I am a failure, aren't I?(50 Posts)
Feeling very fragile. Suffered a bit over the last 11 years: pnd has lingered in the form of anxiety/panic attacks and depression occasionally. Came to a head last February with a melt down and 6 weeks off work. I am a midwife with two primary age children and my husband works a two hour each way commute away which involves frequent overnights because of the job and to save petrol.
I have been a mw for 15 years and am finding things quite hard: the stress of the role is really getting to me now, exacerbated by falling staffing levels and worsening conditions. I have had enough of shift working. I detest nights (have posted before) and am fed up of working weekends and public hols when my other half is off. Our family and social life has been wrecked because of this. We juggle the childcare as there are no other options for arranging it around my shifts (have to leave at 630am for an early and don't get home til 945pm on a late.) I am part time but the demands are high.
I am tearful, anxious and nauseous before a shift and whilst I care deeply for the women, my heart's not in it if that makes sense? It's just too hard. Mws have to be tough and I am not any more.
I just want to run - spend quality time with my kids, be there to support OH while he is driving miles and working hard and alleviate some of the load off him. I have applied for HV training but won't find out for a couple of weeks. The money isn't a huge issue. My salary has provided the comfort cushion so we would have to adjust spending a bit.
I feel I am throwing my expertise away and that I am an epic fail cos I can't cope being a mum who works shifts. However, the emotional effects are taking a physical toll and I know I could crack shortly if I continue.
There are no opportunities in midwifery where shifts aren't involved, cos of the nature of the job.
Such a failure.
You are not a failure! You have a family and have to juggle that with a demanding job.
Now you can take that expertise away with you into the role of a HV. My fingers are crossed that you hear about the training soon.
A failure? Wow. How can you think that.
I'm so sorry you are feeling this low. You sound so stressed.
What does your DH say/think?
You are not a failure! See it differently- you need a break. Take one and have a change, you can always go back later.
He is supportive. I am my own worse enemy. Just cant keep all the balls in the air. How do people do it?
I think if you can afford it the best thing you can do is resign
Dont feel bad
You're doing what is right for your family
You are one of this country's heroines. Have you spoken to your manager about this? This is a work problem, not a mothering/family problem. I'm sure someone could help you.
You are not a failure. You are tired out and stressed. People change their jobs all the time because it doesn't suit them/their family situation.
I have stopped being a teacher due to stress and lack of family time, I did not have life changing decisions to make OR shift work to do and I don't consider myself a failure at all, just someone who is adapting to life as I find it.
My friend is a mw and feels exactly the same, it is far from any easy job at the moment. Don't feel like a failure but do speak to your manager and put your own health first.
I have just had a breakdown and 7 weeks off work and am on meds for anxiety and depression
It is hard juggling a job and children. I only have one child so you are doing much better than me
I cry before I go into work, and when I'm there
Neither of us are failures PM me if you want to chat
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
You are not a failure,
One of my friends, went on to be health visitor from being a midwife, because of the hours,family and shifts, she did the extra qualifications, during the first year of the job.
She now is working part time three days a week sensible hours,more money than on the midwifery, so I hope you can get something.
Hectic shift work is a killer, so don't be tough on yourself.
Could you train as a health visitor? Then you would have regular working hours, instead of shift.
Not a failure, though!
I think when you have children you become a lot more sensitive and it may be that you are less able to detach from the job than previously - a perfectly normal reaction to becoming a parent yourself.
No way could I do what you have been doing. You are not a failure. Many many others can't keep all the balls in the air, something has to give. Take the break, spend time with your family.
What would you say to a colleague who posted your OP?
Good luck, I hope you get good news about the HV training.
You are not a failure. You are responsible for bringing hundreds of lives safely into the world. If you no longer contine then on any level you have done more for womankind, humanity and just general life than the majority of the population. Actually, who needs you now, happy and healthy with good self esteem so they develop into quality people are your kids. Just do it! You will be a brill HV or brill anything else. But, if your heart is not into being a mw then you also owe it to womenkind to give it a rest for a bit because none of us work well when we feel frazzled and you, quite literally have life in your hands.
Nope, you are def not a failure. I guess this is just the depression. I hope you get the treatment you deserve, good luck.
