It's Working Project

“You can read every single pregnancy book ever written and still not know exactly what is going to happen once you become a mother.”

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

My one piece of advice is that you can read every single pregnancy book ever written and still not know exactly what is going to happen once you become a mother. Books and classes are helpful, for sure, but they can’t prepare you for every eventuality or tell you exactly how you are going to feel. I wish I had let go a little more. I was trying to plan and plan and plan, thinking that could somehow give me more control over what was going to happen, and that just wasn’t the case.

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

It’s been a long time, but as I recall I was probably a good solid 12 weeks before I said anything. I worked at a large corporation that had pretty good policies in general so I wasn’t at all nervous about telling my boss. I just walked right into his office and told him.

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

I was home for 4 months before I went back to work. I had planned on only being out for 3 months, but I ended up having postpartum depression and I really needed that extra month to be able to get even close to any sort of place where I could contribute. Even then I really didn’t feel like myself until about a full year postpartum, but I was able to muddle through with work until that point.

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

Once I went back to work the hardest thing was the daily competition between being needed at work and needing to leave so I could make it in time to pick up my son at daycare. That cause me constant stress, much more than I could have ever imagined. I always wished we’d had a “Grey’s Anatomy”-style on-site childcare with super flexible hours so that at least he’d have been nearby at all times and I wouldn’t have had to freak out about picking him up on those days when senior management needed me for 5 o’clock meeting.

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

I ate a $35 tennis ball-sized hunk of imported parmigiano reggiano cheese that I stopped by to pick up at a gourmet shop on the way home from work one day.  Chowed down the entire thing while driving in my car, like a rat or something. There must have been something in that cheese my body needed!

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

As a working parent, I never expected the push/pull between work demands and parenting demands would be so hard and that having other working moms nearby to commiserate with would would be so much easier!