On March 29th of this year, my family welcomed our newest addition, Ivy May. My wife, Rachael, and our first daughter, Ada Jane, could not have been more thrilled to welcome her and expand our family. Thanks to our company’s generous benefits, I was able to take time off work, fully paid, and focus on being present.

Without getting too much into the details, this hit home to my family a little bit more than normal. For the first week after Ivy was born, we had to spend a few days in the NICU at Vanderbilt Children’s hospital. Based on what I understood and can attempt to pass along, she essentially needed some help getting her lungs to the point of breathing on her own. The medical staff was outstanding and Ivy was able to come home in perfect health after a few days.

For my first daughter’s birth while I was at a previous job, I remember taking off a minimal number of days (maybe 2?) then I was back in the saddle hitting 40 hours per week. At the time, I didn’t know any different. I knew the first few weeks and months of having a child were challenging, but I didn’t have another perspective to compare it against. I worked, then came home to be with my family every day.

During my time with Ivy, oh how valuable those days and weeks were! I spent 5 full weeks at home with my wife and family without the need to stay on top of daily tasks. Part of it was challenging to let go of checking emails constantly and as soon as I saw that red badge pop up on my phone. However, turning off notifications, trusting the team that had my back, and focusing on being present was the best thing that I could have done for my family.

Looking back at the quarantine we were all forced to go through last year, I think we’d all agree some good came out of it with the right perspective. For me, I was able to spend two months working from home while seeing my daughter and wife throughout each day. I’ll forever cherish working on my laptop in my office and having Ada Jane bust through the door just to say hi.

In a similar way, I’ll forever look back on my paternity leave as some of the valuable time I’ve ever spent with my family. I’m grateful to not only have a family and the opportunity to raise children, but to also be surrounded by an awesome team that was fully supportive while I was out and covered me entirely. For them, I’m forever grateful.

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