Being a working parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world. You are constantly on the clock and going from here to there. It’s complicated enough to keep a tiny little person fully functioning and safe, but to do that while also maintaining a full-time job is truly a feat to be applauded. One woman took decided to combine both jobs and bring her newborn with her to work. When her boss saw this he snapped a photo of them together. Here’s what happened after that photo went viral. If your a working mother, expect a story that will hit close to home.
Trying To Get It Done
Melody Blackwell was a new mom who had a pretty tall order to tackle. She needed to take care of her newborn baby but that also included working a regular job so that she could make the money needed to do just that. It’s a tough situation to be in.
So, she had to do both at once. Her employer, Dr. Elizabeth Baker decided to take a photo of the working mom and posted it on Facebook. The doctor couldn’t have imagined what happened next, and the photo certainly sparked a reaction from those who saw it.
Lots Of Adjustments
It’s probably no shocker to hear that having a child is a pretty big event that is going to require some major adjustments in your life. If you have kids of your own, you already know this. Suffice it to say that having a new baby around is certainly a life-changing event.
In fact, the experience of becoming a new parent is so life-altering that many new parents are legitimately overwhelmed with the task, which might explain why so many new parents seem like they’re at their wits’ end just a few weeks in! For new moms, specifically, caring for a baby is only one of the big adjustments that need to be made.
An Exhausting Gig
New parents are tired for a reason. Taking care of a newborn is truly an exhausting job. It is especially tiring for new mothers. While dads will certainly have their fair share of sleepless nights, you have to consider what a mother goes through.
The act of childbirth in and of itself is exhausting. That doesn’t just apply to physical strength, but mental as well. What’s more, they don’t get any time to recover before they’re tasked with caring for a baby that likely won’t sleep in normal patterns.
Bye Bye Social Life
Most new parents will also tell you that having a new baby is going to severely impact more than just your sleep patterns. It’s also going to shatter any semblance of a social life that you might have had prior to the big event. That can have some pretty significant mental health consequences.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness are actually pretty common among new mothers (and fathers, for that matter). What’s more, on the rare occasions that they do get out, most new parents can’t wait to get back home to their new baby and cringe at the idea of spending cash on something other than baby supplies.
A Mother’s Role
Plenty of studies have been conducted to back up all of these facts. In fact, the “guilt” over spending money that we mentioned above has been proven to be a pretty common phenomenon. BabyCenter, and online media company that focuses on parenting suggests that about half of all new mothers experience guilt if they spend money on themselves as opposed to their new baby.
There’s an inherent drive to put their child before themselves, and they’re aware that their disposable income was drastically reduced on the day they brought their new bundle of joy home. After all, they’ve got a big responsibility and stress over spending “the right way.”
The financial difficulties are more than just personal perceptions in a lot of cases. For many new moms, they really do face some serious financial burdens when they have a child. Babies certainly cost money, but they also make changes to how they earn cash.
There are many women who actually quit their regular jobs after having a child, which will only increase any money concerns they might have. It’s been suggested that nearly 50 percent of working moms will actually quit for some amount of time in order to care for their kids.
While almost 50% of women choose to stay home after having a child, the reasons why they make that choice tend to vary quite a bit. The most common reason is that they simply do not want to have the burden of focusing on anything other than caring for their baby.
However, a good portion of new moms choose to leave their jobs because of financial burdens. While that might seem counter-intuitive, you have to consider how much child care costs. It may actually be cheaper to stay home as opposed to paying for daycare if you don’t have the luxury of a family member willing to watch your kids while you work.
The Working Moms
We’ve established that many moms elect to give up on working and stay home with their new baby on a full-time basis. However, it’s also important to consider that nearly 25% of new mothers return to working after just two weeks.
While there are likely multiple reasons why new mothers might make that decision, there is one in particular that stands out over the rest. A study conducted by the Department of Labor revealed that many new moms go back to work because the United States has a serious lack of paid maternity leave in many companies.
The “Leave” Issue
In the United States, there is no legislature in place that requires an employer to pay a new parent for taking time off work to care for their baby. In fact, some companies don’t even allow new moms to take unpaid leave to care for their children.
However, there is something called the Family and Medical Leave Act. This law was passed in 1993 and it does require an employer to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new moms as long as the company has at least 50 employees.
