Why I Quit
I think we can all agree 2020 is just a hot mess disaster and every day something else goes down that we never thought would happen. For example, today I can’t believe I’m writing a blog post titled “Why I Quit my Job.”
I should start by telling you I have worked ever since I was old enough to babysit. In my house, if you wanted something you were going to have to figure out a way to pay for it. My jobs prior to education have included serving at an upscale retirement home (oh the baked tilapia memories), Chick Fil A, Schlotzky’s Deli (bring it backkkkkk), Fossil (wow I hated retail, but got some really great watches) and nanny. I got my first teaching job right out of college and worked at the same public school for 12 years. No matter what I did, I worked my tail off. Work has always been such a big part of my identity. So naturally, when I filled out my maternity leave paperwork I set my last working day to October 25th, the Friday before Jacob’s due date. My return date was 12 weeks later and I had every intention of coming back.
Around December, Joey and I started chatting about me taking a year off. I couldn’t imagine leaving Jacob for that amount of time. I was in the midst of constant nursing/pumping and still barely getting any sleep. It was really hard to see how this was going to work in just a few more weeks. Even just thinking about what the day to day would look like was giving me so much anxiety. After many discussions and mapping out a schedule (something that always makes me feel better), we decided to stick with the plan of returning to work in January.
So I went back- with my breast pump in hand and a lot of emotions. I knew the first day would be hard, but I was told by so many well-meaning people that it “gets better.” Well y’all I held out for awhile, but for me it only got worse. Since Joey and I had to leave the house around 6:30am, I was pulling my baby from the crib to the car seat in the mornings. I checked my phone all day long waiting for any update. I was so lucky that Jacob was in the loving arms of my mother in law and mom, but he wasn’t in mine and my heart ached all day long. I got to work 5-10 minutes before the bell and ran to my car when my duty post was done, which made me feel like a slack employee. I then rushed to pick up Jacob and clean what felt like 200 bottles and pump parts. By the time I gave him a bath and fed him, he was out by 6:30pm. Most nights I cried putting him to bed because I just missed him so much. I know that most moms go through that crazy back to work stage… and it seems as if they handle it like a champ. I felt like a failure for sure.
Then I really started to unravel. Have you ever gone to bed and just never fallen asleep, like at all? And then gone to work the next day? Good times. As someone that’s notorious for responding to texts after 8:30pm the next morning, not sleeping was really concerning. I’ve always been early to bed and early to rise. Having a baby obviously ruined my sleep for a few months (many nights it still does), but this was just not normal for me. Every night became some type of stressful sleep situation. As exhausted as I was, I started to dread going to bed. My mind just couldn’t turn off. So I got desperate and a night or two a week I took a Unisom to get to sleep. I don’t even like to take ibuprofen, so this really pained me. That meant going to work and having to dump everything I pumped. The literal worst. Things were not ok.
I was an Academic Facilitator at the time and was doing everything I could to fulfill my role like I had before maternity leave. I worked with a dedicated group of teachers and I didn’t want to let them down. In the midst of my sleepless nights, I found out two of the teachers on the team I supported were leaving (as it often happens in education) and I’d be taking over one of these classes until Spring Break. The year before I’d taken over two classes for a period of time and I just didn’t have it in me to do it again. I had nothing left to give.
Within days of finding out the news of my next classroom takeover, I had a rather alarming moment on the way to work. I had made it to Friday and said my 6:30am goodbye to Jacob for the last day that week. I was two turns from pulling into school and I thought, “I feel dead inside.” I’ve never had a thought like that in my life and it really scared me. As soon as I got to work, I called the doctor’s office to make an appointment. I requested the soonest available time with whoever could see me after school hours- because education.
I poured my heart out to the doctor I’d never met. She prescribed me an antidepressant that was safe to take while breastfeeding and off I went. I didn’t even ask questions, I just wanted whatever was going to fix me. I went straight to the pharmacy to fill it and when I sat down to my last pump of the night I decided I should probably take a second to google it. Well good lord- did anyone have a good experience on this medication?! I was horrified, set it aside and never took it. Maybe I should have, but it just didn’t feel right for me.
Before having Jacob, I knew to look out for signs of postpartum depression. It’s common and luckily seems to be so much more openly discussed today. I had done the screening questionnaires that come with postpartum check ups and I what I was feeling truly didn’t fit that checklist. Where was the box for “insomnia and anxiety because you miss your baby?!” Aside from being really tired, becoming a mother had really brought me nothing but joy. All of my stress had to do with leaving him for 10 hours a day. Ultimately, I decided I wasn’t ok with being medicated just to make it through another day at work. To be clear, while it wasn’t right for me I absolutely support taking anything needed to better your mental health.
So where was my loving husband in all of this? He was washing bottles with me after work, helping to keep the laundry moving, ordering Uber eats because there was most definitely nothing to eat for dinner and doing anything he could after work hours so that I could spend some extra time snuggling Jacob. I know he felt the weight of the world trying to keep me from having a full on mental breakdown. Oh, did I mention he put in his notice at work the same week as me?! The coronavirus was all over the news at this point and we weren’t sure if this would impact his new job. There was a lot going on.
It was time to re-evaluate the plan. Joey and I had waited such a long time for this chapter of life. We’d spent the last 11 years setting ourselves up for parenthood and we were in survival mode. Months 4 and 5 of Jacob’s life are a complete blur.
After many conversations about the scary what-if scenarios, we decided together that I would quit and stay at home. It was an extremely difficult decision, but there hasn’t been a single day yet that I’ve regretted it.
This is a heavy first blog post for me, but it has been very therapeutic to write down the feelings I’ve had bottled up for so many months. Every postpartum experience is unique and I’m ok with admitting that mine was far from perfect. I’m in such a better place now- I feel like myself, I’m sleeping again, and I’m thrilled for every minute I have to watch Jacob learn and grow.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, 2020 has brought some crazy obstacles. Check in on your people and don’t forget to check in on yourself.