Have you seen the awesome lady with the breast-milk bag dress?

image via Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

As reported by ScaryMommy, artist and mom and two Kasey Jones (<--- click through to see more of her gorgeous work) has released a series of images of herself at the office in what she dubs a "working mother suit," an outfit covered entirely in breast-milk bags. "I created this series to bring awareness to the harsh realities of what it takes to be a working mother," she writes in her artist statement. "Our system does not support new mothers or families during this transitional phase. It was my duty as a social artist to shed light on how taxing it is on our physical and mental health." 

Kasey is heroic. Both for shining this light and for creating such feminist pieces in an art world that's still very often a boys' club.

And -- this is what I hope everyone seeing these pictures takes away from the experience: 

We all have a duty to "wear" our motherhood at work.

Perhaps not in the form of sterile zippy bags, but in more quotidien ways:
- By being un-shy about needing to schedule in pumping.
- By welcoming questions about motherhood from colleagues (especially more junior ones) who are curious.
- By being open about your new-working-mom challenges (the exhaustion, the unhealed scars, the daycare that charges you extra for every minute you're late)...and then also being open about your successes big and small. The stuff you got accomplished simply by showing up. That's what moves the needle on workplace culture for all of us. One ounce and one parent at a time.

How do you wear your motherhood?
 

3 Ways Motherhood Makes You Better (Yes, Better) at Your Job

Wanted to share this post that I wrote for Project Gravitas, a fantastic fashion company that makes high-quality working lady clothes with shapewear built into the inside (WISH I had known about it during my Fifth Trimester). Anyway, PG has wonderfully empowering profiles and advice on its site, too. I was honored to contribute to the Begin Again: New Mom segment

And, quick story: Project Gravitas' brilliant, unstoppable CEO and Founder Lisa Sun played a huge role in helping me launch this T5T stage of my career (speaking of begin again). She's connected me with contacts and invited me to events with other entrepreneurs (she collects us, it seems!). But the best thing she did for me was this: At the end of our first lunch together a couple of years ago in the Condé Nast cafeteria, she asked -- out of nowhere -- what my biggest career dream was at the moment.

I took a breath and told her about my idea for The Fifth Trimester, convincing myself as I said the words aloud. I think at that point I had only ever told my mom and husband about that dream. "You can do that! You must do that!" Lisa told me, and then when neither of us had a piece of paper or a pen, she grabbed a napkin and her lip-pencil (seriously) and drew me a diagram of how it could work: book here, business there. Seed planted. And rooted. And here I am with a pub date: April 4. And a pre-order link on Amazon.

Click and then scroll over two screens to read it in non-ant-sized font!

Click and then scroll over two screens to read it in non-ant-sized font!

Chelsea Clinton opens up about motherhood, daughterhood, and needing to pee

SHE'S WITH HER: Chelsea Clinton says she's "deeply biased" toward her mom.

SHE'S WITH HER: Chelsea Clinton says she's "deeply biased" toward her mom.

Hours before Hillary’s historic speech last night, I was invited to HRC campaign HQ in Brooklyn for a small roundtable with Chelsea Clinton to talk about her mom’s focus on issues for working parents. The timing felt...well, it felt ripe, and not just because Chelsea is about to give birth to her second child. Everyone in the room assumed that Hillary was about to clinch New Jersey (and probably California), and that these were the issues the campaign wanted front and center.

Chelsea—who speaks in complete paragraphs but is remarkably unguarded and real—is the vice chair of the Clinton Foundation and very much a working mom herself. It’ll be fascinating to see the family choices she makes as her mom’s campaign gets busier. As you read these snippets from our conversation, imagine a baby punctuating many of these sentences with gurgles and coos. “Junior,” the son of one of the attendees, was a very welcome presence in the room. Chelsea is as poised and studied and careful as she speaks as you might imagine, but seeing Junior sitting with his mom made her gesture at her own empty lap: “I miss my daughter’s weight on me right now,” she told us. And when the afternoon wrapped up, she apologized for dashing out with this: “I’m running to the bathroom! I don’t think the biology of being pregnant is something we should be weirded out by!”

