Kind regards, a pregnant CEO
The moment I realised I was pregnant, my first thought was 'yay' and my second thought was 'oh, have I just killed my business?'
Being an entrepreneur means working through challenges. But running a business while pregnant comes with a completely unique set of challenges.
Fourteen weeks ago, I found out that I was pregnant. I’d missed a period and put it down to stress, I’d passed out in my client’s clinic and put it down to fatigue and I had (I’m absolutely mortified to report) thrown up in the middle of Harley Street and genuinely thought ‘can you be allergic to London?’
Looking back, it seems absolutely ridiculous that I didn’t realise I was pregnant. I had textbook symptoms and yet, because I’d been using Natural Cycles (see my now highly ironic, review for this here) I’d not actually even contemplated pregnancy.
While the baby was a surprise, that’s not to say it wasn’t wanted in any way. Dan and I have talked about children for years and we are absolutely over the moon albeit a little shell shocked – in the same way as any new parents.
Six weeks into my new “condition,” the reality of being a pregnant CEO hit.
I was nauseous all the time and exhausted on a level I’d never felt before.
Gone were the late nights networking in hotel bars after a conference and all-nighters to polish a client deliverable; my body demanded that I pass out by 9pm or suffer the consequences. But instead of just giving up, the working day naturally changed. I started work earlier and I scheduled my meetings and telephone calls for the afternoon when I knew that the morning sickness would have dissipated slightly.
The words 'pregnancy' and 'CEO' are far from synonymous. Here’s what I’ve found so far:
- The sickness is tough.
The sickness is really tough to deal with while managing a business. My clients are my priority and their press coverage must go ahead, regardless of whether I’m spending my morning in a toilet cubicle. I think that expectant mums who run businesses have a ‘grin and bear it’ attitude and, regardless of how many times I throw up on the tube on the way, I’ll be ready and full of beans for my client’s meeting… five minutes early as always.
- Clients are happier for you than anticipated.
You’ve panicked for so long that client’s will suddenly think you’re going to ‘drop the ball’ or abandon them in their time of need. You’ve stayed up at night worrying about how to drop it into conversation. But for the most part, they’re happy for you and they understand that your passion for your company and in turn their brand isn’t going to waver.
- Some of your most supportive friends just won’t get it. At all.
‘What do you mean you’re planning to have no maternity leave? That’s absolutely ridiculous – I had two years off!’
Unfortunately, as much as they have your best intentions in mind, some friends who don’t run their own businesses just won’t understand and to them, it's 'just a job'.
I’m very lucky in the sense that Dan runs his own business too so can understand why I can’t just ‘take a step back’. He realises that the business is much more than just a job and that it’s part of my very identity. Instead, he’s helped to build the team with fantastic people and move the company to an office space that’s closer to home so that when the baby is here, clients won’t be able to notice any changes.
- You have to make time for yourself and your partner.
This is such a crazy time for anyone. You’re both anxious, excited and nervous for what’s to come. You must take the time to sit down together in an evening and talk about the future – it’s a huge rollercoaster of emotions and you have to support each other; regardless of whether a client’s deadline is looming.
Pregnancy is tough but somewhere in the last twelve weeks, we’ve managed to move offices, grow the business, bring in new clients, grow the team, move to a new house, train a puppy… and attend all of our antenatal classes.
We’ve rallied and got things done and it’s only been possible through the teamwork and support of my colleagues, family, mentors, and friends.
Mistakes have been made along the way of course — I’ve thrown up on more train journeys than I’d like to admit and I’ve lived on a diet of plain crackers and sparkling water for far too long.
But ultimately, starting a family isn’t going to change anything for those who run their own business. The dreams, the passion and the hard work that have gone into creating this brand are still there and still fuelled with a fire that isn’t going to be put out by a little heartburn and morning sickness. In fact, it only seems to make your desire to succeed even fiercer.