Being a First-Time Mom in Developer Relations
Published on December 6, 2023

Life before Baby

Ever since I was 17, I have lived a busy life juggling work, studies, and volunteer activities. My days were filled with productivity, and my free time was spent resting. I relished the freedom to control my schedule, working whenever I pleased. But then, life threw me a beautiful curveball.

I Am Pregnant! Now What?

When I found out I would have a baby, my head was spinning with so many thoughts and worries. My big question was: how will this affect my job? Like many women, I shared the fear of informing my boss and colleagues about my pregnancy. I was concerned about falling behind in my team's work, keeping up with the broader tech industry, and catching up when I returned from maternity leave. Thankfully, I was lucky to have a team that cares about work-life balance and the well-being of its members.

Conversations with Manager, HR, and the Team

My manager cultivated a culture of support and understanding within the team, making it easier for me to confide in him during the early months of my pregnancy. I felt shielded and protected, knowing I could count on my team's understanding and support. Balancing impending motherhood with work commitments was challenging, but with their assistance, I successfully managed to navigate this delicate phase.

I attended some meetings without turning my camera on and would ask to reschedule for some meetings when I wasn’t feeling my best. The team assigned me to work on some projects that took place during my maternity leave; at the time, they didn't know about my pregnancy, and I wasn't ready to share the big news yet. I didn’t want them to count on me for something I knew I couldn’t commit to, so my manager helped me shift some responsibilities without sharing the news with the broader team before I was ready to do so.

Telling the Developer Relations Team the Big News

When the time came to share my exciting news with the entire developer relations team, I was well-prepared. I had a plan in place that would allow our team workflow to be prepared and continue running smoothly; I prepared hands-off documents, and I made sure all my responsibilities would have enough people to look after them. When I shared the news, the moment grew even more special as I received heartwarming responses, later followed by thoughtful gifts and sweet messages.

What About My Studies?

Navigating university while pregnant was tough, especially at the beginning when I didn't know how to handle the changes. The first thing to suffer was my time management, and the struggle was real.

The thought of pausing my studies crossed my mind as I grappled with the challenges. I wanted to finish my post-graduate degree in Full Stack Web Development before the baby came. Gradually, I started learning to adapt and even reclaimed some of my time even when the struggles of studying some days with morning sickness and fatigue felt so hard.

The support from my family, friends, and understanding coworkers was invaluable. Despite the difficulties, I kept going and proudly graduated with my big pregnant belly!

Being on Maternity Leave and Being Able to Disconnect

I decided to save most of my vacation days for the period leading up to my parental leave. This strategy extended my leave and proved invaluable during the challenging final months of my pregnancy. Disconnecting from work was difficult for someone used to constant productivity because, on many levels, my coworkers became an extended circle of friends, and I found myself missing those interactions and the daily structure that work provides. However, I quickly found myself immersed in preparing for my baby's arrival.

The Baby Is Here!

The arrival of our baby brought immense joy, with grandparents and relatives traveling from afar to meet the newest member of our family. Due to COVID and a desire to keep her safe, we limited her early interactions, venturing out only for peaceful walks in our neighborhood and occasional virtual video introductions.

Coming Back to Work

During the last months of my leave, I had some check-in meetings with my manager, where we caught up and created a plan on what I would work on when I returned to work. It was imperative to me not to go back to work on the first day and feel overwhelmed or left behind, so together, we agreed on the work I would prioritize when coming back. That helped build my confidence, and when my leave was coming to an end, I felt so ready to be back!

I set up my breast pump on the computer table and took the necessary breaks. I also had numerous one-on-one meetings with my team members to share my news, catch up on the latest features and announcements, and found time to watch the weekly meeting recordings.

She Went on Stage as a Keynote Co-speaker

My baby girl joined me on stage as I presented my journey in tech during the keynote of the Women Techmakers International Women’s Day in London. Sharing my story about becoming a mom in tech was an emotional experience, and her presence added a beautiful touch to the moment.

Screenshot of a twitter post, link belowScreenshot of a twitter post, link below


New Doors Opened for Me to Think of Inclusion

Becoming a mother fundamentally changed my perspective on tech events. Aspects I hadn't thought about pre-parenthood, like broader accessibility, the availability of parents' rooms, and baby-friendly environments, suddenly became crucial. This shift in focus not only influenced my own experiences but also inspired me to advocate for more inclusive spaces within the tech community, ensuring they cater to the needs of parents and their children.

