Today I talked to Betty Leicht, Software Engineering Manager, and a member of the Moms at Uplight and Military Connection Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) about her maternity leave. The purpose of Uplight’s ERGs is to establish a community of people of common identities, experiences, or similar backgrounds to provide those individuals a space for safety and connection.
This year, the Uplight People team has worked to improve the experience for working parents and moms, adding a daycare flexible spending policy and expanding the parental leave policies to include 8 weeks of paid parental leave (increased from 4 weeks) and new transition flex time (2 weeks of 100% paid part-time upon return to work).
Welcome back, and most important, tell me about your new baby!
I am a first time mom to my baby boy named Tommy! He is a happy camper and loves to practice jumping up and down while being held, grabbing at toys, smiling, giggling, and babbling!
How long did you take for your maternity leave? What were your favorite things to do on leave?
I took 4 months off for maternity leave (8 weeks of parental leave and 8 weeks of paid pregnancy leave) and am immensely grateful for the time! Maternity leave was not a vacation, but a much needed time to bond with my baby, recover from birth, and learn how to care for a newborn. My favorite things to do were talking to my baby and making him smile, lots of baby snuggles, and going for walks as a family with my husband and dog.
How did you prepare for your leave?
I was transitioning between two roles, so I turned over everything from my previous role and started getting lightly spun up in my new role. I communicated early on with both teams that I would be out for maternity leave, so we were able to plan my work and support accordingly.
How did reentry back into work go?
Re-entry back into work has gone smoothly overall! I really appreciate Uplight’s new policy of giving parents the ability to work part-time for the first two weeks back. It truly helped me ease back into work and not get too overwhelmed after being gone for 4 months. Being a first time mom, the transition time also helped me slowly integrate into working mom mode so I didn’t switch suddenly from being with my baby 24/7 to only seeing him in the mornings and evenings. I was able to spend the afternoons with him, which was lovely.
My team and coworkers have been very supportive as I get up to speed again, and I appreciate the grace and patience that has been extended to me. It’s a completely new normal for me, and my experience coming back has been very positive thus far. With the updated parental leave policies, I feel like Uplight has increased support for parents, and it motivates me to contribute and stay because the company has taken care of me in this significant life change.
What have been the hardest things about the whole process? Best things?
I’m not sure anything truly prepares you for first time motherhood. Even after talking to a lot of fellow moms, reading tons of books, and having a picture in my head of how things are going to go, reality was very different and hard. I quickly learned that my baby didn’t necessarily follow the picture in my head, and adapting to him was sometimes challenging and lonely.
Sleep deprivation is very tough. I left work as one person and came back as the same person on the outside, but on the inside, I’m way more sleep deprived (still getting up in the middle of the night multiple times to feed my baby), and I have a different perspective and new normal, so that has been interesting to navigate. Who am I as a mother? Who am I as a working mother? What are my priorities and how do I set the boundaries I need to succeed and be sustainable? I’m trying to figure out all these questions as I go.
The best thing is my baby, of course! He has expanded my heart and given me an opportunity to view the world through his eyes. He has taught me to slow down and enjoy the little things, and to embrace each day with no expectations (fellow parents know the sleep deprivation and unpredictability of baby sleep!). I love being a mom, and I love working, so I’m on the journey to figure out how to balance both!
What are you working on now that you are back?
I’m the Software Engineering Manager for the Cloud Cost Engineering team and Release Engineering team. I’m working on catching up what I’ve missed over the past 4 months and figuring out where we are headed.