For my second installment of Ava Ramblings (here’s the first if you want to start from the beginning!), I’ll be tackling the toy elephant in the nursery– can a pregnant woman still be an effective CEO?
This is my first time being a mom-to-be, so I can’t compare to other pregnancies, my own or others. I’m 24 weeks along now with our baby girl Ava and so far I’ve been blessed with a beautiful pregnancy– not even morning sickness. (I know! Hate to even write it!) I’ve also been blessed with 15 years of learning how to be a CEO, and each day that passes, I hope to learn a little more. So my initial calculation, albeit premature, and speaking personally, I am rocking the role of pregnant CEO! :) And I welcome the adventure of simultaneously holding both titles– CEO and mom– very soon.
So here’s what I know for sure this far along:
- There’s no such thing as ‘perfect’ so I’m not going to try (sorry Ava, but you should know this one as early as possible!). I’m going to give it my all, but I will certainly falter, and at times all-out fail, but I feel very blessed that I have an amazing support system of family and friends (and my fellow JSAers fall into both these categories), so I feel confident that I will be back up and running quickly, no matter the stumbles.
- One of my favorite quotes is by Henry Ford: ‘Whether you think you can or can’t, either way you are right.’ I believe in the power of visualization, that if you can truly envision yourself doing something, you can achieve it. Therefore, I know I can achieve this.
- I hate (is there a stronger word for hate?) the concept of ‘glass ceilings’ for any one in any role of any background or gender. Yes, they do exist today in many establishments and in too many countries, but at least here in the US, I believe one of the most impenetrable ceilings– so a ‘cement ceiling’ let’s say– is the one we often place on ourselves, due to lack of confidence or courage to sometimes leave, re-invent and/or re-begin. So let’s start with ourselves- and cast off these burdensome cement ceilings that we carry. So again, yes, of course I can.
Together here at JSA, and as a family, we have created our ideal work home. We do not have glass ceilings here. There are always opportunities for each of us to grow and do more. Our limit is our time and energy perhaps- but NEVER a ceiling.
So for Ava’s sake, may she always break through her own and outside ceilings, with confidence and support, and may I try to be a role model for her as much as possible. So with this, yes, there can definitely be a pregnant and effective CEO.
But What About the Hormones and ‘Pregger Brain’?
So a well-known counter-argument I’ve heard is that with pregnancy comes hormones and unchecked emotions, as well as the ‘pregger brain’, often characterized as forgetfulness or flightiness. Well, I have to say, this in general describes all of us at various times in our lives and the awesome craziness of getting old. But yes, pregnancy certainly comes with an abundance of hormones.
Hormones ‘R’ Us
According to parents.com, HCG (just one type of pregger hormone) typically doubles every two days during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Additionally, estrogen and progesterone peak around 32 weeks, with estrogen levels six times higher than before pregnancy. And yep, there are other hormones as well – but point is– there’s an abundance of pregger hormones at play- so we do need to consider.
Here are a few pro tips I’ve depended on over the years- as a woman leader- and well, person. First, I try very hard not to make hasty key decisions. For example, if I’m very disappointed in an employee’s performance, I’ll wait a week before making the final decision to let him/her go. If I’m frustrated with a friend, I’ll wait a few days to clearly express my feelings, in an attempt to temper my emotional responses with clear communication and logic. If I’m not able to offer helpful strategy, I’ll sleep on it. I often arrive at a better answer after a good night’s sleep, breakfast, the occasional Midol, and my morning executive team chat, which often leads to a balanced discussion and clear outcome. And when all else fails, a yoga pose or two, to clear my mind quickly. So yes, I am relying on these pro tips (minus the Midol) particularly now when pregnant and hormonal.
The Truth About My Pregger Brain…
As for pregger brain, I have to be brutally honest yet again, and admit, I may have always had this (I can already see my husband nodding in agreement as he reads this). But don’t worry– you can make it work for you! I learned early on in my schooling to take great notes in an attempt to capture and recall vital details. I ALWAYS have a notebook, or at minimum my Notes App nearby, and I obsessively catalog every middle-of-the-night or mid-shower action item so as not to forget. I’ve never had one of those minds that can recall every detail on demand with clarity and grace– though I have been forced to compete with such brainiacs from time to time (my Tufts Biology class comes to mind). As such, I’ve made a habit of carrying a pen and keeping as organized as possible. And in the age of Google and on-demand knowledge (and thank goodness for navigation which has upped my driving skills considerably), I’ve learned to rely on on-demand data to offer me a second if not third or fourth opinion. Obviously note the qualifications of your author, as anyone can post anything to the Internet, so double check your sources always.
Side note: I do feel grateful that if I can’t answer any of Ava’s tough life questions, like ‘why is the sky blue?, we live in a time where Siri can have some witty rebuttal– or at least divert her with a corny joke– provided I figure out Siri’s kid-friendly settings quickly. I’m adding that as an action item in my Notes App…
Long Story Short
Being pregnant is a short-term state (I’m actually already missing it sometimes– I know that’s weird to say- particularly after reading about all these hormones– but have to say, I love being pregnant!). It’s a challenging state for sure, but one that teaches me (again and again) to have patience with myself and humility. And another one of my favorite sayings: ‘this too shall pass’ – which I always like to add– ‘so embrace it and learn from it’. My body might be doing strange and new and wondrous things (and thankfully all on this new beautiful autopilot feature that I never knew I had before) and my mind might be as forgetful as usual, but I’ve still got heart, one that has somehow grown larger to include our beautiful Ava already, and I’m confident that as an ever-growing family, and with my community support (thank you again my beautiful peeps!), I’ll be just fine, and we can chuckle about how I found my toothpaste in the fridge over a pint at next year’s PTC. See you soon friends.