You asked for a baby blog post and boy oh boy are you getting probably a whole lot more than you bargained for. If you didn’t think I was long winded before, this post may change your mind.
Because this is a long read, I am going to provide some navigation assistance. There are three main sections. First, I give you the rundown on all of the items we acquired for Iverson and how we as parents and Iverson as the primary user are enjoying those items - the "Baby Stuff" section. Second, I share all the nitty gritty with you on the recovery products that I used after Iverson was born - the "Recovery Stuff" section. Lastly, I answer some questions that you asked on my Instagram page about maneuvering the workplace/your career when expecting a baby - the "Work Stuff" section. Each of these sections are labelled with headings and subheadings so feel free to scroll to whichever section addresses your wonderings.
To be honest, it is shocking how much such a little person requires. Here are the items we have been grateful we had and the ones we quickly realized we needed and purchased soon after Iverson was born. Because there is so much, I will go through what we loved having for Iverson by category below.
To start with the obvious, you will need a whole lot of sleepers and swaddles. Listen closely, you cannot have too many of either of these items. For sleepers, I highly suggest you get sleepers with two-way zippers, feet, and optional hand covers (skip the baby mitts – they don’t stay put). You will be especially grateful for the two-way zipper during the 3am diaper changes when you don’t have the motor skills to work buttons and maybe can't even see them because you’ve already taken your contacts out. We love the Kyte Baby sleepers. Although they aren’t the most eye catching, they win you over with their incredible softness. After laying hands on these, everything else feels like cardboard. Another sleeper that stands out in softness and functionality are the Magnetic Me sleepers. Somehow they are even easier than zippers as the buttons are magnetized and find their match with very little assistance from you.
With regard to other clothing items, you really don’t need anything but sleepers during the newborn stage. Definitely skip the shoes until they are trying to walk and don’t worry about real outfits for the first month or so.
Although we haven’t used the glider quite as much as I had anticipated, it is still where we do the majority of Iverson’s feeds. We absolutely LOVE our glider. It is the Drew Recliner Swivel Glider from Oilo Studio. It is absolutely beautiful. The fabric is a performance fabric that makes it easy to clean and resistant to piling and wearing. The cushions are plush, extremely comfortable, and keep their shape so well. It not only glides, but it also reclines which is awesome for those milk coma naps that babies fall into after a good meal. The only downside (for Canadian residents) is that there are no Canadian retailers for this company so the product is shipped from the US and costs additional money to get it across border.
We opted for the Sloan Acrylic Convertible Crib from Pottery Barn Kids. Although he hasn’t had a sleep in his crib yet, we know that he will be using it eventually. Until then, his crib looks beautiful in his nursery and is great quality. I love the acrylic not just for aesthetic purposes but also because it allows for an unencumbered peek to check on him during a nap. This crib is also GREENGUARD Gold Certified meaning that it meets or exceeds stringent chemical emissions standards and keeps baby boy’s breathing air clean and healthy to inhale.
We opted for a dresser instead of a change table as a dresser has a much longer life span than a change table that will become useless around the one year mark. In addition, we needed the storage that a dresser provides and a change table does not. We went with the dresser that matches Iverson’s crib – the Sloan Extra Wide Dresser from Pottery Barn Kids. It is also GREENGUARD Gold Certified so we can rest assured that the only toxins emanating from his room are from his diapers.
We use the top of the dresser as his changing station. To help create this area, we purchased the Keekaroo Peanut Changer. We love that it is wipeable but what set it apart from the other wipeable change pads is that this one is not hollow and as such has more weight to it. Being that we have it placed on top of the dresser and not a traditional change table, it felt safer and more secure being that it had more weight to it. We have had zero complaints about this change pad and it doesn’t hurt that it is available in a good selection of colours – we chose vanilla and it looks beautiful on his dresser.
Beside his change pad, we keep his diapers, wipes, and diaper cream in caddies for easy access, organization, and a little pop of colour. We went with the medium sized HAY Design Colour Crates in the colours Light Blue, Khaki, and Nougat. These help to keep his change station functional but also very cute.
A diaper pail of some sort is an absolute necessity. We were keen on finding on that keeps the smell in the pail and out of the air in his room. We have found success in the Ubbi Diaper Pail! It is easy to use, doesn’t look too bad as far as diaper pails go, and keeps all the stink locked in. We have even taken it with us in the vehicle for a long road trip and can vouch for its ability to keep the stink inside the pail even in a super small space.
