It's Working Project

"Whenever I traveled, people would ask me, 'Well, who's with your baby?!' It's amazing that it still doesn't occur to people that a father is perfectly capable of caring for his kids."

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

Build better boundaries at work, and find a way to take longer maternity leave.

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

My first baby was a surprise…and I was less than three months into a new job at the then-startup TOMS Shoes. I was also the first woman to get pregnant on the job, so I was in a total panic about how they would take the news. I took a deep breath and broke the news to my boss and the company founder at about 10 weeks, and they were wonderful about it.

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

I took 12 weeks with my first and 14 weeks with my second. With my first I really threw myself back in full-throttle: international travel, long hours, lots of pumping breastmilk, the works. With my second, I had some perspective and negotiated to go down to four days a week so I could have more time with my kids.

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

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

My husband. Whenever I traveled, people would ask me, “Well, who’s with your baby?!” It’s amazing that it still doesn’t occur to people that a father is perfectly capable of caring for his kids.

My indulgence? Oh my God, grapefruit. Italian grapefruit soda with the first. At 8 months pregnant in the middle of a Texas summer, the grocery store stopped stocking it and I sobbed in the aisle. Straight up, super-sour grapefruit juice with the second. I drank about a quart a day. I could not get enough of it.

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

I never expected breastfeeding and working would be so hard and feeling connected with my kids be so much easier!