Motherhood is hard. There's so many changes that I've gone through to list, and while not everyone has the same experiences, here are mine (not in any particular order of importance).
Motherhood is hard:
Often, I'll share and say something like, "wow, motherhood is hard". You learn a lot about who people are with the responses. Now having been in this for over a year, I've noticed a most definite pattern. I will always get one of two responses to that question. They go something like this:
Supportive fellow human being:
A) Yes. My gosh I can (or cannot) imagine. With the follow up of, let's go grab some coffee or I'd love to share more with you on this journey. I want to show you that you are not alone and I am here to feel shoulder-to-shoulder in life with you. I want you to know that it'll be okay.
Judging oppressive human being:
B) Of course it is. And, isn't motherhood the most rewarding thing you've ever done? Isn't it completely and totally worth it? There's only one right answer here and you better say it. Motherhood is amazing and that's the only thing any mother should ever say. Ever. Because it is completely worth it.
We get to be the guardian of a brand new fresh pure amazing human life, to guide him (or her) to grow up to be a kind, generous, strong, empathetic, respectful and respected adult. It is hard work. Both ideas can exist.
1 year old. Some milestones or highlights going on right as I type this:
I wrote this during my third trimester with Lentil, and went back to this draft after we finished our "fourth trimester". Now we're close to our baby being 9 months old. What results is that it's a mix of my brain at that time, and some of my brain looking back at that time in hindsight.
Having a baby is a big deal. Having a baby while running a startup is an even bigger deal. When going through pregnancy, I learned some lessons that were applicable to both my journey as a new mother and as a startup founder. Here are a few:
3rd Trimester as it relates to Startup Lessons
1. It's a LOT messier that it looks. As cute as pregnant women look with their baby bumps, it doesn’t feel “that cute.” I stopped sleeping that last month before my child was born, so much so that I started hallucinating. The media portrays an idealistic, romantic image of running a startup company, with all the freedoms and joys being your own boss, when in fact, there’s a lot more grind involved. In the course of a single day, a competitor can suddenly copy your product, and you can land a big investor.
2. There are a lot of ups and down. When I was expecting, the hormones were flying through my body in epic proportions. I remember on our 500 Startups demo day, I ended up crying the whole ride there, smiling for hours once we arrived, then breaking down and crying in the bathroom, only to go back and smile some more. In the startup world, I wake up in the morning full of optimism, and then by 3 p.m., I can come crashing down, filled with doubt. By 7 p.m., I often have to pull together all the energy I have to pitch my company to strangers.
3. Organic versus interventions - nothing is free. There’s no going back. I learned that once doctors intervene with labor and the birth of the baby, there’s no going back. In the startup world, you need to have product-market-fit and a kickass product. I know many founders who practice all kinds of growth hacking to get their numbers to look just right, but many of growth hacks are just not sustainable.
4. Life is precious. It really is. There’s an unexpected feeling. Creating life with my husband has been magical. The child grows right before your eyes. As a founder, you create something out of nothing. Your existence is only thanks to the customers willing to pay for your product or service (and also to the employees, advisors and investors who work alongside you to make it happen). As a gift-giving service, we make handmade cards to go with every product we sell. I’m personally committed to ensuring each gift receives the best attention we can give, and I work side-by-side with those involved in our business every day.
5. You're the underdog. After having gone through miscarriages, making it to the third trimester made us feel like the underdog. Everything was about not messing it up. Data on the number of women CEOs is limited. Less than 5 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. As a pregnant CEO, I was a minority among minorities. This impacted us, especially when fundraising. It meant we had to make hard decisions as a business to survive. I took out personal loans to cover us for a while. Ultimately, we had to reset and could no longer pay employee salaries.
6. Health and balance become even more paramount. The third trimester is all about health. You work like crazy during the day and prioritize sleep at night. The life of a CEO is about fast decision-making and being able to connect dots and make logical leaps. Even without pregnancy, startups are a marathon of endurance and diligence.
