This post is a part of a blog series of stories of working moms. I’m excited to share 13 stories from real working mothers. I also really would like to hear YOUR story and I’d love to hear it. Keep the conversation going in the comments & on social media using #wellcraftedworkingmoms. A huge thank you to the women who volunteered to share their stories, Mary Boyden of Mamma Bear Magazine for her photography and Madeline Roosevelt for hair and makeup!
I met Erika about three years ago at a couple Pacific Northwest Blogger events. She has such personality and is incredibly fun to be around. You also really want to get on her Christmas card list as she sends the best cards! Erika creates Art Every Day and shares it on her Instagram account with the hashtag project #makeart2016.
I really wanted to share Erika’s story because she is one of the many working moms out there that also are their own full-time childcare. Some working moms work their schedules out so that they are home throughout the day and work before their kids wake or after their partner is home for the day. It takes all kinds and I wanted to try to share as many examples as I could get!
Erika is married and has two kids, Nora (age 3) and Everett (age 1). She worked throughout her pregnancies and was fairly busy during her last pregnancy. Erika is a full-time artist.
Six years ago Erika left her corporate job in finance to go after her love of painting.
“It was grueling and extremely stressful. I was working sometimes 60 hour work weeks. I kept thinking to myself, if I was able to invest this much time working at a job that I didn’t love, then I should be able to make the time to go for a passion project” said Erika of her decision to leave the traditional workforce.
Erika started things out slowly having coffee with a friend who also wanted to leave the traditional nine to five life. They kept meeting up and talking about goals, eventually, one winter Erika made a goal to make and sell ten paintings by the end of summer. She was hooked and started applying for art shows.
She explains, “This is my dream job and it’s a lot of hard work but it’s extremely worth it and very rewarding.. similar to having kids! An artist has many hats, it isn’t just about making the art, its also a lot of marketing and selling the work. You have to love it, in order to be an artist and do whatever it takes. Being brave or at least being braver everyday is key.”
Erika wakes up everyday at five in the morning—even weekends! She wakes up and checks emails and work on her Make Art Everyday project. If she is busy she will give herself thirty minutes to an hour to complete. She then catches up on emails and checking her planner for projects that she is currently working on. After that she begins working on commission or client work.
Erika’s children typically wake up around 7:30 in the morning. She spends her time with her children and then sometimes gets in an hour of work around nap time. She spends the day with her kiddos and her husband after work but around 8 in the evening she will head back to her home studio which she shares with her husband and work a few more hours. She typically goes to bed around 10 to 10:30 so that she can be rested and up again at five!
“My mother was a working mother. She worked extremely hard and was able to raise 3 children. Have a hot dinner on the table every night and kept a clean house. She taught me a crazy work ethic. She showed me hard work really does pay off and that you need to jump into the water with both feet. She taught me how to go for it. Even though she doesn’t really understand my art career, since it’s very non traditional,” said Erika.
She continued, ” I hope to share that drive and work ethic with my kids. That handwork is very valuable and anything is possible if you put your heart into your work.”
I absolutely had to ask a few questions about some of the topics that often come up for the working mom such as maternity leave, childcare, and the challenges & joys of working. I love the answers so much that I felt it was best to just put it in their own words. Read on to learn about the ups, downs, ins and outs of Erin’s working mom experience!
Coming back after a big break in blogging is always strange. I toyed with the idea of stopping blogging all together. It isn’t that I don’t love it. It isn’t that I am lacking ideas for blog posts. It has just been really, really hard to keep myself together over the past few months, much less blog. Heck, even Instagram and Facebook have become too hard to keep up with lately. So, for a bit, it was just easier to STOP.
I’m not complaining though… these trials and difficulties have come from one of the most amazing life changes. My newest addition graced us with his presence this past November. After a tough (but not terrible) pregnancy and the holidays with an infant… I’m actually looking at the blog again with fresh eyes and renewed hope. Today I released the 2016 Blog Planner to my current newsletter subscribers. (I’ll be sharing it here on the blog next week. ) Prepping and planning the newest edition of the blog planner has given me so much inspiration for this New Year.
I’m looking forward to sharing more next week… in the meantime, here is what has happened over the past few months:
I had several parties that I either hosted or attended. One of my favorite was one that was actually thrown FOR me… my baby sprinkle! The beautiful Pitter Patter in PDX theme was simply amazing. I can’t wait to share the photos and DIY information about the party my amazing friends threw me.
Boy… life has been BUSY. Being pregnant, being a mom and working full time basically took up all of my waking hours over the past few months. I had a hard time doing much of anything, but I made effort to do some of our yearly traditions such as having our annual Halloween party (at 38 weeks pregnant!), going to the annual Apple Festival, enjoying a trip to the pumpkin patch and so on. In there we also moved houses! I’m so very glad we did it all and that I put myself and my family first in this season of life. I took photos along the way with intentions of blogging, but never quite got around to it. Some of the events and projects that have occupied my time will end up on the blog in 2016 (including LOTS of house projects!) but, many of them will remain in my files or printed and shared in albums with just my family. I’m pretty pleased about that.
