"You need help. If help is offered, take it. If help is not offered, try asking for it. They don't say, 'It takes a village to raise a child' for nothing."
What was your primary motivation for returning to work or changing your work situation after starting a family?
Yes, my career was very important to me and my own mother worked, so she was an example for me.
Tell us about your planning for your new child - timed around your career? Not at all? Share the skinny!
We waited until we were ready financially and my husband had a full-time job. You can't plan too much; there is no perfect time.
What was your biggest challenge to going back to work after starting a family?
I had a hard pregnancy and initial few weeks after birth. I was scared and tired and unsure how I was going to make everything work out.
Did you have a back-to-work mentor? How did he/she/they help?
Not officially, but I had other female attorneys at work who had children too.
How much leave did you take, and how comfortable were you taking it? If you are a single parent, how did you navigate your leave?
12 weeks. I felt that this was a good amount of time, but if I had a longer leave period I would have taken it.
Have you, or a partner, paid it forward as a parent in the workplace? Tell us a bit more.
I am a mentor for new lawyers and active with women's groups in my area, in part because I am a parent. After having my daughter, I also started a Lean In Circle in my region for women attorneys, in large part because working and being a mom is tough in the early years.
If you returned to work, when did your confidence around work kick in? How long did the adjustment take (or are you still adjusting?) When did the “new normal” set in for you?"
About a year. I found a great mentor about that time and my daughter started sleeping through the night. Everything started to click around a year to fifteen months.
What, if any, advice would you give to employers to ease strain around family leave and returning to the workplace?
Make it clear to your female employees how valuable they are. It is hard enough to work and raise a child and recover from a pregnancy. If they don't feel valued and like their work matters, it will hurt performance and you may lose them.
What factors contributed to your chosen feeding method for your baby?
My daughter could not latch due to her size and I had to pump so much in the first few weeks that I hated it by the time we switched to bottle feeding.
FOR MOMS: If you breastfed, did you need to pump? If so, how easy was it for you to pump?
In the initial weeks, yes.
FOR MOMS: Was there a place for you to pump that met your needs and was conducive to your success? FOR DADS: What, if any, adjustments did you (or your workplace) make to your schedule after having a baby?
Actual pumping was not difficult; maintaining the feeding schedule and pumping was the hard part.
A good day is when:
I get things accomplished at work and I get to see both my husband and my daughter at night.
What I wish I had known:
I wish that I had paid more attention to friendships and personal relationships before I had my daughter. I have since learned that lesson and made amends for it, but I was not as social as I am now before I got pregnant. I focused too much on work. I think a support network more like the one I have now would have made my transition into motherhood better.
One mistake I learned the hard way:
Don't freak out about breastfeeding. If you are unable to do it, you aren't the only one. I struggled for too long given the circumstances and contrary to the evidence that it was not at all successful. It took me a long time to recover from the fatigue that caused and I missed out on some of the initial weeks with my daughter.
Best piece of advice for other parents starting a family and deciding on how to balance family life and work?
You need help. If help is offered, take it. If help is not offered, try asking for it. They don't say, "It takes a village to raise a child" for nothing.
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