Because Iverson has been sleeping in his bassinet in our room, we haven’t had a chance to take our Angelcare AC517 Baby Movement Monitor out for a full test run yet. This baby monitor comes with a sensor pad that sits under the crib mattress and sounds an alarm if there has been no movement for 20 seconds. This includes movement as small as a tiny baby’s breathing. Although we haven’t yet utilized the sensor pad, we have used the camera and portable display screen during daytime naps. We are happy with what we have used thus far of the monitor!
The Snuggle Me Organic Lounger has been our most used item by a long shot. This is where Iverson takes almost all of his daytime naps. He cozies right up in this and it is so easy to move around the house to wherever we are. If I had to choose one item in this category to not go without, this is it.
This was an item that I had removed from our baby registry. I am big on not having more in the house than what is absolutely necessary and I figured that his nursery and his crib were not far from our room so he could sleep in there from day one, removing any need for a bassinet. Well, my sister surprised me with the Monte Design Rockwell Bassinet and wow – was I ever wrong about bassinets. This has been my favourite item that we have for Iverson and it is used constantly. Particularly in the first few weeks, I couldn’t imagine keeping Iverson in an entirely different room from us. At night I pull his bassinet right up to my side of the bed. It is peace of mind to be right there if he needs something and it is calming for me to be able to scoop him up immediately during the night when he wakes up. In addition, I would definitely miss a lot of his little sounds if he was in a different room.
Burp cloths were an item that we did not purchase before Iverson was born. I had (prematurely) decided that they were unnecessary because I would simply throw an extra swaddle over my shoulder to catch any stomach rejects. Well, we have been blessed with a very spit-uppy baby and we learned quickly that burp cloths, and quite a few of them, would be necessary. My husband went out and purchased a bunch of burp cloths before we even left the hospital and we have gotten even more since then. For us, burp cloths are a staple.
It only took one night for Iverson to teach us that his arms were VERY active and that his arm activity would wake him from a deep sleep. We had not purchased a sleep sack before he was born but we did buy one before we took him home from the hospital. After his first night, we knew we needed to keep his arms under wraps, literally. Iverson usually wears Love to Dream Swaddle Up sleep sack to bed. He seems to love it but I am not entirely sold as it still allows him to knock his soother out of his mouth from time to time. I prefer the HALO SleepSack because it keeps his hands away from his mouth but unfortunately Iverson doesn’t like to be quite that constricted. Long story short, you may need to try a few different sleep sacks to find the prefect one.
One of our first baby purchases was the mamaRoo4 Infant Seat. At this point, we have only put Iverson in this when he is already falling asleep and the movement of the swing seems to finish the job. We haven’t yet required it for “hands free” time as he still is napping a lot given how little he is but we are hoping he enjoys it when he is older so that he can spend some of his awake time in it.
A stroller is an obvious requirement when having a baby. But the options are ENDLESS and can be a little bit overwhelming. After a lot of research, we landed on the UPPAbaby Vista V2 and we have absolutely loved it. First of all, it is beautiful (we got ours in the colour Declan). Secondly, and probably more importantly, it grows with baby and with your family. It comes with a bassinet to use when baby is new, and also comes with an upright seat to transition into when baby has gotten stronger and is able to sit. If baby number two is in the cards for you, this stroller can accommodate two children.
The Vista V2 also comes outfitted with a bug screen and a rain guard to protect baby against the woes of the great outdoors. Both of these are easy to fit over the bassinet/seat and are quick to put in place.
There are a lot of options for attachments for this stroller as well to fit your everyday needs. I have a cup holder en route so that Iverson and I can stroll to grab my morning coffee (what a dream).
We have travelled with this stroller and were so pleased with how compact, quickly, and easily it folded up.
We opted for the UPPAbaby MESA carseat. We did this simply because the car seat is compatible with the stroller. In hindsight, I wish we had looked into a few different types of car seats. This seat has given me a bit of grief as there is not much slack in the harness. And when I say “not much” I mean virtually none. This makes it extremely difficult to buckle him into the seat and then unbuckle him again. We did take the seat into a retailer to see if something was wrong with the harness or if it was tangled up inside the body of the car seat but it was returned to us the same. If it barely fit him at 7 pounds, I am not sure how this is going to last throughout his infancy as it is supposed to. Long story short, this is the product that I have been the least happy with that has given me the most grief.
