The story that I’ve chosen to tell is about the tension between courage and confidence in my entrepreneurial journey. It involves sharing a deeply intimate personal experience.
For me the personal and professional are inextricably linked. Nothing has impacted my professional choices more than my personal relationships and experiences. And it’s pregnancy that has had the most impact on my journey growing a business. I forged these two new identities – mom and founder – at the same time and they continue to intertwine.
I decided to leave my last full time job, being the breadwinner and very newly pregnant, to launch into independent consulting. Looking back on it, this was a pretty bold move. I don’t remember being afraid of taking this risk then. I’d definitely made other risky moves in my professional life, hopping around, trying to find the right fit.
But it’s actually the experience of trying to have a second child that has impacted my professional outlook more than anything else.
When my consulting practice was a few years old, my son was almost two, and I was almost 40, I became pregnant with my second child. This was exciting on several fronts - that it happened fairly easily at my age; and that symbolically I would get to realize my life-long, only-child-of divorced-parents dream of being a family of four.
The pregnancy progressed fairly uneventfully. I made it through the first trimester, made it through the first set of tests with normal results, and got to the halfway point right before the holidays. I went in for my 5 month appointment, excited to learn the gender, and excited I’d get to share that with family at Christmas.
Those pregnancy exams were extremely anxiety making for me. Waiting to see your baby come to life on the sonogram machine, waiting to hear the heartbeat…. I still get a tight chest thinking about it.
This appointment was no different. I got the gel on, my doctor had the stethoscope on my belly, we waited and watched. She played with the machine. We waited and watched some more. More playing with the machine, more prodding my belly….
Nothing came to life on the screen. No sound. No motion. And then my doctor spoke my greatest fear. I can’t find the heartbeat.
There was absolute stillness on the screen - my fully formed baby girl, with her elbow bent over her head, frozen that way in my mind for all time.
What happened next is a blur. A blitz of hospital activity and cancelling things and sharing the news. During it all, I held on fiercely to my doctor’s comfort that something was wrong and this was nature doing what it is supposed to, ending life when it isn’t viable.
So I started the new year, newly 40, with the goal of healing and getting pregnant again immediately before I or my son got too much older. As many of us know full well, of all things to be rushed – the body healing and the body conceiving are not those things.
I channeled the heartache and loss into this frenzied focus on getting pregnant.
Having a second child and being a family of four was not just a long held dream, it felt like it would make my narrative, my life story the right one. Somehow making it more worthy because it was more comparable to everyone else’s. I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted anything as badly.