At 35 weeks pregnant, I decided it was time to call it quits. Andrew and I are moving to Bangkok next week to wait out little boy's arrival, and I feel ready to stop working and focus on preparing to become a mother.
But, it's still bittersweet.
I have worked with three of the staff ever since I came to Cambodia almost three years ago. We started the thyroid clinic together, learned from each other, and have shared so many experiences. We've seen visitors come and go. We've driven to the villages on motorcycles and in Land Rovers to visit patients that needed encouragement or a check-up on their health - some of them living in desperate situations I can't imagine raising a family in.
We've taken care of our share of cute kids and said painful goodbyes to the ones that didn't make it. I've even taken their blood to see their blood type, hoping that one of them would be able to give blood to help out a critically ill patient who traveled across the country to see us. And of course, there are plenty of routine days mixed in with the exciting ones.
I've learned about Cambodian culture from them, things like why many Cambodians are afraid of doctors. I've seen the clinic doors shut for a year while the doctor went back to America for home leave, then helped reopen them when he returned this past fall.
So many of my memories and life lessons are wrapped up in the four rooms of our small clinic on the outskirts of the city hospital grounds. I find it hard to imagine that their work will carry on, while I'm at home every day.
Wednesday night, all the staff gathered for dinner at one of the outdoor casino barbecue restaurants. We shared memories, laughed together, English and Khmer flowing in and out of the same conversation. I'll still see all the staff at church, as, thankfully, we're all part of the same community. But I'll never be part of the daily loop again.
Yet, what am I getting in exchange? A chance to stay home and focus on being a mom. I don't plan on returning to work as long as we're in Cambodia, because there's no one else to watch the baby. And I'm actually really grateful that I don't have to make the decision about whether to go back to work, or try to find a way to decrease my hours. And we are really fortunate that Andrew's job has allowed me to volunteer the past three years, without worrying about an income, because now I can stay home and still not worry about it.
I think God has really moved around my heart's priorities. I see our new adventure as parents as a door opening up to a whole world of new possibilities. I know I'll have days when I struggle with the everyday routine and miss the challenge of medical work. But for now, this is my role, and I'm eager to embrace it.