I’ll be honest; the end of last year was difficult for me at work. On the professional side, there were forced schedule changes that made both my days and weeks longer.

The additions to our electronic medical record (EMR) system were confusing and time consuming. The patients were very upset because our new waiting room is smaller and often very crowded. One of my beloved midwife partners announced she was leaving our practice.  These are things that can leave any clinician frustrated and disgruntled.

On the patient interaction side, I had to tell three women that they had cancer. I sat with two heartbroken moms who had stillbirths. These are the things that break my heart and make me cry in the car on my drive home.

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I found myself fantasizing about other more desirable jobs, ones that only required me to work Monday through Friday, nine-to-five. I thought about ways I could make money from home, creative endeavors that would leave me satisfied and financially secure. I dreamt of a career that would not bear the burden of responsibility for the lives of women, pregnant moms, and unborn babies.

Despite these pipe dreams, my real work life marched on in 24- and 48-hour call shifts and long office days. I looked for things to keep me going, to keep me moving forward in my chosen profession through the haze of burnout.

What I found was an amazingly strong young woman who was determined to birth vaginally after a cesarean delivery, without pain medication, and did so, as I watched in admiration and welcomed that beautiful little girl into my hands.

I found a family of sisters, who have each had their babies with the midwives in our practice, who believe so strongly in midwifery care and the strength of women supporting each other in birth.

I found a 68 year-old woman who has faced cancer twice, beaten it, and still giggles like a teenager and is planning a SCUBA diving trip to Australia with her daughters. 

I found the satisfaction and awe, an almost giddy feeling that can only come from catching a baby, and then the deep fatigue that comes after a birth, as I climbed into my comfortable bed in the wee hours of the morning, my whole family fast asleep.

I found that this is what I do, the good the bad, the ups and downs, the stressors and the joys. I do it because I can’t imagine not caring for women or catching babies. It is part of who I am.

Why do you keep going?

Robyn Carlisle, MSN, CNM, WHNP, works as a full-scope midwife at University Doctors and Kennedy University Hospital in Sewell, N.J.