I had my first child, little Lila, on Halloween. We didn’t know we were having a girl — we waited to find out, which made it even more fun and sweet. Before she was born, I had talked with my manager and HR manager about prepping for leave. They explained the new policy which had just launched 2 months prior, and a leave specialist talked to me a number of times to explain all the options.
I chose to take 14 weeks off. Everyone really seemed excited about the new policy and had good things to say — my manager and colleagues were on-board with the whole plan, and I heard ‘man, I wish this had been around when I had my kids!’ a lot. Even my family was blown away when I told them about taking leave. My mom couldn’t believe it.
It was a whirlwind having Lila. When she was born, it was a breathtaking experience, I don’t even know how to describe it. I valued every minute and tried not to take it for granted. Hearing from my new mom friends who only had six weeks, I realized how great the new policy is, and I really cherished my time at home. I truly enjoyed all my time with her — even the sleepless nights, especially since I knew I didn’t have to go in to work first thing in the morning. By week 14, she was a pro at sleeping, so coming back to work was easier.
It wasn’t just my time with Lila that was valuable, but also the time we were able to spend with my family. They live about 3 hours away, and it’s not practical to travel after work. Lila and I would go stay with my parents and my in-laws for long weekends. Lila got to spend time with her cousins.
In hindsight, I wish I used phased return and come back to work part-time at first. Although it was difficult to return to work and to leave Lila, it was easy to re-acclimate with my colleagues. With a bit of catch up, it was like I never left my team. There are fellow parents throughout the office — a few who had babies recently and some with older children. It’s been fun to get advice and hear their stories.
As Lila is my first child, I don’t know what less leave would have been like. I felt like I had a lot of time to bond. I was nursing and I had the time to really establish a routine with her, which would have been harder had I already been back at work.
Now, Lila is such a ham — she’s super smiley and giggly all the time, which makes her really fun to be around. I’m looking forward to all of her milestones to come, although maybe I’ll regret saying that once she’s running around!