Standards Are Tough
When you look at the kind of maternity leave provided by other countries, you’ll soon see that the United States falls pretty short when it comes to this particular benefit. For example, if you’re willing to relocate before having a child, Sweden is where you want to go!
They actually give new parents up to 480 days of parental leave. What’s more, that time can be split between both Mom and Dad. What’s more, they can still get up 80 percent of their total paycheck for their first year of leave. After that, the price drops but they still get something.
So, how does the U.S. stack up against other countries when it comes to paternity leave? Well, as it turns out, the U.S. falls pretty short. In fact, it’s one of the worst countries when it comes to providing leave for new parents.
What’s more, it’s one of the only (major) countries in the world that does not provide any paid leave for new mothers across the board. When you take all of that into consideration, it’s not hard to see why so many new moms in the United States choose to return to work so quickly after having new babies.
Sadly, the appalling paternity leave standards in the United States has some pretty negative effects. It just doesn’t apply to moms either, but also their newborn children. Those negative effects come in many different forms and affect more than what you might initially think.
For example, when a new mother returns to work soon after giving birth, the odds of them not breastfeeding their children are fairly high, which can have some health effects on the children. For the mothers, returning to work too soon can increase their risk of depression, which can actually cause depression in the children, as well.
If you need proof of just how tough the standards in the U.S. are on new mothers, consider a report that was published in 2015 by the magazine In These Times. The story was about a new mom named Natasha Long.
Long was a new mother when she returned to her full-time job just three weeks after giving birth to her third child. While at work, Natasha was forced to pump breast milk in her vehicle during her breaks because her company didn’t provide dedicated space to do it. The whole process would leave her in tears at the thought of being away from her baby.
Getting back to the key character in this article, Melody Blackwell and her husband found out they were pregnant with their first child last year. Upon getting the news, Melody immediately started getting her proverbial ducks in a row regarding her job.
She lived and worked in Brentwood, Tennessee, where she had been an assistant at a chiropractic office for four years prior to becoming pregnant. One of the first things she did after getting the news was talk to her employer about the upcoming event.
Melody worked for a woman named Dr. Elizabeth Baker. As soon as she found out that she was pregnant she sat down and talked with the doctor about what would need to happen regarding her work/life balance. Luckily, the doctor was incredibly supportive.
While many new moms are left high and dry when it comes to solutions about maternity leave, Dr. Baker was an employer who wanted to make sure that one of her employees was able to make the money she needed to support her new, growing family, but to also have the time to bond with her new child.
A Work From Home Solution
Today, more and more industries are creating positions and technology that allow employees to work from the comfort and convenience of their own homes. In Melody’s case, Dr. Baker decided to give her the same opportunity and offered her a work-from-home solution to her position.
Melody could do the majority of her work at home, where she could still spend plenty of time with her new baby. She would only have to come into the office just one day a week for a few hours of administrative work.
Was It Enough?
The gesture made by Melody’s boss was certainly something that many employers wouldn’t have done. But even with the kind gesture, would it be enough for Melody to make her situation work? As it turned out, Melody fell into the same situation as many other new mothers.
Even coming into the office for one day a week would be a challenge thanks to the price and logistics that came along with childcare. But Dr. Baker had a solution for that, too. She told Melody that she was more than welcome to bring her baby with her on her office days.
A Great Gesture
The good news was that Melody and her boss still had nearly nine months to plan out all of the details for their new arrangement. However, Melody was totally thrilled that her employer was willing to be so flexible with her arrangement and the needs of her family.
The fact that Dr. Baker was willing to be so understanding and flexible meant that melody would not have to rely on a costly daycare plan or other family members to take care of her new baby while she was working.
Childcare Just Wouldn’t Work
In Melody’s case, childcare just wasn’t something that was going to work for her personal situation. One of the biggest reasons why it wasn’t something that she was really interested in was that Melody simply didn’t want to spend any time away from her baby at such a young age.
Melody also acknowledged that she was very lucky to have a boss as flexible and understanding as Dr. Baker. She would say in an interview later that she could only imagine how hard it must be for new moms to drop their children off at daycare when they were only a few months old.