Here are my favorite thoughts Chelsea shared:

 

HOW PARENTHOOD HAS CHANGED HER

“I didn't know that I could care any more intensely about politics until I became a parent and found that I could and that did really surprise me....I just hope that someday my children—my 21-month-old daughter Charlotte and her future little sister or little brother, who's not going to arrive today, but soon, will feel as much pride toward me as I feel for my mom.”

ON THE WORKING-MOM LESSONS SHE LEARNED FROM HILLARY’S JUGGLE

“I never felt like she was making trade-offs between quality and quantity of time. And was just so grateful that she did set the bar so high for me….On those rare occasions that she missed a family dinner or was traveling on the weekend, she talked to me about why she was having to be gone. She always treated me seriously and made me feel included in her work. I say this sometimes, and people laugh, but it's true: I knew what Legal Aid was when I went to kindergarten because if she was gone, it was often because of her Legal Aid work. I try to adopt that in my own life. So when I'm on the campaign trail and have to go off for a few days, I tell my daughter.....even though she doesn't really understand yet...I'll take out a map and say, I'm going to California. I'm going to New Jersey. She can now say, ‘New Jersey!’ I want my children to grow up feeling equally included and empowered and supported.”

HOW ONE CHILDHOOD STRUGGLE PREPARED HER FOR ANY LOW BLOWS FROM TRUMP

“My earliest political memories come from 1986. I was six years old. My dad was running for reelection as governor of Arkansas against Frank White [who] represented the worst of Arkansas' past. He was an active segregationist. He wanted to overturn Brown versus the Board of Education 30 years after the fact. He was an active misogynist.

And although he was running against my dad, he spent a lot of time attacking my mom....saying...she spends all this time working on behalf of other people's families. She must neglect her own family. She's clearly not putting her husband first….And, oh, her poor daughter! She must be really neglected. Now thankfully, I knew that was crazy….I knew that as my parents’ only child I got the first and last word on my mom as a mom.

And thankfully, too, my parents created that as a teachable moment. We would have these mock debates around the dinner table...about issues I said I cared about...like I didn't want to have Sloppy Joes twice a week at Booker Elementary school for lunch. And I wanted us to recycle.

And then we would have debates where someone would play Frank White. And those would start off seriously but quickly devolve into kind of the personal attacks because whomever was charged with playing Frank White had to actually play Frank White. But what my parents tried to teach me was that the first type of debate is what you hope politics is: when you're talking about things that might seem small but that can make a big difference. And the second, unfortunately, is too often what politics is.”

ON WHY PAID PARENTAL LEAVE IS SO IMPORTANT TO HILLARY...

“It’s partly because of her own story with me. When she got pregnant with me in 1979, she realized that her law firm had no maternity leave policy. No one who had ever worked there and then become a mother had ever come back to work full time….So she wrote her firm's maternity leave policy. This was pretty radical back in 1980, and it would be radical in 2016. She gave all new mothers—both lawyers and support staff—four months of paid time off. So this is very much an issue she's been working on on a policy level but also literally on a personal level my whole life, by definition….We've come a long way but have a long way to go. I know it's very much part of what she sees as the unfinished business of standing up for women and families.

[Also, solving poverty] starts with parental leave, to support parents when they become parents and to support children when they are born. Even though this doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker, looking at the things my mom has said about parental leave, early childhood education, affordable housing, support programs for parents and children, and finishing the work of the affordable care act, all hopefully ladders up.”

...AND HOW SHE’D PULL IT OFF

“My mom’s intensive[ly] focus[ed] on tax credits instead of just the expectation of employers bearing the burden [of paying for parental leave and other family-oriented benefits]. You see this in the childcare policy: Getting to a reality where no one is spending more than 10% of their income on childcare. That, almost by definition, has to be done by tax credits.

Historically, Republicans have been more likely to support tax credits that reward people for their work than impose corporations’ additional payment for life choices that we make. We can’t afford to wait six years [when she hopes Democrats might win back the House] to make progress on these issues. [So], thinking about how to be both effective and smart is just really important.”