I was very, very pregnant. The last three weeks of my pregnancy I was told by basically everyone that it was going to happen ANY MOMENT. My first son came five days early so I was very prepared for my second to come around that same time. I moved into a new house and I threw our annual Halloween party just crossing my fingers that the baby would stay put until those things were over. I worked until the day before my due date and spent the whole day on my due date enjoying every kick and spending time with friends.
I was induced at 40 Weeks and 1 Day. I’ll be sharing my birth story on here soon, but let me just say… it was so much easier than the first time around! I’d love to introduce the newest addition to my Well Crafted family. Here on the blog I’ll be calling him X2 and can’t wait to share more of this little guy here on the blog and on Instagram. I’ve been really focusing on my mental health with this postpartum period. I’ve been trying to take it easy, sleep as much as possible and be intentional with my time. I suffered from Postpartum Depression with my first and really hope to avoid it this time around. The recovery has been good and I’ve mostly been spending my time nursing and pinning a ton of ideas on Pinterest. I’ll share my postpartum story here on the blog sometime soon.
We’ve had a beautiful holiday season with lots of friends and family. I’ve been spending as much time as possible soaking in my newest addition, enjoying time with his big brother and just getting to know our new version of family. I’ll be heading back into the office soon and want to get as much out of this time as I possibly can before I head back to work full-time.
I wish you all the happiest of New Years and hope that you’ll join back in reading the blog for A Well Crafted party, home, recipe, life, family and so much more.
Cover photo by Moments by Macey
When I was pregnant with my first kiddo I introduced a series on this blog called “Mommy Mondays” which were all pregnancy and motherhood posts so that I could share the many things that were coming up in pregnancy and the experience, but not overwhelm readers with all things baby. I didn’t know how I was going to handle blogging about this pregnancy. Mostly, I haven’t handled blogging at all this pregnancy until very recently! I still don’t entirely know how my pregnancy will play out here on the blog, except that today (a Monday) I’ve decided to share a bit about my second pregnancy.
When pregnant the first time around I took photos each week of my growing bump, I had project after project in preparation for the baby’s arrival, and I was soaking in all things baby at the time. This second baby has been a whole other ball game.
I’m now almost rolling into my third trimester of my second pregnancy. This pregnancy, especially in comparison to my first pregnancy, has been… well, rough. I was told that each pregnancy, like each child, can be very different. For me, this has been very true. Some ways that things have been different:
The first time around I was very frightened of the birth experience. I didn’t know what to expect, even though I had read the book cover to cover! I had watched multiple documentaries in preparation. I had taken classes. I’d learned breathing techniques. I had a detailed birth plan. Even with all the preparation, and confidence in my knowledge of what was supposed to happen, I was very scared about the “what could happen” bit of it all. My birth plan didn’t go completely as planned, and it was an incredibly LONG birth, but now that I’ve been through it, I am not as scared this time around. Heck, I made it through that one! What I am really scared about are those first few weeks and months of having the baby home.
Before having my first child I was thrilled by the idea of bringing my little bundle of joy home from the hospital. I would handle any scary thing that birth would throw at me just because I knew in the end, I’d have a cuddly little baby that I’d love more than anything.
Well, the first few months with my first son were very difficult. First, no one told me what to expect in the first few days of postpartum. I didn’t expect the continuous contractions to keep happening or how they would make me feel. I certainly didn’t expect to have a physical and emotional reaction to my baby crying. (Or, lets be honest, ANY baby crying.) Then there was the fact that my first child was a difficult infant. He didn’t sleep. Nursing was difficult. There were health scares. It was hard. I’m wavering a bit now thinking about going through those days again, especially because I will be going back to work much earlier with this kiddo than I did with my first. While I know that I can handle birth and I’ll bring my loved baby home with me, I’m less excited about those first few weeks than I was with the first child.
Finally, I’m scared of getting postpartum depression again. I never want to feel that way again. I’m working with doctors and will be working with counselors in efforts to hopefully avoid going through those months again with this second child, but I also know that it can happen and does happen.
I’ve gained more weight with my second pregnancy than I did my first. I feared that I would have this problem in this pregnancy and what it would mean for my body and my pregnancy. I’m still afraid what it might mean.
There are three major differences between my first pregnancy and my second when it comes to my pregnancy weight gain— my age, my activity level and my resources.
Age: I’m now 4 and half years older than I was with my first pregnancy. Over the past few years my ability to bounce back from weight gain has diminished pretty steadily. (Part of this is due to the discovery that I have hypothyroidism More on that later.) I don’t know that my age has made a huge difference in my weight gain from my first pregnancy to the second, but I do feel that it has made a bit of a difference.
Activity Level: When pregnant with my first child I used public transportation to go to work where I walked for 5 miles a day. I wore a pedometer in those days and averaged 12,000 steps daily. In addition to all of that walking, I would work out three days a week. I worked approximately 30 hours a week and spent most of the rest of the time working on projects, keeping up the house and hitting the gym. I was not fit by normal means, I weighed 191 when I got pregnant with my first child, but I was active in my day to day activities. Now I work at a desk, I commute 2 hours a day by car and I then go straight to work on my computer at home. I rarely have the chance to hit the gym as I am gone approximately 12 hours a day and then work more when home. I probably average around 2,000 steps on a good day nowadays. It isn’t so much that I don’t value fitness. It is more that I value having a roof over my head and am working the best I can within my situation. Can I do better some days? Yes, for sure. The change in activity level is likely the biggest difference in my first pregnancy weight gain to this pregnancy.