This is an item that we did not include on our registry and that we did not have prior to Iverson’s arrival. It didn’t take long for me to realize after his arrival that I was fully obsessed with him and wanted him near me as much as possible – enter the sling. I ordered this one from Studio Romeo due to the beautiful designs they offer (I can’t stand seeing a big logo front and centre. Plus, we are wearing these so why not make them as beautiful as the clothing we would choose to wear?). When it arrived, I was so pleased with the quality of the fabric and rings.
Unfortunately, I never feel like Iverson is completely secure in slings. I find myself using one hand to support him even when he is in place and the sling is secured. This may be a me issue – maybe I’m not positioning him or the sling correctly. I have watched a dozen YouTube tutorials at this point and still can’t seem to get this to work completely hands free. Nonetheless, because I love having him close to me, I still use this whenever I am up and around and don’t require both hands.
Iverson has loved his soother since he was less than 12 hours old. After a feed and some awake time, his eyes start to close as soon as he gets his lips around his soother. Sounds great, right? Except that his eyes start to open back up when the soother falls out. The Wubbanub has been so great to keep him sleeping after his has drifted off as the stuffy attached to the soother lays on his chest and keeps the soother in place if he moves his head around or stops sucking while he is sleeping. We owe the Wubbanub BIG TIME for the uninterrupted sleep it has given our whole family.
Lovevery Play Gym
Babies need a place to do tummy time and a spot to kick it out on their backs. There are a ton of play mats on the market but I wasn’t about to get one that is an eye sore in our house with their smattering of primary colours and big bright plastic twirly objects and characters. Plus, I wanted something that can grow with Iverson and help him develop mentally and intellectually instead of just distracting him with loud noises and colours. The Play Gym by Lovevery covered all of these bases and more. Aesthetically, it is the least obnoxious play mat by a long shot. Most importantly, it has different play features for each stage of development in a child’s first year so that tummy time and playtime expands beyond physical needs and also provides intellectual stimulation – all of all of which is backed by research on children’s developing brain *chefs kiss*. Iverson is mesmerized by the Lovevery Play Gym and I love that it is exercising his brain.
We have chosen to exclusively formula feed. As such, this section will not, in its entirety, be helpful to breastfeeding moms. Here are the items that we rely on day in and day out to feed Iverson.
Say hello to the baby nespresso machine. The Formula Pro Advanced by Baby Brezza makes a perfect bottle to the specified amount and temperature that your baby requires with the push of a button. I’m not joking – you literally press one button and the bottle is made in under five seconds. This is the fool (and sleep deprived) proof way to make consistent bottles every single time, providing your baby with consistent feeds. It’s a dream and we would not go without this machine.
Edit: *written three days after the above* Yesterday the baby nespresso machine malfunctioned twice, in two different ways, while Iverson was having a meltdown and well.. it was so frustrating that I might have told the machine to f#&! off. It seems to have sorted itself out and we are back on track..
We also purchased the Steri-Dry Steam Sterilizer by Baby Brezza. We were told that a bottle sterilizer is not necessary for babies who are full-term, like ours. However, we have been happy with our decision to include this machine on Iverson’s milk bar. You can’t have bottles that are too clean, right? If a soother falls on the floor, it gets tossed into the sterilizer as well. After a quick rinse in the sink, his bottles get put in the sterilizer and forty-five minutes later they are fully sterilized and dried. We have gotten into a nice little routine with cycling through his bottles and it is super easy, quick, and effective.
We had beautiful glass bottles for Iverson that, to be honest, I chose because they were more aesthetically pleasing than all of the other bottles. Well, it turns out that he has been pretty gassy and we were willing to try anything to help. The Dr. Brown’s bottles were one of the tricks that we tried and they definitely improved his feeds. His struggles with gas extended beyond the purchase of these bottles but we do like them and they have helped a little bit.
Saline Nose Drops
You have probably read endless blogs that all suggest nasal aspirators or “snot suckers” to clear out your babies stuffy nose. Keeping their nose clear is important as they can’t breathe through their mouths for some time after birth. However, the nasal aspirators all seemed a little bit invasive for my liking. We opted instead for baby saline nose drops. We drop some saline solution into each nostril about once every four days, or whenever he is sounding stuffed up, and it loosens up the material in his nose that he then passes naturally while sneezing. This option felt a little more gentle to me so we ran with it and fortunately it has been very effective (and he doesn’t seem to mind the drops at all!).