ON WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM 182 OTHER COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD THAT HAVE PAID PARENTAL LEAVE

“Work is shifting dramatically around the world, so I don’t know that anyone has figured it out….There’s lots of information out of Japan about trying to get women back in the work force. It’s not working. There’s lots of research now around...is it cultural, are the incentives insufficient, are the options insufficient? Even in places where there are lots of efforts with lots of political support, they’re not always working….The real question is: How do we recognize that we ourselves will be part of an experiment, and how do we get comfortable paying attention to what’s happening around the world so that we see what’s working, and, candidly, what’s not.”

The "H Wall" where visitors post their hopes for Hillary's vision and goals.

The "H Wall" where visitors post their hopes for Hillary's vision and goals.

My contribution!

My contribution!

A special post for people who aren't morning people

Have you seen this ridiculously brilliant ad for Organic Valley's Organic Balance shakes? I loved it so much I cold-called its creator, whom, it turns out, is a man! (A man, this in touch with the struggle that is 7a.m.? Yes.) David Littlejohn, the creative director of the brand agency Humanaut, attributes the spot's success to his largely female team. (Smart man.) But he also credits his working wife...and his role as a new dad to an eight-month old daughter. (Even smarter.)

This is how change happens, in my opinion: Parents do great work that reflects and propels culture for the masses...and then they aren't afraid to talk about the bottle strike their kid went on while they were doing it. Listen in:

The Fifth Trimester: I would love to know: Where did this genius idea come from? Tell me about the brainstorming process.
David Littlejohn: Well, that process is sometimes not as sexy as people think it is. It’s lots of conversations. But the real heart of the work we’re doing, is to say the thing that you’ve been feeling, but haven’t quite had the words to say. We knew that there was this growing trend of people posting this perfect stuff about their days, and editing out the bad stuff. 

Where did this client fit in?
Organic Balance is both an amazing product, and a compromise; it’s an organic breakfast, but in a bottle. We commissioned a study, we interviewed 1,000 women, we came back with a lot of stats. And we then could dispel the myth of this perfect, organic, artistic, journaling, yoga, healthy-eating woman…who statistically speaking, is a complete minority. 

Ah ha! I imagine that you’re probably a pretty enlightened guy, but has any of this work changed the lens through which you see women’s mornings?
Of course it was a little nerve-wracking to enter into this entire type of advertising directed at women. You’re kicking a potential hornet’s nest if you don’t do it well. But we knew that we were empowering women in real life, and backing it up with research. Plus, most of our staff is female, and the lead writer on this project is female. So we are definitely leaning into that. And I talked to my wife. We have an eight month old daughter, our first, so we’re totally in it. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just a man doing this campaign. And my wife said, “look, you’re a husband, a father, and a feminist. You can do this.” 

So, what did you learn about motherhood?
Two big insights. One, it was cool to see how much this topic transcended occupation, income, culture; everything. You could be a single mom with two jobs or a New York executive, and yet you are struggling with some of the same exact things. Second, I think the number we found is that 90% of women would rather be on time [to work] than be dressed to impress. I was excited to hear that they cared about the hustle, skipping makeup or what has become society’s BS, and just go do their jobs, and do them well. 

Any other interesting stats?
We said that about 21% of us start checking work email before we get out of bed, which is interesting, but the other side of that stat is that over 60% of women, something decently high, don’t even check their email until they get to work. That was reassuring to me. I felt the entire world was super-tech crazed, but maybe it’s not. I thought everyone was insane, but they’re not.

Let me ask you this, what assumptions do you think society makes of working dads that are incorrect?
That’s a really good question. I think that people don’t think that dads miss their kids very much during the day, or that it’s just not a big deal. I used to go on the road for business for 30 days at a time. Now, literally, I was going to have to be on the road for two weeks, and I felt like I couldn’t do it, so my wife and baby came to New York for the second week of the trip. And that was a new thing for me. And I know that other dads feel that, too. My business partner finally just said, “Look, I have to go home at 5:30 every day. If I don’t, I don’t get to see my kids.”

I think that’s huge. I have to ask, does your wife work, and did she take a maternity leave?
Yes. I think she took two months off, and is now back three days per week. We split a nanny three days per week with my sister. My daughter wouldn’t take a bottle all the time, or she was fussy; it wasn’t always the smoothest, but we wanted my wife to keep her momentum going. That’s one of the things that I think is weird about maternity leave. It isn’t like you can just turn the key back on, and everything is exactly how you left it. It is a sacrifice. You are putting a strain on personal relationships and on the flow of being in a culture. I don’t think people realize how much of a sacrifice women make, in every direction. 

