Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Working Mom: Molly (on Maternity Leave)

I am a working mom (and I love it); but, if I'm being honest, I feel like most days I'm more "surviving" and less "making it work."  So... I enlisted the help of some dear blog friends to share their experiences, advice, lessons, and encouragement on all kinds of topics related to life balancing a job outside the home and a family. I think this goes without saying, but please know that this series is - in no way - meant to belittle or undermine the work of stay-at-home moms - you are doing an incredibly important JOB, and I have so much respect for you!  That said, I do feel like working moms are sometimes under-represented in the internet world... So, my hope is that this will be a place for working moms of the blogosphere to unite and feel understood, connected, strengthened, and supported (plus, maybe pick up a tip or two)!   Overall, I hope this will be a reminder that (regardless of your situation), you are NOT alone, and you are doing a darn good job! Please introduce yourself and  "join the conversation" in the comments.  

(More from me on being a working mom and all the posts in this series here.)

I found Molly's blog about a year ago and immediately fell in love with her writing style and vulnerable voice.  I reached out to her with a corny "I just found your blog and I love it" email, and she's been a great internet friend ever since... Molly and her husband live in her hometown in Missouri with their two little boys and are expecting a baby girl in January, Sawyer.  Today, I've asked Molly to share some of what she has learned about preparing for and returning from maternity leave in her 2.5 experiences so far.  Enjoy!


When I was pregnant with my first son, Landon, I worked as a full-time special events director and I knew I would need to prepare myself both professionally and personally for when I would take my maternity leave. I worked up until I gave birth and the timing actually worked out very nicely. Most of my big events were over in May and I was due in August so I was able to finalize my to-do list before I left. I realize that not all working moms have that luxury!

After twelve weeks of FMLA, my first day back was upon me. I cried so many tears thinking about how difficult the transition was going to be to go back to work. It had never really been a discussion between my husband and I. I just never really felt the push to be a stay at home mom. But that didn’t make it any less hard when I went back. I think what did make it easier was that my mom offered to watch my son 2-3 times a week. I never even researched daycare centers or babysitters because we didn’t need one.

Everyone told me that it would get easier as time went on and they were correct. We started to get into a good routine after a couple of weeks. I had good days and bad days. Some days I wished that I could stay home and spend the day with my son. And some days I was happy for the interaction with adults and the fun parts of doing my job. It was also nice to remain a two-income family and not have to struggle financially.

When I had my second son, Brigham, it was a very different situation. I had been unemployed during my entire second pregnancy but was hired at a new company soon after I gave birth. They were kind and gave me eight weeks before I needed to report for my first day. I can’t say I was ready to leave my baby when he was only eight weeks old but at that point we needed my income. My husband is an RN so he was able to stay home a few days a week to be with both boys while I was at work. Then after five months of working at my job both boys started at a daycare center part-time.

Learning all about a new company in an industry I had never been a part of was interesting and exciting but working full-time with a two-year-old and an infant was tough. Brigham was not sleeping through the night and I found myself tired and overwhelmed a lot of the time. Not to mention that there was nowhere for me to pump. I didn’t have my own office and I often pumped in my car with a cover over me. I didn’t want to complain about that situation because I was the new employee and didn’t want to make a fuss.

Somehow I made it through with the help of my husband, my family and helpful coworkers. This is probably my BEST advice I can give to a mom starting work after maternity leave. NEVER be ashamed to ask for help. There is no way I would have been able to be a successful employee and mom without the help of others in my life. If someone offers you dinner – take it! If someone offers to babysit – let them! Reach out if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

I would even go as far as to say that you could be open and honest with your boss about any complications or setbacks. Unfortunately, we dealt with a lot of sickness with Brigham during his first year. Of course this wasn’t his fault but it caused a lot of stress in all parts of our life. I finally made an appointment with my boss and told her what was going on and tried to explain my absences. Fortunately, she was a mom herself and understood that these things happen. When things finally settled down on the home front I was able to jump in and help more at my job.

Now I am quickly approaching the birth of my third child in January and I still work full-time. Due to the previous challenges I faced as a full-time working mom to two young children, I haven’t fully decided yet if I will come back to work. I am researching other options and hope to be able to work from home after the baby arrives. But I know that no matter what I decide we’ll eventually get into a routine living and working as a family of five.
Read more from Molly at her blog A Day in Mollywood... 


THANKS MOLLY!

I always tell new moms to start the baby in childcare on a Monday and go back to work on a Wednesday.  Anyone else?  What is your advice on preparing for maternity leave? What about returning from it? Please share!


P.S. In continuing with this theme of pregnancy and brand-new working mom stuff, I have another guest post coming up tomorrow on breastfeeding/pumping at work.  It is a must read if you will be in a similar situation any time soon!  See you then!
 

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for having me, E! I love your blog and I love this series :)

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  2. Great post. I think that Maternity leave is something that rarely gets discussed. My second pregancy consided with first week of school (poor planning)... so I literally worked for three days and then went on leave. The hard part was that because I had no actaully end day and I worked the day before I gave birth I was answering work emails from my hospital bed in order to tie up loose ends.

    My suggestions:
    - If you can stop working around 38 or 39 weeks. I stopped at 39 weeks with my first child and it was GLORIOUS!
    - Take as much time as you need... and I emphasis the YOU! I took 12 weeks with both my girls but I have had some friends that are totally ready 6 weeks.
    - Organization and planning are key (BUT only to a point)... I drove myself crazy with my first maternity leave because I never knew when it was going to start.
    - I totally agree with E's suggestions of starting on a Wednesday. Since my daughter was born on a Saturday, I have to start on a Monday (again with the poor planning)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sucks so hard that you guys have such little time at home with your newborns. I really hate that for you!!!
    When I was on Mat Leave, I knew that I wouldn't have a job to go back to. It made me really take stock of what was important to me, and if I wanted to return to a workplace where a job would be found for me, but might not necessarily be what I wanted to do. So, I opened my own online shop, and now three years late, make the same amount per year that I would have had I returned to work and had to pay daycare fees. There's something really liberating about carving out your own path and and taking a risk!

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  4. I love this! I'm at a good point in my pregnancy-- barring any major concerns, I should be able to finish out the school year, have Baby and spend the summer with him/her, and then start school back in August normally. I'm excited for some ideas about pumping at work-- it's something I'm a bit nervous about.

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Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!


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