Working Moms

I haven’t written lately about the work aspect of life. Actually I haven’t written lately at all! Anyway, often my topics are around children, Hub’s med school journey and whatever falls in-between. There are times I feel like I’m a mom who works or a worker who happens to be a mom. It doesn’t always feel like I’m a “working mom”. It also often feels like a lonely island where I’m juggling a million things and I would never want to put myself into a vulnerable position and actually ADMIT that I’m barely keeping my head above water.

I went to a conference in the fall for women who work in the same industry as me. I went hoping to do some networking and learning how other working women navigate through their career paths in this industry. However, I was pleased to find that the “mom” part of these women’s lives were woven into the fabric of the conversation. Virtually every person I spoke with had some component of juggling life with work. Even if she did not have children, there was that navigating of work/life balance that we all experience. It was even more enlightening that the women I spoke with were very open about their experiences and challenges. I was- get ready for it- NOT THE ONLY ONE! I mean, intuitively I know that. I’m not THAT special. But, when hubs in occupied with med school and I’m running the household schedule, menu, cleaning, etc., it does get lonely. And, I’m a lucky one because hubs is 110% involved when he’s around. He doesn’t come home and hide away from the mayhem of our house and make me handle everything. We co-parent really well. It doesn’t mean that things are not challenging on occasion. I was so pleasantly surprised to have that reminder at this conference.

I wish there were more open discussions of this. I’ve seen it in private mom-groups and every once in a while I’ll see some brave soul mention something on Facebook. It’s few and far between. I want to hear what your biggest challenge is. Is it the balance between home & work? If you are a working mom from home (outside employer or SAHM), is it getting a break? What are your challenges??

Missing Out?

As a working mom, it’s inevitable that I will miss milestones that my children hit. Perhaps a first step, first word, first tantrum (never that lucky….). It’s not easy, but for me, that was a piece of parenting I went into with my eyes wide open. I knew that, statistically speaking, if someone is watching my kiddo for 1/3 of the day, they were bound to see something new that I had not seen yet. With our fourth (and last) baby, I was really worried that my more rational side might step away and the more emotional side may step in. Being the last baby, would I have any regret or sadness not being there for every moment? Am I willing to share that with someone else? There are some days where I really want to be here every moment. I want to record and document every little tidbit of the day. That’s not practical. Even if I did document everything, what purpose does it serve? More boards on Pinterest? I get writing down when a child takes their first step or cuts their first tooth. But all of the other little items- peas for the first time, first sneeze, first diaper blowout, does it really ever end? That’s a lot of pressure in an already busy life. Besides, sharing those milestones- good or bad- is an opportunity to see that the person caring for my kiddo is fully vested in their life. We’ve been so fortunate to have amazing people in our lives to share our kids with. I certainly don’t take that for granted.

So, I’ve decided instead of focusing on what I’m missing, I will focus on, and enjoy, everything I am here for. I will rely on our “extended family” to rejoice in the milestones I miss. All that matters is that my kiddos know that they have a support system that loves and cares for them. And I’ll save my Pinterest boards for more important things like “What I didn’t know about Adulting”.

Diving Back In!

I’m in week 4 of being back after maternity leave. The end of my first week back I had found myself on an airplane on my way to a conference in Las Vegas. Nothing like diving right in! Overall the first week wasn’t bad. I didn’t cry and I managed to get through all 3,000+ emails that accumulated while I was out. However, I should have written myself a note to remind myself what the heck I was working on before I left. Seriously. It took piecing together many emails to remember projects I needed to follow up on and people I had to reach out to. I feel like the maternity fog is still lingering, but its begun to dissipate substantially. Well, except for the burnt out part, I can forego that feeling.

