Melissa shares her journey to parenthood
Ambition Institute colleague Melissa Thomson-Mead shares her experiences of the journey to parenthood, and how Ambition Institute have supported her to build and take care of her family.
Everyone tells you that parenting is hard work, but they don’t tell you the path to becoming a parent can be even harder.
When I began my career at Ambition Institute in their Marketing & Communications team back in 2018, becoming a parent was more of a vague notion for ‘some day’ rather than a definitive plan. Fast-forward a year, and my husband and I decided we were ready to start a family. However, life had other ideas and the journey to parenthood was not entirely smooth for us.
My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 10 weeks, and I was entirely unprepared for the effect this would have on me. However, my manager was incredibly supportive and there was no pressure on me to come back to the office. They made sure I had the time, space and support that I needed. I remember getting a beautiful bunch of flowers and a card from my colleagues, a small gesture that was really appreciated at a difficult time.
Happily, we did get our ‘rainbow baby’. A year later, on the day before Christmas Eve, my daughter Eva was born. We call her birthday ‘Christmas Eva’. But pregnancy after loss is still hard, and a few scares led me to take some time off. I made use of our Employee Assistance Programme – a counselling and advice service that’s available 24/7. This service really helped me talk through some of the anxiety I was feeling.
I remember getting a beautiful bunch of flowers and a card from my colleagues, a small gesture that was really appreciated at a difficult time.
When I took a year’s maternity leave, it was an ongoing joke with my manager that every time I took a holiday or some time out of work, something major always seemed to happen. Usually something in the sector that Ambition needed to respond to. It turned out that my maternity leave was no exception and when I left in 2020, we were suddenly in the midst of a global pandemic.
Needless-to-say, it wasn’t quite the rosy maternity leave I had pictured: of endless mum coffee dates, family visits and baby groups. Instead, I found myself setting up my own bizarre props for baby sensory classes over Zoom, face-timing Eva’s new grandparents, and taking solitary walks around the block with the pram, clutching a takeaway brew from the local café.
As the end of my maternity leave approached, I felt some anxiety about going back to work. This was only compounded by the uncertainty of the pandemic. Would I be able to work from home? Was my job still secure? After Ambition reached out to schedule some virtual Keep In Touch days, I felt much better about the situation. The department had changed since I had been gone, but an induction with my new manager made sure all my worries were put to rest.
A year later, on the day before Christmas Eve, my daughter Eva was born. We call her birthday 'Christmas Eva'.
So, what has life been like back at work? How do I juggle this new, split identity of new mum and comms professional? First of all, I arranged to go back on a part-time basis at four days a week. This has been absolutely brilliant for my work-life balance and mental health. I love that I get protected time with my daughter once a week and that I’m not breaking the bank with the cost of childcare. On top of that, Ambition’s policy on flexible working means I can organise my time to balance my responsibilities in and out of work.
I have also found a fantastic support network in Ambition’s Parent Network. Organised around a Whatsapp group, it’s a great resource for me and the other parents at Ambition to share updates on the highs and lows of parenting and get advice from others who are in the same situation. The group welcomes all types of parents, across different ages and regardless of their route to parenthood.
Parenting is hard work – it’s tiring and sometimes relentless. But it’s also the most rewarding, amazing and life-changing experience I’ve ever had. Working at Ambition, with its caring culture, flexible working, and support from both colleagues and the organisation, has made that huge life transition much smoother.
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