We have some exciting news at Marrzipan! Our Marrzipan Founder, Davina, has taken this term’s theme of “human” to the extreme and is growing a human herself! Pretty cool, huh. Due in September, we are all looking forward to meeting our newest Marrzi-Baby team member. This also marks the start of Davina writing regular articles (such as this first one below) about her journey into parenthood, and how her experiences are helping to further shape Marrzipan and who we are as a company. We are sure you as parents/caregivers can relate to some of these trials and tribulations of creating and moulding your little humans…
Although I realise that the following topic may be a bit full on for a first article, I thought it was important to commence at the very beginning of my journey into parenthood…I think you start becoming a mum a waaaaay before you hold that little alien bundle in your arms! So here goes…
After over 2.5 years of struggling to conceive, multiple scans and invasive exams that looked at parts of me I didn’t even know existed, my husband and I were told there was only a 5% chance of us falling pregnant naturally and that I would need surgery for suspected endometriosis and then IVF, and that even that may not be successful. WHAT?!
This was a major blow to me, as I had never imagined we would need to go down this route. After making it my life’s work to develop children to be the best possible version of themselves, the thought of not being able to have my own felt like a cruel twist of fate. But my desire to get super fat, push a human out of you-know-where, and then spend the next 18 years trying to ensure he/she became a good person, meant I was willing to be pumped full of (yet more!) lovely hormones and undergo surgery, as well as look into adoption.
Given that 1 in 6 New Zealand couples experience infertility (including the lesser-know “secondary infertility”, in which you have already had a child/children but then struggle to conceive more – how unfair is that?!) I am guessing that many of our Marrzipan parents have been through (or are currently going through) this nightmare. I feel your frustrations and pain – after 36 months of getting my hopes up and then having them dashed every time, I can say first-hand that it is a never-ending rollercoaster.
You can imagine our insane surprise to find out in January this year, just a week after being given our 5% odds, that we were in fact pregnant! Naturally! My husband was so used to me taking pregnancy tests by this point that he didn’t even look up from the T.V. when I said I was off to take another test, and even after I ran out of the bathroom screaming, “This is not a rehearsal! This is not a rehearsal!” he still looked sceptical. After reading the instructions a hundred times and taking three pregnancy tests (just to be sure we were not hallucinating those two little blue lines), a blissful two weeks followed of absorbing our long-awaited news and telling close family and friends.
This included a lovely dinner in Auckland with Marrzipan Senior Team – Zac (from Auckland), Jex (Hamilton) and Sarieta (Tauranga) and sharing with them our special announcement that I was six weeks pregnant. The shock on their faces was priceless, as they had all been very understanding and supportive of our infertility journey and thought they were going to need to wait a lot longer to become Marrzipan Aunties and Uncles.
Zac, as our Recruitment Manager, was particularly excited, as he said it meant we had a guaranteed new Marrzipan teacher in 18 years time. Jex, as our Office Manager, was also pleased as she figured I would be in the office more during my pregnancy and could therefore help with all the “behind the scenes” work that goes into running our nearly-100 classes each week! Little did we all know that my first trimester was going to be horrendous (but more on that next week!).
It got us all thinking about how much flexibility was needed as a parent, (even before actually becoming a parent!) as I have needed so much time off work the last few years to attend my various fertility appointments and procedures. Fortunately, as we run a “flexi-workplace” at Marrzipan, it was easy for me to start work early or finish late on those days and work around doctors’ schedules (is it just me or are they ALWAYS running late?), but we discussed how hard it would be for parents with fixed work hours.
We wondered if we were doing all we could for the parents of our Marrzipan students to make our program as flexible as possible. Whenever we get some of the Marrzipan team together, inevitably after a few wines (or coconut waters in my case!), we always end up talking about the company and how we can make it even better.
So this got me pondering about our Holiday Workshops, and how they had run for the last eight years from 10am-4pm – hardly very friendly hours for parents that work full time in the school holidays. In fact, the main reason we originally came up with these hours was so that our teachers could have a lie-in during the holidays and skip the traffic themselves! We wondered what you, the parents, had to say about this, so we devised a questionnaire to see if you agreed.
A big thanks to the over 250 parents who responded – your insight was incredibly helpful, and confirmed our suspicions. One parent commented that “the start and finish times are crucial... If it starts long after we are required to be at work then it is instantly not an option.” and another how “many of us parents work full time so one factor is definitely the times when the programme begins”. We were embarrassed that we had been getting this so wrong! As a young team (we are all 30 or under), and with no mums or dads currently on the team, we had been completely overlooking what was most important to parents…woops!
So, in a weird and roundabout way, there was a silver lining to come out of our infertility struggles, in that it finally made me start thinking as a parent, rather than just as a teacher or leader of a business. As a result, we have changed our workshop hours to 9.30am-4.00pm, with free childcare before and after from 8.30-9.30am and 4.00-5.00pm for those that need it.
Not forgetting our students (who we always relate to, as everyone on the team is really just a big kid themselves!), the “childcare” hours will be explained to them as “Actors Greenroom Time” – some chill time where they will get to hang out together and do something relaxing or watch a movie. This will also give our Marrzipan teachers time to get their caffeine fix in the morning…our teachers may not be parents yet but having the energy to be weird and wonderful for 8.5 hours solid and ensure your little humans have the time of their lives all day, requires a mocha or two (or three)!
I am so excited that I am now able to start thinking like a parent, (apart from the “baby brain” phenomenon in which thoughts simply disappear!) and to be able to apply this knowledge to improving our service, as well as relating to what you as parents go through every day.
Next week I will be sharing the second part of my pregnancy journey so far – being hospitalised and diagnosed with hyperemesis (yes, just like “Princess Kate” though I can ensure you, it was no royal fairy tale). Surprise surprise, this also led to more positive changes in the Marrzipan program - because as my own wise mother always says in any bad situation “something good will come out of this”. And you know what I am learning? Mums are always right!