Week 3 we had family visiting and Ariah’s dedication at church. I went right from our crazy Vegas conference, to hosting. And then again last week, I was sitting on the plane headed to another conference in Vegas. The problem with this conference, although shorter than the first, it left me reeling with ideas for work. Not that digging out of email and playing catch up from three months away isn’t enough, right? Networking with others in the analytics industry and seeing what’s been happening over the last few months, gets me all revved up to go back to work and conquer the most challenging business problems. So, thank you Alteryx Inspire conference, you have inspired me. But I’m gonna need to wrap my head around the fact there is just one of me and lots of ideas.

iPhone 115

I’m especially thankful that hubs is a rock star. I don’t have to worry for a second about him holding down the fort and taking care of 4 kids. It’s easier to be away and makes FaceTiming way more enjoyable. Instead of having to ask “did you remember to take the baby out of the car seat?”, I can ask what the funniest thing Asher said, or did the boys enjoy the notes I put in their lunches. I suppose if I’m diving right back into work, that’s the best way!

 

What I’ve Learned: Maternity Leave Edition

I’m baaacck! To writing that is. Apparently, my blog has been on maternity leave as well! As I’ve been enjoying snuggles and dressing like a bum, there are a few things that I’ve come to realize.

  • I was reminded what a big job it is being a stay at home mom. I’ve been lucky enough that all the kids are in school or daycare so I can really focus on the new baby. The days where they were not, at a minimum, were chaotic. So, shout out to all the stay at home moms!!
  • Daytime TV is terrible. Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge reality TV person (talk shows included), but there are slim pickings. You can only watch Law and Order: SVU so many times. I think I watched all the episodes while on leave for Asher so I’m not seeing anything new.
  • Late night TV is terrible. So, when she wakes at 2am and I turn the TV on to stay awake while feeding her, it’s usually reruns of Law & Order: SVU (note #1 on why that’s not entertaining). Or, the lovely choices of Life Lock, Pressure Cookers, Amazing Abs, Erections, Great Sex, or a variety of kids shows on Disney and Nick Jr. Don’t get me wrong, I could use some good abs and, well, some of the other options are what got me on maternity leave to begin with so I’m not interested in watching the infomercials.
  • Babies only sleep, eat, and poop (well, at least mine does). So, for the other 22 hours a day, it can get boring after cleaning the house and taking a nap. I’ve been reading and doing puzzles. Hubs says it’s time to head back to work. He knows me well.
  • A “quick trip” to Target to get diapers or groceries is anything but that. There is something therapeutic about wandering the store without a child tugging at your leg. That is until you check out and throw up in your mouth a little bit because you spent twice as much as you expected.
  • There were more times than I like to admit where I really didn’t know what day of the week it was. And certainly not what day of the month it was. I managed to nearly forget a field trip day, almost miss a meeting, and oversleep on days I had to do school drop off.

Don’t get me wrong, maternity leave has been nice. I’ve been able to relax and get to know this new little baby of ours. There are a few items I will miss when I head back to work in a couple weeks (besides my kiddo of course!).

  • Naps. Whenever I want. I fully predict that at least once the first week back my forehead will hit the keyboard around 2pm begging for a nap.
  • Catching up on housework. I have enjoyed not using every Saturday to clean the house. I’ve been able to work on things here and there and it’s made it way more manageable.
  • Naps. Did I mention that already?
  • Grocery shopping when it’s not busy. Aside from spending too much at Target, it’s nice being able to get a good parking spot and then get through the aisles without playing bumper carts.
  • Flexibility. Asher was sent home sick last week and I did not have to worry about the debate of who does pick up and stays home with the sick kid. It’s certainly made it a lot easier for our schedules. Or when Elijah had an evening event, I didn’t have to stress about having to leave work early to make it on time.

At the end of the day, I do feel I am still a better mom when I’m working. I may be less organized and laundry may pile up a bit more, but I have that adult interaction I’ve been missing while away. And the time when I am home will be even more precious.

She’s Here!

She’s here! Our final family member arrived on Thursday, February 16th. Ariah (pronounced like “Mariah” without the “M”), completed our family. Honestly, boy or girl, we were done anyway! The boys are super excited for her to be here, and even Asher has adjusted well- after a few tough days. The pink, purple and glitter take some getting used to. I’ve, on more than one occasion, called her a boy nickname. It’s weird having another girl in the house, but it’s certainly something I can get used to!