We are so lucky (and grateful) that Iverson is a very happy and peaceful baby. However, as of late he has also been quite gassy and sometimes has trouble working through his gassiness on his own, causing him a lot of discomfort and producing a lot of tears (sometimes for both of us). I had picked up gripe water before he was born just to have on hand in case it was needed and I am so glad I did this. I can say with certainty that it is nice to be able to reach into the cupboard for this when baby requires instead of heading out to the drug store when baby is in the throes of a meltdown from discomfort. But, it would be worth the drive – this stuff works like a charm.
After Iverson’s short stay in the NICU, I became a little bit obsessed with his numbers – what is his heart rate, his blood pressure, his temperature, etc. When we were finally discharged from the hospital, I was glad that I would be able to keep track of at least one of these sets of stats from home with our infrared thermometer. Have I used it as much as I thought I would? No. But I am glad to have it in his drawer. This is the one that we have and it has been great!
For whatever reason, bathing Iverson was something that I was pretty nervous about. He was so little and bathrooms are so hard. Like physically, all of the surfaces are very unforgiving. We registered for the Blooming Bath Lotus and we LOVE it. It takes away a lot of the fear of bathing him. Because the petals of the flower are not attached to each other but only attached to the centre of the flower, it fits in a variety of types and sizes of sinks. The only downside is the length of time it takes to dry – however being that this is directly related to how cushy it is, I am more than willing to live with this downside.
Admittedly, this is not something that I had stockpiled before I gave birth. Thankfully, it was brought over by the community health nurse during her welcome home visit to Iverson along with a few other baby essentials. Although we haven’t yet had to use this, it is a good thing to have on hand so that you aren’t without it when the time comes that baby really needs it.
As exciting it is to finally meet your baby and as obsessed with them as you are, you will need to pry yourself away from them to care for yourself. Prioritize your health postpartum. I cannot stress this enough. Your body has just undergone an immense amount of stress, potentially trauma, and it is not the same as it was before increasing the worlds population by at least one. It has been poked, prodded, checked (several times), stretched, torn, stitched, and more – it needs some (a lot of) love to heal.
As you likely already know if you are in the market for postpartum recovery products, there are a lot of DIY options and remedies. I am not much of a DIYer (read: I don’t even like to make my own coffee in the morning) and I highly value convenience so I opted for pre-made/ready to roll recovery products.
Frida Mom is basically a one stop shop for all things postpartum recovery. It is also my new best friend and holder of part of my soul. I cannot give their products enough praise. In the first five days after my son was born, I would have done virtually anything to ensure I did not run out of any of the Frida Mom products I was relying on for a smidgen of comfort and relief. In that way, the prices of their products feel a bit exploitative but I do not feel as though I wasted even a penny on any of it. Here was my Frida Mom all-star line up postpartum:
These. Are. A godsend. Unlike homemade padsicles, these deliver the cooling relief you need while remaining completely dry and absorbent. Aside from my brand new baby, these were my favourite things in the world right after Iverson was born. The excitement I had to crack open a new one each and every time I did was similar to getting my braces off when I was 16. In all seriousness, these got me through some tough moments.
I would suggest getting at least three boxes as there are only eight Instant Ice Maxi Pads in each box. I had purchased two boxes while preparing my recovery items and on my final day in the hospital, I sent my husband out to purchase some more. He bought three more boxes (I must have looked like I was really going through it) but I only used one.
These have great healing properties (thank you, witch hazel) which is great. But honestly, all I cared about in the initial days was the soothing and cooling effect of these bad boys *calm happy exhale*.
This is the product that I used for the longest period of time postpartum, likely because they deliver the most relief and healing with the least amount of inconvenience or annoyance. Aside from the alleviation they provide, they are barely there.
A peri bottle is an absolute essential after baby. The hospital will provide you with one but it will only be able to be used right side up – which is tricky when you are trying to get water out of it. The Frida Mom peri bottle is made to be used upside down (the title of the product was a real spoiler for this revelation) and delivers a lot more water to the intended receiving area and with a lot more ease than the traditional peri bottles.
There is a lot going on down there after delivering a baby. In addition to all of that, there are a lot of products that are being used (as we have somewhat reviewed above). For a number of reasons, wearing regular underwear postpartum isn’t ideal and is likely an expensive endeavour. Again, the hospital will provide disposable underwear for you but the Frida Mom ones are far superior. Not only are they more comfortable, but they are more fitted and contain all of the products better.
