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The feeling I had after giving birth was indescribable. There I was, in the hospital bed breastfeeding my newborn, and it's as if time stood still. Fast-forward 12 weeks later, when my maternity leave was over and I became a part of the new working-moms club.
Even though I missed my baby girl, I was excited to go back to work. I wasn't sure what to expect as I began this new chapter back then. Now having gone through the experience twice, there are a few things I'd like to pass along to new moms who are returning to work.
I was actually OK with my firstborn. But for some reason, I got really emotional after the birth of my second child. I didn't want to leave him. I didn't want to miss a moment of his life because I felt like I had already missed so much with his big sister.
2. Have your smartphone ready
If it weren't for technology, I don't know how I would have made it through those first years. I worked long hours and wasn't able to tuck my kids in at night. But through video chats, I was able to be there for bedtime, milestones and other important events. It's not the same as actually being there in the flesh, but I'd take it over not being able to experience these precious moments at all.
It's hard not being there for milestones, and it's even harder being away when your child is sick. It doesn't mean that you're a bad mom. Lean on your mate and other moms to get you through those rough times. I was fortunate to have the support of my husband and close friend. Having them listen to me vent about feeling guilty and overwhelmed eased some of the burden.
4. Know your legal rights
If you're a breastfeeding mom, employers are required by law to provide a place to pump in the U.S. Your best bet is let your human resources department know prior to giving birth to ensure a private pumping area. I was the first person to ask for a pumping station at my job, so they had a designated place ready for me.
5. Don't be afraid to speak up for what you want
Let's face it, being a parent is hard. When you're a new parent trying to figure everything out, it can be even more challenging. At first, I was afraid to ask for what I wanted, which led to me feeling anxious. I eventually got the courage to speak with my boss about my concerns.
For example, even though I had my own office, I couldn't pump in it because it didn't have shades. I was initially given access to a vacant office upstairs from the newsroom to express milk, but its location was inconvenient. So, I ended up asking my boss for blinds to cover up my bare office window. Within a couple of days, she fulfilled my request.
The bottom line is that when you're a new working mom, you should expect challenges. But know you will get through it. Just enjoy your new role because it's the most important job you'll ever have. And before you know it, your little one will be off to kindergarten.