A lot of it is surreal actually. The pregnancy was tougher than any of my others like I mentioned before. But it did go by fast in retrospect. I had started my maternity leave on the 15th. I figured that I would get a few days of rest in before my scheduled induction date on the 21st. My first day off hubs and I ran errands, had lunch together and just enjoyed some quiet time- which hasn’t happened in a REALLY long time. The morning of the 16th, we were getting the boys ready for school and then planning on running some additional errands before my 38-week checkup. In the midst of the usual morning chaos, I realized that I had either become incontinent or my water had broken and was leaking out gradually. I called the doctor and they said to head to the hospital where they could check for certain. The boys, being the boys, were moving at a snail’s pace. I had been having a few contractions and I realized that not only did we have to do drop off at 2 different locations across town from one another, but we had to head into the city. During rush hour. Now, Minneapolis doesn’t seem super big, but the traffic here is terrible. Especially if you live south of the cities and have to travel north, which we do. No matter what, I did not want to be that person to give birth on the Bloomington Ferry bridge during rush hour and be on the 5 o’clock news. After much prodding, I had to turn the drama level up a few notches and yell that my water broke so they better get a move on. Surprisingly, it worked. Those boys moved faster than I’ve ever seen. Hubs thankfully was still calm. Side note- when my water broke with Asher in the middle of the night, hubs was in a very sleep deprived, delirious panic and backed into our other car as we left. We still all laugh about that. No major incidents getting out of the house this time!

We did make it to the hospital where an amazing labor and delivery triage nurse- who also has 3 boys and girl- got us situated. They confirmed that my water had broken and then got us set up in the labor and delivery room. I believe we got all settled in there around 9am. My labor and delivery nurse- who also has 3 boys and a girl (I believe that was God reassuring us?!)- was absolutely awesome. My doctor stopped in to see how things were going- at which point the rest of my water broke- and they began the process of moving the labor along. For whatever reason, my body does not seem to go into regular labor patterns on its own. I’ve always needed Pitocin, which in my world means I need good drugs too. That Pitocin stuff is no joke! Heck, labor is no joke and I’m totally of the camp that if I can be comfortable, why not!? Thankfully my OB is very supportive of that- I believe the quote I heard was “no need to play hero”- and he put orders in for an epidural.

Several hard contractions later the angel anesthesiologist, showed up to get the epidural going. Within 30 minutes I was laying comfy and chatting with hubs and the nurse. They did a check and I was at 4.5 centimeters. Decent progress but we figured I had at least another 5-7 hours to go.

About an hour later, I was at 6 so we were gearing up. They rolled me to my other side to even the epidural out. About 5 or 10 minutes later, I started feeling the contractions again, or so I thought. I mentioned it to the nurse and she checked and I was at 9.5 centimeters! I was NOT ready for that. Mentally, I was still wrapping my head around the fact that we were having a baby that day and not running errands and taking naps all afternoon. About 2 minutes later my doctor shows up and they get me all set up to begin pushing. So, I do a “practice push” and out comes a head…and half a “practice push” later, she is out! Seriously, I think that was faster than a cesarean! My head was spinning. Yes, I realize that I was lucky. She and I are healthy, but that was a shock to the system.

iphone-176

Since then, I’ve been healing well- far better than I expected. She is growing really well and we’re just getting settled into a new routine. We’re staying quarantined at home, as much as we can, until she gets a little older and this flu and RSV wave let up, not to mention all of the other possibilities that can come up. It’s not worth the risk. I believe the Jimmy Kimmel PSA covers it well. So, come May, we will be out and meeting people. Until then, I’ll keep sending pictures and welcome any girly advice!

