The Coffee Chat (#8)
My conversation with Corinne Watson - Senior Content Marketing Manager at Postscript and mommy to 8-month-old baby Dorothy
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Hi there 👋🏽
In the previous edition of The Coffee Chat, I spoke to Eric who had mentioned: “we should look at full-time caregiver roles as a skill-building opportunity…..and the skills that we acquire as caregivers and household managers in turn actually make us better employees.”
I am very proud to share that I now have a concrete example.
In general, I always considered myself a somewhat empathetic person and all the feedback at work also seemed to point in that direction. However, in most of the cases when I have had to display empathy it didn’t really come at any personal cost/inconvenience to me (being more empathetic towards a certain teammate, empathizing with a client, etc).
It is easier to be empathetic when in a way your end goals are aligned (though that makes me question if this is really empathy at all?!!)
But what happens when they are not? Like when the baby cries in the middle of the night and wakes you up.
Initially, I would get frustrated. Not at anyone in particular (though my husband will disagree) but just generally at the situation. I am a light sleeper and once I wake up I have a hard time going back to bed. So waking up in the night multiple times was exhausting and I would be very frustrated.
Now, I did some introspection and it hit me that in this situation I am not really being empathetic. Instead of getting frustrated maybe this is a situation where I build my empathy muscle - I reframed the situation. Now I tell myself my baby is crying because she is in discomfort and needs me. I truly try and put myself in her shoes even though I am exhausted and would want to do nothing else but go back to sleep.
Yesterday the baby woke up at 3 am in pain because she is teething. I got up hugged her and comforted her for an hour until she calmed down and went back to sleep. I then proceeded to go back to sleep. By truly being empathetic I realized I wasn’t as frustrated as I usually would have been.
I am adding empathy to the list of skills I acquired during my maternity leave :)
☕ Now, on to today’s coffee chat…
Meet Corinne Watson
What I found most refreshing about Corinne is how she openly talks about getting a little help from IVF for Dorothy.
A lot of people shy away from talking about fertility issues / using interventions to help get pregnant. I think it is critical to normalize these conversations. Science is wonderful and there should be no shame in using it!
Below is my conversation with Corinne..
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I grew up in New Mexico, traveled to California for college + spent some time afterwards in Southern California. I relocated to Austin in 2017 and met my partner, RJ, that same year. Our daughter Dorothy was born in June of 2020, which makes her almost 8 months old now! Where has the time gone?!
Career-wise, I have had a fun journey to get where I am, which I can only describe as a zig-zag. I studied Graphic Design and Psychology in school, and quickly pivoted out of both of those concentrations the minute I entered the corporate world. I have always been a writer and reader, so I naturally moved into it as I found myself more and more interested in storytelling. Aside from a brief stint at a fintech/edtech startup, Skills Fund, I have mostly operated within the ecommerce space, with my first job out of school managing digital marketing for a B2C/B2B GIS & mapping company, and more recently managing the content marketing team at BigCommerce. I am now the content manager at Postscript, a SMS platform for Shopify stores.
When I am not working, I (typically) like to travel. My partner and I visited Norway, Italy, Japan and Mexico together in the past few years, and I am really eager to start showing my daughter different cultures as well.
For you what was the hardest part of becoming a new parent?
Finding resources - especially because of COVID. All of my education classes were moved online — including a breastfeeding class, which you can imagine was almost comical to do online. There is also just so much information out there for new parents, it was hard for me to pick and choose what to pay attention to and what to go with my gut on. All of that coupled with some serious postpartum anxiety made it really difficult for me to focus on bonding with my baby for the first few weeks because I really just didn't know what I was doing.
What do you think is the role that privilege plays in how a woman experiences pregnancy and motherhood?
Where to begin... the path that leads to parenthood is different for everyone. For me, it started with me having to go through a round of egg freezing. Egg freezing is expensive ($10,000-$20,000 a round), often requiring multiple rounds. The fact that I could even consider spending that money shows that I have an immense amount of privilege.
