Mom to Olive, Evaline & Lucy
Senior Manager, Communications & PR @ Medela
Length of maternity leave: 12 weeks
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
My most recent maternity leave was a whole different experience for me. I was leaving a team of direct reports and major campaign projects for 12 whole weeks, as well as work and a team I loved. This time, however, I was also leaving full of confidence in myself, my team, my colleagues, and the process. I’d been through this twice before and, this time, I was going to make it work with grace.
The transition back to work after baby was still hard; I wanted to fully “lean in” to everything at work and be a breastfeeding (& pumping) mom at the same time. I credit my boss and colleagues for making both my work and mom goals a reality. My boss supported my request for no overnight travel for that first year after I realized pumping for 2 hours of my workday was not possible. My colleagues also stepped up to encourage my breastfeeding intentions with meetings and travel on my behalf when others challenged my presence or travel restrictions. It’s because of them that I am still breastfeeding today 18 months in.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
There are a lot of challenges parents in the working world face today. It’s managing two full-time roles in overlapping universes of responsibilities. It’s the guilt about what is sacrificed to keep all those balls afloat at all times.
It’s building and nurturing your tribe, and your relationship with your partner while also being the parent your child(ren) need. It’s taking time for your self for the benefit of your family. For me, it’s all of these things and more that I’m too tired to remember at the moment, because I’m about 18 months in to an interrupted sleep routine for the third time.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
I’m privileged to say that the work that I am part of today could have an impact on my kid’s work in the future. This drives me. If I can contribute to improving the support available to working parents, better paternity leave policies, and normalizing breastfeeding for tomorrow’s families, I feel like I’m working towards something that matters to me — for my daughters.
I also love the balance I’m forced to chase and the letting go required to prioritize what’s important. Laundry didn’t get done Saturday, because kids needed a lazy snuggle day with mom? I can handle that. Stayed late at work for a meeting? So glad I’ve got a stash of gluten-free chicken nuggets in the freezer. Didn’t send that email today? Thank God tomorrow is just a few hours away.
I believe being a mom who also works full time has made me more effective with my time and adapt better/ be more flexible.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
As a mom of three girls, I know my views about career and family have evolved with each experience. Today I feel like I owe my mom a thank you note. Not only was she right about how I would feel as a mom, but she also knew how kids would trump everything from my daily project list to my life goals. She knew over time, I’d realize the benefit of letting go of the anxiety and pressure to have a clean house and instead celebrate my healthy, safe, smart kids.
I also owe my boss a note. Without her empathetic leadership that allowed for my needs to be met, I couldn’t have done it and thrived in my job. Being able to work from home a day a week, set my hours, and not travel overnight for a year made my working mom balance goals possible.
Because of my shift in viewpoint and the people around me who enabled it, I now feel empowered to stand up for new moms on my team and in my organization for the things they don’t yet know they’ll need or want: a nice place to pump, a boss who supports their motherhood and feeding goals, a workplace that embraces flexibility to support families.
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?
If I could go back in time to tell myself anything, I’d say: Take it one day at a time. Every day is a new challenge, but you (& your baby) are resilient and strong. You and your baby will figure it out and it will be great. Enjoy every moment you can — it goes so fast!
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
I am lucky enough to pay family members to watch my children during the week.
The pros outweigh every possible con in my experience. I’m grateful and privileged to have the support of my family nearby and accessible to help making this parenting and working thing a reality every week.
Anything else to share?
I am so grateful to The Returnity Project and all of those who are shining a light on this topic. It’s refreshed my soul, provided great inspiration, and encouraged me to be an advocate for parents everywhere. Thank you!