Maternity/Paternity Leave

Today marks my 2 year “blogiversary”. I thought I would “celebrate” by posting something a little different- but still related to being a working mom. I started this post over a year ago, long before my current pregnancy. I’m interested to hear feedback and/or discussion regarding this topic, although I know it can be sensitive, especially in our current political climate. So, for those that partake- enjoy, it’s my opinion and only supported by articles and blogs I’ve read online. Don’t expect it to be a thesis….

I don’t typically post controversial stuff on my blog. Well, unless you consider me working and having kids controversial, but then why read a working mom blog in the first place? Either way, I’ve noticed a topic that has popped up in the news on several occasions. No, I’m not talking about political candidate rhetoric. I’m referring to paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child. Now, I cannot speak about adoption because I’ve never gone through that process. However, aside from the fact that the baby comes from someone else’s uterus, you still have the emotional roller coaster, extreme lifestyle change and the “getting to know you” phase of a new person to take care of. So, it still applies. But, I’ll save that topic for people that have the experience to speak from that perspective. And for my male readers- I’ll cover my thoughts on paternity leave, just be patient, I’ll get to it.

If you look at the recent companies that have changed their policies regarding leave, the bulk of them are tech or “trendy” companies. They are looking to attract and keep, good talent. When talking with people, especially those that live outside of the US, most are appalled by our current leave policy- or lack of policy- in most cases. I’ve heard conversations on both sides of this- and have read the many comments on some of these articles which include valid arguments on both sides, along with ignorant, troll-like responses. So, because I can only speak about what I know, here are my thoughts on paid leave for parents.

I was fortunate enough to work for companies where I qualified for FMLA (12 weeks of leave with job protection) and that paid me for 6 weeks at 66% of my salary. Now, don’t get me wrong, I say that I was fortunate because a lot of people I’ve read about worked places where they had far less time, were not under FMLA, and did not receive any pay. That is unfortunate. I often think about the idea that when you have an employee who gets the flu, you send them home. You don’t risk them spreading the virus to others which can cause a huge decrease in productivity when you have several people out. I get it, getting pregnant is not contagious. But, attitude and morale are- and maybe more so. If your employee comes back to work depressed, stressed, and tired, that does not help anyone. If the employee is worth keeping, it’s worth offering perks that keep them there.

I do consider myself lucky. I could have not gotten paid, and I don’t know about you, but coming out of college with student loans does not lend a lot of flexibility to “saving up”. Not to mention all of the new “grown up” things that were then added. Plus, how in the world do you know how much to save? I mean, you can save enough for your medical costs (assuming you have a perfect, no issue birth) and then several months of money to cover living expenses (again, assuming that nothing goes wrong while you’re off). But even then, it would have taken hubs and I, on our meager salaries starting out, years to save the amount of money to cover the medical costs (roughly $5-8K for Elijah which was the most normal birth we had) and the household expenses for 3-6 months. Yes I know, it’s our fault we took out student loans, had a car payment, mortgage, utilities, food, etc. We could not have afforded to have any more time off unpaid. I only took the paid 6 weeks off to not affect our budget any more than it already had been. I was also lucky enough to not have any lingering health issues so returning at 6 weeks, although still too early in my opinion, was more doable than having to go back any earlier.

So, there is the financial side of this argument. Sure I suppose you can prepare for that technically. But what you cannot prepare for is the physical side of the process. Forget about the pregnancy itself, morning sickness, fatigue, and any other ailments pregnant women often experience. Let’s talk about the actual delivery. A good delivery would allow a woman to go into the hospital, labor for a short period of time and then pop out the baby. No IV needed, no drugs, no stitches and minimal bleeding. But, let’s be real. How often does that happen? Going by the number of women that I’ve known who have had babies, deliveries seldom go that way. Think about it, you are pushing a baby- typically the size of a small watermelon (if you’re lucky), through a part of the body that is substantially smaller than that. There is bound to be some scrambling of things happening there. The body goes through extreme pain and contortion (it feels like that anyway) in order to get the baby out. If not naturally, you end up with an incision in your lower abdomen. So, stitches in your abdomen or in your lady parts, either way, not fun.

