Working moms: 97% inspiration, 3% breast milk stains

This week, in time for Mother’s Day, I’m so hugely honored to be a part of an iVillage feature on Work After Baby: Inspiring Stories From Inspiring Moms.

I somehow managed to sneak in at number 25 (out of 25), joining amazing women like Kathleen Sebelius, Jennifer Garner, Samantha Bee, Deborah Norville, and my new friend, the extra-amazing  Kelly Wallace. Seriously. This woman is very full of amazing.

For the feature, I was asked to describe an early working mom moment, and right away it conjured up these memories of Thalia and Nate joining me on a commercial shoot, and how easily everyone jumped in to help take care of my new baby. And you know? I realized that’s one group that we don’t always thank enough.

We thank our parents, our partners, our grandparents, our sitters, our teachers. But sometimes we need to say thank you to our co-workers and colleagues; the ones who cover you when you have a birthday party to plan or have to run home for emergency stitches on your daughter’s head (that was me last night, and yes, Sage is okay). The ones who dig out their office toys on Take Your Child to Work Day. The ones who hold your Stella while you get the baby back in the Bjorn–or the ones who hold the baby while you focus on your Stella.

Really Hallmark, get on the ball. If there’s a Sweetest Day and a Flag Day, there can certainly be a Thank Your Co-Worker Who Wiped Your Baby’s Puke Off the Conference Table While You Ran to Get More Wipes Day

If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now–thank you Mike and Anne and Melissa and Ann. Thank you Gretchen and Kurt. I remember that trip fondly.

And thank you Frank. I still think you should have been our holiday card that year.

These are the things that happen when you have a theme park for a client.

Do you working moms–sorry…go-to-work moms/work-out-of-the-house-moms/ office-monkey moms–have any great stories about your early days of getting back to the grind?


27 thoughts on “Working moms: 97% inspiration, 3% breast milk stains”

  1. Love those pictures! I remember a fellow teacher telling me to just hug a needy student every time I missed my baby those first few weeks. Best advice I got in my entire teaching career.

  2. Working at a university–there are academic moms who bring their kids (especially new babies) as often as they can and I love how inclusive and accepting academia is. I wish more industries focused on the whole employee and not just the part that directly benefits them.

    This is a great post and a great reminder that we often don't do it alone.

  3. I was a grad student in biology and brought my daughter to work ~every other day when she was between 2-3 months old before day care started. My co-workers and fellow grad students were awesome with her! Oh, and they also said she always lowered their stress too – nothing like a cute baby around when you're having a bad science day!
    good post! 🙂
    kate C.

  4. My first day back, I went to drop off my daughter at daycare and realized that they were morons, so I brought her to work with me. Then I realized I forgot my pump, so I nursed her in the mother's room. My coworkers were great and held her while I contacted HR to make sure my back to work stuff was OK before I went home to frantically find another daycare.

  5. I'm still in those early days…and one of the BEST things is all the baby stuff Hubby and I have been given from coworkers at both of our jobs. It's like we've been granted membership into this great, stressful, crazy club of working moms and dads – and we're enjoying all the perks to their fullest.

  6. We were very young when we first became parents and my husband worked at a (large, chain) thrift store, because he hadn't yet gone to school. The people he worked with – these people who, like him, were working long hours at a dead-end, minimum wage job – they threw us a baby shower in the break room. There was food and much passing of the baby and they FILLED our car with such beautiful gifts! It's almost 20 years later and I still think about how generous they all were. I've had some great colleagues through the years too, who didn't have to have kids of their own to understand how important family is and lend a hand when needed. I agree, they totally need a day of their own.

  7. Okay, so I clicked through, and there was THAT picture of you, the first one of you that I ever saw, before we'd ever met, and the one that confirmed my belief that we should SO TOTALLY be friends, AND the one that prompted me to post my own first ever picture of myself on my blog and DAMN IT LIZ I AM ALL KIND OF WEEPY NOW.

    That aside: you SO deserve to be honored alongside Jen Garner.

  8. When I had my first child, my fabulous boss let me: a) bring the baby to work, b) breastfeed on the couch in his office (which he vacated for me) and c) let me change diapers on that same couch. He rocked.

  9. Aside from the ever-popular milk-leaking-through-silk-shirt incident, I remember taking my son to work with me when he was about four months old (which I actually did all the time) and winding up having a much busier day than planned. A young guy I worked with (who was very grunge) took care of my son for me by giving him a marker and a ton of cardboard and helping him make an “I love you Mommy” card. When he came back with my son and the card, I nearly cried! He was such a sweet guy and I still have that cardboard card!

  10. Took my job as high school vice principal when daughter was four months old…pumped breast milk in my office with three doors. There were some interesting close calls! I thought I was crazy at the time; I still think I am crazy some of the time, but I bring my daughters to lacrosse games, dance concerts, and student art openings…feels good to integrate my work and home personae and all my “children.”

  11. I work with a team in Norway, and I enjoy their perspective family/office. One of the guys was on (a five month) paternity leave during a big summit meeting we were having, and we were talking about just having him bring in his baby and we'd pass the little tyke around throughout the day. One of the other men (also a new dad) noted quite proudly that “we all have skills.” (and yes, the rest of the team besides me was male, and they really did have great caretaking skills.)

