Mothers Returning to Work: Jessica and Miles

Jessica works as a Political Science professor. She loves her job, she is super smart and she has razor sharp wit. Her son, Miles, is a character as you can see. You'll enjoy her little soliloquy on motherhood below, which she admitted to composing after a few beers. Smart move, Jess! ;) 

What is your nationality or national identity?

Where do you live? 
Santa Barbara, California.

What is your child's name? When was he or she born? Were you happy with your birth experience? 
Miles Daniel.  The back-up name was Gram, but he's totally a "Miles."  He was born in 2010 at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara.  I was happy with my birth experience for the most part - I hated the nurse who actually delivered Miles.  I yelled at her - a lot.  I liked being in a hospital, and I was relieved that I was because I needed that epidural.  I thought I was going to die giving birth.  In my head I was totally going to be that one chick who had a completely normal pregnancy and I was going to die giving birth in a first-world country.  "Story on tonight's news!"  But I was fine, he was healthy, and then I had a snack.  After two days of labor, I needed a snack.

What type of parenting philosophy do you follow, if any? 
Love the heck out of that kid and try not to cause physical or mental harm.  That's my philosophy.  I nursed him, I gave him some bottles.  I wore him, I also put him down.  I fed him on demand, I also introduced some structure.  I was all over the place, but that worked for us.  I also sleep trained him around six months and that saved me!  I'm pretty sure sleep training qualifies as the Survival Philosophy... some might call it a Selfish Philosophy.

Tell me about your maternity leave: How long? Paid or unpaid? Etc?
I wasn't working full-time when I had Miles, I was a lecturer at a college.  When I took time off it was unpaid and for as long as I wanted.  I think I waited about 4 or 5 months before returning to lecturing part-time.

Did you have plans to return to work in place before giving birth?
Yes.  I love working/thinking, I am a better worker than a mother.  The work force needs me!  Miles does great at his day-care now.

How comfortable were you with your return to work plan before the baby was born? Did your feelings change after birth? Did you stick to the same plan?
I can't remember anything anymore, let alone how I felt before Miles was born.  Although I vaguely remember being very happy that I was in New Zealand and Japan without a portable crib.  That was fun.  In all seriousness, everything changes after the baby.  If I had a plan, I am sure it changed.

Do you breastfeed? Did you? Did your return to work interfere?

Yes, I breastfed for the first 10 months.  It was very hard, and finally I threw in the towel after he started biting.  Breastfeeding at work was never an issue for me -- I live in California, everyone does it, offices provide rooms and breaks for it, it's highly encouraged.  Never an issue at all.  I hear California is working on legislation that requires men to lactate as well.

Do you feel protected as a mother/working mother by state and/or federal laws where you live? 
Yes and no.  I feel like the state-granted protections run out really fast.  12 weeks of maternity leave??  No.  I was still in the detail position then.  However, I am very lucky to work for a super, super understanding and flexible employer who let's me work from home when Miles is ill.  My comforts are not ensured by the state though. 

What type of childcare do you use?
We put Miles in a day-care / preschool when he turned 1.  At that time, I went to work full-time in a different career.  It's fine, but I would have preferred something smaller - like an in-home care situation. 

Why are you going back to work
I love to think and work and shop for shoes.  You can't shop for shoes with a toddler.  They demand all of your attention!  Also, you can't afford shoes unless you work.  So...

How do you feel in general about returning to work

Guilty.  Happy.

If anything were possible, what would your dream motherhood and work situation look like?
If ANYTHING were possible, my dream motherhood and work situation would be to have Miles in a wonderful Montessori school from 9-3 and then with grandma from 3-6 - when we come home - ideally to a wonderful meal prepared by said grandma who then leaves. :)

Thank you, Jess, for your refreshingly honest answers! xo


  1. I love your posts Lindsey! and find this series really interesting. thank you so much

  2. Great post! Love the honest & human answers! X

  3. Yay! So glad to hear it, ladies. I'll start thinking up some more series ideas, too. :) xoxo

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