Duarte Ramos, Gympass’ VP of People (Europe), recently welcomed his second child, a baby girl! We asked Duarte to share about his parental leave experience:
This was our second time around so I expected the process to be less stressful. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Around the 29th week of her pregnancy, my wife developed a risk of premature delivery. I was still working at this time and I found myself juggling work, helping my wife in the hospital, and keeping my oldest son to his routine, which made the whole experience more complex.
My team had been very excited when they found out my family was expecting. When things got more challenging, my team and manager were super encouraging. My manager always advised me to focus on high priority tasks and postpone all non-urgent meetings and projects.
When our daughter was finally born, my wife and I were already exhausted from the stressful pregnancy. I took paternity leave so we could spend time as a family together during the first weeks. We helped each other out and got to reconnect as a family without any interruptions or hassles from work. The only messages I received from my Gympass team were of congratulations and best wishes, plus a lovely cake made of newborn diapers with a fluffy teddy bear.
Welcoming a new child into your family is wonderful and challenging all at the same time. The hardest thing for me was learning to balance caring for a very small, 100% dependent human being, without losing focus on the rest of the family, particularly my older son. Learning how to be a father of two was the most critical and challenging task during this stretch, but it was amazing to see our family grow, all healthy and safe.
As a father and a VP of People, I think it’s important that we look at parental leaves with a big picture lens. Maternity leaves were created to support companies and families during a necessary period of their lives. Maternity leave programs are paramount to creating supportive work environments for women. However, the typical short (or nonexistent) paternity leave created a natural discriminatory process, from a reverse incentive standpoint. The more time-off difference exists between men and women, the more companies will be incentivized to hire men. When parental leave balance exists, irrespective of gender, adoption, or primary caretaker, incentives for discrimination are reduced and companies are encouraged to offer better leaves to attract talent.
I’m grateful to be a part of a team that supported me unconditionally during my parental leave. If I could give advice to expecting parents, I would say to be prepared but also to be flexible. Parenthood is unpredictable and requires an open mind. It’s not a science, it’s not like planning a trip; you need to be prepared to not have a plan, to change your life, for everything to be less tidy, to think and play like a child, and become more empathetic. But the experience is one you wouldn’t give up for anything!