Being a Working Mama Means…

As a working mama, my life and my world was turned completely upside down the moment we found out that we were pregnant.  Once we were adjusted to that as our new normal, I was thrown for a loop the moment our daughter was born — a third time, too, when I returned to work. Our daughter will soon be five months old, and this experience as a working mama has been one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever faced. So today, I’ve taken a break from DIY to share with you a list of everything all working mamas experience and sacrifice for our families, ourselves, and our employers.

Being a working mama means being afraid to tell your employer that you’re pregnant, in fear of losing chances for promotions and raises, or having job security.

It means not taking vacation or sick time for years to save accrued hours for a potential maternity leave.

It means turning down interview requests and job offers when you’re the only one who knows that your baby’s on the way.

Being a working mama means stressing over every infinitesimal detail of your transition plan to ensure no gap in coverage while you’re on leave.

It means scrutinizing your finances to determine if you can afford an extra day or week of unpaid leave.

Being a working mama means often working until the day of delivery, checking emails or answering calls while you’re in the hospital bed.

It means spending your maternity leave building up a freezer’s worth of milk — if you can — so that your baby won’t go hungry.

It means counting down how many days left you have to spend with your baby, and savoring every possible moment while you’re still able.

Being a working mama means coming back to work four weeks, six weeks, 12 weeks after your life has been turned upside down. Your clothes don’t fit, your c-section scar isn’t quite healed. You might be struggling from postpartum depression.

It means crying at your desk between meetings, and doubting yourself on if you can make it through the day. It also means feeling triumphant after surviving that first full week back to work.

Being a working mama means waking up hours before you actually need to, in order to get some extra baby smiles for the day.

It means changing your outfit twice, sometimes three times a morning due to unexpected baby messes. You wear yesterday’s makeup on mornings when you’d rather snuggle your baby.

It means stifling tears every morning as you pull out of your driveway or drop your baby off at daycare.

Being a working mama means finding time between a day full of conference calls to squeeze in pumping sessions.

It means stressing out about your milk supply and making lactation cookies, drinking tea and Gatorade, and constantly nibbling on snacks to help boost it.

It means pumping in a room, a closet, the bathroom, or your car three, four times per day and receiving “Can I call you?” emails as you do.

Being a working mama means your evenings and weekends are all the more precious.

It also means answering emails during nursing sessions or sleepy cuddles.

It means working overtime to compensate for unexpected pediatrician appointments or days off to care for your sick baby.

It means being in a unending battle over finding a work-life balance. You constantly sacrifice one over the other and struggle to find a middle ground that doesn’t exist.

Being a working mama means missing your baby’s “firsts.” The first laugh, the first crawl, the first step.

It means that your baby looks a little older each time you come home from work, and you are suddenly aware of how fast they grow up.

It means that you are reminded — daily — of the sacrifices you make so that your family is taken care of.

And you hope that one day, your baby will grow into someone who will emulate your work ethic and dedication to support a family — by whichever method possible.

Hugs to all of you working mamas.  Together, we can get through this!

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