It's Working Project

I felt a little guilty about being pregnant. My new boss probably knew I was pregnant before my own parents did!

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

Trust your own judgment and don’t be so hard on yourself. You will be a better mother if you give yourself a break and be present to the relationship that is developing between you and your baby rather than worrying about how to solve all the problems. As soon as you think you’ve figured out how to handle one phase, it will be over and you will be on to another new phase that you have to figure out. You will never catch up. It’s the Peter Principle at work!

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

I found out I was pregnant with my first child after I accepted a new job, but before I started work. I told my new boss immediately after my first sonogram, a few weeks into my job. I showed her the picture. My daughter looked like a little teddy bear. I was probably a little less than 3 mos pregnant. We were a small staff and I felt I owed it to her to tell her as soon as possible so that we could properly plan for my absence. I felt a little guilty about being pregnant. My new boss probably knew I was pregnant before my own parents did!

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?

Breastfeeding while working was just easier than I thought it would be, and it ended up being a critical source of connection with my baby as a working mom. I may have been replaceable in some ways, but no one else could do that!

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

I took about 4 months off. I had two months’ paid leave. My back to work plan was pretty close to reality. I went back to work and my husband took a week off and then my mom was able to care for my daughter for a few weeks as I transitioned, so my daughter and I didn’t immediately have to be in a situation with a new, unknown childcare provider. I was back to working full time immediately.

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

My daughter was cared for by a nanny that we shared with another family in the neighborhood who had a similarly aged baby.

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

I don’t know that I had a “biggest” source of support. My co-workers were very supportive; my mom came and made meals for us; my husband was as supportive as he could be given that he was also making a transition. Probably the person I checked in with the most was the other mom in the nanny share. We both went back at the same time and were getting to know and work with the nanny and basically dealing with the same issues. Another major source of support was the Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington, and the interactions I had with the other mothers there when I took classes.

Honestly, my biggest indulgence was sitting on the front porch drinking coffee with my daughter while everyone else went off to work! (It’s great to have a baby in the spring.) We took long walks around the neighborhood every day, too. The “indulgence” is really the privilege of being single minded. For the whole time I was on leave, my only job was to take care of the baby. It’s kind of like reading week, the week before you take exams – it is stressful and uncertain and sleep-deprived and you feel inadequate, but in the midst of that it is a gift to be able to retreat from the world for a moment and just focus on one thing.



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

I never expected leaving my child in someone else’s care would be so hard and continuing to breastfeed would be so much easier!