I think the bar for what women are supposed to be doing is set so high now that it is easy to feel like a failure if you're not juggling a family with doing a demanding job. There are also women out there who feel like failures because they have the job but not the family, or because they have the family but the job is easier than the one they used to be doing before they had kids. (They are NOT failures, but it's easy to feel like one.)
The bottom line is, no, you are not a failure in the least. You are a wonderful person doing the worthwhile and difficult job of raising a family, AS WELL as an important, socially useful and increasingly difficult (due to funding cuts etc) job.
You seem to me like a sensitive, considerate, hardworking person with a good degree of self-knowledge. I bet you are a lovely MW and would be an excellent HV and are an excellent mum.
You are looking round at the needs of all those around you, AND yourself (and if you don't recognise your own needs you won't be in a position to continue to help others as you have been doing) and recognising that something has got to give. This is a very mature and thoughtful thing to be doing - but it is hard, and 'downsizing' a career, when you have worked on developing your skills and you know they are useful, is a hard thing to do, and there is a bit of a phase of mourning to go through to accept it.
You are doing exactly the right thing in taking stock, and it will all be fine. xxx
You are most definitely NOT a failure. I couldn't do what you have done, for as long as you have, it sounds extremely stressful. And it sounds like it's very much time to make a change!
Thanks - you have all been supportive. People generally have such an unrealistic view of midwifery and think its so wonderful. They think I am crazy to jack it in. It is either the best job or the worse. There is nothing in between and the highs don't outweigh the lows. HV interview on thurs.
Have you thought of becoming a freelance, independent midwife? You could pick and choose your patients then? Hope you feel better soon.
You are not a failure by any stretch of the imagination. You are someone doing an extremely demanding job and trying to raise a family. You are clearly depressed and stressed and should in the first instance have a step back, have a break and get a bit of perspective. Get some counselling if you can, talk to your DH and see if you can thrash out what you want to do and how you think you should get there. Take the time you need and be gentle with yourself? But please don't say you are a failure.
I'm a nurse on A&E, and I'm also struggling with work/life balance, especially with DC2 on the way! I've applied for a specialist nurse post, office hours but a higher band, so although I lose unsocial hours payments I get a better basic salary which will even it out. Could you look at moving into a specialism which involves working clinics? Smoking cessation for example, or substance misuse?
You poor thing
it is such a demanding career and the shifts do take it out of you. If you don't do H.V. What about sitting the IBCLC exam, or getting into staff development, or finding a research project to attach to? Or clinics? Or if you're confident enough some childbirth education? It's hard I know because shift work does pay the bills; I know though I don't want to be doing shift work/ or ward work in my 50's. what to do??
Please don't feel a failure; you just sound very burnt out. Take care
I am going to PM you my story OP
It feels worse because you are in it, if you get out of it you will see the reality of it much easier.
Oh and training to be a HV... HARD, HARD year and difficult job (if you can get a post in your area after training) but yes no shift work.
You are not a failure at all
Doris, I'd love to hear from you.
I think you're pretty bloody amazing to have been treading water this long!
Soooooo not a failure!
I don't have much helpful advice I'm afraid, but u just wanted you to know they I think you sound amazing, and I think you need to cut yourself some slack.
Hi op ,
I've done shift work in the past .
I would be just in the same situation as you if I had to juggle That with family life .
you Know if what you are currently doing is unsustainable
I have seem how hard MW s work ....and I have no illusions ...it's incredibly demanding and the ward staff when I was in were clearly run off their feet .
You must Never feel a failure
In my opinion it's just Wrong to force people to do night shifts when they don't want to . It seems to occur commonly for mw s and nurses .....I couldn't do it .
You can be sure in other countries this does not happen .
I think doing occasional nights is incredibly difficult . It messes with My mood and body clock . The negative physical effects on health are increasingly recognised .
You have to make your health and well being your number one priority . Good luck
Op you are not a failure. I am a nurse and I know exactly how you feel. The stress and toll the role can play so heavily on you it's a horrible feeling. I've been in the nhs for 18 yrs now and it's just getting harder. My saving grace has been working in the community, I do 9-5pm over 3 days but for the past 5 yrs I was also doing 5-11pm over 3 nights (i had 2 contracts) so quite often 15 hr days. I gave the evenings up just before Xmas and the relief has been huge. Would you do shifts as a community midwife? Are you part time? If not could this be an option? If I had any choice I wouldn't do my job. Too much stress for very little reward but sadly I need to money! I repeat you are not a failure
I would second what dayshiftdoris said. The HV course is incredibly stressful. I did the District Nurse course which runs alongside the HV one, it's a degree in a year and that in itself is hard going. I know many HV are under a tremendous pressure with child protection issues etc. sorry to sound all doom and gloom - the hours are better but the role itself may not be any less tough.
