Mom to Haley Rose
Program & Events Coordinator
Maternity Leave: 6-weeks unpaid
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
I just went back to work on 9/11, 6-weeks after I had Haley Rose. I definitely struggled with going back to work so early. Unfortunately I only had 6-weeks of leave, all unpaid, because I started my job when I was 17 weeks pregnant so I didn't qualify for FMLA or any other benefits.
I am really struggling with feeling like I am going to miss a bunch of her "firsts". Haley is so close to rolling over and loves to snuggle during the day, and knowing that I'm not the one getting to see her and play with her during a majority of her awake time is really upsetting. The other thing I am struggling with, which I am actually surprised with, is that I find it - dare I say - easy to get back in the swing of going to work. I have always been a super independent person and very career driven. I thought it would be more difficult for me to leave every morning and that I would be upset all day, which don't get me wrong I miss Haley and love getting pictures of her throughout he day. But being back in the office is fun and I enjoy being busy. It allows me to be "Jess" again and not just "Haley's mom".
On the flip side, I am struggling with "is there something wrong with me?" or "am I being a bad mom?" because it's not as hard for me to leave every morning as I expected. I used to work full time in NYC in TV Production and thrived as a twenty something working with high profile celebs. Last year, I found out that I might not be able to conceive naturally because my egg count was comparable to a 40 year old and that I would not be a good candidate for egg freezing with a less than a 5% success rating. At 24 years old, my boyfriend and I decided to start trying and were told it 'might' happen after a year of trying. After the first month, we found out that we were pregnant. Here I am at 24 years old in the peak of my career, finding out I am pregnant after being told it would be almost impossible. Go figure.
Of course we were over the moon. We decided to leave the city, move back down to the south Jersey suburbs to be closer to family, find new jobs, and get married. Thankfully I have been with my now husband since we were 13 years old, so in a way it all seemed natural because we always knew we wanted a family and to move back home. But I think having fertility issues on top of the usual going back to work blues has added another layer of guilt because it just shows me how conflicted I am. Here I am wanting to be the best mom I can be, but also wanting to throw myself into my new career like I used to. This entire process has been really eye opening in showing me what is really important in life.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
I find pumping at work to be the most difficult part of being a working mom. I work in events so I am always on the move and there is not enough hours in my work day to get everything finished. Trying to add 20 minutes 2-3 times a day for pumping just doesn't happen. I'm lucky if I do it 1-2 times. Plus, although I have my own office and can pump in there, a lot of people have key access so I am constantly on edge that someone will walk in on me. I actually put a cow sticker on my door so everyone knows not to enter and knows what is going on inside. It puts my mind at ease a little bit, but you never know. Also by the time I get home from work, I only have 3-4 hours of Haley being awake to play and just be with her. Plus I have to share that time with my hubby and he's such a baby hog :) Luckily I breastfeed so we still have our bonding time and those few hours make it that more special.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
Working has given me back some of my independence that I felt I lost while on maternity leave. Staying inside for days at a time, unshowered, same sweat pants on, just feeding, and burping, and shushing, and changing diapers for days at a time is exhausting and not me. At work, I get to be Jess, not just Haley's mom. Although I wouldn't trade being Haley's mom for the world, it's nice to have a sense of identity again.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
I go back and forth about wanting to be a stay at home mom or having a job where I can work from home. Unfortunately, my husband and I would never be able to afford me not working and I know deep down I love to work. But I think going back to work has given me a deeper sense of appreciation for my family because as soon as I get home my babe is in my arms and after a hard or stressful day, whatever happened is forgotten.
Knowing what you know now, what’s one thing you wish you could go back in time and tell yourself as you were preparing to return to work or getting ramped up in your role?
I was hired when I was 17 weeks pregnant. I never mentioned that I was pregnant during my interview, although I later found out that they thought I might be and hired me anyway. My job is really great and I have an awesome boss. But having to work up until my due date and then only having 6 weeks for maternity leave just sucked and I felt like I had barely any time with my new little babe. I mean, she is still so tiny! But I also felt really guilty being out for so long (even though it was only a few weeks) since I had essentially just started and didn't want my boss to feel like I was taking advantage. While I was out, I was on email and helped my boss with a few things here and there. I know he really appreciated it, but I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to get off my phone and email and that all of the work will still be there when I get back. I should of just enjoyed my time at home instead of worrying about what was waiting for me at the office. I know in a way it probably helped me because it showed my boss that I was committed to the job, but I still should of just took my [unpaid] time at home and enjoyed it.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
Thankfully, we have family who watch her. I am so lucky that my sister, mother-in-law and cousin-in-law are able to watch Haley while we're at work. We don't have to pay for daycare and I don't have to worry about her not being cared for properly or getting sick from other kids. I know that she is with people who love her and that is the best part of all. Sometimes I get really jealous of my sister or whoever she is with. They'll send me cute videos and pictures of her and I get sad that I'm not experiencing those moments with her. It's hard to not let myself get jealous or even resentful at times. But I need to remind myself how lucky I am because some moms aren't fortunate enough to have family babysit at all.