It's Working Project

"Hike your own hike."

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

That everything was going to be OK. Even when things were nuts that it was going to be OK. I was really lucky to have 3 healthy, easy pregnancies and got three totally perfect little people out of that process. Work was always there and there was plenty of important things to do both before and after kids. I wished I’d known that I would feel normal– and actually better and stronger– as a direct result of having kids. Yes, there are some things that are tough, but I feel like they make me a harder-working, more focused, more effective employee and consultant.

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?

Yes. I had 2 pumps- one at work and one at home. I wanted one there so that I wouldn’t have to lug it in each day. I ended up not needing the one at home because I was just feeding my baby.

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

My company offered 8 weeks paid and an additional 4 weeks unpaid. I took the 8 weeks and felt that it was long enough but also was sad and a little anxious during that first week back. For me, that was plenty of time and I don’t have any regrets about how much time I took off. It was the same for each of my kids.

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

Having backup care is so absolutely critical. The kids have to miss daycare all of the time for various illnesses and appointments. I had no idea that the disruptions to a normal work week would be this much. Anything you can do to solidify a reliable backup plan, you should do. This weekly (sometimes daily) challenge of caring for kids during the day when you’re trying to work, keep scheduled meetings, get stuff done is really, really tough and something we still don’t have it totally figured out.

What was your biggest challenge going back to work?

My biggest concern was how we were going to manage everything. All of a sudden, there was just a lot more to do at home. I worried (and still do) about how we’re going to get through really busy phases when nights and weekend time is needed to finish a big project or a proposal. Travel is somewhat infrequent but I was worried about that too. Day to day, things were good. We were really lucky to get her into a daycare that was in my building so the logistical challenges were minimized. I was able to run down and feed her on occasion or just pop in when I needed a quick baby fix. I feel really fortunate to have had that luxury and flexibility.

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

I didn’t have a back-to-work mentor. I guess I should say– “officially.” When you’re pregnant or a new parent, people come out of the woodwork with their unsolicited advice. There were a handful of people I’d go to with questions. Otherwise, information had its way of finding me … in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in the elevator, etc. Everyone had something to say.