  12. What a great idea for a post! And so true. Maybe we take it for granted that, like, other people should actually help us when we need it. Whether it be with a computer problem, moving furniture, our children… whatever. But it's true — a lot of people simply…won't. Because so many people suck.

    Therefore we really should acknowledge the ones who are awesome, especially in a work environment.

    So in that vein, I'd like to give a shout-out to: the people who carried a couch into the conference room of our tv series's writing offices so I could lie down during story meetings after being in a car accident during my 4th month of pregnancy with my 1st child and I had trouble sitting/standing/walking for the rest of the pregnancy, and those same people who fetched me food and drink and made sure I ate enough and stopped traffic when I was walking VERY slowly, ie shuffling, across Ventura Blvd.

    Shout-out to: the teamsters and nearly everyone who worked on the film I directed in my 8th and 9th month of pregnancy with my 2nd kid. They brought me (way too much!) food and drinks constantly (which is probably why I gained 13 lbs more with this kid than the first, but can you really say no to a teamster bearing chocolate and a smile?), remained enthusiastic during long hours (figuring I had to be more tired than they were so how could they complain, though the truth is, I felt weirdly elated and invigorated the entire time… but whatever… they stayed happy, which is what really mattered and helped make that shoot a daily joy).

    Shout-out to: my film's first editor, who really wasn't into kids AT ALL back then, and tolerated me bringing my newborn into the editing room EVERY DAY and he tried not to blanche as I nursed and rocked the baby while we edited and took breaks to change diapers (as he tried not to wretch or make comments in his native language of snark).

    Looking back, I am reminded how fortunate I was to have had the right people around at the right times. Sadly, once my kids were no longer portable bundles of cuteness, “hollywood” wasn't quite so tolerant of my parenting needs… and I found myself searching for a way to continue doing what I do from more of a consulting position… which, again, “the biz” just ain't so tolerant of. Fuckers. Whatever.

    Hence… I am quietly writing my next indie film while working on my blog, and thank fate (aka google) for leading me to so many awesome bloggers, like you, Liz, who by virtue of your blogs, really are helping moms of all kinds.

    Biggest shout-out to all of you! We may physically be in our homes or offices, but we are always just one click away from this fabulous community.

  13. I was seriously lucky – I brought my babe to work with me for the first 8 1/2 months – until she started crawling and we moved out of the city and I couldn't strap her to the Bjorn and head for the subway any more. She had toys and a Pack N Play and a part time nanny and a whole crew of staff to play pass the baby and wander around the studios with her. It was heaven.

    Love the Frankenstein picture. Totally awesome.

  14. pumping. in a bathroom. pumping. in a classroom. pumping. and being walked in on by male colleagues who were so freaked out they'll probably never have babies now. And wonderful, fabulous, childcare providers who loved my babies almost as much as I did. And without whom I could never have returned to work.

  15. My bosses (and I've had quite a few since becoming a working mom- biotech is a volatile place) have all been supportive and judged me on my productivity (still high) and not my hours (I'm a 40-45 hour/week girl except during deadlines).

    My coworkers who told me their funny pumping stories to make me feel better about how I had to pump on a plane. In my seat. Next to a sort of freaked out young man. (What? I had a big shawl. He couldn't see anything. If he hadn't noticed the tubing disappearing into my shawl he may never have known what was happening. But it was a cross country flight and the seat belt sign was NOT GOING OFF.)

  16. I remember presenting some creative concepts to a room full of co-workers. The two male designers didn't hear a word I said as they just kept staring at my bursting breasts that were overdue for a pump. Thanks for noticing guys. I miss those days! After nursing three kids, I have nothing left to show off.

  17. First – Congratulations! Second, as I've been a telecommuting mom for more than 1/2 of my time as a mom I'm very thankful for the flexibility and the understanding if once in a long time there is a baby babbling in the back ground of our teleconferences.

  18. I love this thread. I share an office with two other lovely ladies who let me pump in my cubicle with no disruptions- so much easier than finding a room. I had to travel to canada with my12 week old and play pass the baby at the reception dinner. My favorite working mom story was leaving a conference call because I was bored and everyone annoucing that I needed to pump. It got me out of a lot of boring meetings.

  19. working as a nurse practitioner in an acute care setting means I frequently rely on residents to get out the door at the end of the day. Neurosurgery residents are not exactly known for their sensitivity, but on my first day back after my first daughter was born, the resident on call looked at me two hours before the end of my shift and said, “It's not busy, and there's no reason for you to be here when you have a family waiting for you at home. Get out of here.”

    ALL of my coworkers were awesome after I went back to work, but I'll never forget that resident sending me home early to hug the baby I missed so desperately.

  20. an excellent post idea. i came back to work at 6 weeks and it was rough. but my office – mostly filled with older men – was fantastic. i remember nervously asking the big boss if it would be OK if I brought my baby up for lunch every day so i could nurse. he looked at me as if i was nuts, and said, all children are welcome here, all the time. and it was true – even when the baby was, ahem, not at his finest. i now work at an office that looks much more progressive – but I don't feel that same warmth and welcome for babies or children. it was a pretty special thing.

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