Expecting at Ellucian
- Sarah’s story about working at Ellucian while carrying her second child
- The transition as Sarah leaves for maternity leave and her team takes on additional tasks
- Highlighting work life balance and our benefits
One more week. That’s how long I have until I’m due to give birth to my second child. Nervous? Yes. Excited? Absolutely! But, like with all pregnancies, I have had my ups and downs. It has been a very exciting, emotional, and wonderful experience.
I have a unique situation in that my due date is right after the December holiday season. This was not the case with my first child, so I never had the clashing priorities of white elephants and ultrasounds; writing cards and packing the hospital bag; making New Year’s Resolutions while explaining to my two-year-old what it means to have a younger sibling. In my case, in one week, I had two white elephants, one potluck, our company holiday party, and my work baby shower. No need to inform you that I’ve surpassed my recommended weight gain—eating for two only goes so far!
I remember when I first found out I was pregnant and how difficult it was to not tell anyone. The first trimester was filled with not-so-great morning sickness, especially around my colleagues who loved our espresso machine; whenever they came by in the morning, I wanted to duck into my trashcan. I caved in fairly quickly and told my immediate team. Every year, my team has an incredible opportunity to go to an industry conference to better our knowledge and strategy. This year the conference was in beautiful and charming New Orleans—you know, the place known for their spicy food and great drinks? Yeah, that one. I quickly came to the conclusion that if I was not drinking, getting sick constantly (also while not drinking), and calling early nights, my team would have guessed anyway.
So I told them. Very, very early—like six weeks pregnant early. And I’m so glad I did. Don’t get me wrong—it was terrifying in case something happened, but it also made managing expectations much easier. My manager was ecstatic. “I feel like I’m going to be a grandma!” she said. My other colleague was very supportive. Although she had no experience with pregnancy herself, she was very aware of how I was feeling and always asking if I needed anything from her, be it in a work sense or just grabbing some Tums.
It didn’t take long for the “safe point” to arrive and I was thrilled when everyone else could know. My team is very communicative and authentic—something I love about them. The fact that I could be completely open and honest again was refreshing. I could also talk about my concerns, my doctor’s visits, and my rapidly growing belly. I also was able to use Ellucian’s “expectant mother” parking spots, which was wonderful, especially as it got colder, my belly got larger, and I could no longer deny I had “the waddle.”
Before I knew it, my manager asked me to start thinking about my maternity plan. What were the responsibilities I needed someone else to handle in my absence? How much training would they need? Would it be one person or a team effort? All of the possibilities whirled in my head, and it was a lot for anyone to think about.
It also was unnerving. Here I was, basically getting ready to train someone on how to do my job. While it was, of course, necessary, there was a small voice in my head questioning if they would see my value once I returned. What if he/she was better at my job than me? What if they changed everything and I had a steep learning curve coming back while trying to adjust to two children?
I voiced my concerns to my manager and director. Like I mentioned, we’re pretty open on this team. They both reassured me I had nothing to worry about. As the team grows, so will our needs. Maybe my role will change, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it—and I will always be able to grow and develop as my responsibilities grow. Maybe this would actually be a good thing for my career. Maybe I’ll be able to focus more on programs, initiatives, and strategy.
Through this emotional process, I constantly had to remind myself of my self-worth and value to the company. I had a sort of mantra of my strengths that I would repeat if I ever felt flustered: “I’m great at my job, I have good ideas, and I learn super fast.” Giving myself praise instead of negative self-talk has helped me be a better employee, train my temporary successor better, and continue to produce my best work and lean in as much as possible.
For lack of a better word, my “trainee” is doing phenomenally. He’s not only eager to explore recruiting, but ready to learn and take in all of the information I give him. At first, we were only meeting twice a week, but now I feel that I’m on his calendar practically every day. We are going through the various steps of my role, from resume screening to phone interviews, event planning, and tracking data. Letting go of control is difficult, but I see the potential in him to continue to grow.
This responsibility is a lot for anyone to handle, and I’ve been doing it for several years. However, I am happy to say he won’t be shouldering it alone. Other members of my team have stepped in to take care of additional steps in the recruiting process. It’s a mixture of everyone leaning in together and a “divide-and-conquer” sort of scenario. When I pause to think about it, I’m very much touched that so many people from my team have added my responsibilities to their already-busy day jobs to support me as my family grows.
Throughout my pregnancy, Ellucian has been nothing but supportive. From telling my manager so early to my baby shower, I have been met with nothing but understanding and excitement. Ellucian is phenomenal—they give eight weeks’ full pay for maternity leave. My family is on one income (mine), so the fact that finances will not be a concern is a huge weight off my shoulders. I also have an amazing option of utilizing my work-life balance. When I come back, I’ll be working on a part-time basis and then remotely for a few months.
Giving me this flexibility shows me how much Ellucian sees me as a whole person. I’m not just Employee #12345; I’m Sarah O’Melia. I’m a recruiter, a hard worker, a wife, a mother, and a pregnant lady who is trying to juggle it all. And although I may be nervous at times, I am so fortunate that I have never been doing this alone. Ellucian has been beside me this entire pregnancy. I am so thankful and ready to start this next chapter together.