Do you think campaigns like this one can change culture? 
I will say, we’re not necessarily trying to change culture as much as shift it rapidly into the direction that it’s beginning to go. There is an acceleration. It’s much, much harder to come out and be honest.

Were you able to take any time away from work when your wife gave birth? Not “time off.” “Off” is a misnomer.
I was able to take about three weeks. One totally checked out week, one week checking in now and then, and the third week was remote. What I experienced, which I thought was cool….I was worried that, as everyone said, parenthood really would change everything if I was totally absorbed in it. For a lot of guys, that’s really scary—you’ve seen a lot of your friends change. And I was also, on the flipside, afraid of not changing at all. I work a lot, and I’m very engaged in work. I was thinking, “shit, I’m growing my business and things are going so well…am I going to just stop caring about my business? What will happen?” Those seem like silly fears, but at the same time, they’re very, very real. 

Sounds just like the way a lot of women feel. And so? How did paternity leave go?
Every worry, every to-do in the outer ring of my mind just fell away. And it made everything else more focused. I was less distracted, less worried about dumb stuff. The things that were important became more important, and in the end, the important stuff was amplified in a really positive way. That was a cool feeling to not care about the wrong things anymore.

Did you have any idea there were this many breast-pump options?

Glory be!

Glory be!

This story rounds up 11 (eleven, folks!) different kinds based on your needs (which, to be clear, actually means: If you want one that's affordable, quiet, portable, dependable, and strong....well choose which three of those qualities are most important to you, and you've got options!).

So, just a quickie today, but this was too helpful not to pass along. (Thanks, Allison B., for sending the link!) xx

I have exactly 27 words to say about this Me-ternity nonsense

She...said...what?!  Photo credit: roblawton via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

She...said...what?!  Photo credit: roblawton via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

(They're in big type down below if you want to skim.)

Oy, Meghann Foye! Over the past few days, a lot of people have asked my opinion about the interview novelist Meghann Foye gave to the NY Post making an impassioned plea for non parents (actually, mostly women) to take something she calls a Me-ternity leave—a sabbatical from work to stop and smell life's roses. (I won't link to it because I don't really want to donate more clicks to this cause, but feel free to google.)

Huh. I'm actually all for rose-smelling, and ALL for having enough non-working time to be a well- rounded person and then bring that well-roundedness to your job. But comparing maternity leave to a sabbatical?! Oh, honey, the thousands of livid tweets and responses (this one is my favorite so far) say almost everything I could and more.

I have exactly one thing to add from my research for my book (these are the 27 words):

I asked my survey takers: "Think back to before you had your baby. Did you ever resent the working parents at your office/workplace?" 
30% said YES.

And everyone I interviewed who said they'd felt that way said they regretted it immensely. 

Bottom line? Actually I have two:

1) Meghann Foye may be clueless about motherhood. But I know her just a bit through my past magazine career (she was most recently at Redbook.com). She's not evil. She's not all of the awful words everyone has called her. She's a woman with a novel to promote who must have gotten some bad -- really bad -- publicity advice. And she's now paying the price. What an awful lesson to learn.

2) Rather than ganging up on Meghann and feeding into the parents-versus-nonparents war she's naively incited, let's take this opportunity to reassess the way the workplace treats this demographic distinction. Those late nights Meghann remembers covering in the office as the parents ran out the door? I experienced them too. And then, later, as a parent, I was wracked with guilt every time I left at 6, and wished I could wear a t-shirt: "I'll be working again from 9pm to 12am, just FYI." But one of the best experiences I had, very early on in my career, pre-kids, was covering for a senior editor, a new mom, who was up to her eyeballs in work and life. There was a part of her job that she hated -- and that I coveted. Guess what? I got to take on that work and grow. She got to slough it off and make room for other kinds of more meaningful-to-her work. We were both happier for it. That whole arrangement was our idea. It took drive on my part and humility on hers. And a culture that allowed it.

