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 Jenny Owens several years ago at a mutual friend’s birthday party. We typically saw each other about once or twice a year at party or two… until this past year when our mutual friend found out that both of his friends named Jenni were pregnant and due within a couple of weeks of each other. I quickly messaged Jenny and very much valued her friendship though Facebook messenger over the course of our respective pregnancy and infancy weeks. Her little man is adorable and sure looks cute with my little guy. Jenny is funny, smart, kind and—possibly my favorite thing about her— knows how to use a sarcasm well. I’m excited to introduce you to Jenny O!
Jenny and her husband Nathan have been friends for over twenty years and have been married for seven of those years. She gave birth to their son approximately five months ago and it was not an easy road to get to where they are today.
“It took five years of trying, two miscarriages, and deciding we were done trying; and then I conceived unexpectedly. At the time we joked that it was either going to be ‘three strikes you’re out’ or ‘third time’s the charm’!” said Jenny. The third time ended up being a charmer for sure.
Jenny has worked for a a branch of Edward Jones, a brokerage firm, for the past eight hers. At the time of her pregnancy she was working full-time as an office manager— Senior Branch Office Manager. She worked right up until labor—literally!
“I didn’t think it was real labor, so I made it a point to work until market close (1 PM PST) before I had my husband pick me up so I could soak in a bath for pain-management. Five hours later I had my son in my arms!” she explained. (Check out her birth story here!)
Jenny elaborated on why she works which I hadn’t asked any of the women in the interviews, but now I wish I had! Some women have to work to make ends meet. Some women need to work to feel fulfilled. Some women feel that they need to work, but don’t feel they are in the right job. It takes all kinds, right? Jenny works for a number of reasons including feeling that it is just in her personality. But, beyond that, she has a very personal reason as to why she works.
“I work for a number of reasons, but first and foremost because I am the personality type that needs to work. My husband always says that he’d retire yesterday, if he could, whereas I’m pretty sure I’ll have at least part-time work for the rest of my life,” Jenny explained.
She continued, “Also, my dad died when I was barely a teenager, so I’ve seen that a person’s Happily Ever After can take a thoroughly unexpected nosedive, and it’s always been important to me to be able to take care of myself by myself, Just In Case. Having my own income is a large piece of that, and even more essential now that, should the worst happen, I’d also have a small child to care for.”
Jenny has chosen to work her particular job because she is good at it and that is satisfying. She genuinely loves helping people with their finances.
“And honestly? I love money. Rather, I love what money allows us to do- travel is very important to us as a family, and the extra money from my income (since we try to ‘live’ on my husband’s alone) makes it easier to go to some of the far-flung places on our list” she said.
While she doesn’t feel quite like there is a typical for her and her family yet Jenny shared a bit of what her day may look like on a work day. She gets up just shy of 6:30 in the morning to do the wake-up routine of feeding and dressing her son. She goes downstairs and does her morning yoga routine with her son watching from his swing. She’ll then make breakfast for herself and sit on the floor as her son is working on his tummy time while she eats. He goes with her as she gets dressed for the day, but around 7:45 AM she leaves for work and her husband then takes over primary care and getting their son to care for the day.
Jenny gets to work around eight in the morning where she has half an hour of quiet time to make herself tea and review emails before the office opens for business.
She notes, “I treasure that quiet time way more than I used to!”
Throughout the day she takes two pumping breaks and one short break for a walk. She says she is fortunate to have a large break room to herself that she is able to secure for privacy while pumping. Her walk in the afternoon helps her clear her head and stay focused on her work. In addition to the breaks she sets her alarm to go off every thirty minutes to remind herself to get up and stretch.
She leaves work around 4:30 and heads home to greet her family and then immediately goes upstairs and changes into her “civilian clothes.”
Jenny explained,” That’s a tip my mom passed on to me, as a way to really mark the boundary between “Working Woman” and “Mommy”, and I find it very effective from a mental standpoint. Not to mention a laundry standpoint! I don’t care if my son blurps all over my civvies, but it’s such a pain when he manages to get my office wear, because sometimes those stains just won’t budge.”
