I put off trying to have a baby until I felt my career was in just the right place for me to take time-off. My work and career had been everything to me — my main source of pride and outlet. For many years, there was no desire to have a baby to potentially let go of my career and its momentum forward.
Finding out I was going to be a mom came with many emotions – most of which were excitement, joy, and happiness. My thoughts then shifted to my career. In Germany (where I currently work), most women take one-year maternity leave and are allowed to take up to three years. At first glance, I saw this paid leave as a privilege; however, the more I thought about maternity leave, the more worried I became. This extended period of time out of the industry and my firm would mean I would be left out of potential key decisions and new opportunities simply because I would be away.
I found great solace in speaking to the working parents, who were in my Executive MBA programme at Frankfurt School. Hearing their stories of parenthood while seeing how successful they have become allowed me to understand that pregnancy and professional ambition are not mutually exclusive. I should feel empowered to pursue the next step in my career, regardless of whether I am pregnant or a working parent. I enjoy working and get energy and satisfaction from my job – listening to others and taking their advice gave me the courage to be open and honest with my law firm and managers about my leave and worries.
As my former classmates predicted, my initial fears were put at ease by both my company and managers, who have been incredibly supportive of my future role as a mom. With my managers’ support, I was able to map out a clear plan for my maternity coverage, understand what lies ahead when I get back, and ensure a strong, capable go-to person while I will be out.
My perspective will change as a parent and that means that my priorities shift, knowing that I have a great network of support from my law firm and Frankfurt School has made me much less fearful and more confident that this transition will be a positive one. Becoming a working mom will be a major adjustment and, seeing my colleagues and former Executive MBA classmates thrive as working parents, has instilled in me that people do it successfully all the time. I received tons of helpful advice about preparing for maternity leave, coming back to work and ideas for balancing my career and my new family. I am thankful for all of it!