I know I’ve been a little quiet this year. I accepted a new job in February and I’ve been busy preparing for it ever since. This is a job I’ve wanted my whole life, but also one I’m also terrified of.
Here’s the job description:
You will be responsible for creating and nurturing something new and unique in the world. This will truly be a zero to 1 challenge and product market fit will take 20+ years. The ability to teach, mentor, create the right structure for success will be critical in this role. Your job will encompass everything from facilities and funding to long term strategy. You will have a strong cofounder and board of advisors as well as the ability to hire external consultants as needed.
- Experience managing high-stakes decisions and escalations that require coordination.
- Comfortable working and communicating with difficult personalities in emotional situations.
- Demonstrated track record of success juggling multiple work streams and stakeholders while dealing with extenuating circumstances.
- Enjoy teaching, mentoring, and nurturing others and willingness to make a lifetime commitment.
You guess it: the job is becoming a mom!
I’m 37 weeks into this 40 weeks long journey called pregnancy. So any day now, we will be welcoming our daughter into this world. It hasn’t always been an easy journey, so this post is dedicated to all the moms to be that occasionally feel a little lost and scared.
- Acceptance: It’s okay to feel a little anxious, everything is changing.
The timelines for motherhood have shifted over the last 50 years. Motherhood used to be something women take on in the late teens or early 20s. Nowadays, average age of first time moms in cities like SF and NY is in the early 30s. We have had more than 10 years to build a full life outside of being a mom and have developed both our careers and personal interests. For me that’s meant a busy and fulfilling career as a product leader and a passion for fitness, food, and travel. So when we found out we were going to be parents in October, I had some hard questions for myself?
- First, what is happening and will happen to my body? OMG, will it ever be the same again? Is this safe to eat/do? Is this too much or too little?
- Can I still do everything I want to do in life? If not, what do I give up to be a mom? Will I ever get to travel again?
- What is the ideal situation for my baby? What do we need to change? Should we move? Do I need a different job? Am I leaning in or out?
Most of these conversations were internal dialogues with myself, often late at night when I couldn’t sleep. Occasionally, my poor husband got to hear these wonderful streams of thought… I just want to say, it’s okay to feel a little scared. The life and identity we’ve spent 10 years+ building is about to change. It was especially hard during the first trimester when very few people knew about the pregnancy but my body was going through the most intense set of changes. (Hormones ramping up, placenta forming, soreness, etc)
2. Gratitude: Combat worry with the good stuff.
The thing that helped me the most when I was feeling anxious or a bit out of control was thinking about all the things I’m grateful for.
- First how thankful I am that I’m healthy and the baby is healthy.
- How lucky I was to work in such a supportive company with great benefits (yay 6 months of parental leave!). That there’s so many supportive women leaders. My VP (mom of 2) and SVP (mom of 3) both gave me hugs when I told them I was pregnant.
- How lucky I was to have great friends who are a couple years ahead of me in this journey who gives me the best lists/advice.
- How great it was that we are financially stable and have lots of options.
- How happy I am that my husband is one of six kids, so he’s been an expert at diapers and all that since he was 10 years old.
- How exciting it is to work in an industry that’s growing quickly with an abundance of options depending on what we choose to optimize for.
Your list will probably look different but if you’re in a worry loop. Try this: take 5 deep breath as slowly and as evenly as possible. List at least 3 reasons you’re feeling lucky/grateful/happy related to your pregnancy. It always made me feel better :).
3. Kindness: Stop judging and be kind to yourself.
I spent quite a bit of time judging myself during the last 9 months. I obsessed about my eating/exercise habits, the changes to my body, and my energy/patience on any given day. It doesn’t help that even before motherhood begins, the world has opinions. Well intentioned opinions like whether I should have coffee or if I can have a sip of my husband’s wine at dinner or eat sushi in Japan.
I wish I could tell you that there was a magical moment when I just stopped judging and feeling judged. This one is hard. Here’s a few things that helped me.
- Spend time with moms who are on kid #2 or #3. They have the most practical advice and will tell you not to waste your energy worrying.
- Plan self care as seriously as the nursery. For example: I started baking once a week and what I baked became my dessert/carb indulgence. It satisfied my nesting instincts and sweet tooth.
- Don’t Google everything. The internet is a trap in this case. There’s a lot of strongly worded and conflicting advice, it’ll just make you feel worse.
The ultimate goal is to enjoy a healthy and uneventful pregnancy and to be calm and well rested before the baby is here. So listen to your body and remind yourself that is the end goal.
4. Community: Embrace the amazing support you didn’t know about
The best part of being pregnant has been discovering just how generous everyone is and how much my friends, family, and coworkers are rooting for me to succeed. Some are old friends who are excited to welcome me to the mom club. Some are strangers in online communities like Main Street Mama or MinT. I’ve gotten help from these groups for everything from simple advice about diapers to free training to help prepare my dog for a new baby. (Yes I’m worried about that, he’s been part of the family for 8 years now.)
Going through our baby shower gifts and writing thank you cards made me a little bit teary in a good way. Enjoy it, feel grateful, and aww over the cute baby clothing that she’ll probably only wear once before they’re too small :).
5. Let Go: Plan but be comfortable when the best laid plans go awry
My biggest lesson from pregnancy is learning to let go of control. As someone who likes to pretend she’s superhuman most of the time and who has literally made fitness her second job. This has been a challenge. Because no matter how much I read and planned, my body had its own plans on what foods I craved, how much energy I had that day, or what made me emotional that week.
At work, I started planning for my mat leave in June (I’m due in October). I had a detailed plan written up for everything from people management to roadmaps to strategy to cross functional processes I led/supported. I wanted my team to barely miss a beat while I was gone. But of course the week before my leave, my best laid plans went awry and we scrambled a bit. The plans were not useless, they helped me and the team understand what gaps needed to be covered and who can step in. So my point is plan but expect things to change and learn to let go when it’s no longer useful.
Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. — Dwight Eisenhower
At week 37, the baby could be here tomorrow or a month from now. At this point I’m just enjoying the journey and the luxury of some free time before I start my new job.
To all the moms and moms to be out there, I hope this helps a little.
P.S. my favorite pregnancy indulgences
- Rent the Runway subscription: great way to feel good and have fun with your pregnancy wardrobe.
- Schedule a maternity photoshoot around month 6 or 7 with someone who makes you feel like goddess.
- Baby-moon on a beach somewhere. We went to Japan where I basically had a breakdown every other day and then we took a trip to Hawaii where we laid around the beach and ate everyday. (bliss)