I wrote a while ago about D3’s flexible family leave policy and how it helped me transition back into a full time work schedule. Well, spoiler alert, coming back as a full time employee doesn’t mean I stopped being a mom with different schedule needs than I had before.
Within a few days of coming back full time, I started looking for a new childcare situation. We couldn’t put our finger on it, but there was something that did not sit right with our current provider. While it was a licensed center, we discovered it was operating outside the bounds of their license with many questionable practices. like having too many babies enrolled in the infant room and not having enough staff to maintain state-mandated ratios.
Because of my confidence in D3’s flexibility with my schedule, we were able to immediately leave the daycare where we felt our daughter’s wellbeing was endangered. In other situations, it would have been very difficult to find childcare on such short notice. Luckily, D3 allowed Esther to come back into the office with me and also allowed me to work from home until we could secure a short-term and new long-term solution for childcare. Instead of obsessively checking the daycare’s video stream as I previously was, I was able to refocus on my work. It surprised me how much more efficiently and effectively I was able to work once she was in a safe space during the day.
The other issue that really surprised me was how much flexibility I would need with my work schedule to pump on a regular basis. While the AAP recommends breastfeeding for a year and beyond, many women quit, especially when they return to the workforce due to the lack of accommodations and support. I did not plan to breastfeed initially, but promised myself I’d give it a try. I ended up coming back to the office needing to pump three times a day.
D3’s setup was very supportive of this aspect of motherhood, a courtesy that is missing in many parts of our society. Being a breastfeeding mom led to some very interesting experiences. Some places, like the University of Michigan’s football stadium, provide incredible accomodations where moms can pump or feed their children out of the elements. At another college sporting event, I was invited to breastfeed in the first aid tent on a gurney or a wheelchair. So the experiences of a mom vary wildly out in society, and workplaces are no different.
My friends have had mixed experiences with having support in their workplaces for pumping. The logistics of pumping at work honestly scared me, but the support I got from my coworkers allowed me to achieve a new goal for myself and my daughter, feeding her for six months. So when D3 set aside our only conference room for “whenever I needed it” and made sure I had a new laptop to facilitate working away from my desk, I was relieved and also a little surprised. Pumping frequently requires flexible scheduling, time away from work, and limits on other peoples’ access to our space.
Over Christmas, I cut back some of the daytime feedings and am now working pump-free. The difference between my story and many other women is that I was able to make these decisions on my terms, based on my mental and physical health without any real concern that I was going to be fired, docked pay, or otherwise punished at my job for requiring months of extreme flexibility on the part of my coworkers and company.
Over the next few months, we’re going to continue highlighting D3’s culture of respectful humanness, showcasing how as an organization, we empower one another to be our full selves in the office. By not forcing people to compartmentalize and allowing flexible responses to every-day life situations, D3 is able to ensure a small team can accomplish great things. We hope these blog posts inspire others to consider transforming their organizational culture into a place that supports employees in whatever life throws at them.