My name is Danny Boice and I am the CEO of Trustify. This is the last post of Chapter 3 in our Journey to Trust book series in which Jen Mellon is the one who shares the story. Jen Mellon is the co-founder and president of Trustify.
Caroline cried a lot, right from the start. It was a sound that made me come running, and I panicked when she didn’t want to eat. I made sure to eat a balanced diet, to keep us both healthy. Yet, Caroline continued to lose weight.
“It happens to some babies,” friends and doctors told me. But my mama senses told me something wasn’t right. I tried soothing music, rocking, all the things that bring babies to comfort and ease. I dove into books, articles, and research. It took a couple of agonizing months to arrive at my own diagnosis: allergic colitis. Even then, the information I found on the subject was hardly helpful: “It’s temporary. And rare.” Bite me.
If my time at Joint Council taught me anything, it was to be scrappy, and I worked to get my baby girl healthy. I followed a strict elimination diet and read as much as I could about the condition and potential solutions. By the time I visited the office with Caroline in my arms, she was a healthy pink and was gaining weight. My team members cooed over her, and I eagerly took in the sounds of the office. “I know we talked about telecommuting and I am really excited to get that going at full steam,” I told my team. Even as the words came out of my mouth, something didn’t feel right.
It didn’t take long for the truth to come out: they were going to backtrack on our agreement. Joint Council needed me to travel, and if I couldn’t, they needed me in the office. No exceptions.
I was holding Caroline when I gritted my teeth and made the decision to leave Joint Council. I couldn’t leave my baby for a week at a time. Please, God, let this be the right decision, I prayed. Please take care of those kids. I need to be a mama to this girl and take care of her. As Caroline gurgled and reached for my hair, I couldn’t yet picture a world where I could fight to be a mama and keep my job.
And with that, the final door closed and I left the organization. My career in international advocacy for vulnerable kids was over.
For a long time, I felt Joint Council had betrayed me. I feared that the horrible board member from San Antonio would gloat. I felt I had let women everywhere down by giving up so easily. So I did the one thing I always did when my guilt punched my guts: I picked up my precious baby. I smelled Caroline’s sweet smell. I thanked God for this beautiful gift of life, of love. This is what it’s about. This is what I’m doing this for. This is more important than my career.
But despite my love for being a mama, in the dead of night, with Eli sleeping beside me, my mind would light up with ideas for businesses and projects. My soul wanted more. My heart wanted to return to that frenetic everyday pace where the Filofax flipped and global change hummed in the air.
Then one day, Eli took in my pale face, unwashed hair, and lines around my mouth and said, “We need to do something different.” And with that, within the same month that I left Joint Council, Eli and I attended our first baby-and-me class at a local Gymboree. The class was held in a big room with brightly colored blobs and pictures of animals prancing on every wall. Tiny babies and parents with bubble makers laid on mats, and I instinctively knew I would find my tribe. I held Caroline closer and nuzzled her sweet skin, taking in the primary colors and smells of Caroline’s childhood.
My baby girl’s wispy hair tickled my nose as a woman came bouncing up to us, her brown hair pulled back from her face. Her mouth opened and a British accent tumbled out.
“Hi! I’m Joanne. This is my husband, Danny.”