My New Job: Life as a Working Dad

January 23, 2019 - 35 Comments

How nice does paternity or maternity leave sound when you don’t have kids yet?! Don’t tell my manager, but I may have had thoughts of a company-paid family vacation. We would be relaxing in our poolside cabana, with baby sleeping soundly, while Mickey Mouse refilled our well-earned margaritas. Ahhhh…

Reality hit as soon we drove our son home from the hospital. We were on our own.

There was no more 24-hour support from the nursing staff. He wasn’t always peaceful. He had trouble nursing. He lost more than 10% of his birth weight by his first doctor visit, requiring us to wake him up from those precious moments of sleep so that he would eat. We had appointments with lactation consultants. Doctor visits. We washed all of his bottles and pumping equipment so frequently it caused our hands to crack and bleed.

We were too tired for margaritas…

Friends had told me there wasn’t that much for a father to do during those first few months. I’m here to officially announce my disagreement with that statement.

The first three months after birth has been termed by Dr. Harvey Karp as the fourth trimester as a baby must learn to live outside the womb. As new parents, we also had to learn to transition from husband and wife to mom and dad.

Without a doubt, these were the longest and most challenging days we had ever faced. My wife and I had previously enjoyed sleeping a solid 8+ hours a night, yet now we were waking up every few hours to feed our son during the night. During the daytime we did our best to balance chores with some much-needed napping.

At times it felt like the movie Groundhog Day (where Bill Murray’s character relives the same day over and over), and I was effectively now a sleep-deprived, highly-caffeinated zombie. Our lives now revolved around this new, tiny human.

Thanks to Cisco’s Child Bonding Leave, over the next eleven weeks I didn’t have to worry about functioning (or attempting to) at work. Instead I was able to be an active and engaged husband and father as our family transitioned to this new stage of life. Cisco, and our Executive Leadership, recognizes the importance of family and this generous benefit enabled me to provide for my family both financially and as a new father.

A quick note about the benefit: Child Bonding Leave is provided for parents to bond with and care for a newborn or adopted child; the amount of time given varies on region and the role you may play in caregiving of the child.

While it’s true that we fathers can’t breastfeed, there are many ways we can help: from washing dishes (there are a lot of baby accessories to clean and sanitize) and making dinner or doing household chores, to coordinating visits with family and friends and becoming a “night nurse” to help change, feed, and rock the baby back to sleep.

I am proud that Cisco recognized the importance of me being with my family during this time, in not only bonding with my son – but helping my wife as well.

During this time, I wasn’t even thinking about Cisco. I was able to enjoy and appreciate these moments with family, knowing that my team was holding the fort down. The new roles I was playing never got old (except for diaper changes and spit up – there’s no way to paint a rosy picture around that). Each day was increasingly more exciting as my son compounded each little development into more complex new ones, and started showing his personality more and more.

And I got to be there for it all.

It’s impossible to know how the relationship with my son would be today had I not been there for him during those first few months. What I do know is that what we have is incredibly special, and I couldn’t imagine my love for him – or the love he shows back to me – to be any stronger than it is now. We are having so much fun together, and I cherish every minute I get to be there with him, and for him.

Lastly, I’m happy to share that I’ll be participating in Cisco’s Child Bonding Leave once more this summer as we welcome our second child!

There aren’t words to explain completely what this program means to me and my family, but I am delighted that Cisco recognizes this monumental time in an employee’s life and enables us to focus on what is truly important. We’re a company that looks to make the world a better place, and Cisco understands that this starts with our future.

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  1. So nice article!

    I wish you the best and enjoy this moments 🙂

  2. Agree with everything in this article. Its been 4 years now since my second baby, but the memories of the "fourth trimester" are still fresh in my mind. All the best with your parenting efforts. Each day is a new challenge with kids!!

  3. great post!

  4. Excellent article. Cisco's new policy has been a game changer for parents. I am a recent dad myself and one of the early beneficiaries of the longer time possible in Silicon Valley. In today's day and age its not possible make only the mom responsible for care even in the early days. Three recommendations – First: The policy should allow flexibility on when the leave is taken. A lot of big tech companies in Silicon Valley now offer 13 weeks of paternity and that is flexible over the first years instead of rigidly making it the first 13 weeks after birth. Second: In the father's context it should be renamed 'paternity leave' instead of anything else. These leaves should take effect even if both parents work for Cisco (parents I know both work for Cisco and they did not benefit from this which is unfair). Third: There should be a formal oversight committee so that parents (note that fathers may not be protected by law and mothers may face issues even if protected by law) do not suffer professionally from these leaves.

  5. Congrats Jarod – great write-up! Enjoy Parenthood!

  6. Great work, Dad! I loved hearing how engaged and active you were. You are totally right, there's a lot for dads to do. And by being there, you get those precious moments to bond with your son. Good luck the next time around!

  7. Loved reading your story Jarod! It's amazing to see how life unfolds as you transition to this new stage, incredibly precious moments bonding with the little one, indeed! Congratulations to you and your family! Soooo grateful that Cisco recognizes the importance of building strong families! #LoveWhereYouWork

  8. Congratulations Jarod!

  9. Enjoy your time. They grow up fast.

    Wonder if Cisco will let me get this time off retroactive? 🙂

  10. Well done for making things clear, Jarod! As a proud father of 3 young kids I can attest to the fact that a husband/dad's need to be present and participate is largely understated. Yes, we also have to keep working and bring food on the table, but looking after the kids that wifes/mothers do is as hard of o job (if not harder) than our own. Good luck with baby No.2!