Resources: My first pregnancy I was part of a medical study for overweight pregnant women. The study postured the idea that overweight women (women whose BMI put them in the obese category) should not gain the recommended 11-20 lbs of weight and instead shoot for no weight gain at all in pregnancy. I’ve avoided talking about my experience with this study because I do not want people reading about it and thinking that it is healthy to not gain weight at all in pregnancy. The recommended weight gain in a pregnancy is important for the health of the mother and baby. The study was specifically trying to see if overweight women could have a healthy baby while gaining no weight, and if the lack of weight gain could help in preventing many of the weight-related high-risk scenarios in late pregnancy and birth. Nearly all the women in the study (including me) gained weight during their pregnancy. But those participating in the study gained less than those who were in the control group. The study may end up changing weight gain recommendations for obese women in the future, but currently the recommendations are still the same 11 to 20 lbs.
I was in the part of the study that were encouraged to try to not gain any weight during our pregnancy. I was watched by a team of doctors, I received several sonograms to measure my son’s growth, I turned in a weekly food diary of everything I ate to a nutritionist and I received a lot of coaching on food and fitness throughout my first pregnancy. I gained 4 lbs in my first pregnancy and I did avoid the weight-related high-risk pregnancy and birth complications. I’ve gain 7 lbs so far this pregnancy, which is putting me right at the recommended weight gain for obese pregnant women and my doctor is not worried, but it has been hard for me to deal with as I started out heavier with this pregnancy than the last. I feel that it has affected my overall feelings of the pregnancy and my health.
I had a few issues with my first pregnancy that are really regular and normal for most pregnancies. Still sucked at the time and people who hadn’t had those fairly normal pregnancy symptoms thought I had it really bad, but overall, pretty regular. This pregnancy I’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, had the flu, have had 4 infections, had pre-cancerous skin cells removed in surgery, have fallen twice and had incredibly bad edema and pain when active. It has been a whirlwind and a lot of medical bills to boot. Some is to be blamed on having a toddler at home coupled with the lowered immune system that comes with pregnancy. Some is weight related.
Thankfully, through all of this, the baby has been growing well and doing great in all the tests and utlrasounds. Also, I haven’t had to be hospitalized or had any big labor scares, so I count myself as pretty darn grateful.
I had everything planned and prepped before baby number one came along. Everything was purchased, saved, cleaned, packed and prepped weeks before his arrival. Frozen meals were stacked high in our freezer weeks before his arrival. Random closets were organized just in case I needed to get something from them in a hurry. Heck, his name was picked out years before pregnancy even came into the picture. This pregnancy, even though it too was planned, I am prepared for nothing. I have no name picked out. I have no baby items (we gave away most everything because we weren’t planning on having another child for sure until fairly recently) and haven’t really prepared too much so far. The room isn’t prepped. Our house is basically an unorganized disaster. I have no ideas on what I want to do for birth this time around. And, I have a mountain of things to accomplish at work (and here on the blog) before his arrival.
I also am not worried. Something about doing this the second time around makes it all just a tad less stressful. I know that we will get what we need to have. I know that somehow work and everything else will work itself out. We have started to prepare a bit more as we are hitting the third trimester. I signed up for Honest diaper bundle boxes a few months ago and have already stocked up on diapers and wipes to last us some time. We purchased a larger car and planned for daycare arrangements for when I go back to work. I’ve checked in with my insurance to get a breast pump and plan our financial costs for the birth. There is still a lot to do, think about and purchase. But, for the most part, I’m still not too worried about it. (Check back with me in a few weeks though!)
I was excited for my first son. All that planning and preparing was in my excitement of meeting my first child and all the adventures that we would have. Somehow, I think I’m even more excited about this little guy and I think I owe it to my first son. I know how amazing he is and I know the fun and adventures we have. I am excited about sharing that with a second son. In addition, maybe because I am an older sibling, I am excited to see the relationship between my first and my second grow into a life long (hopefully) friendship. I can’t wait to introduce him to all of the traditions we have. I can’t wait to see his personality develop. I simply can’t wait.
Overall this pregnancy has not been my favorite of the two. I’ve struggled a lot about him not feeling the love because we aren’t preparing as much or there aren’t as many photos of his mom while pregnant as there were when I was pregnant with his older brother. I’ve struggled with him not feeling as important because I’m choosing to go back to work earlier or because we didn’t have his name picked out for ages like we did his brother. I’ve struggled with health and happiness during this pregnancy. We’ve struggled with money and time this pregnancy. I’ve struggled.
However, I’m already so stinking in love with my unborn little one. I’m ridiculously excited to introduce him to his brother and his father. I can’t wait to see him in the arms of our families and friends. Mainly, I can’t wait to snuggle close with him (as I’ve done a million times with his brother) and sing him a special song that he knows is his song from me.