You're not a failure. You have contributed 15 years to countless families and if you move to be an HV you will continue to do so in a different role. I hope you don't mind me saying this, but in your interview focus on the positives from being a MW and HV and while it is ok to mention the lifestyle issue, don't dwell on it and do focus on the role. Make sure you seem to be aiming to move to HV rather than away from MW.
I was in this exact position - also a midwife. Felt sick before shifts, got so bad I'd have rituals i'd do before going on shift. Self harmed once to leave early (YES - it was THAT bad). In the end i just left. We had no money but i just could not do it any more. Not sure why or what happened - a series of little things that knocked my confidence and a lack of good supervision / support. It was such a hard time for us as my DH was only working part-time, but i retrained (not HV) and leaving was the best decision I ever made. Midwifery can be wonderful - but is not for everyone. I over-thought everything and could never switch off. It taught me to know when enough is enough - I still get tired and stressed now - but nothing like that. When I'm overtired I sometimes dream i'm back on labour ward and wake up in fear.... If you can manage on one wage do - your quality of life will be so much better, and it will save your sanity.
^this - be careful it's not frying pan into the fire. The safeguarding part of HV is a big deal.
My friend has been working as a community mw for a couple of years now and loves it, she says she would never go back to the wards. She does do on calls but it's only about every six weeks and she's only called if there's a home birth to attend, obviously she still works v hard but she really enjoys it.
You're not a failure. You're just a bit burnt out. Is there much bank work? Could you resign but maintain registration with the odd shift while you work out what you want? Hope things get better soon x
Hello op. You are not a failure at all. A too am a midwife and had a very similar experience to you. I worked in the community and although I did not do many shifts, the on calls really got to me. I was constantly exhausted,ill and was sick of working weekends and nights. The lack of staff and constantly increasing work load with ever decreasing resources caused me to burn out last year, after 11 years if doing it . I also have two primary age children.
I had four months off sick, during which I slept, pottered around the house and attended lots of children 's school things. It was the best thing I ever did. I managed to refuel my batteries and got a new job. I am now a research midwife and I know I will never go back to the front line.
You have done your bit, you are not a failure, you do not owe the NHS anything.
Being a midwife is emotionally draining and exhausting.
Can you find a job in research? It is so exciting and stimulating, without the demands of patient care.
I cannot recommend it enough. The difference it has made to me and my family is quite marked.
I really hope you can leave and be happier . take care of yourself. X
Another fellow midwife here and I'd just like to add my voice to those that are saying you are most definitely NOT a failure. It's obvious that you care about the women and families you care for otherwise you wouldn't be so distressed about the standard of care you feel you are able to provide in the current climate. I don't think people really understand just how stressful it can be to want to do your best and not be able to because of staff shortages, stress etc.
Maybe the time has come for you to put your family first and if that means leaving midwifery then so be it. Yes it can be the best job in the world but it can also be the worst and if you don't get enough highs to balance out the lows then it's probably time for a change.
Look after yourself
Your not a failure OP, you've just reached a point where your exhausted, I was there 18 months ago I left my job as a child protection officer, I'm now a waitress in a resturant, best desisions I've ever made, in terms of family, mental health etc...
There are 9-5 opportunities in midwifery, ANC midwives in with the consultants, Day Assesment/Triage or whatever you call it where you are, specialist midwifery posts, even community midwifery can be a slightly slower pace. However if you train as a HV and just do the occasional bank shift you can maintain your registration and come back later in life if you want to. Best of luck x
you need a break.
can you get a secondment to another area? do some teaching midwifery? do something else?
when teaching was too much for me, i had no husband to support me financially, so i had hypnotherapy to help me carry on. i've had a few extra years but it could all end any time. better to plan your escape if you can.
a year or two off might be all you need to recover.
