Mom to Hadley and Marlowe
Employee Communications Supervisor
Length of maternity leave: 12-weeks & 10-weeks
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
For me, returning to work after my first child was the most difficult part of motherhood. I didn't have postpartum anxiety until I began plans to head back to work. I remember crying myself to sleep for weeks before going back to work. After growing her for 9 months and then being by her side for 3 months after birth, I couldn't bear the thought of leaving her 5 days a week for 9 hours a day. I was an emotional wreck. My saddest thoughts were, what if she loves her caretaker (babysitter) more than me? What if she prefers her babysitter over me? What if I miss the big milestones? I beat myself up over this guilt for months before leaving her and many months after. I breastfed exclusively for the first six months and loved it. But I HATED pumping. Some days I would forget my pump parts and have to go all the way home to get them. Some days I would go into the pump room and just cry. And when she got sick...I would go into an anxious tailspin. And in daycare, she got sick a LOT. None of my close friends were working moms and the motherhood communities were all centered around SAHMs. I felt alone and like I was doing it all myself. I felt like I had no one to talk to. No one to relate with. It wasn't really until she was around 18 months that I began to feel like myself again.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
Balance. Trying to succeed in my career while trying to be the best parent that I can be. After five years as a working mother, I'm rarely plagued by the guilt I once felt. However, every once in a while I have a day where I'm down and I feel like I'm missing out on a part of motherhood and a part of my girls' childhoods. The worst is when I have to leave a sick kiddo at home for an important meeting at work. I worry that I'm showing my girls that work is more important than them, which couldn't be farther from the truth.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
At the end of the day, I love my job. I feel like I wouldn't be whole without it. I'm proud of myself for showing my daughters that they can work and be a mommy and that women can work as hard as men and be as successful as men. My second child has always been more mommy-centric and needy. So I always tell myself that daycare is better for her than being at home. She loves daycare and she thrives on the interaction with her friends and other teachers. She is very social. I believe if I stayed at home with her she would be too dependent on me.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
Yes! My views about having a career and family have changed. But they do sometime fluctuate. There are days where all I want to do is be a mom. And then there are days where I feel really inspired by my work and want to kick ass. It ebbs and flows. But I believe that's normal. Overall, I have a pretty flexible schedule, but ideally, I would love to work from home as much as possible so that I could be more active at my daughter's elementary school. Now that my oldest is in kindergarten, I'm finding that the elementary school schedule isn't really made for two parents who work full-time, which is tricky to navigate. And, I do feel the guilt creeping in when I compare myself to other mothers.
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?
The second time I went back to work, I knew I needed more support. I prepared myself by getting on zoloft a few weeks before because I knew I had to go back to work after only 10-weeks off. It was really helpful for my anxiety. I also found everything so much easier the second time around as far as returning to work. The second time around, we chose a center daycare and I actually preferred it to our in-home the first time around. It was better for our baby because she was needier and instead of one babysitter to six kids, our day care center had three teachers and the ratio was 4 to 1 in the baby room.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
In-home daycare and center daycare
In-home day care -- one sitter and six kids was good for our first daughter because it fit the budget at the time (slightly cheaper). More of a family feel. No staff turnover. I knew who was with my child at all times. The cons were -- when the sitter was sick, the day care was closed, which was tough.
Daycare center -- Pros: the baby to teacher ratio was smaller 4:1. More activity for the baby. Open almost all work days. Cons: Sicknesses. Can't control which teachers interact with baby. Slightly pricier.
Overall, I feel like I should have admitted the first time around that I had anxiety about leaving my baby. I should have addressed it with a counselor and possibly gotten help.