There was one Frida Mom product that, while completely fine, I did not find necessary. - the Sitz Bath Tablets. While sitz baths are absolutely key (more on that below), these tablets were not. It is just as helpful to throw a few tablespoons of witch hazel into the sitz bath.
While we are on the topic of sitz baths, I purchased one that fits onto the toilet. The alternative is to use a bath tub. I am so grateful that I went the route that I did. Did I feel like I was a geriatric patient? Yes. Was that totally okay with me so that I didn’t have to crawl into the bathtub three times a day? Absolutely. I actually can’t imagine having gotten down into the tub and back out again during the first week of recovery. I definitely would not go without a sitz bath like this during recovery.
Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray was also a mainstay on my bathroom countertop after Iverson was born. In the early days, I used this spray every time I was in the washroom. By approximately day ten, I only used this spray when I didn’t use a Frida Mom Witch Hazel Perineal Cooling Pad Liner. These products were nice to use alternatively so that they both lasted longer.
To keep all of these products organized and in one place, I would suggest keeping them in a carrier caddy. This is also helpful if you find yourself in a washroom where your recovery products are not – someone can get your caddy, bring it to you, and you will have everything you need. I got this one and it was perfect.
Lastly, let’s look at what we’re wearing postpartum. This may not be the most exciting fashion round up but trust me, you will be happy to have these items ready to throw on after baby.
Knix had me covered underwear wise. Once I had graduated from disposable underwear, I moved into Knix’s leakproof underwear. They are made to be worn while you have your period to be a layer of backup protection but work great in this context as well. They are soft. They are sturdy (which is still necessary with the products you will be using). They are the bees knees.
I also purchased the Knix Catalyst Front Zip Sports Bra. Being that I wasn’t planning to breastfeed, I needed something supportive and tight (but not too tight) to work to suppress milk production post baby. This bra provided maximum support and 2-way adjustment allowing it to be as tight as I required on the various days postpartum. It is also wireless and probably the most comfortable bra I have ever worn – and this is saying a lot being that I was wearing it during a very uncomfortable time). I wanted a bra that opened in the front to allow the nurses to do the checks that they needed to and to provide easy access to change the Avent Maximum Comfort breast pads I was using (I had no idea I would require these being that I wasn’t breastfeeding but.. I definitely needed them. Tell me you’re a first time mom without telling me you’re a first time mom..).
You may have thought I would be done talking about Knix by now but, not quite. You absolutely NEED to take a robe with you to the hospital, or have one at home if you are planning to have a home birth. I scooped up this Knix Waffle Robe and I can safely say I lived in it for at least five days postpartum. The hospital staff knew this robe very very well by the time I was discharged. Having a robe was not only comfortable but also very handy for all of the checks that take place in the days following giving birth, as well as skin to skin time, and feeding if you are breast feeding. (edit: I am wearing it as I proofread this blog post).
Before Iverson arrived, I had also purchased a few matching knit sweatsuit sets and some biker shorts and oversized band tees. I didn’t wear any of the clothing, lounge, or underwear items I had purchased until after Iverson was born. There is something about wearing something brand new that provides me a straight shot of serotonin and confidence. I knew that both of those things would be very welcome post-delivery and I have to say, it was so nice to have new fresh items waiting for me on the other side of pregnancy.
There.. that’s all you need postpartum :).
A few weeks ago you submitted questions with regard to navigating the workplace and/or your career while expecting a child. Below are the most common questions I received and my answers to them.
“When do you tell your employer you are expecting?”
This may be different for everyone based on their circumstances and work situation, but I will share what I did and why. I told my employer that we were expecting when I was entering the second trimester. I wanted to let my employer know this information at the earliest opportunity once I had made it to a safer stage of the pregnancy with a reduced risk of miscarriage to provide them with ample time to plan for my absence in the office. It was important to me to do everything in my power to ensure as little turbulence as possible in leaving the office for maternity leave by providing my employer with sufficient time to plan.
In deciding when to talk to your employer, you should definitely also peek at your work calendar. A big project, presentation, a performance review, or an important case/trial, etc. in your calendar is likely worthwhile to consider in planning when to share the big news with your employer. For starters, you may not want this project/case/etc. to be reassigned to a colleague. Secondly, it could be beneficial to complete the big assignment you have in your calendar, knock it out of the park, and go into the conversation with your employer coming off of a big win that has confirmed your abilities as an employee and boosted your confidence. Having a little momentum at your back never hurts.
