeks. Over the next 4.5 months I prolapsed a disc, had infections and ultimately ended up in hospital at 33 weeks. Needless to say I wasn't at work much from 24 weeks. I managed 2 weeks! Thankfully bump stayed put but I was on bed rest (easier said than done with a 2 year old). Isaac eventually decided to arrive 5 days past his due date in dramatic fashion with only my husband in attendance. Isaac was not an easy baby. Now at 16 months he still requires a lot of attention. He was in and out of hospital, had severe reflux and did not sleep. I returned to work when he was just 7 months old, he was still not sleeping. I was being woken up every 90 minutes or so. I was shattered. I have always needed my sleep and do not function properly without it. Trying to manage my teaching career after almost a year off and a high needs baby was taking its toll. At work so much had changed while I had been off I began to feel like I was drowning.
I have suffered with depression and anxiety since my teens. I had previously been off work due to it. As time went by I could feel my symptoms reappearing. I could not sleep, I was losing weight, I got palpitations every time I drove to work. In June it reached a tipping point and I could not go to work. I did not know where I would be in a few hours, days or weeks but I knew at the time teaching was not what I needed. My gp and occupational health agreed. Slowly with time away I felt a bit better but it was temporary, every time I thought about work I went backwards. I had to change something.
So with my husband’s help we made some changes, I was going to become a SAHM. I wrote a letter to nursery to say I was pulling Isaac out of nursery, although Henry would stay. At 3.5 I don't think he'd be impressed if I suddenly said he couldn't go. Work agreed to let me go with no penalties. I had breathing space. For the last 18 months I had been acting as a sling consultant, teaching people how to carry their babies. I decided that I would now try and make a living from this. I redesigned the house and created a special consultation room. I felt better immediately, although there is still a long way to go.
So this is the beginning of my second week as a stay at home mum. It is strange. The wash basket has never been so empty. I'm enjoying the quality time with my boys. Henry is still going to nursery 3 days a week so I am getting to spend time just with Isaac, doing things I didn't manage to do while on maternity leave as I the groups I wanted to attend were always on the days I had both boys. We've made muffins, been to the park, brought some new books and letter games, and brought new shoes. I have sorted the boys clothes out and got rid of what they have grown out of, and done all those little jobs i haven't had time to do. What I will do this week I have no idea? I am scared. The mortgage still needs paying, food still needs buying etc but the time I have with my boys is priceless. My health and my boys are more important than my career. Isaac showed me just how important this time is on my first official day as a SAHM! He took his first unaided steps. I would have missed that moment if I had been at work. Perfect timing on his behalf, it is like he knew I was feeling a little confused by my new role.