Motherly Collective

My baby boy, Dean, was born in the summer of 2023. As a first-time mom and a full-time executive at a leading fintech, VizyPay, I had a lot of changes coming my way. I returned to my role as the Director of Marketing after maternity leave and quickly realized a new challenge facing me: how to balance a newborn while working full-time. They don’t put this chapter in the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” books.

Perhaps with my fresh and recent experience on my motherhood resume, I can provide solace or understanding to other mothers experiencing this, too. In the months since giving birth and returning to the office, here’s what I’ve learned or wish someone had prepared me for:  

Working-mom guilt

The hardest part of this whole experience for me was the working mom guilt. As I prepared to return to work, I felt an overwhelming amount of guilt for being excited to get back to it. I wasn’t excited to leave my baby at home by any means, quite the opposite, actually. I always wanted to focus on my career and that made me wonder—did that make me a bad mother immediately? It felt like a double-edged sword. I felt guilty for wanting to work and guilty that I wasn’t at home with my son. 

Baby first, work second 

The morning that I went into labor, I was on my phone sending emails and getting some work done. Going into this new chapter, I naively thought the passion for my career and my day-to-day life was not going to change at all. I was expecting everything to stick to the status quo and my son would magically fit in perfectly to all of it. But the second I held my son, all of that changed for me. Work was no longer the most important part of my day. I went through a major mind shift recognizing that my job was caring for and loving my newborn baby. Sure, I am the Director of Marketing from 9-5, but I am the Director of Motherhood 24/7 for Dean. 

Since I was exclusively nursing, I quickly realized that I had to make time to pump throughout my workday. I noticed that when I postponed my pumping schedule to continue focusing on a project or when a work meeting overlapped with my usual pump times, my supply changed. My team has been very accommodating by setting up a wellness room for me to privately pump and understanding when I need to decline a meeting to prioritize this part of my life now. Regardless of how supportive my team is, declining or leaving a meeting to go pump breast milk will always be an uncomfortable thing to do, but this became a necessary change in order for me to balance my newborn’s needs and my job well.  

Don’t jump into the deep end 

Before maternity leave, I was a manager that wanted to have a hand in most tasks, and I would stress myself out thinking I had to do it all. However, in my absence, my team handled everything with grace. I’m incredibly lucky to have a team as strong as them. When I returned to the office, I anticipated picking up the projects we’d been working on and getting right back into the thick of things. To no one’s surprise, that was a bit ambitious and unachievable. I was overwhelmed, and I had to slow down. When I did, I found that I was able to be a better leader for my team. I can attest that working with a supportive team is much better than by yourself. 

Adapt to a new routine 

Balancing a newborn and working full-time proved most difficult when I had to adapt to a new routine. Before motherhood, I was the person who showed up ten minutes early every morning to work and was the last one to leave. These days, I’m rushing to make it into the office on time, exhausted and likely with spit-up on my clothes. The adjustment of having to get another human ready in the morning was tricky and recognizing my new normal was hard to come to terms with.  

After my son started daycare, the daily routine improved and I found time in my evenings to set myself up for success the following day.  

Do small things for yourself 

Life with a newborn can make anyone feel like a zombie—like you’re on autopilot and you have little control over your days. Although the first few months were rough, I found a few ways to help bring a sense of normalcy to my life. Without my familiar routine I was out of sorts, but I made it a point each day to do something for myself that I enjoyed, that was part of my pre-motherhood routine. For example, I have always really enjoyed cooking dinner, so with the help of my husband, friends and family, I’m able to cook a few nights a week and that brings me joy. It isn’t much but it helps fill my bucket of self-care. 

For new mothers experiencing something similar, I encourage you to give yourself grace and time with the adjustment back to work. It took me a while to come to terms with how different my life was going to be and figure out the things that were going to make the transition easier for me. Lean on your work team for support, find what brings you joy and remember who you’re doing this all for: your child. 

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.