When should we start trying for a baby?
The first place my mind raced when my husband and I first broached this topic three years ago was:
Is this the right time at work to get pregnant?
The thing is, at the time, I wasn’t happy at work. I was actively job searching.
“Should I go hard at the job search and then wait a year until trying,” I asked myself.
“Should I try now at least while I didn’t feel guilty about my personal life distracting me from work?”
We figured we’d give it a go and “see what happened.” Several weeks later I was in Nigeria on a business trip and got the positive test result.
I had it all planned out from that moment - I would coast through the pregnancy, taking off for doctor’s appointments whenever I needed. My boss was super supportive of family obligations, so I had that going for me. Then when the baby came I could decide whether I would stay or look elsewhere.
Job searching while pregnant
I should have known that I wouldn’t have the patience to wait 9 months for things to get better.
I really considered searching while pregnant. But on top of changing jobs, I didn’t know if I’d feel comfortable telling hiring managers that I was expecting. Legally they can’t ask or base a hiring decision on this, but I didn’t want to start a working relationship on the wrong foot.
So I stuck it out.
After I had my daughter I ended up making massive shifts in my career that lead me to where I am today: owning my own business and consulting part-time. While my daughter goes to daycare, I’m the one who does the pick-up, dinner, and bedtime routine most nights too.
She’s 2.5 and everyone is asking when we’ll have a second...
The truth is, I’ve been shrugging it off.
The Questions Women Grapple With
As women we have so much more we have to consider than just diapers and sleep deprivation when thinking about bringing a child into the world. I’m not saying these are the only two things men think about, but the reality is women are the ones who are consumed with thoughts like:
- What if it takes longer to get pregnant than I expect?
- Will I have morning sickness that will interrupt my work obligations or schedule?
- When do I tell people? Do I tell people at all? If so, will they worry about my ability to work to my full capacity?
- Is it better to wait until I advance more in my career or should I take advantage of having less responsibility now?
- Am I a bad mom if I choose daycare over staying at home?
- Am I 'giving up' if I decide to opt-out of the workforce for a while to stay at home with my kid?
- If I decide to breastfeed, will I be able to continue when/if I return to work?
My husband - who for the record is a hugely supportive partner and dad - is really only concerned about one thing as we decide to have another: will we be able to afford it comfortably?
When his co-workers find out his wife is having a baby, they’ll give him a handshake coupled with a, “Congrats, brother.” Maybe he’ll need to take a few days off afterwards, but otherwise it’s business as usual.
Replacing fear with excitement
Within the last year I left the 9-5, launched a new business, and moved. My husband finished grad school and has since changed jobs twice. We’ve been through sleep regression and the terrible twos.
But things are starting to look up. And I’m scared throwing a baby into it will mean I’m sacrificing everything I’ve built. I’m scared we won’t be able to get the help we need. I’m scared I won’t be able to work with as many clients as I want. I’m scared of being irrelevant.
There’s a lot of fear in there isn’t there? Recently I started wondering what would happen if I replaced the word “scared” with “excited.” What if I led with all the things I’m excited for? Here's what I would say if I listed the things I'm excited for when thinking about having another...
I’m excited to loosen the grip on my future and be surprised by life again.
I’m excited for my baby girl to be a big sister.
I’m excited for my business to grow as I grow.
I’m excited at the anticipation of finding out whether we’re having a boy or girl.
I’m excited to stop putting things off because of fear.
MY ADVICE FOR YOU
I brought this topic to a Facebook group full of creative entrepreneurs. I laid out my soul and my fears and I was surprised to hear so many women chime in. I was amazed to hear of women with 5 kids under 10 who are still making their business work. Others telling me that having two has made them learn how to prioritize and recognize time wasters. Still others who don't want kids and are clear with how their other life goals fit in with their work goals.
The bigger picture seems to be this:
Approach big decisions with fear and you'll never do those things your gut is telling you that you want to do. Approach them with anticipation, gratitude, and excitement, and you'll quickly realize you've got all you need to thrive.
- You can’t plan the future, as hard as you might try. Take it from someone who has always tried to plan life out three years in advance.
- The financial aspect is important, though most people who are planning to have a family find the means to work it out.
- Don’t let anyone shame you for not returning to work in order to be a stay-at-home mom or returning to work after a few weeks and leaving your baby in good hands.
- There is no normal, so just do what feels right for you.
- Your priorities may very well shift; you may actually be turning into that person you said you’d never be and that’s okay.
- As easy as it is to get wrapped up in being a mama, don’t forget to nourish yourself as an individual.
- Work-life balance is BS. Work-life integration…now that’s more like it.
So tell me, what's one big, life altering decision that you've been putting off? What are the things that are exciting about making this move once and for all?