A Boss Snapped This Photo Of A Mom At Work With Her Baby – And Made A Comment That Went Viral

When Dr. Elizabeth Baker spotted her employee Melody Blackwell caring for her baby at work, she felt that she needed something to say on the matter. As a result, then, she posted a photo of the new mom and her child on Facebook for the world to see. When Baker uploaded the shot, however, she may never have anticipated the reaction that she would go on to receive.

Becoming a mom is undoubtedly one of the most life-changing experiences that a woman can go through. Indeed, suddenly becoming in charge of a little life can be an overwhelming experience for many a first-time parent. Yet caring for a child is just one of the numerous adjustments that a new mother faces.

Time with a newborn can be exhausting, for instance. Yes, when a new mom has just gone through the physical and mental turmoil that is childbirth – and so could do with some substantial rest – she may go on to find herself responsible for a baby that only sleeps intermittently.

ADVERTISEMENT

What’s more, many moms find that having children has left their social life in tatters – and at times when they could probably use people to lean on, too. Resulting feelings of loneliness and isolation are therefore not uncommon. And even if a mother does find the time to meet friends, she may not be able to justify the expense of coffee or lunch.

That’s right: according to research by the parenting network BabyCenter, over half of the mothers surveyed experience feelings of guilt when spending cash on themselves. It’s been suggested, moreover, that part of the reason for this is that many moms feel they should put others first. And then there’s the possibility that money may just be that little bit tighter thanks to the new arrival.

ADVERTISEMENT

What’s more, new moms may run into financial difficulties as a direct result of having babies. Even if they were working prior to their pregnancies, you see, a number of women decide to quit their jobs after having given birth. And the findings of a 2004 Harris Interactive survey seem to bear that out: the study revealed that 43 percent of female respondents with children have taken leave from their respective careers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mind you, the reasons why some women choose not to return to work after having babies vary considerably. Some decide to be full-time caregivers to their children, for instance; others, by contrast, practically have that role thrust upon them, as it proves more cost-effective to give up their wages than to have to pay for childcare.

ADVERTISEMENT

On the other side of the coin, though, 2012 research by the U.S. Department of Labor found that almost a quarter of the new moms surveyed had returned to work within a mere two weeks after giving birth. And perhaps this is all down to the relative paucity of paid maternity leave in America.

ADVERTISEMENT

For many female employees in the U.S., you see, there is no entitlement to time off – paid or unpaid – for caring for newborns or getting over the process of childbirth. There is, however, the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act. This legislation allows 12 weeks of unpaid annual leave for a new mom who works in a company with 50 employees or over.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nevertheless, U.S. maternity leave falls rather short when compared to what’s on offer in other developed countries. In Sweden, for example, new moms and dads are given 480 days parental leave per couple, and that allotted time can be shared between the two individuals. Furthermore, a Swedish parent with a new child can claim as much as 80 percent of their salary for just over a year, after which they transfer to a flat rate.

ADVERTISEMENT

Yet while Sweden has one of the most generous parental leave policies on the planet, the U.S. reportedly possesses one of the poorest such provisions within the developed world. The U.S. is also the only major nation that doesn’t offer paid time off for new moms as standard. With all that in mind, then, it’s perhaps no surprise that some American mothers return to work much earlier than they may otherwise be prepared to do so.

ADVERTISEMENT

But this state of affairs may reportedly have a negative effect on women and their children. Moms who go back to work while their kids are still very young are said to be less likely to breastfeed their babies, for instance. These women may also experience bouts of depression; their children’s development could even suffer, too.

ADVERTISEMENT

And for a 2015 report on paid family leave, In These Times spoke to Natasha Long, who had returned to the workforce just three weeks after giving birth to her third child in 2012. There, Long revealed to the magazine that she would express milk in her truck during her breaks as her company had no designated space for lactation. While pumping, meanwhile, she would cry thinking about her newborn baby, whom she wished was in her arms.

