Working comes with a myriad of challenges for women. Add babies into the mix and you have something pretty darn combustible. The complexity, exhaustion, logistics, tradeoffs, constraints, agony and ecstasy, and the relentlessness of it all feels never-ending. Can you support your family and pay for childcare? Are you going to be fired? Will you make it to doctor’s appointments and school plays? When do you have to show up and when can you just skip it? How do you handle the chaos when the best-laid plans go awry? The ever-changing variables and unknowns are exhausting.
Also, what about the whole pregnancy thing? What about all the doctor’s appointments, poking, prodding, blood taking, scans, scopes, injections, “samples,” and more? What about trying to masquerade as a normal, still drinking girl when you’re just really tired and puffy, but can’t tell anyone yet? When do you tell people anyway—after eight weeks? Or twelve? Or twenty? What about when they “know” and start talking, but you need to remain tight-lipped about your inevitable fate? How do you persevere past the pregnancy brain? (It’s a real thing, just like the teenage boy puberty lobotomy.) What happens if bed rest is mandated, particularly if your job involves regular travel? What can you wear that’s comfortable but professional? What if they start figuring out how to give away your job and relegate you to something that seems suboptimal? Do you stay in the game or say, “screw you people and this whole damn physical, mental, emotional, and social gauntlet that no one prepared me for (or could have), even though millions of women have gone through it”?
Chances are, this is all happening when you’re just hitting your stride and becoming pretty darn awesome at whatever it is that you do. You’re killing it and suddenly this little being, this person you don’t even know yet, is destroying all of it and you at the same time. And yet, you want to be a mom, you’re excited, you want to make it work, but it all seems to add up to one big intractable problem. It doesn’t have to be pretty. The reality is it absolutely won’t be. Expecting anything else will defeat you. It’s going to be messy and exhausting and even downright brutal. Buckle up for a big roller coaster ride. The whole thing is a marathon with a spontaneous series of sprints when you least expect them in 38 degrees with pouring, freezing rain.
Due date of Winter 2018
Babies@Work will be a fun, honest, and prescriptive guide to how to survive what can be a decade or even more filled with challenge and opportunity. While each working woman’s situation is unique, there are recurring hurdles and themes, connections and commonalities that exist. On this most meaty of topics, I thought it was worth sharing my hard-earned experience navigating a career over a couple of decades. I thought it was worth passing along the insights of other great female colleagues who have figured out how to “have it all,” whatever that means.
My biggest hope for Babies@Work is that it might help more women choose to stay in the game once they start having families. For older working moms out there, I thought you might enjoy commiserating. For younger women, I thought these stories and advice might help you find answers as you’re contemplating marriage and/or babies. I thought those now in the throes of it all and wondering if you should stick it out might be able to use some perspective on how things will play out.