Melody wasn’t the only one that had concerns over hardships that came along with having young babies in daycare. Her boss, Dr. Baker understood how tough it could be for new moms. Specifically, she knew the kind of money issues that could arise from having to put kids in daycare at such a young age.
Dr. Baker would also be interviewed later and say that she understood why many new moms quit their jobs. At times, the cost of daycare can be more of a financial burden than not being employed at all.
With a plan in place, Melody focused on maintaining the healthiest pregnancy she possibly could. She was rewarded for her efforts in August 2018 when she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl that she and her husband named Nora-Jo. Dr. Baker started delivering on her promises right away.
She granted Melody a three-month maternity leave so that she could spend time with her new baby girl. Melody was very appreciative. Thanks to her boss’s generosity, she was able to bond with her new baby without having to worry about her job.
Taking Up The Slack
Melody was obviously going to be busy with motherly duties for a few months, so Dr. Baker and a couple of her coworkers took matters into their own hands and picked up the duties Melody normally would have done. As it turned out, she was pretty irreplaceable!
Dr. Baker would later say in an interview that she and her colleagues still had to call and bother Melody a few times while she was on leave. She was still confident that Melody would be able to take over her duties once more from the comfort of her own home when her leave was over.
After The Leave
When Melody’s maternity leave was over, she was required to pick up her duties once more, but she gave an interview with Love What Matters and discusses her situation. It seemed that Dr. Baker was once more delivering on her promise.
Melody said that she was allowed to do the majority of her work from the comfort of her own home. She went on to say that she was only required to come into the office once per week and that she was allowed to bring the baby into the office with her so that she could still take care of Nora-Jo.
An Important Benefit
Dr. Baker shared Melody’s belief that being able to regularly breastfeed her baby was of the highest importance. Given her profession, she believes in a holistic approach to life and medicine and understood that breastfeeding was vital to a child’s development.
Melody was given all the space and flexibility she needed to take care of her baby. What’s more, when Melody needed some extra help taking care of the baby, Dr. Baker and her staff jumped in with open arms—sometimes, quite literally!
Dr. Baker later said that she and the rest of the staff never had a problem jumping in and helping Melody with the baby. She said that their entire staff was made up of women and that they all had a kind of motherly instinct.
Melody couldn’t have asked for a better team of nannies. Whenever she was tied up with a client and Nora-Jo would grow fussy, someone was always there to pick her up and soothe her until Melody could finish up and take over the duties once more.
Never Having To Ask
Melody was thrilled to have the help and very thankful, but she has also said that she never asked for help from her colleagues. While she certainly appreciated it, she knows that they have their own responsibilities while at work.
They can’t be expected to pick up Nora-Jo every time she cried. However, she also said that she never has to ask because her coworkers love helping out! You can’t really blame them—who wouldn’t want to hold that cute little bundle of joy?
All In A Day’s Work
Melody went on to describe what a typical day at the office looks like for her and little Nora-Jo. She said that on the days she goes in, the first thing she does when getting to the office is to feed Nora-Jo. She said that after that, the baby is perfectly happy.
At least, for a while. So, right after feeding, the baby hangs out with her mom at the desk while Melody gets some work done. An added benefit for the business is that all of the patients who walk into the chiropractor’s office get to look at an adorable baby as they check in!
We’ve already established that Melody had a ton of help from her coworkers but that didn’t mean that she wasn’t capable of going full-on Supermom when she needed to. On the days of the week when Melody is in the office, Melody can be found performing both her office duties and mom duties.
She’s an expert multi-tasker. Dr. Baker walked by one day and say Melody holding her baby at the same time she was talking on the phone and making notes on a piece of paper. She was truly an inspiration for working moms everywhere.
Capturing The Moment
Dr. Baker saw what her employee was doing and felt moved to capture the moment with a photograph. Having snapped a picture, the doctor then did the next logical step and posted the photo on the official Facebook page for Maryland Farms Chiropractic.
Many of the office’s regular patients would constantly ask how Melody and little Nora-Jo were doing, so now Dr. Baker could let them all know with a photo. Melody was showing what a great mom and what a great employee she was all at the same time.
Dr. Baker made some comments on the post and said that Melody really made the remarkable feat look easy. She went on to say that having a baby that was as good and content as Nora-Jo definitely helped with the task. Dr. Baker was no stranger about giving praise to Melody.