ADVERTISEMENT

When Melody Blackwell and her husband learned in 2018 that they were pregnant with their first child, then, the expectant mom was keen to get her affairs in order. In particular, as Blackwell had been working as an assistant at a chiropractic office in Brentwood, Tennessee, she planned to keep her employer in the loop.

ADVERTISEMENT

Consequently, after Blackwell found out that she was pregnant, she made sure that her boss, Baker, was informed, too. And luckily for Blackwell, her superior was supportive with regards to the situation. In fact, it was Baker who came up with a solution to her employee’s working mom woes.

ADVERTISEMENT

To make life easier for Blackwell, Baker proposed that her employee could work from home. The new mother would then only have to come into the office on one day a week – and even then for just a few hours. That way, she could show up at the periodic staff meetings and still feel a part of the team.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, even getting into the office one day a week can be difficult for some new moms. So, to save Blackwell from having to fork out for childcare, Baker said that she was welcome to bring her baby along too. “Once she got pregnant, I knew we needed to figure out a way to make this work,” Baker told Yahoo in January 2019. “We had nine months to plan, at least!”

ADVERTISEMENT

And while there was still a lot to work out, Blackwell was happy with the plan that Baker had proposed. “I was excited when she said that was a possibility,” she told Yahoo. If her boss hadn’t been so supportive, you see, the expectant mother would’ve had to rely on family members to look after her baby instead.

ADVERTISEMENT

Childcare wasn’t really an option for Blackwell, either. “I knew it was going to be hard for me to leave [my daughter] when she was so young,” she explained to Yahoo. That said, the mom sympathized with women who had no other choice but to relinquish their children to others for a few hours. “I know it’s hard to drop them off at daycare when they’re just two or three months old,” she added.

ADVERTISEMENT

And, in fact, Blackwell’s concerns over the realities of daycare were shared by Baker, although the doctor’s worries revolved around the financial burden that particular option can put on new moms. “[Daycare is] sometimes worse than not having a job at all,” she told Yahoo. “It [makes] more financial sense for [mothers] to quit their jobs.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Fortunately, however, Blackwell felt supported by Baker after she gave birth to a girl, Nora-Jo, in August 2018. “When I had the baby, my boss was very generous – giving me a three-month maternity leave,” Blackwell said in an article for Love What Matters. As a result, then, she got the opportunity to bond with her daughter without worrying about work.

ADVERTISEMENT

And with Blackwell temporarily out of the office, Baker and two of her colleagues therefore had to divide out the new mom’s duties between them. “We did have to bug [Blackwell] sometimes,” Baker later admitted to Yahoo. The chiropractor was confident, though, that Blackwell would be able to complete her tasks from home following her leave.

ADVERTISEMENT

“After that, [Baker] has allowed me to work from home most of the week and only come into the office once a week,” Blackwell explained for Love What Matters. “She allows me to bring my baby with me when I come in so that we can continue to bond and breastfeed.”

ADVERTISEMENT

And Baker knows that it is important for Blackwell to be able to nurse Nora-Jo regularly. You see, the chiropractor thinks holistically, meaning she understands the importance of maintaining a baby’s breastfeeding routine. Furthermore, to make things even easier, she and her staff were at hand to help Blackwell fulfill her motherly duties.

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking to Yahoo, Baker explained, “We’re an all-female staff, so we all have that mothering instinct.” Consequently, the doctor and her colleagues take turns trying to sooth Nora-Jo if she starts fussing when Blackwell is otherwise engaged. “It really does take a village,” Baker added.

ADVERTISEMENT

And, understandably, Blackwell is thankful for her colleagues’ help. She doesn’t expect them to lend a hand, however, when it comes to seeing to Nora-Jo – especially when they’re busy with their own tasks. “I know it’s not their responsibility so I never ask them, but they want to,” she revealed to Yahoo.

