All our lives we plan and look forward to the day we can retire, but on my last day of work i did not have any of the emotional reactions I expected. No tears, no relief, no joy.
I was a little sad in the morning, thinking that after 45 years, this would be the last time I put on my midwife’s uniform. ( not that I ever enjoyed
wearing a uniform, in fact I hated how unneccessary it was). Then the day continued as normal, hit the ground running, busy, busy ,busy. Too many patients, not enough time. No time to think.
The hospital trust had provided a very nice lunchtime buffet and a even nicer cheque for me to buy a retirement present. People gave me cards, flowers and other little gifts, which I found very touching. But all the time I felt I was standing to one side watching this 66 year old woman, who I did not recognise, accept the flowers and the speeches. How did she get here? For after all in my head, I’m still 25 and 9 stones!
Then it was back to business as usual, busy, busy busy, nobody really cares. Too many patients not enough time and the culmination of having nobody to hand over my patients to at the end of the shift, a heated discussion with the co- ordinator, and working an hour and a half unpaid overtime. Nothing different there. How many thousands of extra hours have I worked over a lifetime and how much money would that have been.
Still no emotional reaction, I just wanted to get home and have my tea!
A couple of days before, I’d emptied my locker in the shower, situated where the staff changing room used to be. Now consultant offices. In those days we changed into uniform at work and in my head I could hear the ghosts of the chatter, banter and laughter that went on. The sort of social interaction that was so bonding to us all, along with conversation, meal breaks together, sharing othe ups and downs of our lives. Today we don’t have time for all that. Sadly I don’t feel we care for each other in the same way. Now we are just a number on an electronic roster, a commodity to be moved around like chess pieces.
“Matron”. Would parade around the wards, every day, ruling with a rod of iron, but at least she knew your name, or if your children were ill. We never see administrators, who make life affecting decisions about our work. And ” Matron” …..a title just given to a manager to appease political pressure groups, may appear once a week if you are lucky.
Or maybe these are the nostalgic memories of someone who’s too long in the tooth. Maybe I can’t remember the bad things. But honestly, I can remember the days it WAS like Call the Midwife, (except we drove cars, and I only lived with the nuns when I was on call…. No mobile phones in those days.)
And of course people move on as if they don’t care. It’s part of the job. A midwife has to develop an emotional coping strategy that enables her to deliver a stillborn baby or watch a mother die, and then carry on with the newly delivered mums and babies, sharing the joy of them without allowing her sadness and grief to show through.
Goodness, I’ve only just realised that. No wonder people say we are a strange breed. It’s not as if we have no feelings, we just got good at professionally covering them up.
So then we went away to London, pampering ourselves in a discreet, 5 star hotel, One Aldwych. booked before I decided to retire, but very apt. Wonderful staff, really looked after us, great views, just what I needed.
OUR VIEW OF THE SHARD FROM OUR ROOM.
Last week I caught up with friends, ” a lady who lunches ” But I still feel as if I just on holiday.
Occasionally, I will get little flashes of the freedom to come. I painted my nails and thought, I’ve painted my nails! I’ve painted my nails, I don’t have to take it off for work! Yay! …what I didn’t realise bis that nail varnish chips after a few days and you have to take it off and renew it anyway!lol! And I’ve had my hair cut in a layered flicked up style, which I couldn’t have at work because it doesn’t tie up.
AND…. I can stay out late anytime I want cos I don’t have to get up early in the mornings.😁😁😁
Its the little things!
Otherwise, being ” retired” as part of my new identity, is wierd. Doesn’t quite fit. I never really defined myself as a midwife, but I realise now, it WAS part of who I am/ was.
Being ” a retired person” doesn’t quite sound right. What does that mean, who is this person?
It’s a new adventure to find out!
Beautifully and thoughtfully written as ever Denise. You will get used to it I promise, and then you will wonder how you ever had time to work! For the first 4 or 5 weeks I felt as if it wasn’t real and I’d be going back to work soon. I was exhausted for the first couple of weeks after a very stressful year and it was almost as if I was off sick, watching too much daytime television, lying on the sofa in my pyjamas. Then a couple of weeks to convalesce and I was raring to go! I haven’t looked back since!
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Well the temptation is to sit around in pyjamas, on various social media watching TV, as I am this morning. Then I get annoyed with myself for ” wasting time”. ….need to get some self discipline!
I hope you have a good retirement. You’ll soon get into the swing of things. Which hospitals did you work for? Or did it not work like that and was it more in the community where the mothers lived? I don’t watch Call the Midwife, but I know enough, and it seems odd that you were one of them… who are supposed to be historical figures almost.
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I worked for Bolton. But also did clinics at Fairfield and Salford as Bolton took on thier maternity services a few years ago.
Love the idea of being s historical figure. When I traced my family tree I discovered that my great grandmother was a midwife. Well known in the community.
Nice to hear from you as always Fm.
Just a quick note to say I hope you are enjoying your first few weeks of retirement. (Although I prefer to think of it as being “a lady of leisure”!)
I’ve been “retired” for 11 years now, which is hard to believe! I do work for our local county health department about 1 day a week–which is just perfect and gives me a bit of a “focus” and some much needed people contact. I’m very lucky in that they work around our travel schedule–even for a 6 week trip to Paris this fall!
Relax and enjoy every minute of your well-earned “lady of leisure status”!
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I retired as a midwife april 2016 and everything you said is true!! I laughed sooo much when you stated you had painted your nails !! That was my first thoughs and i had highlights put in my hair!! We ARE definitelya strange breed of person! Ha! I still feel as though im on holiday, the though of no more nights , on calls and early mornings is wonderful.
Keep blogging i love it!!
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Hi Shirley. Thanks for your comment, welcome to retirement. I’ve been so busy, no time for blogging.
I’m sure you’ll agree, retirement is a weird emotional experience. Need to blog soon.
Love Denise 🌷
Hi Denise. Just caught up with your blog after a long time. Congratulations on your retirement! It took me about two years to really get used to it, but now I love having control over what I do each day – to not have to do anything unless I want to. Freedom! 🙂
Hi, nice to hear from you. I really need to write another blog post. But I’ve been so busy. Don’t know how I found time to go to work!