For me this has been one of the main issue that has plagued my waking thoughts pretty much 80% of the time since I have had Rupert and especially after my stint in hospital where I wasn’t able to keep him with me for a few days. For me those 3 days without Rupert caused an absolute monumental shift in my whole world, more than pregnancy, more than the birth and more than holding Rupert in my arms for the first time. For me those 3 days showed me that my family is number 1 priority, my health is fragile regardless of healthy I think I am and I want to spend my time ensuring that I never have to feel as terrible as I did during that time.
Is it just about leaving Rupert?
No… but it is a big part. My counsellor and I have touched on that time, just after I had Rupert, as something akin to post traumatic stress – not just the hospital stay, not just the surgery but all the other elements that triggered my postnatal depression (PND). Recounting that time and reliving it every night leaves me breathless with anxiety and wanting to wake up both John and Rupert and hug them both close. The thought of leaving Rupert, even for a few hours, is quite an ordeal for me. Those who see me coming home on a Wednesday morning after my counselling session and a coffee will often see me jog home about 15 minutes earlier than planned just so I can see Rupert. So the thought of leaving Rupert to go back to work… well… I can’t even put into words how that makes me feel.
But I know that this will get easier over time, it may be difficult to begin with, but it won’t necessarily always stay that way. It is definitely something to keep in mind as we try and work out what I am going to do.
Is it about going back to your previous job?
My counsellor once asked me to describe the “pre Rupert” Alison to her. I talked a lot about how confident I was at work, how I thrived on doing well and how I pretty much always lived outside of my comfort zone. I lived to work, I loved the busy days, stressful meetings and trying to resolve problems; I had a fantastic reputation at work and I drank in the stress of that job in the city gladly.
The “post Rupert” Alison is very much the same in some ways; I love to do multiple things at once (nutrition course, yoga teacher training, fitness programmes) and I thrive on helping others solve problems, but my goal has changed. I want to plough my energy into something that I truly care about now: health, fitness, food and my family.
I know that I have lost my confidence, I can see that in the way that I still struggle to call and text people regularly and make it to baby groups that I have scheduled every week. So the thought of being surrounded by clients and colleagues that I don’t know, in stressful meetings, with deadlines that are usually plucked out of thin air truly fills me with a fear that makes me want to curl up into a ball. I am not saying that I couldn’t succeed in there, I am sure I could as I know the environment well and I can put a brave face on, but to want effect?
Some questions that I regularly ask myself are:
- What effect will it have on Rupert being in nursery 5 days a week?
- Do I really want someone else looking after Rupert more than me?
- What effect will it have on mine, John’s and Rupert’s relationship if we are all rushing to get out the door in the morning and then getting ready for bed in the evening?
- Am I actually going to be able to do my old job again?
- What effect will working have on my PND if I work in a high stress job again?
I’m not sure I will know the answers until I am in that situation.
What is the solution?
Honestly I don’t know. I know that I am the sort of person who will throw myself into anything: going back to being a consultant in the city or trying to make my own venture work. I guess at the moment I am just questioning whether the benefits of staying home with Rupert more often during the week and ploughing my energy into a venture that I feel passionate about outweighs those positives of me going back to work.
Of course I am in a fortunate position to even be able to question this, I know that a lot of mums aren’t able to ponder this question at all before needing to go back to work, so I am sure this sounds quite self indulgent, I don’t mean it to be.
All these questions haven’t been answered yet though, so I am not sure what I will end up doing. All I know is that they need to be answered soon as my maternity leave is finishing shortly and although I have been signed off sick, this isn’t an indefinite solution and I need to start planning either way!
Wish me luck!