Before telling your employer that you are expecting, I suggest reviewing your company’s maternity leave policy and brushing up on government issued parental leave benefits (canvassed in great detail at the end of this blog). It may be helpful to know what framework you are working within before sharing the news with your employer. Parental leave is a complex beast so your organization may not have all the answers. Do your own research to ensure you aren’t leaving any time, money, or benefits on the table.
Telling your employer you are expecting can be nerve-wracking. I know I was very nervous to have the discussion as I didn’t want to give the impression that work wasn’t important to me. It sucks that this is where my mind jumped to but it speaks volumes to the real or perceived pressures we face as women of childbearing age in the workplace. While women used to feel pressure to choose between motherhood and their careers, the small but important progress we have made has us now choosing between appearing fully committed to our work by farming out childcare in large part, or appearing fully committed to our families by working less or holding positions with less responsibility.
The “ideal worker” is fully devoted to their job, works long hours, is available around the clock, rarely takes time away from work, and relies on someone else to tend to family responsibilities. This leaves no room to be the “good mother” who is fully devoted to her family, prioritizes caring for her children over paid work, and is so emotionally absorbed by her children and their needs that she is seen as distracted and unreliable at work. The “ideal worker” and “good mother” are ideologically incompatible. At least this seems to be society’s perception of these roles.
Unfortunately, study after study has shown that becoming a mom negatively impacts a woman’s career trajectory. First we have the “motherhood penalty” which is a term that covers a number of negative workplace impacts women experience after having a child including earning less than male and non-parent colleagues and being passed up for promotions and advancement opportunities. Research has shown that women face a 4% drop in wages/salary for every child they have, while men receive a 6% wage/salary increase for each child they have. Secondly we have the “mommy-track” which is a term that has been coined to refer to moms who return to work after having children being given less responsibility than they had previously. This reduction in responsibility at work is often at the cost of career advancement.
No wonder we get nervous to tell our employers we are expecting...
It was important for me to focus on the fact that this is not a zero-sum game; my status as a mom-to-be did not mean that I was not a dedicated and focussed career woman and vice versa. A decision to embark on the journey of motherhood does not and will not decimate all of the work I had done to become a lawyer and excel in my career. In an effort to not add to the perception that women who have children are not dedicated or focussed employees, I decided it was important to communicate that I was expecting my first child in a very confident manner.
I know that there will be a multitude of skills I develop and enhance during motherhood that will translate to my professional life (time management, resource allocation, and patience to name a few) and my employer will be served well by my eventual return to work as a more experienced individual and mother.
I can’t say with certainty that there is an exact “right” time to tell your employer that you are pregnant. It will always depend on your personal circumstances and most importantly, when you feel prepared and comfortable having the conversation.
“How hard was it to let go of work and ease into being a mom?”
I had anticipated that no longer working as a lawyer while on maternity leave would be extremely difficult. I was especially worried about not being in the courtroom anymore as that is one of my favourite places to be and I am accustomed to being in the courtroom several times per week. My work is intense, exciting, and high volume so I expected that the void left by its absence would be enormous, not so acutely felt, and would require a decent allotment of emotional resources to cope with. Much to my surprise, that void has been completely and entirely filled by my new role as a mom.
Being a mom has been just as intense, exciting, and time consuming – albeit in very different ways. I think that the biggest reason the transition from working as a lawyer to working as a mom is because I have found personal fulfillment outside of work. I still feel valuable, that I am contributing to the world I live in, and that I am doing extremely important work.
Similarly, I have always made efforts to not make my job my identity (for example, I try not to say “I am a lawyer” but instead “I work in a law office”). I think that anchoring my identity outside of my profession made the transition from working full time to being home full time with Iverson smoother as I wasn’t facing an identity crisis but was instead simply becoming a more full version of my already existent self identity.
Although I have fortunately made this transition with relative ease, I certainly acknowledge that this can be a difficult shift to endure. Be gentle with yourself and know that you are still the same person that you were before, you have simply added a new dimension to yourself. Additionally, your old priorities have not completely disappeared, they have just been temporarily put on hold.
“Are you concerned about how maternity leave will affect your career?”
As a bit of an over-achiever, my place of comfort has always been being slightly ahead of my comparable counterparts. A hard realization for me before I began my maternity leave was that when I return, I will be slightly behind my colleagues in both experience and knowledge. However, this is more of a short-term setback that over the course of a career will likely be undetectable.
