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You Are NOT Alone (A Return-to-Work Story)

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On Friday, October 21st at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, New York, Mom-mentum is hosting Long Island’s only conference for professional working mothers: Achieving Extraordinary. Bringing together a powerful group of speakers, this conference will provide an open forum for women to enhance their leadership skills, engage in high-level networking and participate in compelling conversations with top women business leaders. You can find out more and register for the conference here.

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You Are NOT Alone (A Return-to-Work Story)

By Alison La Ferlita

I was literally living the dream. At 35 years old I had a thriving business, a beautiful little house by the ocean and a cool little pied-a-terre in the West Village of New York City. So, what does one do next?

Plan for a baby.

I looked at the pregnancy test and right there in all caps saw: PREGNANT. My older sister (who already had two children) always said to me, “you become a mother the minute you find out you’re pregnant”. She was right.

After 32 weeks of hyperemesis (constant—and I mean constant vomiting) and a hormonal onset of severe anxiety, he came into the world at 2:27PM in delivery room 227 on December 27th—my son, Shane—a healthy 7 pounds. The nurse said he was one of the prettiest newborns she had ever seen. I was in shock. Total and utter shock of this little human I was now, and would forever be, responsible for.

Prior to having him, I was certain I would bounce right back into my jeans, my life, my work schedule. I wasn’t going to let this little guy run my world, he was going to adapt to our lifestyle! Needless to say, it all unraveled in a matter of weeks when I learned that’s not at all how it happens. And yes, that seven pounds of deliciousness—made me his bitch.

That said, no sleep, breastfeeding and adapting to motherhood was not easy for me.

I had my sister and my friends who were there to help, but I soon yearned for my own mom who had passed away ten years prior. I needed her strength, her wisdom and to hear only from her that I would make it and I would be a good mom. You don’t realize how important that relationship is when you have your child, until you don’t have it. Your mom is your cheerleader and she’s the one who guides you through motherhood with unwavering confidence. Without that support, you question all you do in those early stages of motherhood.

Then, three weeks after having Shane, a client called and said they were letting me go. They felt I wasn’t fulfilling my end of the bargain and needed to move on. I was devastated. I felt like I had been hit over the head with a tennis racket and that my professional life (in which I had identified myself with for so long) was crumbling. Was having a baby the scarlet letter I would bear in my professional life?

Several months went by, I went through life’s motions, but I remember hitting a wall at four months. I had a baby in the winter, so I was looking at the same four walls for months.
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“I was tired of nursing. I was tired of being tired.
And what I felt most guilty about was
that I mourned the loss of my prior life.”

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So, there I stood on the return line at my local TJ Maxx. Shane was attached to my chest in his Baby B’jorn. I don’t think I had showered that day, and I’m fairly certain I had spit up on my sweater.

And, that’s when she walked by me with four kids in tow.

She looked like she commanded her small group of little ones whom all followed her in single file. As she passed by me, she stopped dead in her tracks, looked me square in the eye and said, “You need to know about the Mothers’ Center”.  

Was I wearing the feelings of loss and isolation on my face? I must have looked exactly like the mess I felt like. I took the card she held out and called the number on it almost immediately to get started with their next transitions group.

The day of my first Mothers’ Center group, I lugged my baby in his carseat up the stairs to our meeting room and settled into one of the hand-me-down rockers. There were ten of us in the discussion group. We were all around the same age, and our babies were all in the five month range. As we went around the circle, these women shared openly …

One woman said: “I used to highlight my hair and I miss that.” Me too, I thought! Another said: “I used to meet my friends for cocktails and I haven’t seen anyone in months.” Again, I knew how she felt. And, as we went around the circle, we finally came to the last woman who simply stated all of my own feelings in one short sentence:

”I feel like a shell of my old self.”

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Bingo! There it was. Five months of feeling like I was crazy for thinking these things to only discover… a lot of moms felt this way—like a shell of their old, pre-motherhood self. I was NOT alone.

I recently read, Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton. She writes the following paragraph that summed it up the transition into motherhood for me…

 
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Now seven (almost eight) years later, another son and some experience under my belt, I feel forever in debt to this organization. I have been a member of two Mothers’ Center discussion groups and have made lifelong friendships. The organization and the women who are a part of it, literally saved me from myself.

When the opportunity presented itself for me to be the new Executive Director, I jumped at it. I wanted to help provide every mother with the support, resources and the education I received from Mom-mentum.

I’ve made it my personal mission to make sure every mother knows about us and how we are here to help her – regardless of race, creed, culture or finances. Because, at the end of the day:

We all have the plight and the joys of motherhood as our common bond
and we ALL deserve the support Mom-mentum provides.

 

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Leave a Comment: How did your life change before and after motherhood? Did you find you mourned the loss of your prior life?

 

Find others who recognize and value their roles as professionals and mothers!
Join us at Long Island’s only conference for professional working mothers!
Making connections that matter. Find your personal power.

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Get more information and buy tickets here.


alison-laferlita-300wAlison LaFerlita is Executive Director of Mom-mentum as the organization’s public voice; speaking at and attending conferences, serving on leadership and advisory boards, and talking with the media. She works with the Mom-mentum Board of Trustees, Corporate Committee, and other volunteers to ensure that Mom-mentum serves its mission, and she’s actively involved in planning and hosting events. You’re likely to find her at our annual Womens Leadership Conference, the Mom-mentum Mile for Mothers Walk, and national Mom-mentum Conferences. Alison also writes grants, raises money, and manages our budget. Prior to her working at Mom-mentum, Alison was a member of the Southwest Nassau and Long Beach Library Centers. She also enjoys traveling, biking, hiking, photography, entertaining, reading, decorating and lots and lots of family time with her husband and two sons.

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