It's Working Project

The hardest part about my back-to-work plan, other than how hard it was emotionally to be away from my son, was how nearly impossible it was to carve out time for pumping!

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

Don’t be so hard on yourself when you (inevitably) can’t be everything to everyone all of the time; things do not have to be perfect in order for life to be successful.

What was your primary motivation for deciding to return (or not) to work? How early did you tell your employer?

I knew I would be coming back to work. I told my employer about my pregnancy on the earlier side, about 7 weeks, because I had to have a few doctors’ appointments early on and I didn’t want them to think I was interviewing or making up excuses to have time off.  My department was really close-knit, so I would have felt strange not sharing it fairly early on.

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

I took the full 12 weeks of leave.  I think the hardest part about my back-to-work plan, other than how hard it was emotionally to be away from my son, was how nearly impossible it was to carve out time for pumping!  I didn’t have a lot of options for a place to pump, and the designated mother’s room was in a different building than the one I worked in, and with 1500+ employees and only one mother’s room, the room was rarely available during the times that I needed to pump.  As a result, I wound up having to pump in the bathroom, which was definitely undesirable, and pumping took so much time out of my day that I wound up doing it less and less.  It always seemed to interfere with meetings and things, and it was hard to take the time out because each pumping session, from start to finish and including the setup and cleaning, was about 40 minutes.  I also had a long commute so basically by the time I got to work, I had maybe an hour or so, and then would have to pump.  It just became too hard to give up about 1 1/2 hours of my day, as much as I wanted to maintain my son’s supply of breastmilk.  I was exclusively nursing until I went back to work, but had to start supplementing with formula almost immediately, and was completely done nursing by 9 months, I think partly because it was so hard to keep my supply up during the day.  I was definitely disappointed because I had hoped to nurse for the first year.

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

My husband was by far the biggest source of support, because our success as a family really depends on our teamwork.  I am a lawyer by education, and he knew how hard I’d worked for my career thus far and really wanted to help me continue to be successful at work as well as at home.  He is, and always has truly been, a 50/50 partner in this for me, I definitely couldn’t do it without him.

Fill in the blanks: As a working parent, I never expected ____ would be so hard and ____ would be so much easier!

I never expected the weeknights would be so hard and maintaining a true connection with my child despite having limited time with him would be so much easier!