I vividly remember the day I was at the doctor for my 32-week visit. So far, my pregnancy had been progressing healthily, and I was expecting it to be yet another routine checkup. After some initial exchange of pleasantries, my nurse proceeded to check my vitals.

As she started measuring my blood pressure, I noticed her facial expression began to change from the usual caring smile to a look of concern. She then immediately proceeded to recheck my blood pressure multiple times. It was 170/110. She called the doctor immediately. The doctor ordered me to rush to the hospital and asked if I was in a condition to drive. I couldn’t process what was going on, but I took the 30-minute drive to Stanford all by myself.

At the hospital, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and pulmonary edema. The doctors declared this a high-risk pregnancy. The only way for us to survive was to deliver the baby sooner. My husband and I tried our best to hold our heads firm, but tears rolled down our faces as we faced the enormous uncertainty in our lives.

My mind was not prepared for the transition, and I kept thinking about work even amidst this situation. I wanted to do as much as I could before I went on maternity leave, which happened to arrive earlier than any of us was expecting. But it was vital for me to disconnect and realize the extremeness of the situation, which at the moment, only my husband understood.

Fortunately, we received nothing but care and support from the teams and leadership at Cisco.

Leadership in Action

My persistent leader said, “Sonal, you don’t have to worry about anything. Forget everything; we will take care. Just concentrate on yourself and the baby.” I was reminded about my contribution and impact on the organization, and that this was my time to rest and recover.

Sonal holds Aarav

Peers in Action

My team filled the gaps by making sure work was being carried on. Me being me, I still called my peers to check in. To my surprise, my husband was contacted to make sure I didn’t call them again about work.

I went to the hospital that day, still far away from my due date, not knowing that I would return home only a month later with a 4-pound gift, my baby boy, Aarav, our miracle baby.

When I reflect on my time in the hospital, I felt compassion, support, and love from my Cisco peers and leadership. The support we received was tremendous and made me realize that the culture of Cisco is all about people first. These are not just things you read in articles or blogs. My leaders and team demonstrated these values through their actions.

I still get so emotional about the support and care we received, which I remain eternally grateful for. As an aspiring leader myself, my own experience through this journey reinforces the importance of creating and nurturing a team culture with compassion as a top priority.

Aarav is seven months old today. It gives me incredible happiness that I was able to take this time to take care of Aarav and myself. Our hearts are full of love, and the journey will hold a special place in our lives.

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Sonal Singh

Global Lead Systems Architect