  11. Congratulations, you have a beautiful baby 🙂

  12. Great post. Thanks for keeping it real, Jarod! And congratulations (x2)!

  13. Thanks so much for sharing Jarod. It was great to hear the perspective of being a new father and how important the bonding leave is! Congratulations on your expanding family too. Get ready for for round 2. 🙂

  14. I loved reading your story Jarod – I'm so happy for you and your family! It brought back so many great memories of those first few months with our boys.

  15. I can totally relate with Jarod and have benefited from the cisco bonding leave. I am grateful for this amazing benefit and hope many new parents enjoy the time with the new born.

  16. Congratulations Jarod and Family!

    I love what Cisco is doing for our employees who want to spend time with their new baby. Enjoy every moment as time does fly by! This would have been a great help to us with our 3 daughters for sure.

  17. I love this story and the pictures! Projects me back into a time not too long ago. Hang in there Jarod, sleep will come back! 🙂 I can only wholehartedly agree that the time my husband spent with our sons made a difference to his relationship with our boys as well as to our relationship as a couple. Huurah to Cisco for recognising this special time in a family's life!

  18. Thank you for sharing your story with us Jarod. Makes me smile that we work for a company that really cares. All the best for the new baby.

  19. How wonderful that you are able to spend this time with your wife and baby. Congratulations on your beautiful baby!

  20. Thanks for your story Jarod! I agree that the bonding leave allows you to focus on the most important thing at that time. I was also a beneficiary of bonding leave for my son. I am also truly grateful.

    I'm so happy to hear a story about a father really embracing and prioritizing fatherhood. Good work!

  21. Love your story & the photos are so adorable….. I joined back to work a month back and yes, I thank Cisco for the bonding leave.. It made my life so much easier…

  22. My first son is due this next week and this article gave me a lot to look forward too… haha :).

    Thank you for sharing your story! I am also very grateful for this benefit at Cisco and look forward to focusing on my family once the little guy comes!

  23. Before I had kids, I thought a leave with a newborn was a "break" from work. They are so cute and I thought they slept all the time. Was I ever wrong! I remember holding my crying newborn in the middle of the night, being so exhausted and thinking how much more difficult it was than anything I had done at work. I was so thankful for the time Cisco gave me with our sons. Having them made me a stronger person 🙂

  24. Groundhog day. Precisely!

    Though these days are now behind me, I'm very proud of Cisco for now offering this level of support. Also really glad that you chose to share this story, some pictures and even more good news with all of us, Jarod. Very happy for you and your expanding family. Congratulations, my friend!

  25. I had Goosebumps and a giant smile on my face the whole time I read your story, Jarod! I'm so happy for you and your family and the time you got to spend bonding. Wonderful!!!!

  26. Jarod,
    I just love what you wrote. I actually have the EXACT same picture of my husband, sitting up, head back, mouth open, asleep, holding our infant daughter in the crook of his arm. I remember those days so well and wished that my husband's company would have had this essential benefit that Cisco offers. I am glad you were able to take advantage of it and I am sure your wife was thankful too. Congrats on your upcoming 2nd!

  27. Great story Jarod! I went through the exact same thing just a year ago. My son just turned one a few days ago. Enjoy the first year with your son, time will fly by so fast. Congrats!

  28. Awesome story, Jarod– Made me think back to a day in 2001 when my daughter Emily was handed to me at Dulles International. I remember asking the lady who escorted her from India– Can I hold her… and she looked at me with a bewildered expression and said— she's yours take her! Your experience made me laugh… and remember how no matter how much we prepared, being a parent is mostly on-the-job training. Congrats on the great story and can't wait for the second installment.!

  29. I love your funny and candid story! What a blessing it is to have time off with your new family to help your beautiful wife plus get to bond with your precious bundle of joy.

    Congrats on your soon-to-be addition to Team Hillerman 🙂

    I'm always available to kid sit — wish I lived a little closer.

  30. Good for you for taking full advantage of the time available & jumping wholeheartedly into fatherhood! Everyone benefits when Papa plays his special role to the fullest. Congrats!

  31. I love this so much Jarod! It's so great to hear a story like this from the dad's perspective (and it sounds like you are a GREAT dad)!

  32. Thank you for sharing this important story with an expectant father. And congratulations on your second!

  33. Being a new dad myself…great to hear a story from another new dad..loved it 🙂
    I echo your views on father-son relationship. I am also enjoying the fatherhood from last few months and in this small time frame me and my son share strong bonding..feelings which can not be expressed in words..those magical moments when he does something for the first time like first smile first crawl….seeing him growing day by day..its really amazing for me and for sure every dad 🙂
    Congratulation Jarrod for the good news again and best wishes for the same 🙂

  34. I love this story, Jarrod. It made me laugh and relive those moments with my newborns that seemed so glamorous until, you know, they arrived and stole all my sleep. 😉