With all of the available research on the motherhood penalty and the mommy-track, it is difficult, perhaps even ignorant, to not be concerned about how my maternity leave will impact my career. The impacts of the motherhood penalty and the mommy-track are of course more impactful long-term than the experiential gap from taking a year away from work. Knowing that these biases are at play is an important first step in working to dismantle the discrimination they perpetuate. Being that mommy-tracking can occur because of assumptions made by the employer that a mom returning to work wishes to avoid travel and high-responsibility assignments in order to balance childcare/family responsibilities, I plan to vocally address the issue and the impacts of those assumptions and biases if (maybe “when” is a more apt word to use here) I experience the treatment that leads to the motherhood penalty or the mommy-track. It is my hope that if I am clear about my desire and abilities when it comes to work load/degree of difficulty, as well as the biases inherent in the assumption that I as a mother want less responsibility at work, that the mommy-track and motherhood penalty can be circumvented. This remains to be seen.
Regardless of how starting a family impacts my career initially, I will continue to improve and hone my skills as a litigator, work to be the best in my field, and be resolute in knowing that becoming a mother was absolutely worth whatever comes my way career-wise. As women, we are accustomed (unfortunately) to facing inequity and succeeding anyways.
"I’m considering changing jobs while also trying to get pregnant. Any advice?"
First things first, I want to say that I hope you are successful in both endeavours! Attaining one should not impede attaining the other.
Fun fact, I started my current job two months before becoming pregnant. While we weren’t actively trying to get pregnant when I started my job, we did know that we wanted to become parents and that I was at an age where we needed to start thinking more seriously about what beginning the journey to parenthood would look like for us.
It likely comes as no surprise that I am an ardent advocate of the notion that anything related to our womanhood should not be a barrier to living out our lives in the way that we wish to. In this case, this means that wanting to become pregnant should absolutely not interfere with your desire to change your job. However, as we both probably know all too well, my wish that women could navigate the world without traversing hurdles that men do not encounter is not really a reality.
If you are unhappy or unfulfilled in your current position and have exhausted all avenues to bettering your current job situation, you should absolutely commit to finding a new position that is better fitted to you and your skill set and priorities. Having a bun in the oven, or still just working on the recipe for the bun, should not stop you from embarking on a job hunt (especially if your current job is causing you unhealthy levels of stress or taking a negative physical or emotional toll on you as this in and of itself could hinder your ability to become pregnant – take care of yourself before taking care of your employer).
While there are laws in place to protect against hiring discrimination for pregnant women and women who are of childbearing age, I do understand the concern of looking for a new job while also hoping to embark on the journey of motherhood. We somehow feel like we are abusing the system or are a bad employee if we find ourselves needing to leave the workplace for a short time to birth and raise future generations (for which.. you’re welcome, world). That guilt may be intensified at a new job where we haven’t had an abundance of opportunity yet to put our competence, ability, and dedication on full display.
As a bit of practical advice for job hunting while trying to become pregnant, I would suggest starting the job search early on and not delaying it. I say this for a couple of reasons. First, it may take some time to become pregnant. My doctor told me that it takes about six months on average to become pregnant once you have started to try. If you land a new job and then become pregnant six months later, you will have more than a year in that position before taking a parental leave. Hopefully after one year in, you have more comfort in taking some time away. Secondly, if you do become pregnant, it may be easier to land a job when you don’t yet appear to be pregnant. Trust me, I hate that I am saying this but I have an inkling that it may be the unfortunate truth. While a potential employer is legally prohibited from asking if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, a baby bump may act as a hiring deterrent for some employers. Perhaps this is a good litmus test as those employers likely don’t provide a tenable work environment for working moms.
The bottom line is that pregnancy happens – planned or not. Jobs also change – planned or not. As women, in combination with the statistic that the median tenure of employment is 4.2 years, the chance that pregnancy and a job change may coincide at some point is decent. Timing a pregnancy or a job switch is never convenient or easy. Doing both at the same time will certainly come with its fair share of stress. However, take solace in the fact that other women have successfully navigated this intersection before (hi!) and that laws are in place to protect you in this situation.
"Tell me everything about parental leave and how to split it with another parent."
