A few months ago we did what was the first in a series of blog posts with past employees. Since we feel like anyone who has worked here more as graduating alumni, we want to find out “where are they now”. We also realized that we want you all to get to know our present team better, so we will be doing a “5 questions with…” everyone on the team, starting with our recent maternity leave return, Sarah Bagnall.

Plank: How has the past year been?

Sarah: This past year has been a rollercoaster. Our daughter Chloé just turned 1 last month and my husband and I couldn’t stop talking about every little moment we had experienced at the same time last
year: going through labour, our experience with our midwives, waking up that first morning with our baby and being totally excited and terrified.
This year was in so many ways the most exhausting and energizing year of my life.

As a first time parent, every day presents a new set of challenges. The moment you get used to something, things change and you need to re adjust. I was amazed that even though you are the most exhausted you have ever been at the end of each day, you
are able to wake up the following morning (and yes, sometimes at 5:30 am) with a smile on your face and love in your heart to do the same exhausting day all over again.

Plank: How does it feel to be back? Exciting? Scary?

Sarah: It feels pretty great to be back, but although it’s familiar faces, clients, work – it’s a slightly different work life for me now. Instead of lingering on emails at the end of the day, I now have a baby to pick up from daycare and need to make the most out of my day so I can be the best mom to her when we are together.

Throughout the year, I always noticed that the anticipation of something happening was always more scary than when it was actually happening. I experienced this with getting myself mentally ready to bring her to daycare for the first time and I felt the same fearful emotions about coming back to work. Will I be able to handle it all? Is our morning routine efficient enough so we can all get ready and leave the house without falling apart? Will I be able to concentrate at work when I have barely slept a wink?

Truthfully, it is a total handful, but one thing I learned from my year at home with a baby is that you seriously can do absolutely anything. It might not be perfect, you might be exhausted, you might even decide to let something go because its just not worth it – but it is all doable in some way, shape or form.

Plank: What are you looking forward to the most?

Sarah: I am honestly looking forward to being a mom in the workforce and working through challenges of balancing my drive for doing great work with Plank and for our clients and being a mom / wife /
part of my own community.

It might sound crazy that I actually look forward to this juggling act, but I know this is a big challenge for so many mothers and families. Sometimes, it feels impossible to navigate these two priorities simultaneously, but if there’s one thing I learned with giving birth, learning how to breastfeed and keeping a tiny person alive and thriving for year, is that challenges are what keep us energized, moving forward and pushing for better solutions.

Plank: What is the most important thing(s) you learnt on maternity leave?

Sarah: There are so many things I want to list out here, that point form will just have to do it justice.
Here we go:

  • Have babies when your friends have babies (if you can). This makes a world of difference and saves you from crazy, mind-numbing isolation.
  • Do those silly cardio-stroller classes in the park. Yes, you look crazy and people laugh at you, but it’s worth it.
  • Get a cleaning person. Worth the investment and better than couples therapy.
  • Listen to advice from others, but then roll your eyes and let it roll off your back (best articulated by Wendy Molyneux)

Plank: What is your favourite kid’s music album?

Sarah: My daughter is really into listening to music and swaying from side to side in her high chair at dinnertime, but this is also around the time I need my second wind, so we have been listening to things like “Dancing on my own” by Robyn and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk to keep the energy up! Oh, and old school Sesame Street albums!

Photograph by Susan Moss

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