Mom and daughter wearing avocado socksMom and daughter in developer relations

Traveled to Prague with a Baby

My good friend puf invited me to speak at the Flutter Firebase Festival and I took on the traveling with a baby challenge, and I embarked on a journey to Prague with my little one in tow. I was exposed to a plethora of new experiences.

Planning for the Trip

As a frequent traveler for both personal and business purposes, I prided myself on being a light packer, efficiently organizing and packing what is important with room to bring souvenirs back. However, when the baby came, prioritizing what to pack, what to bring onboard, and how to best store and prepare baby food, among several other things, took it to a whole other level. I had fun in the process and learned a lot, but it was different from what I would call an easy experience.

Being with the Baby at the Tech Events

I brought her to the speaker’s dinner. I was positively overwhelmed with kindness and people offering to help if I needed anything; the same occurred throughout the festival.

I brought her to the keynote and took turns sitting down and letting her walk around on the floor. I sat in the back of the room near the exit in case she needed more attention. That way I could easily leave the room. It turned out that the only times you could hear her excitement was during the keynote moments when everyone was cheering, so she also wanted to show everyone her clapping skills and shout in excitement!

A baby behind an audience watching the keynoteBaby attending keynote

It turns out that having a baby at a conference is an icebreaker, as I had so many interesting conversations from her being there! The conversations ranged from people saying, “You inspired me to bring my kids,” to “I got tired of seeing everything you had to do for your baby. For the next event, I don’t even want to bring mine”.

The Actual Talk and Having the Baby on Stage

I gave a talk with my baby co-speaker and awesome Manuela about building an appointment scheduler using Firebase. I explained the implementation in JavaScript and demonstrated how to use the Vonage APIs to receive SMS messages on their devices; Manuela showed the same experience using Flutter.

Two women and a baby on stage giving away swag and one man standing in front of them. Everyone is laughing.Three ladies giving a talk on stage

I brought a baby carrier that only had a bottom base, without the arm straps, to make it easy to hand my baby over to my good friend Laura. Laura, who was also a speaker at the event, agreed to sit in the front row, ready to take the baby if she grew tired on stage. As expected, the baby needed a break at one point, and Laura took care of her. However, by the end of the talk, the baby was back on stage with me for the question and answer session and to help give away swag!

Baby giving away swag to an attendee. Two women speakers on stage. One woman is holding the baby.Swag giveaway by baby

Support From the Community

The support I received from the community was heartwarming. Fellow attendees offered to help with my baby, ensuring I could eat and take breaks. This sense of camaraderie reinforced my belief in the power of community within the tech industry. I engaged in so many exciting conversations about people telling me how they felt inspired to also bring their little ones to future tech events they are going to attend, and people who asked to share tips as to what’s like to travel to a baby, what to pack, what to have in mind, etc. This exchange of experiences was enriching for all the parties!

When I returned home, I received this supportive message from puf. Ps. my nickname is ‘Chibi’:

“Chibi! I hope you and Marina (you'll have to imagine my best rolling r) made it home safely last night - and that at least one of you is soundly sleeping. What an adventure you've been on!

Marina's first flight, your first tech talk abroad since becoming a mom, and introducing her to the Flutter & Firebase communities with such pizzaz. Sure, she's the cutest kid in the world, we all know that. But you're the one who decided to take all the plunges this trip and changed the shape of the event for all of us because of that.

I am so proud of you. More than that: I'm grateful, so incredibly grateful. Thank you! 🙏🫂❤️”

two women, two men in a circle with a baby in the center of attentionBaby and attendees

Redefining Time

Motherhood has redefined my concept of time. I no longer solely control my schedule; I now work around my baby's needs and rely on my support network. My daughter has expanded my horizons, making me proud to bring her along on my developer relations journey.

In Conclusion

Becoming a mom in developer relations has been a remarkable adventure, reshaping my life and career in ways I never imagined. It has taught me the power of adaptability, community, and inclusivity. My journey as a developer advocate and a mother continues to evolve, and I'm excited to inspire others to embrace their unique paths.

Are you also a parent in tech? Let me know your journey as well! You are very welcome to join our Vonage Community Slack or send us a message on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Amanda CavallaroDeveloper Advocate

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