Because parental leave and how to split it with your partner is fairly involved, complex, and has tax implications, etc., I thought it would be best to have this question answered by someone who knows a lot more than I do about this particular area. I am delighted to introduce you to my accountant and all around good guy, Jordan Brown of Lift Accounting. He was happy to tackle this question and provide you all with an accurate and accessible rundown of parental leave and how to share it. As a side note, Jordan is not just a great accountant but also a wonderful human. If you have any accounting needs, you should absolutely give him and his growing team a call. I have linked his website and contact information for you.
Please note that the below information is only applicable to those taking parental leave in Canada.
Without further ado, here is Jordan’s answer to your burning parental leave question (spoiler – he included ALL of the juicy details):
Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits provide financial assistance to:
People who are away from work because they’re pregnant or have recently given birth
Parents who are away from work to care for their newborn or newly adopted child
You could receive up to 55% of your earnings, to a maximum of $595 a week.
Maternity benefits are only available to the person who is away from work because they’re pregnant or have recently given birth. They cannot be shared between parents. The person receiving maternity benefits may also be entitled to parental benefits.
Parental benefits are available to the parents of a newborn or newly adopted child.
You must choose between 2 options:
1. Standard parental benefits
2. Extended parental benefits
Your choice determines the number of weeks and the weekly amount you’ll receive.
If sharing, each parent must choose the same option and submit their own application. Parents can receive their weeks of benefits at the same time or one after another.
Once you start receiving parental benefits, you cannot change options.
Benefit name: Maternity (for the person giving birth)
Maximum weeks: 15
Benefit rate: up to 55%
Weekly max: $595
Maternity benefits can be followed by parental benefits. You can apply for both at once.
Benefit name: Standard parental
Maximum weeks: 40, but one parent cannot receive more than 35 weeks of standard benefits
Benefit rate: 55%
Weekly max: $595
Benefit name: Extended parental
Maximum weeks: 69, but one parent cannot receive more than 61 weeks of extended benefits
Benefit rate: 33%
Weekly max: $357
You need to demonstrate that:
You’re pregnant or have recently given birth when requesting maternity benefits;
You’re a parent caring for your newborn or newly adopted child when requesting parental benefits;
Your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week;
You accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter.
You can start receiving maternity benefits as early as 12 weeks before your due date or the date you give birth. You cannot receive these benefits more than 17 weeks after your due date or the date you gave birth, whichever is later.
You can receive parental benefits within specific periods starting the week of your child’s date of birth or the week your child is placed with you for the purpose of adoption.
These periods are:
Standard parental: within 52 weeks (12 months)
Extended parental: within 78 weeks (18 months)
How much you could receive
The number of weeks of benefits you get depends on the benefit type you choose. The amount you receive depends on your insurable earnings* before taxes in the past 52 weeks or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter.
*Insurable earnings include most of the different types of compensation from employment, such as wages, tips, bonuses, and commissions.
Some employers provide additional money to employees on maternity or parental leave. This is called a top-up. Check with your employer to find out if they offer a top-up.
What’s included in benefit calculations
The basic rate used to calculate maternity and standard parental benefits is 55% of average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. In 2021, the maximum amount is $595 a week.
For extended parental benefits, this rate is 33% of average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. In 2021, the maximum amount is $357 a week.
This is how we calculate your weekly benefit amount:
We add your insurable weekly earnings from your best weeks based on information provided by you and your Record of Employment.
We divide that amount by the number of best weeks based on where you live.
We then multiply the result by 55% for maternity and standard parental benefits or by 33% for extended parental benefits.
Complete the online application;
Provide additional information;
A benefit statement and access code will arrive by mail;
Review your application status.
Some key points for couples to consider when deciding to share EI Parental Benefits include:
Both parents have to choose the same option (i.e. Standard or Extended) for EI Parental Benefits.
Under EI Standard Parental Benefits, one parent can claim 35 weeks and the other parent can use or lose 5 weeks.
Under EI Extended Parental Benefits, one parent can claim 61 weeks and the other parent can use or lose 8 weeks.
EI Parental Benefits can be taken by each parent at the same time or one after the other.
Alright, it's me, Brooke, again. Huge thank you to Jordan for outlining how parental leave benefits work in Canada! If you have any accounting needs, you should give Jordan a call (or an email if you are a millennial who hates talking on the phone like me).
And there you have it - a review of everything you need for baby, for you after baby, and a glimpse of motherhood in the workplace. If you have any lingering questions, pop them into the comment section!
If you made it all the way to this final paragraph, grab yourself a coffee - you might need the boost to get through the rest of your day after this behemoth of a read :).