I’ve never dreamed of having a baby. My husband did. I dreamed of having a career and being the CEO of a very large corporate by the time I’m 40. I liked my busy lifestyle. Flying around, meeting important people and giving advice on things that were and felt a lot bigger than me. So I agonised over, what everyone assured me, was going to be a complete change in my life and that you can “forget your career”. I was scared.
My husband and I had a lovely dinner one night which turned not so lovely when we had an argument about having children or not. “if you don’t want children I can’t stay married to you” he exclaimed and I agreed. This is not something you make compromises over.
I didn’t feel the burning desire to procreate but I jumped into the cold water. Eyes closed. I fell pregnant as soon as I had given up on not giving up (my career that is). To be honest I wasn’t a great pregnant lady. I mostly ignored my pregnant state and I was lucky enough that my pregnancy was very easy. With every week that passed I knew that I had to make up my mind regarding the future. What was going to happen? I dreaded having the conversation with my boss and I knew as soon as I announced my pregnancy that I was now “different”. I wasn’t part of strategic conversations anymore (to not “bother” me) and my future in an area that I had established, grown and successfully run for 6 years was a bit uncertain. Where would I fit in when I come back? I couldn’t imagine life without my job – it had become my identity.
Things got a bit harder as pregnancy is a very physically demanding thing to do as most other ladies will tell you. I put on A LOT of weight which made me feel a bit like a fat bird sitting on a couch eating more chocolate as it “doesn’t matter anymore”. There were beautiful moments also of course: 20 week scan, a little foot poking out and a few tumbles in your belly. Progression photos and appreciating your pre-pregnancy body (once you’ve lost it but that’s for another day). All of that was exciting and cute but it didn’t take my fear away of who I was going to be.
I decided to go on maternity leave for 12 months. All other career focused ladies advised against it – go back as soon as you can and work as soon as you can. Stay in touch. I did feel a responsibility towards that little peanut already. I didn’t know I was going to like him yet though.
And then it all happened. A tumultuous labour made me appreciate every single mother on this planet. Does any man ever truly appreciate what a lot of women achieve by giving birth? I’m still in awe about the process. And then it’s all over and you are a mum. With a tiny, little wrinkly alien that cries a lot. I wasn’t ready.. the lack of sleep, the worry and the pain of healing exacerbated my insecurities. Sitting on the couch with your boobs out most of the day wasn’t my idea of being a glam yummy mummy! And where was the unconditional love everyone was talking about? I wasn’t flooded with that immediately! I felt like a failure. I cried a lot. For my old life and for the new life I didn’t understand. Being called a mum sounded strange. And then it hit me… life will never be the same for real and I didn’t know if that was going to be a good thing.
I very soon fell in love with my little baby. I loved him so much nothing else (including my husband) mattered. I forgot about my work life. I forgot about a career. I forgot about earning money. I just loved walking, cuddling, playing and hanging out with this little man. The love of my life.
I was determined to go back to work eventually. By the time he was 4 months I asked if I could do some stuff from home. I was asked to fly to Queensland to do a project. That was the end of that. I focused on my projects that I had been dabbling in before I was pregnant. One a sunglasses brand and one a parent to parent baby equipment hire platform. The idea was there earlier but I never knew how much I would have wanted it to be available already.
I was asked if I was going to do my start ups full time. I hesitated as I liked the security of a corporate job but the closer the end of my maternity edged the more I hated the thought of having to go back and forth each day wanting to be home and wanting to be at work at the same time. I decided this was going to make me lose my mind. I quit my job / my career / my identity. Reinvention was required. I turned into a mum – and I’m proud of it. The journey has only just started but I’m positive it was the right thing to do. I’m also a little bit proud of myself (and my husband who supports me) that I was brave enough.