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Frantic Nursery Calls, Squad Improvements and a Promotion: One Year Post Maternity

October 03, 2020

January 2017

I've never had news I was so nervous yet excited to share – I was expecting!

At the time, I remember being so worried at work as I had been quite unwell in my early days. I feared the bad impression this was potentially going to give. To avoid this, I shared my news earlier than intended. To my delight, my manager's first response was "Congratulations, you must be pleased!", and indeed I was!

I found it tough to shake my nerves from that initial conversation. Despite this being the first time he had managed "a pregnant developer", I felt well supported. My manager made sure that I didn't feel overly stressed with my work. He even offered to announce the news to our squad, as I was too nervous to do that myself!

Throughout this journey, I have realised that regardless of the situation, support is truly everything.

Nerves and excitement

Roll forward almost a year and a half, and it was time for me to start psyching myself up for returning to work. I still had several months to go, and I still loved being a developer. But motherhood was this new 24-hour job that had come in, and without a doubt, it had become my world.

I debated returning to work and struggled to picture the nurseries I would inevitably have to take my less-than-one-year-old to. I was facing entrusting the care of this small defenceless being - who couldn't walk or talk - to strangers.

Despite these feelings, I challenged myself and accepted invitations to attend a tribe away-day along with the odd day in the office using my "Keeping in Touch" days.

And I'm glad I did.

These days got me excited at the prospect of returning to work. Each one reminded me not only of the fun tribe culture and of the squad I had enjoyed being a part of, but I also began to feel like the 'old' me again. A feeling I understand that many new mums may be familiar with. These days reminded me of the job I truly did enjoy.

That first day

By the time my first day back in the office had arrived, I'd overcome the initial settling-in period for my son at his nursery. That morning I had a meeting with my new manager (together with my previous manager) to discuss my new position within the team following some recent organisational changes.

Half an hour into this meeting and one hour into my first working day, the nursery called, and I panicked. Through frantic apologies, I asked if I could take the call.

This was a pivotal moment and thankfully, being fathers themselves, my colleagues were understanding. It was the beginning of my life as a working mum, and that reaction meant the world to me. This was followed by months of adjusting to balancing: being productive in a phased return (with a shorter working week); receiving panicked nursery calls regarding my son's various ailments & injuries, and discovering the guilt that being a working mum brought on.

During this time, I couldn't have been more pleased to have a manager that was understanding of these challenges - especially the overwhelming number of calls from my son's nursery. I couldn't put enough value in having a manager who was so understanding & supportive.

Finding the balance

As time went on, I continued to use my holidays to prolong my four-day working week. However, with six months left of the holiday year, and my annual leave allowance dwindling fast, I decided to bite the bullet and return to a five-day week.

This was a challenge since I hadn't appreciated the extra day to do chores and spend time with my little guy. Suddenly, weekends began to fly by.

Silently wading through, I was conscious that this was another challenge I would have to assess and consider whether being a working mum would work out in the long-term. The only real way to know was to try.

It's time for positive change!

Now feeling more settled back into my old-but-new squad, I turned my attention to how things had changed within the team.

I tried to seek out opportunities to effect positive change. To begin, I brought back our monthly squad retrospectives. It was an opportunity to reflect and discuss areas of improvement as well as celebrating our moments of success. I then restarted squad katas, using this as an opportunity to upskill the team. And more recently - alongside a colleague - we brought back monthly tribe stand-ups.

After receiving some positive feedback on our tribe day, implementing these changes made me feel valued in my position within the squad and the tribe. This truly did make me feel good to be back at work.

Time for a break

For our first big family break since returning to work, we travelled to Morocco for a few weeks. This was a fantastic break for us all, allowing my husband and I the time to bond as a family with our little one.

Despite my enjoyment, I confess that while walking along the promenade one day, I sneakily had a peek at my work emails. This was my way of preparing for returning to work the following week.

Much to my amazement I discovered a colleague in my team was leaving and this had created an opportunity for me to step into a leadership role. I couldn't believe it. The excitement and the nerves all came out together in a strange little middle-of-the-street jig. I was grateful for the trust and faith that my colleagues had in me. Not to mention the potential they had seen in me that I'd never seen in myself. It was an amazing feeling.

Me and Auto Trader

I've always enjoyed being an Auto Trader representative. I was delighted by the opportunity to do so by delivering a talk with one of my colleagues on D&I at a Women in Tech conference ahead of my maternity leave.

As my next step, an opportunity arose to partake in the new Auto Trader recruitment campaign…because why not? As a proud Muslim female developer, working in a company where I truly feel valued, I saw this as an opportunity to support bringing a wider variety of amazing minds to create an even more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Here I am (alongside my other amazing colleagues) showing off why it is we do what we do.

Career Progression

Having told myself that I'd be rebuilding from the ground up after maternity leave, my only expectation was that having a year away from work would set me back in my career.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

After just one year back, I was promoted to Senior Developer. I could never have imagined, on the 26th July 2017, that receiving this promotion and the positive feedback surrounding it, was something I would achieve.

"Thank you"

It's a simple phrase with a lot of value. I can only thank each person who has supported me adapting and growing throughout this last year.

From the emotional supporters to the career growers, you have all helped me through. Without a doubt, this little AT social butterfly would not be at this point without you - you know who you are. From the bottom of my heart: thank you!

Summary

This year has shown me that no matter what changes you experience in your personal life, the support you receive is paramount in achieving your goals. I couldn't have asked for a better set of supporters around me, not only helping me to grow my career, but also showing the understanding that was crucial to me enjoying (and surviving!) this new chapter in my life.