My name is Kelsey, I’m a Chief Officer in Canada – strictly on the Great Lakes. I spent 7 years in the cargo industry working on self unloading and bulk vessels. My fiancé and I have been together for almost 3 years now, and last year after getting engaged we started the very long and difficult discussion about starting a family with both of us working on board ships.
We ended up coming to the conclusion that I would probably have to stay home, for at least some point during the pregnancy and the months after the baby was born. I tried talking to the company I worked for, to ask for guidance about policies or procedures for pregnant ship board employees, but there was nothing in place at the time, and I had little support in trying to come up with a pregnancy policy. With that in mind, I started looking for other jobs in the marine industry that would allow me to continue working but had some sort of a work/life balance. In September 2019, I ended up taking a job of the same rank on a passenger ferry that runs in Ontario, about 2 hours from where I live. The ship is tied up every night, has a shorter sailing season, and for most of the ‘off season’ sailing allows for a week on/off schedule.
A couple months later we found out the incredible news that we were expecting our first child. I am currently 25 weeks along, and due in August 2020. The crew on the ferry has been incredibly accommodating with dealing with my doctors appointments, they have a pretty decent maternity policy in place, and even with a minor hospital scare I had earlier this week when I needed someone to drive me to the hospital – everyone has been pretty great. My partner and I are fairly happy with the decision we made, but he has been nothing but supportive. If I decided to return to the cargo industry he has even volunteered to be a stay at home dad, if being back on the cargo ships is what would make me happy. I feel very lucky to have the support of family and friends and other seafaring mothers out there.