A great start to democratizing this is by having workplaces offer fertility benefits. An increasing number of tech companies (Google, Facebook, etc) as well as some others like Starbucks have introduced fertility-related benefits in recent years, but we still have a far ways to go.
It also comes as no surprise that the US is also lacking in standard maternity leave benefits. 2-3 months isn't long enough for maternity leave. I was ready to go back to work at that time, in part due to the fact that I work in a remote organization so I had a bit more flexibility. That shouldn't be the norm.
After becoming a parent did you adopt any new beliefs, behaviors, or habits that have most improved your life?
I realized just how much of my time was "free time" — I spent a lot of my waking hours on social media, watching TV, cooking elaborate recipes, exercising, etc. When Dorothy arrived that obviously changed. I had to readjust my expectations of how much time I would get for leisure. This was a huge change for me.
I live with a lot more intention now and am still actively working to create habits that help me make the best use of my time. A lot of this will likely be me forcing the removal of things... we no longer own a TV. I think I'll be deleting social media shortly, too.
This isn't a behavior as much as a lifestyle switch, but I also had to cut out dairy and soy from my diet in order to continue breastfeeding Dorothy as we suspect she has some allergies. This has resulted in us cooking at home a lot more (since fast food almost always contains soy) and I have to monitor every single ingredient that goes into my meals. It has inherently made me more healthy, I lost all of the weight I gained during pregnancy, and my skin has never been clearer!
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investment you have made after becoming a parent?
We rented a Snoo* which was so helpful in the first few months when Dorothy was still getting adjusted to a sleep schedule. It also helped reduce a lot of my SIDS-related paranoia. We've since transitioned to a Nanit* which monitors her breathing, which I also am enjoying. It has a LOT of analytics, which I like to pay attention to!
Oh, and a NoseFrida*. It is self-explanatory so I won't get into it, but you will absolutely need it the first time your baby gets a cold.
For anything non-tech related, I wish I had taken the advice of an old colleague who said that Facebook Marketplace is the best place for baby gear. I've recently tried to become a lot more sustainable, so I'm trying to buy everything used. I got a Bebea* food maker for less than 1/3 of the original cost.
The biggest challenge that working parents with young kids have is a lack of predictability in their schedule and limited time for themselves. How have you managed this?
My partner has been instrumental in this. We are 50/50 parents. He and I take turns with daycare dropoff, and in the evenings one of us cooks while the other plays with Dorothy. We put a 7pm bedtime in place by the time Dorothy was 3 months old, so I often consider the evenings my "me" time to catch up on work, clean, lounge around, etc.
Given that you are part of a dual-career household what choices have you and your partner made that has helped you become a dual career household with a kid?
The minute we found out we were expecting, we started saving extra for childcare costs and touring daycares. Despite the fact that I work remotely, I can't focus while also taking care of a baby (especially since I am a writer who needs large sections of time for deep work).
We knew we would do daycare from the get-go, and it has been an instrumental part of our continued ability to work. I had some serious reservations about putting her in daycare so early, and during a pandemic, but so far we are really happy with how things have been handled and how she seems to be thriving.
What advice would you give others who are on the cusp of becoming parents? What advice should they ignore?
Drop all expectations you have of the first ~3 weeks with your baby. Your postpartum hormones coupled with having to take care of an additional human will make you feel insane.
Take a lot of videos of the first few weeks. Pictures are nice but you'll find yourself missing the newborn squeaks, coos, etc.
You don't need two-thirds of the things you will buy.
Don't worry if your nursery is a mess - you won't use it for at least a few months.
Don't buy a fancy diaper bag, a backpack will do.
What’s the best thing you have watched recently?
What’s the best thing you have read recently?
This was a fun NYT article!
What’s the best thing you have listened to recently?
My favorite sushi chef in Austin, Yoshi at Otoko, has a Spotify playlist of music that he plays in the restaurant. I've had it on repeat for the past week or so.
I would love to hear from you, feedback is always welcome!
And if you happen to know an inspiring working parent who should be featured in a future edition (or if you yourself are one) - please do get in touch.
Disclaimer: All views expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer. *this is not a sponsored product recommendation