When I told him it was about breast milk, he was embarrassed and apologetic, and they made a pumping room space for me and others. I'm glad I asked, at least to make it easier for other moms in the future.

What is one piece of advice you wish you could offer your former expectant self?

Your path as a working mom is going to have a lot of ups and downs, many that are beyond your control. Trust that in the worst moments, things will get better.

What was your primary motivation for deciding to return (or not) to work?

My professional life has always been a huge part of my identity. I always knew that if I was a mom, I’d also work outside the home in some capacity. I have always known I’d need many dimensions to my life outside of parenting.

FOR MOMS: If you breastfed, was there a place for you to pump that met your needs and was conducive to your success? If you breastfed, how did you decide to continue?

I breastfed for 11 months and it felt hard earned. I remember texting my lactation consultant on the way to work at least once a week. I really felt like there were not enough places to pump in my work and personal life. When I joined a co-working space when my son was 6 months old, I asked the manager via email what their pumping room situation was. His response was, “I’m not sure what this referring to, is this about bicycle maintenance?” UGH! When I told him it was about breast milk, he was embarrassed and apologetic, and they made a pumping room space for me and others. I’m glad I asked, at least to make it easier for other moms in the future.

How much leave did you take, and how comfortable were you taking it? How did you structure your return?

I took 12 weeks, which was paid, which I thought would be plenty of time. But after my son had health issues and surgery when he was a newborn, it definitely wasn’t enough. I thought i was being so strategic by following advice and coming back on a Thursday. However, I returned full time after that and I definitely wasn’t ready.

How easy was it to put a childcare arrangement together and did it work for your family?

My husband was home with our son after I returned to work. The first year, we ended up having family come to town to help us, and using a part time babysitter. It wasn’t at all “standardized.”

When did the “new normal” set in for you?

The first year of my son’s life was full of personal and professional upheaval. The second year we moved to a new city for a fellowship for me. Two more moves followed. I am not sure if the new normal has set in yet, and my son is almost three and a half!

What was your biggest challenge going back to work?

I was the only parent on my team and I didn’t feel like I had any support in my work environment for my new reality. I think overall, sleep deprivation while trying to work was one of the worst feelings of my life.

Who was your biggest source of support in returning to work?

Probably a group of moms I met in my neighborhood. We made a slack group that’s still active three and a half years later. They are really supportive and non-judgmental.

As a working parent, a good day is when I can be present with everything I’m trying to accomplish.

As a working parent, a bad day is when nothing goes according to plan.

Fill in the blanks:

As a working parent, I never expected sleep deprivation would be so hard and giving up work distractions like social media would make my work life so much easier!

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