So, first of all, let me begin by saying that I am not pregnant (anymore). My baby was born almost 2 months ago. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into this shall we?
When I made the decision to leave my job to start my own company four years ago, I knew things were going to be tough. But what I didn’t know was that one month into my business I would fall pregnant. I was nervous, how would I manage launching a business whilst being pregnant and then taking care of a child. To be honest, it feels like such a long time ago but what I do remember was planning as much as possible. Working from home and being flexible with my working hours meant I could nap in the afternoons and work at night.
Project manage your pregnancy
I knew that my business was still in its infancy and would never be able to survive a “maternity leave” and therefore I never took one. I worked throughout my pregnancy albeit did enjoy the weekly massage and Netflix sessions in the afternoons. I began working immediately after my daughter was born. It was rough! I learnt many lessons from that pregnancy, so when I fell pregnant with my son last year, I knew that this time I had to project manage my pregnancy. I treated my pregnancy as I would any other large-scale project. I took a critical look at my team and decided who may be able to take on tasks that I wasn’t willing to perform. I delegated certain tasks to certain people but my type A personality still saw me doing a lot of work. One may say I actually enjoyed it.
You don’t know what kind of pregnancy you’re going to have until you have it. All the planning in the world did not prepare me for what was to come. Unfortunately, a week after my sons birth I needed to be hospitalised and required surgery again. This meant my hospital stay was extended by weeks not to mention how physically and emotionally drained I was. Needless to say it through a spanner in the works and I was a few weeks behind on my content. My advice would be to adjust your workload and expectations, creating a schedule that works around your pregnancy from the day you find out you’re expecting. You cannot always control everything and I learnt that the hard way. When I went through the unexpected, I gave myself permission to be taken care of. I surrendered to what I couldn’t do and just allowed myself to be quiet, unknowing and uncaring about where it’s all leading to. It’s hard being a control freak and having no control. But when you let it go, and let God, that’s when real peace appears.
Telling clients about my pregnancy was a struggle (both times). I was concerned that clients would think I was leaving the business now that I was pregnant or would not be giving their work enough attention. With my daughter, I decided not to disclose the news until it became physically obvious but with my son, I told my clients much earlier on. The confidence I have now is so much more than four year ago. Also, I have built a solid relationship with my clients now. I am capable, they know it and so do I. If you’re in a similar situation and worried about how your clients may react, ask yourself this, “If clients can’t accept your pregnancy, something that only lasts nine months, how will they accept you having an infant, a toddler and a child in school?”
It takes a village
There is a powerful truth to this – it takes a village to raise a child. During my pregnancies and after my children were born, I relied on as much help as possible. Having a full time nanny and eventually enrolling my daughter into play school helped my business grow immensely. You just cannot put a value on those things. If you’re a work-from-home mama like me but don’t have any help, then I highly suggest looking for ways to change that (if that’s what you want obviously). If you want to grow your business, then investing in any form of help is an investment in your business. Plus, knowing your kids are safe with someone trusted when you’re at business meetings, out having lunch with potential clients or even just getting your hair done is an investment in itself.
Being pregnant and running your own business is challenging; having children and running your own business is even more challenging. As much as it kills me to say this (because I am huge advocate for it), there isn’t a work-life balance. Even though I am 100% focused on my kids at 5pm, it does mean accepting that my new reality is jumping on to last-minute work calls while I’m simultaneously changing a diaper.