This time last year I was working a job that I loathed, & working it in shifts that were entirely loathesome (i.e night shift, times five nights per week). Night shift in itself is hell’ish, but throw in a toddler who doesn’t day nap, which means nil catch-up sleeping while he sleeps, & then repeat this times five nights per week & … well, I’m not even going to tell you what it did to my body, but more importantly, my mind.
My days were spent awake with Max, & then there would be arsenic hour, & then Dave would arrive home from work & we’d do dinner/bath/bottle/bed, & then I’d start work, & the vicious cycle would continue. Three times out of one week, I’d be awake for more than 48 hours straight, & honestly? It’s only typing it out like that when it really hits me that I was a stupid fool who simply had no respect for my body, but more importantly, my mind.
It’s just that we were in so much debt, & it’s just that I felt entirely responsible for that debt given that we’d never have landed ourselves in debt had it not been my developing a pregnancy complication with Max that saw me not being able to work throughout his entire pregnancy. As an added bonus, I also missed out on three months worth of paid maternity leave due to my not working beyond being sixteen weeks pregnant with Max. Yes, these are all bonus things that nobody should ever bank on, but we were newlyweds – & we just hadn’t budgeted for any kind of pregnancy complication.
We had to borrow money to keep up with our brand new mortgage & its accompanying brand new repayments, & so that my friends is how our journey into life with debt began. It was a lot of debt, & so I returned to work when Max was twelve weeks old because the truth is – I couldn’t handle feeling entirely responsible for having landed ourselves in so much debt. I chose night shifts because the penalty rates were incredible, but mostly because I just didn’t want to miss out on Max’s days – simple as that.
Eighteen months of night shift’ing later, & I was what can only be described as a ‘mombie’ (Mum slash zombie). I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t even exhausted, I was just completely fu*ked, actually. I actually just can’t think of any other way to explain that level of fatigue. It was like I was a robot, just going through programmed automated motions that others generally refer to as ‘life’. I just felt like a robot Mama, & a robot wife.
I was … miserable.
I’ve always had a strong body, & a really strong mind, but everyone also has a breaking point, & I’m just entirely surprised it took eighteen’ish months for me to reach mine. But I did. I really did.
This time last year, I walked into the lounge room where Dave was watching TV, & I told him I couldn’t do ‘this’ any more. Tears were rolling down my face, but it’s not that I was crying, it was more that I was just … exhausted. I told him that this lifestyle made me hate my life, & life in general. I told him that I felt like I had nothing to live for, despite loving him & Max beyond measure. And I told him that if this continued to be my ‘life’, well … I just wouldn’t want to do ‘life’ in general.
I really said that. And … I really meant it. The thing is, I wasn’t even depressed, I was just broken. No anti-depressant could have treated the only thing my body actually needed; which was sleep. Just … sleep.
Dave was really just speechless, because I’ve always been the strong person in our relationship, & he always thought I was just incredibly strong for pulling off night shift while SAHMummy’ing, but everyone has a breaking point – & I’d reached mine, in a rather epic manner.
He told me to call in sick with work, & then he put me to bed, & I slept the kind of sleep that I imagine someone sleeps when they know an ordeal is over. Because the thing is … night shift had become an ordeal, & so I just knew my ordeal was over. I knew that I wasn’t just calling in sick, but resigning from that job, & nursing in general. And I didn’t even care about what I would do next, because the priority was sleep, & recovery!
It’s hard to believe how much can change in just twelve months, but all I can say is that I am so glad I walked into the lounge room that night & admitted defeat. I quit night shift, I slept, I recovered, I was offered incredible digital media work from home job opportunities – & am still working in that same dream role, & loving it! We took a holiday (we conceived Frankie!), but mostly … I am just enjoying life again, being present in that life, enjoying our debt free status (minus the mortgage, of course!), laughing at Dave’s stupid jokes, smiling at Max’s beautiful toddler’hood unfolding, & thoroughly enjoying Frankie’s newborn’hood.
Life is beautiful again. And I flipping deserve this. And so do our children.
Photograph by Claire Martin Lapworth Photography.