10 days after I started my dream job as a newly qualified midwife, I handed in my notice.
I had dreamed of being a midwife for years. Qualifying was a monumentally proud moment for me, not to mention the moments I was privileged to be see the arrival of many beautiful little humans (including 5 sets of twins) into the loving care of their parents.
So why did I quit?
At the time, I told myself it was a result of the distress of watching my patient, a 5 day old baby girl, have her ventilator switched off about a month earlier. It was certainly a huge factor. But knowing what I know now, I can see that there was a loud inner critic that I gave too much credibility to. I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough.
My irrational fear was made rational on the day before I gave in my notice, when I was working in the Labour Ward delivering a firstborn for a lovely couple; the first solo delivery for me. The normal procedure was that newly qualified midwives would have a second person to be in the room (not doing anything, even standing at the door was enough) for about 6-8 months after qualifying. This was a way to ease us into the increased responsibility, help us become more confident autonomous practitioners and to maintain safety. I went out to the desk to update the senior midwife on progress and to flag my impending request for ‘back up’ when delivery was imminent. She replied, ‘You can ask, but there’s no-one to help you. You’re on your own’.
Thankfully I successfully delivered the baby on my own but with my heart pumping out of my mouth. Her parents were tearful with gratitude and thankful for the care I had given, saying I had been calm and reassuring throughout. I had been trained very well to appear calm. But inside…
I was drained and I wasn’t sure I could go through that again. A supportive mentor, discussions with my colleagues and getting some perspective would all have helped me plough on. Instead I made up an excuse, hid behind it and with a heavy heart worked out my notice.
26 years later and I am now a master at reassuring and silencing my inner critic. [mostly!]
I am one of the speakers at this year’s National Women’s Enterprise Day on 14th October in the first segment which is Managing Me, Managing Opportunity. If you struggle at all with this why not register and tune in? I will be giving very practical actionable tools that will have a real and lasting impact on how you can push through Imposter Syndrome, Inner Critics (both of them! – all explained on the day!) and more.
Until next week, take care,