One Michigan mom shares the struggle of returning to work after maternity leave and why she decided to create a platform for fellow moms returning to their jobs.
By Lauren Brandt
Featured photo by Jessica Snow Photography
My name is Lauren Brandt; I’m a new mom living in Michigan with my husband Ben and daughter Olivia. I work in advertising sales and am a Michigan State Spartan (Go Green)! I’m a lover of the Beach Boys, and my family always comes first.
My family knows that there are three dates in my life that have significantly impacted me as a person.
The first is June 4, 2016 which was my wedding day. We were young, happy, in love and excited to start our lives together!
The second is Feb. 22, 2017, which is the day Olivia was born and my life changed forever. I thought I knew what happiness and love was, but I truly didn’t until I held Olivia for the first time. I had never felt such an overwhelming sense of love and knew right then and there that becoming a mother was my purpose in life.
The third date (less significant than the other two but still important) was July 19, 2017. This was the day I returned back to work from maternity leave.
I remember this date so vividly because it was a date part of me was excited for, and the other part of me dreaded. I had spent a little over four months being with this tiny newborn 24/7 — feeding her, taking care of her, holding/cuddling her and just enjoying every single moment with her. I couldn’t fathom the thought of leaving her in the care of anyone else and also felt a huge amount of guilt. Guilt for leaving her, guilt for being gone at work and leaving my team for so long, and guilt that I was excited to get part of myself back by being a working mom at a job I love.
Everyone kept telling me to enjoy the last few weeks of my maternity leave and to not think about work, but I couldn’t get this date out of my head. I was lucky enough to have an amazing support system behind me: my husband, our families who lived close and some wonderful friends who were going through this same phase of life. I also had a friend named Lindsay in California, who was a colleague I had met at a team event while we were both pregnant. Even though we were over 2,000 miles from each other, we talked regularly and were each other’s support system as we navigated our returnity.
Once we were both back, we realized there were other women who didn’t have the support system that we had. Some women were alone in their journey and navigating this path. And some women didn’t even have paid time off for maternity leave. We wanted to help new moms as they navigated their return to work and wanted them to know they weren’t alone.
This inspired us to create The Returnity Project — a storytelling platform, built around a community of real women sharing real stories about returning to work, and the life that happens in between. The more we share our truths about our struggles and journeys, the less alone we all feel.
Connecting over a shared experience is a powerful thing, and as more women are returning to work after having children than ever before, it will become more critical to shine a light on supporting women as mothers, entrepreneurs and people.
There’s so much we want to do in support of women, their careers and their families, and building a community to rally around this milestone feels like a great place to start!
Thank you to those that have supported us so far. We’re excited to launch this project, and you can follow us along on our journey on Instagram at @thereturnityproject and on Facebook. Share your story here.