Let's all work toward building that culture: parents, non-parents, just-starting-outs, higher-ups. This can happen. It has to.

Needed: The pumping mom's Airplane Bill of Rights!

Last week, I got this text from my sweet friend Sarah (I've changed her name), a producer, writer, and mom to a new baby. She was flying across the country, sans bebe, avec pump:

"There weren't outlets on the plane. So 10 hours of traveling without pumping. Then we land and I race to the family lounge, and while I'm in there a man starts banging on the door. I tried to yell out explaining, but when I finally finished he cursed me out, screaming obscenities. My eyes are still filled with tears. So embarrassing and stupid."

I have advice in my book about this very situation, a necessary inclusion, given that 25% of the moms I surveyed reported that they had to travel for work within their first three months back. It boils down to this: Pump at your seat on the plane, preferably a window seat, with a cover, using a pump that takes batteries. Bring extra batteries. Don't count on there being outlets—and if there are, don't count on them working.

But like SO much of The Fifth Trimester, this isn't simply a problem of logistics or facilities (though good ones certainly help). It's about culture and employee training. Working moms and even celebrities (go, Alyssa Milano) have tweeted at airlines about their bad experiences, and the airlines always apologize. Technically, the corporate office types know what they're supposed to do for us. But the message isn't making its way to the ears of the workers on the ground...or, ah, in the air. Check out the text I got from poor Sarah a couple of days later, on her way home:

"When I inquired about the outlets at the gate, the agent rudely said she'd check but then made sure to confirm I would only be using the bathroom (as though I planned to be inappropriate if I pumped in my row). When I asked on the plane about the lack of outlets and where women are expected to go, the flight attendant said, 'I guess at home.' Total lack of knowledge."

It gets better (or worse, actually). On Sarah's connecting flight, there was a nursing room across from her gate...but it required a key code to get in, and the gate agent didn't know it and couldn't find anyone who did in time before boarding. (Several of you have sent me pictures of the Mamava pumping/nursing pods in airports around the country—I have mixed feelings but am mostly glad the option exists for the small percentage of moms who can take advantage. More about this in a future post. Anyway, back to Sarah.)

"So I'm texting you while sitting on my flight, crying behind my sunglasses, less out of pain and more out of total frustration that not a single person could help, and that we have to endure this complete lack of choices."

Technically, legally, women are allowed to pump breastmilk on airplanes. They are allowed to carry larger-than-3.4 oz. quantities of milk (with or without their baby) through security, icepacks too. But when the guard at the scanner doesn't know that? Or when the gate agent has no clue what the code is to the nursing room? All that progress goes out the double-paned plastic window. The solution: Training, not just about the "rules," but about sensitivity. In 1980, 80% of flight attendants were under age 35. By 2007, only 20% were. So even though many are mothers themselves—working under really challenging and stressful circumstances, especially post 9/11—technology and societal expectations have changed since they traveled with their own babies. Time for a reset.

So, airlines, your mission:

1) Get some outlets, and make them work! But more importantly...

2) Train your staff to offer the kind of customer service you want to be known for. Give women options when their bodies require special care. Like this:
- Offer pumping moms extra water.
- Have extra batteries around just in case.
- Make it easy for a new mom to switch to a window seat for privacy.
- Learn the locations of lactation rooms in airports, and how to make them accessible.
- Tell other customers who can't stomach a pumping mom to avert their eyes and deal. After all, we were all babies once. But that doesn't mean we have to act like them now that we're grownups.

Wheels up, and peace out.

Why every new mother needs a good luck charm

Photo credit: lightlady via Visual hunt / CC BY

Photo credit: lightlady via Visual hunt / CC BY

There is one additional thing every new mom should pack in her back to work bag : A good luck charm. A little dose of superstition actually increases your performance, research shows. In one study out of Germany, carrying a good luck charm increased subjects' abilities at golfing, motor dexterity, anagrams, and more. Why? Magic. Just kidding, not magic. Because activating a superstition bolsters confidence and self-efficacy. It also boosts your levels of persistence. All really helpful things when you're returning to work.

Why am I posting this today? Because this morning I gave a big talk about The Fifth Trimester to a bunch of HR/talent reps at very cool companies. Getting dressed beforehand, I found myself putting on a ring my mom gave me from when she was a teenager. And a lucky necklace my husband gave me for Mother's Day. And extra tall shoes. It all helped. I'm not a brand new mom anymore. My boys are 4 and 7. But this big career 180 (from being a magazine editor, to launching this business) is remarkably reminiscent of that same mashup of scary/fun.

Best of all was the little good luck gift my son gave me on our way to school when I decided to tell him I was nervous: He took his little paper bus receipt and folded it into an origami Yoda. Braver I have become, hmmm?

PS: This was an extra big day thanks to the very kind people at MyHabit who interviewed me about the book and about my kid-dressing style. I love their pictures of my boys and their support of working moms.

 

What about when Mommy cries? (What about when it's AT WORK?)

Photo via Flickr user raruschel (Raissa Ruschel)

Photo via Flickr user raruschel (Raissa Ruschel)

A funny thing happens when you return to work before you feel like you're on solid ground, emotionally: You get emotional at work. I go into this in a lot more detail in my book, but I'll sum it up here: The 700+ women I surveyed said that they felt "back to normal" emotionally right around six months after giving birth, on average. You know where I'm going with this. By then, maternity leave was a distant speck in the rear view mirror.

It's the worst! The last thing you want to look like at work is a mess (and really, you're not a mess...think about all of the executive functioning skills it took just to get out of the house). And yet, there you are, crying at the office Keurig.

What helps (besides longer, paid maternity leave)? The experts I interviewed offered up wonderful ideas for self-care plans, little escape hatches for when you need to get your shit together, and fast. But, as you know, I'm also a fan of bringing your whole self to work and displaying some of those vulnerabilities. Can that include tears? If part of the point of The Fifth Trimester is showing your coworkers that they can get through this transition too (and still succeed at work), is it acceptable to cry?

"I'm by no means an advocate of being a leaky, sobby, out-of-control employee," Anne Kreamer, author of It's Always Personal: Navigating Emotions in the New Workplace told the audience of female lawyers at a lunch hosted by Law & Reorder that I attended this week. "But if you shed an occasional tear, it's okay." I hung on her every word—as a longtime big-media executive and mother of two, Kreamer knows her stuff—and learned these three things about crying at work:

1) Women cry differently than men do: "Women's tear ducts are anatomically different than men's," Kreamer told us. The result: Women have a higher volume of tears, and those tears are more likely to fall down their cheeks and be visible. So this is not a matter of women being hysterical and men being withholders. It's just how we're built.

2) Some crying requires managing up: "If you're facing a significant stressor," says Kreamer—and I will pause here to note that returning from maternity leave counts—"it's actually incumbent on you to mention that to your employer. Be clear and get ahead of it."

3) Crying actually does make you feel better: Cue that old song from Free to Be You and Me (which really holds up, by the way). "No one wants to cry at work, but you can take it as a helpful signal that you need to sit down and figure out what's really going on," says Kreamer. "Women report crying at work most often because they feel angry, not sad, and that can be a catalyst for hormone release in the body." Huh. I flipped to the index of Kreamer's (excellent, really recommend it) book to learn more. She writes: "Crying stimulates the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps us feel better—and that also reduces prolactin production, which eventually helps curb the flow of tears, resetting our emotional equilibrium."

So cry! Like every other little bit of The Fifth Trimester, it's temporary and surmountable. I leave you with this gem.

5 hidden ways motherhood impacts your career choices

Because, whether we like to admit it or not, it does. So let's own that.

When the Harvard Business Review released this story and an accompanying ICEDR report on Millennial women in the workplace, several news outlets latched on to its primary finding: Women don't leave their jobs because they want better work/life balance. They leave, first and foremost, for better pay. And indeed, the wage gap is real and persistent, with women making about 7% less than men—only about half of which can be accounted for by the old "she doesn't want to work as hard because she has kids" argument.

But, you guys. Check out this chart (the top five reasons baby-making-age women leave their companies) and let's give it the old fortune cookie treatment, but instead of adding "in bed" to each option, add "because as a mother...." Go ahead, try it. You'll see that motherhood infiltrates all of the reasons.

Taking it point by point....

1) "I found a job elsewhere that pays more money" because as a mother, I need to support my family and pay for childcare. 

2) "There are not enough opportunities for learning and development for me here" because as a mother, I need to know I can eventually advance to a leadership role and create a workplace that works for my life—and my peers'.

3) "The work here is not as interesting and as meaningful as I would like" because as a mother, if I'm going to spend my time away from my baby, you'd better believe I want to be doing work that feels worthwhile!

4) "There is not a fair balance between how hard I work and the compensation I receive" because as a mother that feels especially crappy for the exact reasons described above.

5) "We are starting a family, and I would like to spend more time with them" because as a mother, time is fleeting, and while I know I won't get these baby years back, I also don't want to lose years of my career.

The subtext all boils down to workplace culture and motherhood—two things that aren't at all easy to separate. You aren't only a worker at work and only a mother at home. Being a parent affects your outlook on nearly everything. So yes, by all means, look for a job that pays more. But let's all be open about why: More money, more passion, more interesting work makes us more satisfied as working mothers.

 

Fifth Trimester dream product: Have you seen the stroller that turns into a bike?

How about the one that drives itself?!

The Tagabike—which converts a million different ways to let you either stroll or bike your 6 month to 4 year old kiddo around town—is pretty much Fifth Trimester dream territory. Imagine commuting your babe to daycare in this, or getting your exercise on the weekend with baby in tow? And yes, they make it in a double. And it has an adaptor for your car seat too.

And the two Dutch engineers in this video are my nominees for the Nobel Prize for Parents (which totally should exist). They used car technology to create a stroller that stops automatically before bumping into anything and can follow you down the sidewalk. Watch them prank these cute unsuspecting Europeans....

The strange backstory behind the military's new paid parental leave policies

"Daddy's Uniform" via flikr user Patrick Malone

"Daddy's Uniform" via flikr user Patrick Malone

Last month, I wrote gleefully here about how the military had expanded maternity leave to 12 weeks for women in all branches (a boon for most—but a cutback for the Navy and Marines, which had previously approved 18 weeks). Men would receive 10 days of paternity leave. Not equitable, but an improvement, nonetheless.

Well, the architect of that modernization, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Brad Carson, has resigned under pressure from lawmakers after what the Military Times called his "disastrous" confirmation hearing. (There, Sen. John McCain called Carson's efforts around personnel reform, "an outrageous waste of time and resources." Various reports note that McCain was mostly peeved that Carson had overstepped his boundaries before being officially confirmed. But, still, man.) Carson's last day is April 8.

That's a loss, it seems, but Carson's vision will live on, allowing thousands of military families to humanely transition into parenthood. He even helped pass a provision to help service members freeze their eggs and sperm in case of injuries during combat. And his proposals for longer paternity leave (14 days instead of 10), longer hours for military daycares, and expanded access to mothers' lactation rooms (imagine!) are still on the table.

Lots of days here on the T5T blog, I'll write quippy lists or share my own kids' cute artwork about breastfeeding. But let's not forget the more serious stories, and the allies we've got in the Fifth Trimester, too—the people who stick their necks out to make more sensible policies around new working parenthood, sometimes even risking their careers. Mr. Carson, thank you.

This is what it looks like when a high-powered, awesome Swedish mom goes back to work

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(After six months—six months!—of maternity leave.)

Last week, Swedish Centre Party leader Annie Lööf and her maternity leave fill-in, a very game Anders W. Jonsson, released this awesome "Now. She. Is. Back." video spoof. You don't need to have been a childhood fan of the Muppets' Swedish Chef (like me) to translate the message here:

  • Maternity leave is normal.
  • Women come back to work capable and prepared and healthy.
  • So emotionally healthy, in fact, that they can make fun of themselves...
  • ...And the men are 100% on board, too. 

    As Lööf told The Local Sweden, in reality, she had "full confidence in Jonsson," whom she called "an eminent substitute." And she didn't hesitate to take her six months. "It was not a difficult choice, that these six months were going to be a time at home for me and [baby] Ester. Meanwhile, of course, I did not leave the political work behind; rather I carefully followed developments."

    Now that is how it's done! (Video below.)