It's Working Project

What I didn’t expect was how good returning to work was for me, mentally. Everything about my life was different, BUT I could still be the same, capable person at this career I really like.

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

Let yourself fail a little bit. It’s ok if you don’t get around to packing lunch, or if you don’t get a run in this week, or you have to eat frozen pizza for dinner (again). This is hard, and new, and it will feel increasingly more normal. And the extreme sleep-deprivation will be over sooner than you think!

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

It was always important for me on principle to go back, so my son could see me with a career, and so that I could take care of us, God forbid, if something were to happen to my husband. What I didn’t expect was how good returning to work was for me, mentally. Everything about my life was different, BUT I could still be the same, capable person at this career I really like. It helped me regain my sense of who I was more than anything else.  I miss my son while I’m at work, and I’m constantly scrambling and tired, sure, but somehow I still have more energy and am more present for him when we’re together during the mornings, evenings, and weekends than I think I would if I were home all the time.

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 had a perfectly good place to pump, and ample time to do so. One thing I wish someone had told me at the beginning is that breastfeeding isn’t a zero-sum game. We breastfed exclusively for 4 months, and then started supplementing some formula at daycare. It was a lifesaver for my sanity, and allowed pumping not to take over my workday (I do it twice a day instead of the usual 3, and not at all at home). And we’re still breastfeeding at 9 mos.

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

I worked up until the day I went to the hospital, then took 10 weeks off,  paid. My office was very supportive. I went back full time immediately after (my choice), and I probably won’t do that again. A gradual return (1 or 2 days a week to start) would have been easier.

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

Boston is a big city, so it’s hard to snag a spot at daycare. Plus we were in the process of moving, so we didn’t know exactly where in town we would end up.  I was on waitlists from the time I was about 3 months pregnant, and when we did get a slot we had to start paying for it a month before we actually needed it (or we’d lose it). But we love our daycare and it works great for us.

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

It still doesn’t feel “normal” but it gets easier and easier. Six months was a huge turning point though.


What was your biggest challenge going back to work?

I was constantly sick!  I thought I kept getting the same cold (daycare germs),  but after about the 4th time I went to the doctor and it turned out to be pneumonia. I just had a hard time fighting anything off, because of the lack of sleep. Graham started sleeping through the night consistently at around 7 months,  and I stopped getting sick all the time (fingers crossed).

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

My husband, definitely. He views parenting as a completely equal job, and is great about being flexible and picking up the slack when I need him to (and vice versa).

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

1) The weekends, because there’s so much to catch up on and not as much structure. I want to spend all of my time playing and having adventures with my son, but we need food, etc. 2) Actually working. Post-baby, most work problems don’t seem like a huge deal.

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 don’t brush my teeth the right number of times and a good day is when I do!