I Can Do This.

Okay, I’m sorry!! I’ve been gone for a ridiculously long time… which means this is going to be a rather ridiculously long post. Sorry for the long hiatus– one of my New Years’ resolutions is to not be such a blogger-slacker.

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.

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  1. by HarmSkills

    On December 31, 2009 at 6:33 am

    you can do it! and having the degree with be like money in the bank. good luck!

  2. by MSLibLady

    On December 31, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Yay on the test! That's great news!

  3. by Merks

    On December 31, 2009 at 8:53 am

    MOVE TO VIRGINIA.Wait, what?

  4. by Eris1995

    On December 31, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Great news on the test!! You will be so relieved once you get the degree. You can do it!!

  5. by Ashley T

    On December 31, 2009 at 9:38 am

    You can totally do it!!!!! It will just take some time to adjust to being back at school (I fought with that adjustment this year). The fact that you got 87 on that exam says to me that you were meant to do this! Congrats.

  6. by Bex

    On December 31, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Good for you for finishing what you started, even though it might not seem like what you want right now. You've only got a year and a half left; it makes sense to make the time you already put in meaningful. And it will be, even if you don't use it. Which I seriously think you will, though maybe not for a while down the line. But at least then you'll have the choice, you know? You've left all your doors and options open, and that takes guts and hard work. A very good example for your daughter indeed!

  7. by Kelly (Kari's friend)

    On December 31, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Way to go, Julia! You most definitely can do this. Need more pics of Caroline, stat!

  8. by Kylie Mc

    On December 31, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    You can definately do it! I went through a similar thing with returning to work (which I did when my little guy was only 3 mths old). The hardest part is really just the thought of it all. Once you get back into the swing of things, it'll feel easier. And daycare can actually be a great thing for your daughter. She'll benefit from interacting with other little ones. But just remember in the beginning it's gonna be hard, but stick with it and don't give up. And for sure, it's okay to cry. I cried the first day I took my baby to daycare. Now, he's three and when I drop him off at preschool there's a big hug and kiss and a cute wave of the hand with a big smile. I know he's confident that he'll have a fun time and that Mommy will be back to pick him up when he's done. You can SO do this! ;)

  9. by Jennie

    On December 31, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    you don't know me from a hole in the ground but for what it's worth I think you're doing the right thing. Also: thank you for posting, even briefly, about how hard it is adjusting to being a mother. Sometimes I feel like no one talks about just how incredibly hard the adjustment can be and I start to think maybe I'm the only one… and maybe that makes me not a good mom… etc. etc. so thank you for putting that out there. Good luck! you really CAN do it.

  10. by myranda

    On January 1, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Great job on the exam! I think you are doing the right thing by following your "gut feeling". Caroline is so truly blessed to have a momma who loves her so much!

  11. by Josee

    On January 1, 2010 at 9:17 am

    You are awesome, and that all I need to say! Way to go!

  12. by Ashley

    On January 1, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Yep, yep, yep. I have the exact same feelings. Annabelle is only 3 months old and I have zero desire to be a lawyer…Aaron and I had the same conversation about working/ going back to law school/ being a SAHM instead. We came to the same conclusion and I completely empathize. You CAN do this.

  13. by Anonymous

    On January 2, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Good job on the test! Happy New Year!

  14. by Anonymous

    On January 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    This isn't at all to put doubts in your head, but are you actually going to want to be a dentist (or at least in dentistry in some form) when you are done with school? As someone who's been there, I don't really recommend finishing a degree just to "get it done" when your heart isn't in that field. All that means is extra student loans that you will have to pay for in the end, and if you don't have a good job, it will make it all the more difficult to pay for. You don't have anything to prove. Don't go through all of this to prove your classmates wrong…there's really no need for that.If you do feel like you will eventually want to use your degree, then I say definitely go for it. Good luck.

  15. by Anonymous

    On January 3, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    From a fellow dentist and mother to another, you are making the right choice. I have been following your blog for a while and our personalities are very similar. You can absolutely do this, and then have a lot of flexibility with your career when you are done! bravo, the hardest part is getting started again. dont doubt yourself, you were meant to do this! (plus the last 1.5 is the easiest part!!!) good luck! Stephanie

  16. by Julia

    On January 3, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Hi Anonymous! (The last anonymous, I mean.)I know what you mean… that's why I did so much obsessing about whether or not I was going to go back. I don't want to spend a bunch of money just to prove somebody wrong. I would never do that– dental school is too much work for that.I think I *will* eventually want to use my DMD, especially once Caroline is in school. I'm pretty sure I would regret not finishing, because I don't want to stay home forever, and when I do work– dentistry is what I'll want to do. I'm not entirely sure I'll use the degree immediately away after graduation, but I'm pretty sure I will want to be a dentist again once I get back into the swing of things.Definitely a good point, though– thanks! And thanks to all of you ladies for your support. It does mean a lot to me.

  17. by Anonymous

    On January 4, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Julia, Good Luck tomorrow! It will all come back to you quickly! I'll be praying for you! Stephanie