Hearing all of that fun, messy stuff, can we talk about the fact that it is really only a woman who can have the baby? I’ve heard the argument that it’s not a company’s responsibility to provide paid leave for their employees, it’s a privilege. That’s correct, it is a privilege. However, why wouldn’t a business offer paid time off for employees. Let’s think about this. We have to assume that the employee having the baby is a good employee- otherwise why are they still employed there? Not to mention, the only employee that can physically give birth, is a woman. So for those that argue that if you can’t afford the time off, then don’t have a baby: that would limit a LOT of women to having babies when they’re young before entering the workforce (again assuming there are no financial challenges- see my remark about student loans), waiting until they retire (hello biological clock) or heck, why not just stay home and not work? It seems a little sexist considering women are the only ones that can actually perform the process of birthing. Again- adoption aside for this particular argument. I even heard comments along the lines of “that’s why women shouldn’t work”, but I’ll save those for another forum. I’m not interested in entertaining thoughts from the 1950’s at this moment in time.

Having said all of this, I’m not saying it only applies to women. It should be the same for men as well. What better support system than to have your other half there to help you when you’re exhausted, sore, emotional, etc.? Besides, it really wouldn’t be fair to say that only women can get this benefit. Yes, they go through the bulk of the process (remember my watermelon example) but men should be allowed to also have that bonding time with the newest family member. There is value in having full participation from all parents involved.

What could the down sides be? Your worker, who again I assume is a good worker as they are still employed, will come back re-energized and ready to contribute? The partner of that worker comes back knowing they were able to be there for some irreplaceable moments with their newest family member? This has been a very hot topic with a LOT of opinions, I get that. But I do also recognize our society is changing in a big way. People are yearning for more of a balance in their life. They want a rewarding career but also are seeing the value of having a family and not waiting until they are in their 40’s. I also understand that there are some businesses that cannot afford to provide this type of benefit. Maybe it’s time to look at other examples across the globe to see what works or doesn’t work. I’m writing about this not because I’ve been through this 3 times, and am about to go through this again. But because I hurt for those that are having children without any resources, or want children, and cannot because we as the leading country in the world, cannot put ourselves in others shoes and show understanding or empathy for people in situations different than ours. We can do better than that, if even making an effort to discuss in a civilized manner. It has to start somewhere.

 

 

To Post…?

I’ve been milling over a few ideas for writing lately. My passion and reason for starting the blog in the first place is to have an outlet for my struggles as a working mom and to hear from other working moms. What works, what doesn’t? What silly things happen that we can share and laugh about (maybe not right, away but hopefully someday!)?

One thing I’ve seen a lot in the news lately, aside from raunchy politics, are stories about women “leaning in”, maternity leave, and imbalance in the workplace. These are not new topics. I think we beat it like a dead horse expecting things to get better, but the definition of insanity applies here. If we don’t change the discussion, how do we expect things to change? I actually wrote a post and, as sorry as it sounds, I’m a little scare to publish it. What if I’m the only one feeling or experiencing these things? I’m sure I’m not, after all, it’s on the news all the time. But I’m curious to hear what you’ve experienced in your career growth. In my post, I only touch the tip of the iceberg regarding maternity leave, career growth and the struggle of balancing working and home. I was hoping to gather examples or thoughts from readers to compile a more comprehensive post and ignite a discussion regarding these topics. Yes, these can be very passionate discussions, but I think it’s time to start another thread- and perhaps in a more unconventional way. I want to hear from everyone- not just working moms. Both SAHM’s and dads, give feedback and thoughts too. I want to know what people are experiencing in regards to maternity leave and growing in your career. What is the craziest thing someone has ever said to you in regards to your gender? What is the perception you’ve seen in your career as a working mom? Has it gotten better or worse?

With your permission, I will take the feedback and finalize the blog post and get the discussion going. If you want it used anonymously, feel free to message me your comment. This might be a small start, but any little piece can help to move the discussion forward. If not for our generation, then hopefully for our children. Ready, set, go!