Her husband and she trade off food-prep duties, but lately it has been him taking point on that because she is in charge of the bedtime routine. The bedtime routine stats around 6:30 in the evening and he is typically asleep by 7:00 PM. After he is asleep Jenny will head downstairs to write or possibly watch a little tv with her husband. She starts getting herself ready for bed around 8:00 PM and tries to be asleep no later than ten in the evening.
“I really, really hope my son will understand that I work not because I didn’t like being around him- I actually like it quite a bit, certainly way more than I thought I would- but because it’s what’s right for me. The classic, ‘It’s not you, it’s me,’ bit” said Jenny.
She hopes that her example will show him that he can live a life that he wants—even if it’s hard— as long as he is willing to work for it.
She continued, “And I hope he internalizes the lesson that you should not make anyone but yourself the center of your Universe: it’s an unfair amount of pressure to expect someone else to give your life meaning and worth. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t devote any (or even a lot!) of your time and energy to someone you love, just that you shouldn’t let them take more than is healthy for you to give.”
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!
My obsession with displaying photos began in high school. It started off as a small section of my wall that I taped up photos of my friends and family. That small section grew to include notes, drawings, and many more photos until I had an entire ten feet by fifteen feet wall completely covered. Every time I walked into my room I was inundated by all the faces of people I loved. It was perfect. Granted when I had to take it down before moving out of the house at the end of high school it was a bit of a complicated mess. I’d suggest that if you’d like to tape up photos to your wall that you use painters tape rather than Scotch tape!
As I got older the desire to take/be in/ display photos of myself and my loved ones never really disappeared. In college I insisted my roommates do a photoshoot with me so that we could have photos for our home. One of those photos eventually got displayed on the underside of a toilet seat as a funny gag when people went to our restroom. Said photo:
Now-a-days I typically opt to display photos in frames around the house rather than on the bottoms of toilet seats… but, I still enjoy the unexpected at times! I used to be totally against displaying huge photos of me and my husband around my house. But, that has changed since having kiddos. I still like to make sure that there are some photos in addition to my family images, but I live in my house and goodness knows I LOVE seeing photos of my family.
This is absolutely a personal preference, but lemme tell you WHY I prefer matte over glossy: no shine and no fingerprints. I can’t stand it when fingerprints end up on pictures before the frame goes on or when there is a glare off of a photo in a frame! Matte looks so neat and clean. If you are going to a store to get instant prints then likely matte is not an option. Though, if it is, always select matte! I typically order my photos via Shutterfly or Mpix and both offer matte prints.
I’m a firm believer that my family is much bigger than just the few people that live in my home. My friends and distant family members are very much a part of my family too. I try to sprinkle photos of moments we share together throughout my home. Sometimes I simply keep a bunch of images in one frame and switch them out from time to time. Sometimes I put up a fun gallery wall and include a variety of photos with similar color schemes.
I can’t recommend this enough. Sure, get smaller images to go around the house. But, I highly believe that one favorite image BIG can make a huge impact. And, there is nothing that makes me smile more than walking into a room and seeing the big photo of my family in the room. I usually shy from big photos of just one person, but decided to throw it out the window this past year and instead framed three big photos of myself, my husband and our son. They are silly and always get compliments. Perhaps a tad egotistic? Naw. 😉
I did a small illustration of my family based off of one of my favorite photos from a photoshoot with Moments by Macey. The illustration, though not a perfect rendition of the photo, is one of my favorite pieces in my house because it is unexpected. Photos of holding hands or your child’s favorite toy may be unexpected ways to incorporate family photos into your decor.
I spend a LOT of time at my computer at work. I surround myself with the photos of my family to remind me why I do the work that I do. Also, those little guys are just so cute!
