It's Working Project

"I now realize how critically important that time together is for the first months and I regret having missed it. Work will always be there, but you only get one time around to be with your babies."

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

Don’t rush back to work with the second child. I took four months off with my first child and that time together was priceless. With the second child, I felt the pressure of my fiduciary responsibilities (real or imagined) and returned to work 3 days after giving birth. I now realize how critically important that time together is for the first months and I regret having missed it. Work will always be there, but you only get one time around to be with your babies.

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

With my first child, I became incredibly restless after the first 5 months- I needed to challenge my intellect and also spend time with other adults. With my second child, it was the pull of my financial responsibilities for two children. Plus, I wanted to prove to everyone how “strong” and “competent” I was; a natural mompreneur. Dumb, very dumb.

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?

I did breastfeed with both my children. It was a little tricky to pump at work. I discovered that the hand-held manual pump from Medela was far easier to use in a work setting than my auto-pump. It’s quiet, discreet, smaller, and surprisingly effective. I kept up the routine with both my kiddos for 12 months, but supplemented after about 5 months- especially with my second child, as she was a hungry little bugger 😉

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

First baby: 5 months; second baby: 3 days. I was very comfortable taking those months off with my first child- it was, after all, something I had been preparing for and wanting to do since I was in my 20’s (I’m 36 now). As I mentioned, I didn’t feel comfortable taking the time off after my second child, which – as I also mentioned -was a mistake.

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

Childcare for our first was easy: we hired a nanny who came to our home. When the second child came around, however, things got a bit tricky. Our nanny (whom we had fallen in love with) became pregnant and was due shortly after me. We ended up taking both our kids to her house after she had the baby. Then, my first daughter entered Spanish immersion school, so we ended up having to take one child to one end of Dallas, and the other to the complete opposite end of Dallas. Although this was quite a logistical challenge most days, we do believe it was worth it (both my kids are super happy, intelligent and bilingual).

When did the “new normal” set in for you?

First child: right away. I think I was always meant to be a mom and it just came naturally. The second child, however, is a major adjustment: your attention is divided and you’re dealing with two completely different sets of needs given their developmental stages. I was also juggling two new companies and a full-time job. Only now (that I have dropped the full-time gig) do I feel like I’m finally catching my stride with both kids (ages 1 and 3).

What was your biggest challenge going back to work?

Pumping at work. It could be a little tricky, especially with the auto-pump (it’s noisy and cumbersome). I sometimes went to pump in my car (using an adaptor to power it), in order to feel more comfortable, but it always ended up being a huge production. Two words: manual pump (by Medela- I’ve tried others and theirs is the best, IMHO).

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

Initially, my husband. He was really helpful with the first child. When the second child came, I think my “hey, I’ve got this thing handled” demeanor caused him to focus more on his work and less on my needs. I’m sure the new financial burden was also atop his mind. My mother-in-law became my new go-to hero. She is amazing and has been a life-saver time and again.

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 finding a job (I was challenged by pregnancy discrimination several times) would be so hard and running my own businesses would be so much easier!

As a working parent, a bad day is when _____ and a good day is when _______.

As a working parent, a bad day is when I need a drink. Please don’t judge; I’m not a big drinker. But when the 3-year-old is embracing her newly discovered attitude and heck-bent on making every little thing difficult… and when the 1-year-old is un-shelving another cupboard full of Tupperware before you have time to clean up her first disaster, then it can be a little overwhelming- especially when you’ve been working all day on top of that. I find the occasional glass of wine (I’m no longer nursing) can take the edge off and help me be relaxed enough to manage the chaos in a constructive manner without losing my temper.

As a working parent, a good day is when no one throws a tantrum that day and we all go to bed (only once) without a fuss.