Guest: Daniela Cardona (she/her)
With 1 Million women in construction, the topic of motherhood in our industry is just now taking shape. After chatting with many younger, female professionals in the industry, I learned many of you want to understand what it means to be a working mom in construction.
So, in this blog series, we will meet moms in architecture, engineering, and construction at all stages of motherhood.
Meet Daniela Cardona! She is a proud mom of two littles, a wife, an amateur crochet artist, a hiker, and a practitioner of yoga.
Her professional title is Architectural Quality Control Manager. Her job is to manage the construction side of design on behalf of the architects and designers on her team. She works with the “contractors to resolve field issues, approve submittals, and answer RFIs, as well as take lessons learned from the field back to the design team”. She finds herself on and off-site, even in different states.
What Did the First Trimester Look Like for Her?
“The first trimester with my son was relatively easy. I just had a few food aversions. No one noticed I was pregnant until I told them after the first trimester.
The first trimester with my daughter was really hard- I was sick all the time and had very very low energy. Something that helped me was sucking on peppermints. They help with nausea and are easier to do on the go. I would also advise anyone in their first trimester to just give themselves grace- your body is building a placenta (a whole organ!) AND a baby- and that is a lot of work!“
What about the Second Trimester?
“For me the second trimester was great! I felt much better and was able to go about like normal. I took this new energy as a chance to really lean in. I started training staff early on to take over my tasks while I was on leave and worked on side projects. My advice career-wise is to use that second trimester energy (if you have it) to start preparing for leave and post-pregnancy- whether that means working on side projects, training staff, continuing education, networking, or just simply being present in the now.”
How Did the Third Trimester Pan Out?
“Up until my third trimester I continued to work in the same capacity. I went on site visits multiple times a week and traveled to out-of-state projects a few times a month. My first pregnancy was in the middle of COVID, so I stopped traveling during the third trimester out of caution for COVID.
During my second pregnancy my doctor suggested I stop making field visits during my third trimester as well, but this time because of health issues.”
What Kind of Support Did She Receive from Work as a Working Mother?
“With my daughter, I struggled with dizzy spells. My doctor wrote a letter to my employer explaining the issue, and we decided it was best to step away from field visits during my third trimester.
My employer was really, really supportive and the office had a ‘team approach’- so I was able to sub in on other work in the office while my colleagues took over my field visits.
I will say that mentally it was a lot tougher for me than I expected. I had spent the first seven years of my career really working hard and giving it 110%, so being forced to slow down was difficult.
It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that my worth was not measured by my productivity, and I could still be a valuable asset to the workplace, even if I wasn’t giving it 110% all the time.
My best looks different every day, and that’s ok.
Slowing down also made me realize how quickly I was approaching burn out- so really it was a blessing in disguise that I had to slow down.”
How Did She Impact Her Company’s Parental Leave?
Daniela and her employer created a maternity leave plan from scratch! The original short-term disability plan was weak, so she approached the leadership to talk about what she really needed. Her employer was incredibly accommodating. They changed their short-term disability policy, so it would be more accommodating for future employees.
What Does Work Look Like with a Newborn?
After her first child, Daniela returned back to work fairly quickly, but with limited travel. She admits to it being exhausting work. In hindsight, she did not give herself enough time or grace. She expected too much too quickly.
When she had her daughter, she knew she needed a new approach. She saved up and took more time off. She unplugged from work and activities that weren’t necessary.
How Does She Navigate Childcare?
Quality childcare in her area is incredibly expensive and in demand, so her children bounce between family members during working hours. When she works from home, she is more involved in childcare. She is grateful to her family and company for allowing this level of flexibility in her life.
Daniela is a trailblazing mother and woman in construction.
There is certainly a lot to experience as a working mother in architecture, engineering, and construction. And clearly, no two pregnancies can be expected to run the same way. But we have to give ourselves the grace and time to process, grow, and heal.
Thank you to Daniela for sharing her story of pregnancy and early motherhood. Sharing her voice helps bring insights to the real issues and joys women face in our industry, and how they have navigated it. Or in Daniela’s case, how she has advocated for herself and others!
Please remember there is no one way to tackle pregnancy or motherhood in construction, so please proceed with our own experience as you see fit. But know, you have support from this community, should you ever want it.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM GUEST
Maternity Clothes: Target for pants and wore loose shirts.
- Ceres Chill – Keeps Milk Safe, discreetly.
- Baby Buddha Moblie Pump – Tiny but portable pump.
- Legendairy Milk – Wearable Cups
- Elvie Stride – Wearable Cups with a Small Pump!
HOW TO CONNECT WITH DANIELA CARDONA
You can connect with Daniela on Instagram @danileecard!
HOW TO CONNECT WITH KATHRYN & SPACE TO BUILD
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.