By Emily Kapusta, VP Communications, McCann Workgroup
I’m a brand new mom. Even writing that sentence is odd to me as the experience is still so new. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy just four months ago, but as I sit here typing on my computer, it’s almost as if nothing has changed. But it did. A lot. So now I’m attempting to relay to others my experience, especially as a mom returning to work. I can honestly say that it’s like everything changed and nothing changed at the same time. You see while my boy is a joy, his arrival was bad timing. To put it in perspective, perhaps I need to take a step back to describe how I got here.
For the last 15 years, I worked – and still do – pouring my heart and soul into my career and my life living in New York City. As the years crept by and I was asked about whether or not I would have children, I often shrugged and answered “maybe”. Not because I didn’t want to, but mostly because I was flippant about the experience. I always thought that eventually I would, but as I entered my 30’s and the years kept passing by, I started to wonder if having children would be my reality. So, I continued to pursue my active lifestyle and ignored my “biological clock”. Last year, I reached new heights in my professional life, taking a position in an industry that was new to me – advertising.
That’s when everything changed. As I waited out the obligatory weeks between jobs, I started to feel ill. Very ill. And it didn’t stop…for days and then weeks, until finally I experienced the surprise of my life: I was expecting my first child.
I wrestled with what I should do – stay at a job I had been at for years because it was comfortable and would be easier to take time off because I had “proven” myself? Or start anew and take on the challenges that come with a new job, while at the same time experiencing what would arguably be one of the most taxing personal journeys of my life?
Needless to say I decided to dive right in, and was pleasantly surprised by the support I received. When I began work at my new gig, I was 12 weeks pregnant. I was wrought with concern on how others would perceive me, thinking that they would see my state as an impediment instead of a blessing. Thankfully, I received encouragement. My new boss supported me and gave me the freedom I needed to do my job, but to also deal with my expanding waistline and the challenges that came with it. Colleagues gave me positive reinforcement. The support was vital to my success and I was acutely aware of my luck – not everyone has this type of backing in the workplace. The warm reception was just what I needed to make it through. I was able to accomplish what I needed to, all while carrying my little one.
Upon my return to work after maternity leave, I was tapped to take part in a pilot program launched by the 4A’s called Mothers@Agencies. I enthusiastically joined my first webinar and connected with other working moms from different advertising agencies. My own colleagues from across McCann Worldgroup also took part, and together we discussed the distinct challenges of being working moms. The forum allows us to share our stories and hear advice from experts on how to manage. The information is useful because it spans across ages – whether you’re a new mom or are wrestling with teenagers, the learnings that can be applied are similar.
Since I have joined Mothers@Agencies, I’ve been late to one session because of a deadline, and had to miss another one for my son’s four-month check up. I’m still learning how to juggle it all. I’m sure some days will continue to feel the same as I try to tackle a work issue or become engrossed in a task. And others will be completely foreign as I deal with spit up on my shirt. It’s all part of the joy and the fear of being a working mom…and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
McCann Worldgroup is a proud sponsor of the 4A’s Mothers@Agencies Pilot Program.
Interested in learning more about the Mothers@Agencies? Join us on Monday, April 24 at 12:30pm ET as the coaches share program benefits, content covered, and upcoming session dates.