How a Mom of Five Still Has Time to be an Entrepreneur
Here at Mitera, we are always inspired by working mamas, especially those who build a business around an area they see lacking in service for other moms. Who better to know what moms need the most than moms! After all, that's how Mitera was born. Today we are introducing another amazing mom-treprenuer, Daniela Jensen. Daniela is co-founder of NuRoo Baby, which supports skin-to-skin bonding between mother and child.
Name: Daniela Jensen
Title: Co-Founder of NuRoo Baby
Mother to: Riley (16 yo.), Wilson (14 yo.), Ian (11 yo.), Cameron (6 yo.), and Lila (4 yo.)
It feels like I’ve been mothering for as long as I can recall. I was fortunate enough to come into my step-children’s life when they were young enough to always know me as such. I spent the early part of my career at a hot Boston advertising agency, then transitioned to the 'client side’ of the business creating corporate marketing for a large toy company here in Rhode Island. When I made the switch, I remember thinking how great this was going to be for my family - 1/2 day Friday’s all year long, building brands that our kiddos aspired to, and working for a company that prided itself on family values. Our family (and my belly) grew twice while in this position.
No matter how supportive the company you work for is, returning to work post pregnancy is never easy. After the birth of our youngest, knowing it would be our last, I really wrestled with the idea of returning. It was then that the universe planted a seed, which grew into NuRoo.
What was your transition back to work like?
Like anything, returning to my corporate job after Cameron’s birth had it’s pros and cons. I took 12 weeks leave and had coverage for my role while gone, so I was really able to detach from everything happening in the office and soak up our family. The time home flew and I remember nervously counting down my time left at home. I’d tell my husband, I’m already half way through my maternity leave! Or, I only have 4 weeks left! Each time, he’d remind me to stay in the present and plan for the future. During the duration of my leave, I was pumping and freezing to create a ‘stash’ of breastmilk for when I couldn’t be home with our daughter. We waited until a couple weeks before I returned to introduce her to a bottle, and low and behold, she refused. Not only from me, but from anyone. My husband was so patient with her. He needed time, a whole afternoon he told me, to be alone with her. An entire afternoon? When I only had 336 hours left?! I’m not sure where I went that day, but returned home to find her cradled in his arms, drinking from a bottle. It was like sky opened and sunshine poured out. I had always felt very supported by my husband but seeing him sitting there, having mastered this alone with just her, was a different perspective. It made me realize that she needed both of us.
When I returned to work, my husband stayed home and we were fortunate that he had the flexibility to do so. Knowing that I wasn’t able to be home with her, but he could, made walking through those doors so much easier. Even still, my first day back was the hardest. Just the thought of not being with her would bring me to tears. But, like anything, every day there after got a little easier. For those reading in anticipation, I promise you it will.
As I quickly learned, and most working moms will attest, juggling work and breastfeeding was my biggest hurdle. Even in a supportive workplace, with a nursing station to pump in, setting aside time to do so in a non-stop setting is far easier said than done. I would set alarms on my cell phone and hear them go off as I was presenting marketing plans to a room full of colleagues. On one particular commercial shoot, I ended up with engorgement and mastitis having gone a full day on set without the ability to pump. I’m wincing just from the thought. I felt defeated when we had to supplement because, even with all the teas and herbal remedies, I just wasn’t making enough milk. I wish I had known then that one of the hormones you make as a result of skin-to-skin contact is Prolactin, which is responsible for milk production. And that there is a dose to dose response between the amount of time baby spends on your skin, and the amount of milk you make.
When my husband traded his job flexibility for a corporate role himself, our family was beginning to feeling the pain of two working parents and no support near by. We found nannies and babysitters and my mom would visit from NY every chance she could. We tried our best to plan but with 4 kids and after school activities, dinners, homework, etc. it became a full time job just to coordinate it all. Wrestling to be the marketer I knew I could be and the kind of mom I wanted to be was an impossible balance to strike. I always felt like I could do one really well, but both mediocre.
Tell us about NuRoo Baby!
With Lila’s birth, I transitioned so fast that we almost delivered in the car. I walked into traffic, holding my belly and feeling like I had to push. By the time my husband parked the car and raced back in (all of 3 minutes later?) he was there just in time to see our daughter born. Lila was immediately placed sin-to-skin and we remained that way as we were wheeled up to the postpartum floor. There, I was visited by a midwife who told me all about the importance of skin-to-skin contact. The benefits to both mom and baby, and the science behind the practice. She spoke of the c-afferent nerve, which runs from your collar bone to your sternum and that it is only activated by pleasing human touch. When you hold baby to your bare chest for an uninterrupted 60 minutes, it send a message to your brain and baby's brain to produce a hormone cascade. Those hormones surging through your bodies are responsible for all the amazing benefits of the practice. I knew this information would be a game changer for me and the breastfeeding relationship my daughter and I would share.
I was 4 weeks into my maternity leave with Lila when I was introduced to Hope, a local mom of 3 who was looking to connect with new mothers regarding their experience with skin-to-skin contact. As a physician’s assistant, the science of skin-to-skin resonated with Hope but with an active family and two other kiddos to chase after, she struggled to regularly find an uninterrupted 60 minutes to reap the benefits with her little one. I loved the concept of a skin-to-skin carrier she was toying with, and envisioned a brand that supported the 4th trimester and the instinctual need you and your baby have to be close. I saw this opportunity as the answer to the work/life balance I had been chasing.
Together, Hope and I worked tirelessly to perfect The NüRoo Pocket design and launched a company intended to make this wild ride called parenting a bit easier. I’ve never worked harder (or slept less) and in these 4 years, we've created a line of products that harness the power of touch: to heal, to comfort, to nurture and grow your baby.
I’m still chasing that golden idea of balance (and beginning to question it’s existence) but have learned two very important lessons: 1) there’s something real and powerful in having your children grow up watching you strive for it. 2) No one can do this thing called motherhood all on their own and it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.