It's Working Project

I honestly have no idea how I have a 12-year-old, with boobs and an attitude and everything. I feel like I just had her yesterday.

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

Relax and enjoy it, for crying out loud! My sister used to say to me in those exhausting early days with newborns: “The days are long but the years are short.” I didn’t believe her for a second, seeing as each day felt like an eternity and a half. But oh my GOD was she right. I honestly have no idea how I have a 12-year-old, with boobs and an attitude and everything. I feel like I just had her yesterday. I’m constantly going, “In six more years she will be GONE!” Also? Quit reading all of those books about babies. Babies are easy! Food, clean diapers, some sort of sleep schedule, done. They don’t even talk back! Read books about adolescents; they’re far more complicated. Don’t even get me started on tweens.

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

I’m self-employed, and I continued to be so after baby. This means my boss knew I was expecting before my husband!

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

When I got pregnant with my first, I was a full-time freelance magazine writer. Since I was (and am) self-employed, I didn’t take anything resembling a maternity leave. I think I did some writing the day I came home from the hospital, in fact. But I realize that I’m lucky to have a career that not only has so much flexibility, but also offers a creative outlet, because I had a lot of processing to do. (“Why didn’t anyone tell me I’d be wearing a diaper myself for the first few weeks, or that I might occasionally hate my husband and resent his freedom and flexibility, or that my nipples have ducts on the sides?”) I took copious notes, and eventually—when I caught up on my sleep—spun them into my very first book: The Parent Trip: From High Heels and Parties to Highchairs and Potties. 

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

My husband, for sure. He’s self-employed as well, and we rely on both of our salaries to support our family, so it was a stressful time. (Unlike women who get paid maternity leave, when I don’t work, I don’t get paid!) But never once did my husband dare to suggest I should be working more; we both believed that my number-one job at that time was keeping the baby alive. Anything I could manage beyond that was considered gravy.

What was my biggest pregnancy indulgence? I’d like to say daily foot soaks or weekly prenatal massages, but I’d be lying. The truth: cheeseburgers. I craved red meat like you can’t even believe during both of my pregnancies.

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

I never expected putting a healthy, balanced meal on the table every single night that wouldn’t make anyone puke or threaten to puke would be so hard and forsaking wine while I was gestating (honestly, even the thought made me gag) would be so much easier!​