Mom to Hazel & V
RN-Educator, Memorial Hospital
Maternity Leave: 12 weeks
What did you struggle with most about returning to work?
We started a family after moving away from everyone we knew; family and friends were now 200 miles away. I started a new position as a cardiac cath nurse. It is a grueling job that involves a lot of responsibility and long hours; a job that requires you to be on call, to save a life, and leave at a moment's notice when the pager alarms. It is also an incredibly rewarding job and one that only a few people ever get the opportunity to experience.
As my maternity leave came to an end, I geared up to go back to work. I wondered how I was going to be able to juggle the long hours. I thought, 'what if I did not get to hold my baby all day because I left before she woke and I came home after she went to bed?' Questions like, 'how could I trust strangers to care for my infant daughter when the same facility had reports of child abuse not even 3 months prior' kept me up at night.
My husband and I sat questioning if we were making the right choice in that I go back to work?
Through tears, I argued that I should just stay at home and continue caring for my daughter, the way I know she should be cared for.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
Now, I have a slightly different role at the hospital than I did with my first baby. My position is part-time and allows me to primarily work from home. I still go in 1-2 times a week, but the position is extremely flexible. Something I still struggle with is, the idea of being completely present for my children, especially after working all day. Sometimes, after a long day, it is just nice to mind-numbingly scroll through social media or turn on some ridiculous reality show.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
What I love about being a working parent is the identity of not just being a mom. I am not saying that my "Mom" title is negative in any way, it is just that I wanted to show my children that you can be a mom as well as a working adult.
I want my daughter to see that it is important to have a skill, a passion, or an outlet so that you can always stay balanced in life.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
For me, working is part of my identity. I started working from a very young age and it is part of who I am. I went to school to pursue a career I love. After starting a family, my perception of who I am and what I stand for changed. The ability to be a successful nurse as well as a loving and doting mother makes me feel complete. I am not saying balancing it all is easy though. The pressure to be perfect in every aspect of your life is real and overwhelming. But at the end of the day, my children make it easy to prioritize what I believe is important in life.
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?
Expressing your concerns and being vocal about your feelings is ok. Over the last 2 years, I have had to learn to find my voice and stick up for myself and my children when I felt that something was not right.
How is daycare going?
Trusting strangers to watch over your children is scary. When I would pick my daughter up from daycare and saw her red, swollen eyes, it broke my heart. In the long run, however, I think daycare is teaching my daughter to become more independent. It is teaching her to be social with other kids; to be more patient.
Another con of daycare is the high turnover rate of caregivers. It is rare that a caregiver stays longer than 6 months. You work so hard to earn the trust of caregivers and then one day they are gone, and the process starts all over. My son is used to me holding him constantly. At daycare they do not have the ability to hold every crying infant. Although I know how hard it is for him to go to daycare, I also know it will make him more independent in the long run.
Anything else you want to share?
I love the idea of this project. Supporting women is so important, not only for our generation, but for the next generations too. Social media has made it easy to feel like you're in a constant competition with everyone else, instead of feeling like we are building each other up.