In January 2012, my manager told me that a great opportunity was up for grabs at our company. They were hiring a new Sourcing Manager role and she encouraged me to apply. It would be a major promotion for me, and she said she believed I could do it.
Well, that made one of us. I didn't think I could do it at all. In fact, I was struck with absolute fear every time I even thought about applying. I thought of all the reasons I wouldn't be a good fit for the job. It required too much travel. I had a four month old son. I was breastfeeding. My husband already moved around for his job. I wasn't sleeping well with a newborn so couldn't handle more responsibility. I decided that there was no possible way I could take on a new job at this stage in my life.
I went home that night and told my husband that I thought I shouldn't apply. To my surprise, he disagreed completely. Go for it, he said. He encouraged me to talk with the hiring manager to see if we could coordinate travel times between his schedule and mine. He also said he would work less hours while I was traveling and taking care of our son. He was certain that the manager would be supportive. And breastfeeding? Well, we would figure it out.
I took his words to heart and inquired more about the job. The hiring manager didn't dismiss me as I'd feared. In fact, she was receptive to all my requests. I started to feel better, and my interview went great. But I still didn't mention the breastfeeding. I felt that I was a long-shot for the role and was sure that having a newborn would knock me out of the running.
I got the job. I was overjoyed and so proud that I had chased the opportunity. However, reality settled in quickly. I was traveling across the country, but I did not want to stop breastfeeding. I found so much joy bonding with my baby through that experience, and I didn't want to give it up. I figured out creative ways to pump on the road, in hotel rooms, in the bathroom next to the conference room -- anywhere I could.
Then, just when I thought I was starting to get the hang of it, my manager assigned me to a solo trip to Brazil. My heart sank. There was no way I could leave the country for so long without my son, especially before he was used to feeding from a bottle. I didn't want to approach my manager about it because I was so afraid of looking weak. I thought we should see it as a silly issue. But I had put it off long enough. I approached her and told her the truth about my fears.
My manager said it was okay that I was having trouble balancing it all. She gave me full approval to not travel internationally while I was breastfeeding. The conversation was easier than I ever thought it could be. After it was over, I wished I hadn't put it off for so long. My manager was willing to work with me, and I didn't have to lose this special time with my son. It was like a weight flew off my shoulders.
After I told my boss exactly what I needed, things became so much easier. Now I know that accepting my job -- and speaking up -- is one of the best things I have ever done. I'm so glad I didn't overthink things or count myself out. Instead I just went for it, and it all turned out okay. Life is never easy, and I'm still learning to balance my job and my family. But my path has been so rewarding. I learned that I have so much more support from my family and my coworkers than I ever thought was possible. Sometimes, all you need to do to get that support is ask.
I can't believe I almost let the chance pass me by because I thought I couldn't do it. The truth was, I couldn't do it -- alone.