Life After Maternity Leave: How One Working Mom Makes It Work

Hello from Baby Caravan!! As most of you know, we have begun supporting women as they return back to work after maternity leave. We couldn't believe that no one was supporting women during this HUGE transition, so we had to make it happen.

Here we are one year after starting our Back-to-Work program and working with almost 100 women as they make their transition back to work after maternity leave. We wanted to start checking back in with some mothers who had attended out Back To Work 101 program to see how they were fairing.

Our intention is to expose the struggles and successes of these women, in the hopes of educating new mothers who will soon return back to work. We also want to use this information to educate employers, so they can begin to set up more mother/family friendly initiatives.

Although we have permission from this mother to share her story, privacy is very important to us at Baby Caravan so the mother’s name has been changed and her exact place of work omitted.

Baby Caravan:  Hi, Brenda. Thanks for chatting with us today! Can you tell us about the job you returned to after having your first baby?

Brenda: Sure, I helped found a new Middle School in NYC. I was responsible for everything from safety, testing, recruitment, some financial stuff, mentoring teachers and supporting our neediest students.

BC:  Since going back to work, has anything changed within your job duties?

B:  Since returning, I have taken a VERY hands off role in many projects I was involved with or even started. I am still part of the instructional cabinet & school leadership team, however, most of my days are now spent entirely with students & families. I still write grants and collaborate with staff to best support the academic, social and personal progress of our students but no longer am taking the initiative to be a part of everything.

BC:  Do you feel like there are any repercussions from taking a more "hands off" approach?

B:    The hardest part is that in my field you must be completely dedicated if you want to make a lasting impact. This takes time and heart. Both of these are a lot harder to give when you are devoted to your own child. I started to feel like I couldn't stay in my role as Counselor & Admin and one had to give.

BC:  That sounds like a really hard position to be in. Did you feel like pumping made working even harder?

B:  When I came back after maternity leave (12 weeks) I pumped 2x/day. It was difficult because it would take thirty minutes each time and I just felt like I couldn't do my job well. ..now I only pump once a day around 2pm. My supply has dropped and my baby is now on two bottles of formula because of it.  I've made my peace with this and realized around four months in that it is better to give one bottle of formula per day, than be up two times a night (and a zombie the next day) to pump just so she is EBF.

BC: That sounds totally understandable. How about finding time to be with your baby, your husband and some "me" time?

B:  To maximize my time with my family, I leave on time (3:30pm) three days a week, stay 1-1.5 hrs late one day for admin meetings and stay until 6:30/7 one day a week. On that late day I accomplish a lot which allows me to feel ok leaving at my contractual time the other days. I've just started going to a Friday yoga class after work which has been amazing. It means I am getting home at 6pm instead of 4pm, but I feel really good after and it sets me on a good path for the weekend.

BC: Those are some amazing "life hack" ideas - thank you for sharing. It's really important for mothers as they anticipate going back to work to hear stories from women doing it now. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

We all think you're doing an amazing job!!

There you have it ladies. I hope this little interview makes you realize that after maternity leave is doable. Comprise is key and so is trusting yourself, your partner, your child's caretaker and most of all yourself. You know what's best for you and your family!!

Love always,
Baby Caravan

Jen Mayer