Work/lfe balance

Will having a baby ruin my career?

Recently a young professional woman I follow on Instagram posted a photo of herself with her baby bump showing. Her comment really hit home with me: “Pregnancy has been a learning curve for me on so many levels, especially as a woman in a competitive, fast paced, corporate consulting environment where very few of my female peers have had kids. I’ve done my best to conceal the bump in the workplace by wearing lots of jackets and loose tops, but I think I’ve nearly hit the point of no return. It’s not that pregnancy is frowned upon in my job or that I’m ashamed, I just want my peers to see me first and the reputation I’ve spent the last eight years building.”

I offered an off-the-cuff reply, straight from the heart: “I’m 56. In a demanding field dominated by men with PhDs. I felt the way you did. I even went so far as to tell my male CEO my child would change nothing and he’d still get my all. I pumped in secret so my childless female boss wouldn’t be annoyed. Today, 30 years later, I say bullshit. Lead with your big belly, mama, and let the uncomfortable learn how to get comfortable with the balance you will bring to your life and workplace. It’s not that you won’t care about your job after this baby is born (well, you might not care, but that too is ok), it’s that your perspective will forever be reoriented to a fuller, richer view of all you offer the world and your priority in doing so. Good luck! Work to release the insecurity sooner rather than later. Old women need to tell young women that time is on your side. Trust me on this. You can’t feel it now, but one day you will wake up and know it to be true.”

I was surprised by the attention given to my comment. The poster’s thread was filled with with emojis of affirmation for my words, and several women tagged others and thanked me for my thoughts.

Clearly, I hit a nerve. That’s no surprise because I haven’t met a career woman yet who wondered whether having a baby would ruin her prospects or set her back. I fell prey to that kind of thinking many years ago — and I made myself crazy in the process.

With the benefit of hindsight, I now know — yes — a baby will change your life, and your career, and it’s okay to embrace it. You can only anticipate how you’ll feel, and how you might react to others who express both affirming and invalidating sentiments, but you can’t know for sure until it happens. What you can know is that things will be different, possibly more harried but definitely richer and more textured, and if you accept your new status for the opportunities it offers, you just might find a boost in the most unexpected place.

Drop me an email or call me. Let’s talk about how you can find work/life balance by working with a life coach at EmpowerMentor.

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