Working mum’s stories: How Mel has shifted from being a nurse to becoming a sleep Coach

By Mel

I was at my parents clearing out my old belongings and I came across some old school reports. They were from year 1 when I would have been around 6 years old and I clearly remember them saying “Melissa is a very caring student, always wanting to help others.” I honestly think a career in helping others was written into my DNA. At the age of 18 it was time to apply for university and start the journey of my lifelong career. I originally wanted to become a midwife and even though it is a profession that is extremely under-staffed, the application process can be competitive and university recruitment like you to have some form of life experience. It was fair to say just writing down I want to deliver babies wasn’t really enough to make me stand out. I spoke with someone at Manchester University, and they informed me that there were 40 spaces on the course and they had nearly 1000 applications. I never stood a chance. I had put my application in for the maximum of 5 universities that you were allowed to apply for and each of my applications I received the news that I was unsuccessful. However, two of the universities offered the option to study to become an Adult Nurse. I thought this was close enough and off I travelled down to Plymouth to start the 3-year training course.

There were about 150 students, many of them mature and only a handful of 18 year olds fresh out of college. After some training in lecture halls, we were sent out on placement to work shifts in a hospital under nurse supervision to get a real taste of what nursing was like. It was fair to say the number of students dropped drastically after first being exposed to the wards as many of us had no idea what it was actually like. I stuck at it and worked every hour under the sun. I regularly remember I would be leaving my student accommodation to start my long days and seeing other students stumble back home from their nights out. By the age of 21, I had completed my training and qualified as a registered nurse. I left Plymouth with many happy memories and a future husband but was ready to return back to Bristol and start my career.

It’s difficult to write about a 10-year career into a paragraph. My first few years of nursing were spent floating around working in different departments trying to find which area I enjoyed most. One of my favourite posts was working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Bristol. I loved the pace of the nursing and how you never knew what would come through the door next and how much of a difference you could make to a patient’s and family’s life. However, the immense pressure of how we were always short staffed, rarely got to have a break and the hours of constantly going between nights and days took its toll. Also, ICU has it in the title, it’s intense, emotions are high and unfortunately there are many tragic events which after some time started to affect me emotionally and it was a large burden. I then left to work in the community delivering intravenous treatment for rare conditions and delivering chemotherapy to patients in their own homes. I was in this role when Covid started and again the face of nursing changed. It was a bizarre time when everyone was in lockdown, and I had to take a letter with me to say I was a nurse driving around visiting patients.

My motherhood journey

Throughout this time, I had been having fertility treatment. The daily injections, pessaries, and the number of internal scans I had to have didn’t bother me at all. Although the emotional impact it had was overwhelming. The silver lining of Covid though was that having a baby wasn’t at the forefront of my mind and this of course was then when I found out I was expecting. The pregnancy went smoothly and after a long labour we returned home with our daughter Millie and it’s fair to say my life completely changed from that point. Motherhood took me by surprise and was not at all how I thought it would be. I loved it but it was the biggest change I had ever experienced, and it happened over night. Millie did not sleep well at all, and this went on for months on end. I was sleep deprived, constantly anxious and didn’t know a way out. I was terrified I would feel like this forever. Books and the internet gave me completely unrealistic expectations of how I thought my daughter should be sleeping. As the months went by, sleep did start to improve and by the time Millie was 7 months I was starting to feel myself again. A month later we found out the news that I was expecting our second child. I was so shocked by the news to be pregnant again I think it took me a while to process it all. The one thing I knew would be different were my expectations of motherhood. I wouldn’t put myself under large amounts of pressure again.

Retraining and setting up a new business while pregnant for the second time

By this time, I was getting passionate about infant sleep and the opportunity arose for me to train to be a sleep coach. I had seen the advertisement before but just brushed it under the carpet, thinking I couldn’t leave my nursing career behind. Though when the course started again, I mentioned it to my husband and immediately he thought I should do it. So that was it. At 12 weeks pregnant I embarked on a new career, training to be a sleep coach. I returned to work part time in the day, I looked after my daughter the days I wasn’t working and studied when she was napping or in the evenings. All whilst being pregnant. I really found something I love doing and the training never felt like a chore. I passed my course a week after my son was born and I have had the opportunity and privilege to work with so many families already. Yes, as a sleep consultant I help to improve their little ones’ lives, but I also get to help the parents. I get to help mums feel more rested, confident, and less anxious. I take away the false information and remind mums they are doing a great job. I personally think parenting is the hardest job there is. I’m currently still on maternity leave and building my business The Baby Sleep Nurse. I don’t know if I will return to my nursing role or not. The daily juggle of trying to have two under two and start a business is hard and I certainly don’t have the right balance yet. What I do know is that I love what I am doing and will continue to help families on their sleep journey for as long as possible.

Did you know that we have a free mindset mini-programme for mums?

Let your light shine is an online programme about you and your mindset. It is packed with tools and advice from top coaches to face the challenge of getting unstuck, believe in yourself, and feel empowered to move towards your goals with confidence aside from your unique role of being a mum. Find out more and register here!

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