ADVERTISEMENT

Meanwhile, when describing her workday routine with Nora-Jo, Blackwell revealed that she feeds her daughter as soon as they get to the office. Then, after that, the baby is content for a while. That’s right: she’s happy to sit at her mom’s desk while Blackwell gets on with her work. And in that way, Nora-Jo’s adorable face can be seen by patients when they enter the chiropractic clinic.

ADVERTISEMENT

Yet although her co-workers are certainly on hand to help if necessary, Blackwell can often be seen handling her duties like a pro. One day, in fact, Baker spotted the first-time mom taking multitasking to the next level: simultaneously holding Nora-Jo, taking a phone call and making notes with a pen and paper.

ADVERTISEMENT

And Baker was so struck by the scene in front of her that she decided to take a photograph. She shared the candid snap, too, on the Maryland Farms Chiropractic Facebook page in December 2018. Baker’s patients had been asking how Blackwell and her baby were getting on, you see, and so the doctor thought that it might be nice for them to see for themselves.

ADVERTISEMENT

“She makes it look easy,” Baker wrote of Blackwell, beside the photograph. “It helps that baby Nora-Jo is so sweet and content just being with and near her mama.” And Baker was confident, too, that the cute scene between mother and baby could be replicated in offices up and down the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

Writing on Facebook, Baker urged, “Would y’all mind sharing this? We need more small and large businesses to see this is doable and should be allowed more often! The newborn months are so short.” In addition, she encouraged other working mothers to share their stories online, continuing, “#WorkinMamas post a pic of you and your little ones while you work.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Then, after finishing her call to action, Baker added the post to the Facebook page – not knowing at the time, of course, that the photograph of Blackwell and her baby would go on to resonate with thousands of people. “I wanted to share [the image] with our little following for the office,” Baker later told Yahoo. “I never thought it would get so many comments and shares!”

ADVERTISEMENT

But while Baker was seemingly surprised by the public reaction to her Facebook post, Blackwell appeared to understand why the message may have struck a chord. “I think a lot of people are in that same boat,” she told WTVF in January 2019. “They’re trying to make it work, and there are a lot more working moms now.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Within two and a half months, moreover, Baker’s post had clocked up more than 2,300 reactions and 1,300 shares; the adorable picture of Blackwell and Nora-Jo had also attracted hundreds of comments. And many of those who got in contact appeared to be working moms who were eager to share their own stories with the world.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sharing a picture of her daughter, one woman revealed, for example, “My work is amazing! I’ve been bringing my daughter with me to work since she was two years old. Now she’s seven and helps out around the office with small tasks. She has her own space, and the bosses even give her fun things to do!”

ADVERTISEMENT

But while there was also lots of praise for Baker and her flexibility in the workplace, one individual spoke up to voice their opinion that an office wasn’t the place for a baby. “This is wrong,” they wrote. “There should be better maternity leave laws not allowing mothers to bring their babies to work. No one can work productively while caring for a newborn. And no one can take care of a newborn while working.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite such criticism, though, both Baker and Blackwell were happy that they had helped to open up the conversation around working moms. “I know not every office and work environment is conducive for children and babies, but I think more places can be more flexible than they are currently,” Blackwell said in her piece for Love What Matters.

ADVERTISEMENT

Meanwhile, writing on Facebook, Baker added, “I wish there was a way for small businesses to afford to give longer time off. There are no government-funded programs for us small businesses to give long leave. There are no insurance policies we can get to fund a long leave. It’s a huge loss of manpower and a large cost for us to offer any paid leave.”

ADVERTISEMENT

However, regardless of the difficulties that firms such as Baker’s face when accommodating working moms, the doctor was sure that more could be done. Therefore, she encouraged more companies to follow her lead and let babies into the office. “I think more small and large businesses should look more toward allowing that,” she explained to Yahoo.

ADVERTISEMENT

And Blackwell agreed. She said to Love What Matters, “I hope that other employers will see this picture [of me] and see that it can be done. Depending on the workplace, moms can bring their children to work and be productive. I hope that more moms in the future will get the opportunity that I have to get to spend every day with my baby but also contribute to the family income.”

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT