Career Professional turns MOM

Do you know the value you bring to the organization as you build your career and your family? It’s no secret to many that I struggled with infertility and lost my first daughter to a stillborn birth. When I found out I was pregnant with the twins, I tried very hard to balance it all – my full-time career in leadership, my community obligations, my entrepreneurial spirit, my family commitments, and my extreme desire to be a parent. Being I lost my first child to unexplained medical conditions, my doctor and care team watched me very closely with weekly appointments and multiple ultrasounds and blood tests. I followed every instruction given to me, no exception. During the second and third trimesters, I could not travel more than 30 miles from my healthcare facility. I was considered high risk. I knew I was high maintenance, but high risk? I had to cut back on some of my community obligations and learn to say NO. In the last trimester, I worked from home. My staff would stop by the house twice daily to bring my mail and review any questions on outstanding items. Keep in mind, this was before the advancements in the technology we have today. The two weeks leading up to the twins’ 36-week early delivery, I was admitted to the hospital. All during this time, my team and the company’s leadership supported me in the significant desire to be a parent. I always felt appreciated and secure in my position. There was zero bully culture during that period. Once I brought my twins home from the hospital, my plan was to work from home for three months, going into the office one day a week. Two weeks after having the twins, I received a call from the Vice President asking if I could set aside an hour to meet over the phone with him and the CFO of our $500M company to discuss how we would handle the strategic initiative to get rid of the company credit cards. I agreed, as long as it could be during the morning nap time of the twins. We set a date and time. I can remember getting up early that morning, being so nervous, hoping the twins cooperated and I was able to meet the expectations of the VP and CFO. I breastfed the kids that morning. (Yes, for some who are wondering, you breastfeed them both at the same time to keep them on the same schedule. In the first month of being a new mom of twins, all you do is act like a feeding machine) I changed their diapers and swaddled them in their blanket, and put them in their swings. The phone call came in precisely as scheduled, and the kids were cooperatively sleeping. The dialogue was engaging, and the strategy was on point, and it was great to be both a mom and busy career professional. I was loving life in that instant. The one-hour scheduled meeting went on for nearly three hours. As we were starting to wrap up the session, the twins were getting very agitated and fusing and screaming at the top of their little lungs. They were wet and hungry. I can remember being so torn between my career and motherhood in that instant. We recapped and ended the meeting so I could get the twins fed, and diapers changed. The next morning, I received a voicemail from my boss, the VP, thanking me for my time the previous morning. He also forwarded a voicemail, the CFO left him saying, “Please pass along my sincere appreciation to Shelly for her time yesterday. I can only imagine how challenging that’s was for her. As she is trying to take care of her new babies, she was taking care of us old babies. Her insight was unbelievable and very much in alignment to our strategy. She brings so much value to our company, and her attitude and enthusiasm are unlike any other.” That message brought tears to my eyes. My life had changed so much in such a short period as I fulfilled my dream of motherhood and trying to see where my professional career would take me. Fast forward, my company supported me and allowed me to be a kick-ass executive with very little guilt in being a mom. I saved that voicemail to the very last day of my nearly 24-year employment with the company. Whenever I had a bad day, wondered what am I doing, can I do this, I would replay Jack’s voicemail message and realize I am a mom and woman in a leadership position in construction. I am committed to my family and my career. I can do both.

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