Having a baby made me rethink my entire career

Being on mat leave helped me think about what I want—and don't want—when it comes to my career

Having a baby made me rethink my entire career

In the summers when I was around eight or nine, I'd go to the pool and sit on the deck's lip near the diving well. I'd watch people launch themselves like cannonballs, vault into a backflip or gingerly step off the edge, slicing into the water below. It looked like fun. But I decided I'd never do it. It never looked safe enough.

Professionally, I've been that kid sitting on the edge of the pool for years. My career path has been successful but conservative. I work in a stable industry, in a nice enough job, making incremental progress on a predictable career path. I've never really pushed. I've played by the rules. I've been, in a word, safe.


Then came my son.

My maternity leave was nothing like I imagined. It had its hardships—the short-on-sleep nights, hours-long crying jags, even some unexpected health setbacks requiring difficult decisions. But I woke up every day feeling I had a purpose. Every night, I went to bed feeling I accomplished something worthwhile.

Even in the times I felt overwhelmed by a situation—my son screaming in the middle of my physical therapy appointment or blowing out a diaper in the doctor's office—I acted. I knew I could solve the problem.

This was a confidence, I realized, I didn't often experience in my professional life.

On the last night of my leave, I sat rocking in our nursery chair, watching my son as he fell asleep. I had this dreadful feeling like I was about to depart a gorgeous utopian island to which I'd never be allowed to return. I feared the strong, confident, capable version of me who emerged during my maternity leave would vanish the minute my alarm sounded the following morning.

I wasn't entirely incorrect about that last part. A few days, then a week, then a month of work passed by. Every day, I longed for 4 p.m. so I could go pick my son up from daycare, hoping he'd napped enough so we could have about an hour of time together before he crashed.

But the trivialities of my workplace that I'd shrugged off in the past began igniting every nerve. I'd arrive at daycare tired and irritable. I wasn't at my best for my son, and that devastated me. I felt for the first time like I was sliding into postpartum depression.

If I was going to work and spend so many hours away from my son, was this the way I wanted to spend them? I felt strongly that the answer was, "no," but I was less certain of what that meant.

Find another job? Sure—but doing what? I'd spent so long focusing on what I thought was a safe, clear career path, I hadn't considered that it might not fit anymore when my life circumstances changed. What kind of work could make me feel fulfilled while providing a schedule flexible enough to spend more time with my son and—of course—enough money to support him and our family?

I enlisted the help of a career coach who talked me through my strengths and weaknesses and what I needed and wanted from my job. Our conversations kept returning to the same place: freelancing. Never in my life had I ever considered anything close to entrepreneurship, so the idea of going out on my own terrified me at first.

Could I—should I—leave the stability of working in-house behind? Was that really responsible to do with a newborn? At the same time, the idea of freelancing was thrilling. How empowering would it be to build a business—even a small one—from scratch? How refreshing would it be to focus only on work that excited and interested me without drowning in institutional red tape?

Success wouldn't come immediately, and it would require working nights, weekends, and holidays at times—but how wonderful would it feel to take my son to storytime at the library in the middle of a Thursday morning without asking permission?

When I began this foray into motherhood almost 18 months ago, I knew it would change me—but I thought that change would come in a different form. I thought I'd become more anxious and cautious, but instead, becoming a mom seems to have given me a clarity and bravery I couldn't have expected.

With each step I take toward this new professional path, I feel the strong, confident, capable version of me from my maternity leave re-emerging. For the first time, I'm climbing onto the diving board of my professional life and walking toward the edge.

And for the first time, I want to jump.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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