Get fun photos of you and your family whether it be by hiring a professional (of whom you pay what they are worth) or by snapping images with your cell phone. Try unexpected poses and stolen moments. You’ll be happy you did!
There are a lot of things that change the second time around in pregnancy and birth. The biggest of the changes for me was…. well, me. I’d become much more laid back with my ideas of how things should go in childbirth. I’d become much less concerned with a LOT of things. I think it shows in the difference between the births of my two children. The description of my first birth was nearly as long as the birth process itself (DAYS) and scans three posts. This one was not nearly as painful and therefore, won’t be nearly as daunting to read. 😉
There are some fairly descriptive parts coming and if you’re not a fan of oversharing in the birth experience then thank you very much for reading, I’ll see you later this week with my new post that is less graphic.
So, you like reading birth stories… so do I! The first time around with pregnancy I devoured each and every story I could read. This time around, not so much. As a matter of fact, I didn’t really even think of the birth as much as how I’d handle the weeks home after having the baby.
My first pregnancy I was very concerned with having an all natural process. That didn’t work out as planned. I knew my second kiddo would not be medication free, but I certainly didn’t realize that it would include induction. My first child came 5 days early and with a gestational diabetes diagnosis it was highly believed that kiddo number two would also come early. Three weeks before my due date my doctor said that I was already effacing and beginning to dilate. I told her I had too much to do that week and really needed him to last the week. Her response? “Well, I hope that happens for you.”
People were worried to be around me during our move, Halloween party and at work. Nearly every day at work I heard, “Jenni’s here!” I was thankful for the extra time because I had a ton of little projects going that I needed to wrap up before D-Day. The weekend before my due date I was SURE that would be the time to have the baby. I was having regular contractions, had work wrapped up, had all my bags ready and in the car… I was ready. Contractions slowed down to a stop and I went to work that next week. Suddenly it was the day before my due date and my last day at work.
My doctor and I had decided that if baby didn’t come on my due date we would be inducing the next day. I know a lot of people are against induction, and I certainly wasn’t excited about it, but I decided it was best for me and baby after many months of being swollen and in pain. I spent all day on my due date trying to get things going. The morning of my induction my contractions began as I was getting ready to head out to the hospital. These were most certainly the contractions of an impending birth. Evidently baby agreed that it was the day to come.
They let me naturally contract for about three hours at the hospital after eating a light breakfast and settling in before checking me and discussing our plan. I was only dilated to a two though I had been contracting for some time. My first birth was a very LONG experience, and I knew enough about my body to know that I needed to relax as much as possible to really get this going.
The doctor laid out a few options for me including breaking my water to see if we could get things going fast or starting a small dosage of Pitocin. I opted for the Pitocin because I knew that once that water broke things got… PAINFUL and there was no guarantee it would speed things up. They started out the Pitocin on the lowest dosage and watched it as contractions began to mount. I bounced on the birthing ball and watched episodes of How I Met Your Mother in those early hours.
The plan was that I would labor with the lowest dosages of Pitocin that still kept things going until I couldn’t handle the pain, then I would get an epidural and then break my water if it hadn’t naturally broken. (My water never did break naturally after three days of labor with my first, so I wasn’t really expecting it to happen this time around.)
I knew I wanted a hospital birth from the beginning, even with my first kiddo when I wanted to have him as naturally as possible. I’m glad too because the first baby had seriously scary moments of very low heart rates and I don’t think I would have handled the situation well without a team of professionals nearby. The one thing that comes with hospital births that, while understandable, was also extremely annoying in the whole process was that there are a lot of machines monitoring things.
I had my IV, a monitor for my heart and for the baby’s heart. I was also being monitored every few hours for my diabetes, fever, and blood pressure. Eventually due to the drugs that were going in I had to have the blood pressure cuff on me for the duration of birth and it was going off every few minutes. (OUCH) I had to try to stop and be still in contractions to be readjusted one way or another with the monitors. There were straps, stickers, cords and more coming every which way out of me. It was insane. The nurses were SO kind and helpful with the whole process and explained things to me so I knew what each machine and cord was for, but it was overwhelming in combination with contractions to say the least.
