So, Caroline and I left North Dakota two weeks early. There were several reasons for this. I realized several nights into the trip that I couldn’t book patients from off-campus. Which stressed me out to no end. Also, a month is a really long time to stay in your in-laws’ house. Like, a really long time. Finally, Tyler just didn’t have any time for us because he was working on his thesis around the clock (all his specimens are out there). So we came back home to Connecticut.
I went in to school to meet with my clinic leader and she told me I needed to meet with the dean. The dean told me to email all the course directors and ask what they wanted me to do in order to get caught up before my return. They all asked for stuff like, you know, drill some fake teeth, whatever whatever. Except for one, who wanted me to take…
A four-hour exam.
That’s what I said. A four-hour exam.
Also? This was for the hardest course I took as a third-year. I seriously almost pooped myself when I read that email. I immediately panicked (if you read this blog regularly, you know I am a panicker) and started studying my butt off, with a side of “I don’t want to go back to school.”
Okay… it was more than a “side”. I seriously started this downward spiral into an existential crisis. After a whole year at home with my little girl, I kind of felt like my heart just wasn’t in the dentistry thing anymore. The thought of studying and going to clinic and classes was just exhausting.
I’ll be completely honest here. I wasn’t thrilled with motherhood for awhile. The first few months are so, so very hard. I wanted my old life back. I wanted to go back to school. I missed my friends and my career and my freedom. I felt chained to my tiny apartment and my crying baby. I was deep in postpartum depression, I hated my body, I felt stuck and lonely and sad. That’s horrible to say, and I feel horrible saying it. (Well… a tiny part of me feels relieved to admit it, and I am positive that I’m not the only one who’s ever felt that way.) But motherhood, and especially stay-at-home-motherhood, isn’t always the picture-perfect dream it can seem like from the outside.
But things started to get better around 4 months. And then they got a lot better around 6 months. By 8 months or so, I was loving staying at home. I miss Caroline so much when I’m not around her. I can’t imagine handing her over to her daycare every day. I started to feel like it might not be my “calling” to go in to dentistry after all. Dental school is so difficult that it’s not something you can do if your heart isn’t in it… and I was feeling like the only thing my “heart” was in, was being a mom.
I knew this was going to happen. See my New Year’s post from last year. I was afraid of this. I suspected that once I got to know my baby and got used to being out of the loop from school, I wasn’t going to want to go back to the chaos and the stress. It doesn’t help, ironically, that Tyler is 100% supportive of whatever I want to do. He’s offered to pay off my student loans (which, thankfully, are minimal) so that I can stay home with Caroline, if that’s what truly makes me happy. He reminds me of this every time I mention going back to school… not really helping my motivation!
Anyway, after a lot of obsessing, I decided to do what I feel is the “right” thing-- I’m going to finish this degree. Even if it’s awful, even if every single day is awful, I can do this for a year and a half. I want to have that degree and license that no one can take from me, even if I never use it. I want to prove everybody wrong who thinks I can’t do it, because I’m sure there are a lot of them at my school. I want to set a good example for my daughter, not get pregnant and drop out of grad school. And I just want to do it for me. I wanted this really badly, once. And I think that once I get back into the swing of things, I will want it again.
I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
Oh, and that four-hour exam? I took it this morning. I got an 87. While I was still in the class, over a year ago? I got an 85.
I can do this.