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.
Want to #LoveWhereYouWork? Apply now.