The whole process went so fast compared to the multiple days of labor I had with my first son. The pain mounted much quicker and to my already swollen and sore body, well, I didn’t last long before I was hoping for pain management. I knew that I wanted to utilize the tub for pain management before getting my epidural. Getting into the tub was a big ordeal. (See above about machines.) It was totally worth it however when I hit the warm water. The water and jets made the pain much more manageable… and, by that point, it was BAD. When I finally knew I couldn’t handle it anymore and the team began prepping for my epidural. They checked me prior to getting the epidural and I was dilated to a six.
***Note: I had heard that laboring with Pitocin was more painful, but I didn’t quite understand how that could be possible after my three days of very painful natural labor. However, I think it is more about how quickly the pain surmounts. When laboring over days the pain gradually got worse and worse and my body seemed to adjust to it. This time around, not so much. ***
The first time around my epidural came as a last ditch effort before heading into C-section because my body was slowly tiring of three days of labor and I just wasn’t progressing. It was as if the heavens opened up when I got my epidural that first time. All of my body relaxed, I was happy, and suddenly the baby as here. AMAZING. I was hoping for the same experience this time around. Like most things with this pregnancy… it was completely different.
They couldn’t get the epidural in due to the swelling that was happening all over my body, including my joints. They poked my back several times trying to get it in and—between the contractions, my fear of the epidural, and the swelling—it just wasn’t happening.
This is about the time that I nearly lose my sh*t. I’m apologizing to just about anyone who will listen because I just can’t do it and my body hates me and etc. etc. etc. The nurse then suggests that they give me some sort of drug to relax me a tad. I wish I had the name of that drug, because holy cow, it sure did do the trick. It was quick acting. I could still feel the contractions and they still hurt in my belly, but that pain just wasn’t making it to my head.
The head anesthesiologist came in during that time and between his skill and the calm that had come over me, well, they finally got the epidural in. They had to place it higher in my back than it was placed in my first birth, and it made a difference for sure. With my first son I could feel nothing of a contraction. I still felt pressure and pain even with the epidural with this birth. However, I did not feel the ring of fire nor were the contractions quite as bad as they were prior to the epidural.
The biggest benefit for me with the epidural is how quickly my body relaxed and did it’s thing! I was feeling pressure like crazy and the nurses got my doctor to check on things and break my water. The baby was still pretty far back, but the rest of my body was pretty much ready to go with this whole birth thing. They checked me soon after the epidural was in and my water had been broken (mainly because I was telling them, “I feel like I need to push!”) and I was a ten and nearly completely effaced.
Time to push! My office were waiting an update about the baby nearly all day, knowing I was being induced. Because it was nearing the end of the day I asked my husband to text my office to tell them that the baby was going to be some time off yet because it took me 45 minutes of pushing my first time around. Six minutes later I had him text them back, “The baby is here!” The office emails were quite funny that day.
Our little guy came out in 4 pushes. Each push a gush of water came out with it because the water was still all surrounding the baby. My little guy was over 8lbs and just slipped right out! The doctor actually commented on the fact that the liquid missed the bucket and sort of splashed everywhere.
This little guy was perfect. He had a beautiful round head (benefit of not being in the birth canal very long) and rosy cheeks. I did receive 2nd degree tears from the whole ordeal. However, my first son gave me 3rd degree tears…so, really this wasn’t bad! All in all my larger child was a much easier birth and recovery. I would have loved for birth to come on naturally and all that. However, this ended up being a much easier and enjoyable experience and my son was just fine. Every pregnancy and birth experience is different. This one was a hard pregnancy and easy birth while the first kiddo was a relatively easy pregnancy and hard birth.
I’m over three months from the birth and this experience has been so different than the first time around. He is a lovely kiddo and easy baby. I’m so very much in love. Seriously, look at that chin.