She also had high hopes. She wanted people to see the sweet interaction between the mom and her baby in the workplace with the hopes that other companies would see and follow suit by allowing flexible conditions for their own new moms.
Asking For A Favor
When Dr. Baker posted the image of Melody online, she also asked the company’s followers to share the post. She wanted other small business owners to see that with a little teamwork, it was possible to give working moms what they needed to succeed. Dr. Baker made another plea, too.
She also asked any of her followers that were also new mothers to share their own stories and pictures of them working with their little ones in tow. She wanted to start a movement that would enable new moms to keep working and bonding with their children.
Once Dr. Baker shared her post, she didn’t think much else about it. She certainly didn’t expect her impulsive photo and social media post to go viral. She would eventually be shocked at just how popular her little post would go on to become.
Soon, people were sharing the photo of Melody and Nora-Jo. They were amazed at just how many comments the post was getting. It would seem that the idea of a working mom being able to bring her newborn into the office as really hitting a nerve with many supporters on Facebook.
Melody Wasn’t All That Surprised
Dr. Baker was amazed that her post was getting so much attention. However, when it came to Melody, she wasn’t really surprised at all. When the support and shares started rolling in, it was pretty much what Melody expected to happen.
She knew that a lot of people were probably in the same position that she was and that her boss’s support and social media post would likely strike an important chord. She would say in an interview she figured a lot of people were probably in “the same boat.” A lot of new moms were going back to work earlier.
After just over two months of being online, the doctor’s little social media post had been shared more than 1,300 times and racked up 2,300 reactions. The support didn’t stop there, though. The photo of Melody and her baby had hundreds of comments.
When they started digging into the comments and specifically, who was making those comments, they discovered that the majority of them were being posted by other, working mothers. They were eager to share their own stories and photos. They had created a little support group on Facebook!
One follower on Facebook shared a photo of her own baby and shared her own story. She said that she also worked for an amazing employer who was willing to let her come in and bring her child to hang out, as well.
She started bringing her in when she was only two years old and the baby continued to come in until she was 7 years old! She was such a staple in the workplace that they put her to work and let her help out with small administrative tasks. She has her own little work area and jobs that the bosses assign her.
Not Everyone Was Supportive
As you might have suspected, with any viral post like this not everyone is going to be on the supportive side. That also held true with Dr. Barker’s post about Melody and Nora-Jo. The majority of the comments were praising the decision to allow her to bring her baby to work, but there were a few who disagreed.
They felt that an office was no place to bring a child. One commenter said that there should be better laws about maternity leave that did not allow moms to bring their children to work. She went on to say that employees could not be productive and that nobody could effectively take care of a newborn while at work.
Happy With The Result
Even though they had a few naysayers on their Facebook post, Dr. Baker and Melody were both very happy with the response they were getting from the followers as a whole. They had brought some attention to an important topic and people were taking notice.
Melody said that while she understands that not all workplaces are created equal and many companies are not good places to bring in kids to work, there are plenty more that could probably show some flexibility. She hoped that her story would inspire some changes.
Dr. Baker continued to share her thoughts on Facebook regarding maternity leave. She publicly said that she wished that small businesses could afford to give their employees more time off to bond with their newborns. She went on to say that the government doesn’t give businesses like hers many options.
They simply don’t have much leave they can provide. The insurance business does not provide the kind of coverage that would allow small businesses to give their employees longer leave. They simply can’t afford the coverage or the loss of manpower.
Asking For More
Dr. Baker said that acknowledging that small businesses should do more to accommodate working “new” moms, more needed to be done. Simply agreeing really isn’t going to do much for the mothers and their babies struggling to make it work.
Melody’s boss was positive that more businesses could do more for their working moms. She asked more small business owners to follow her lead and allow their moms to bring the babies into work with them. Only time will tell if her efforts pay off.
Melody agreed with her boss in an interview that she gave to Love What Matters. She wanted other employers to see the photo of her and her daughter and see that it is indeed possible to work with new mothers to balance both their work and home life.
She had shown that in certain office environments, moms can bring in a newborn and still manage to be productive while caring for their babies. She had truly created a perfect scenario for herself. She was able to care for her baby while still bringing in an income for the family.