It's Working Project

"From the very beginning, I was out the door by no later than 5:30. It has meant that, now that I have kids and I have to leave, no one is surprised that I'm not around at 6 because I've never been around at 6.

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

Pretending I don’t have a family or wasn’t having difficulty at home because I was afraid it would change people’s perception of me did not do me any favors in the end. I hid the fact that I had a series of miscarriages because I was afraid my employer would treat me differently if it knew I was planning to be out on maternity leave again; what really happened is that I was a crappy employee during that time and my employer (and the partners I worked with) assumed I was one foot out the door and distracted because of motherhood. I think with some employers, my assumption might have been the right one to make, but that was not the case where I am.

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? FOR DADS: What, if any, adjustments did you (or your workplace) make to your schedule after having a baby? Was it specific to your manager or larger, whole work culture?

I wanted to breastfeed because I believe it is so much better for the child. But breastfeeding with my first was difficult, so we weaned at 6 months — it was too tough to pump 3-4x per day at the office and I was too stressed out about feeding her to be a very good employee. I am currently breastfeeding my second, and it is going much more smoothly and I plan to continue. Part of that plan is that I’ve arranged my pumping schedule differently so it affects my day less (I pump once on my commute into work, for instance), and part of it is that breastfeeding has been easier and I have better supply this time. If I find it becoming too difficult, as it was with my daughter, I will stop pumping at work.

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

With my first child, I took four months. With my second child, I took 4.5 months, but was doing some work from home in the last 8 or so weeks. With both, I regretted that I did not have more time at home with my children while they were babies — a 6-month leave would have been so much better, and I could have taken the extra time unpaid, but we couldn’t afford for me to not get paid for two months.

What was your biggest challenge going back to work?

Logistics — how to find quality daycare that we trusted, how to get all of my work done and still leave the office in time to see my kids in the evening, how to find time to pump, etc.

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

One of the female partners in my office came back from her own maternity leave shortly before I went out with my first child, and she was a good resource for how to be successful with children. I also got good advice from another colleague (not a partner) who had also taken a maternity leave, about how she managed expectations, etc. Both were very helpful in figuring out how to communicate with management, how to set expectations, and how to preserve family time in the face of work commitments.