If you didnt care about your job you wouldnt feel this way. I bet so many people think the world of you and you sound a lovely person from just what you wrote. keep your chin up, I bet you would be an amazing hv x
Posts like yours make me so fucking angry, it's people like you who really hold this country together, you have lifelong impacts on the families you deal with but instead of being supported to be the best possible midwife you can be, you have been worked to death, given everything you have and are left with an exhausted husk trying to piece together the person that used to dream if being a midwife.
I wish I could encourage you to stay in your job, as you well know people suffer every day because of how ridiculously overworked the midwives are, however I can't in all conscience say that.
Life's too short op, do what's best for you and your family
I was in a similar postion to you got moved from my lovely ward to hell on earth ward it was awful i would wake up in the middle of night stressing over little things that didn't really matter ( I was seven months pregnant newly qualified and would cry on my way to work). I took three weeks off work with an injury, then on my second shift back told my line manager I needed a word and basically said that I could not cope here there was no support and that I was constantly getting given the bays were all the really poorly patients are ( i know that sounds like a cop out but it was like it was planned by others for me to get them bays constantly) it was too much pressure and That I was going to end up making mistakes I just couldn't work at that pace. To be fair the line manager was fab, she made sure I got to work the floor as often as she could to give me a break . put me on short shifts ( so I wasn't so stressed for such long periods) and would come up and just stand by my bays ( I think she knew her presence reassured me). I am so grateful to her for everything she has done for me made me the calm non stressed ( most of the time)nurse I now am. Before my contract ended she said told me that permanent jobs were coming soon and she would love me to apply and I would love to work for her again and I hope her staff realise what a gem of a manger they have got there.
Have you considered speaking to your line manager? If you go to them with a genuine concern they have to deal with it and if they don't its there fault. You sound super stressed and exhausted to me and need to take some leave its not normal to put yourself through that kind of pressure and why should you put yourself first for a change you have to look after No1 in order to take care of No2. I would also like to add you are not throwing away your expertise a midwifes posses skills that are extremely transferable. i wish you well but you need to take a break and be happy x
You sound more sleep deprived than like a failure....
I need to reply to you properly when it's not 2am...
I've been where you are, a MW who is deemed 'crazy' to leave what is the world's best job. I felt like I'd failed and wasted my degree. I was told I'd wasted everyone's time. But I left and it was the best thing to do.
Are you a RN too?
*what is perceived to be the world's best job I meant!
Please dont think you are a failure. This happens to a lot of people. I resigned from a job I loved when dd1 was 18 months because I had had enough of the juggling and being spread so thinly. I was not doing either of my roles well, being a Mum or my demanding but part time job.
I had been crying at work and dissolving into pieces at home.
I am now 6 years down the line with two school age dds. I am back working part time at the job I love and it has all gotten so much easier to handle.
Give yourself a break. Enjoy your kids while their young and return to your job later when things will fall into place a lot easier.
You sound tired.
Why not take a break. Can you take a sabbatical? A year or even just six months off -check your contract.
Talk to your HR department about what they can do to support you so that you get the break that you need right now but they as an employer get to retain your skills in the long term. It is their job to help you balance work and life and if they don't get that, it may be worth reminding them!
In the long term, even if you stop right now and take 5 years off, you can always come back. Babies get born pretty much the same way (most of them) as they have for millenia and mothers always need someone to help them - you have huge skills.
Don't feel you have failed - you just need to find a new path.
Completely agree with what everyone else has said. I have lots of friends and family in lots of areas of nursing and all have made similar comments. Rather than try to find a different career now if your finances allow could I suggest a different option. Go and do a course on something that is completely non job related. A sewing course, gardening, language, a literature paper with the OU. Something that you have always felt maybe one day I would like to do that. I did this a few years ago when in a similar position. It was great to do something fun that was for me and it helped get me back on track. Don't know how, I'm sure a psychologist could explain but 'good for the soul' and all that.
Midwifery is not a job you should be doing if your heart is not in it. You sound burnt out. Can you take your skill and experience and put it to use doing something like midwifery training or lecturing? Or some kind of admin role? Teaching would be good as you'd get to spend more time with your own children and you could knock the shift work on the head.
I know a ocuple of people who lecture/consult in midwifery and nursing and their jobs are an absolute breeze compared to doing the real thing. They get paid well too. But's it's not in the UK.
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