7. Choosing your battles wisely becomes even more important. Everything, from my hands to my feet, was swollen when I was pregnant. I had to be extremely practical, often wearing my husband’s clothing. When it came to my business, I had to prioritize according to the battles I could win and the battles that needed winning. I had to decide whether to change product direction or not. I had to cut spending by 50 percent or increase our fundraising efforts.
8. You're not that special... but you are. You develop a community of like-minded individuals. A woman’s pregnancy journey is very similar to that of other women. I joined various mommy groups because anytime I had a question, there was another person who had experience with it. Startups are born, grow to the next level, and mature in a pattern. Each startup company also has its own special experiences, market and product mix.
9. Critical thinking and understanding are essential. As the due date quickly approaches, everyone around you can start to get anxious. Everyone’s excited for the baby to be born! That anxiety also happens the longer you exist as a startup. It’s really important to keep your critical thinking skills sharp to be able to see what’s real (and what’s not).
10. Let it go. Let it go. And prioritize/focus. It’s about taking care of what needs to get done. Pregnancy is about taking care of yourself so you can have a healthy baby. In startups, it’s also just as much about what you do as much as what you choose not to do. For example, today I could have worked on our email marketing strategy more or I could have finished a landing page. It’s all about prioritizing and making decisions quickly.
Some themes that have repeatedly come up over the past week again and again:
Originally posted and seen in the Huffington Post.
Lentil had his first exit about 3 weeks ago.
Happy Lunar New Year!!!
Quick update is that we had our first baby boy, codename "Lentil" about three weeks ago. His codename has now become a nickname - we're trying to see if we can morph that nickname into "Lucky" because, boy oh boy, do we feel extremely lucky to have him.
Working on adjusting to our new chapter and life with Lucky. He's about to wake up again, newborns and stuffy nostrils do not make for restful sleep... so I'll leave this post at that.
Little Lentil. Our baby boy. ... Now officially a baby ball of love shifting in my abdoment, day and night. At first, when he moved (was about 16-17 weeks when I first felt him), it felt like a little sparrow splashing in a puddle or like a little gold fish swimming around in there. Now.... Lentil feels like a... baby. It's weird. A real baby is in there!? His butt sticks out every once in awhile - he will shift from the left side to the right side and back. If I lay on my left side, he'll also adjust himself to a comfortable position in there. I roll onto my right side, and he shortly will adjust. He hates it when I sit up straight or slouch forward towards my computer. We both hate car rides and seat belts. ... I've learned quite a bit about pregnancy so far, though my perspective may be different than other pregnant moms... I don't know. With less than 8 weeks to go, we haven't done anything yet at home to get ready for Lentil (mostly because I've had my nose in the startup grind living away in temporary housing and hotels the past several months in San Francisco).
10 Bits I've Learned in my version of being a pregnant woman:
... I wrote this post... twice... and it for some reason has had trouble saving. [So to be honest, I'm writing again a third time, but now am just going to upload whatever comes to mind instead of trying to rewrite the post.] Sometimes, the world is telling you that is was not meant to be.
Along those lines, what is meant to be anyways? Sometimes, despite ourselves, things have a magical way of finding their path into existence. You mess up, you try and will it away, it doesn't seem like it would be, but it is.
Now about 6 weeks into the 500 Startups program, it's been an emotional roller coaster. What startup journey isn't? Now about a year after we incorporated, we're taking the time to reframe and rebuild pieces of the business in terms of culture, processes, all the fundamentals that'll help us move faster in the long run. We've had to make some really tough decisions. I mostly feel like my body isn't my own and I'm the "ass" on behalf of the company. The deliverer of tough news and feedback. The one to punch the wall down with my bare fists sometimes so we can go through. Having so many of those uncomfortable conversations a normal human would go shrinking into the corner at... here we are, taking them on, head on. Each week, we're getting better and stronger. This week, I think we actually broke through the darkness and I see the glimmer of light ahead.
Into the light we go. Appreciate that you are cheering us on.
PS, try out GiftStarter. Feedback always welcome. Use the promocode "GiftMe!" to try the GIft Concierge service for free.
This post was written on November 11, 2013. Read it again just now. It's a somber feeling still... like a dull pain. Thanks for sharing this journey with us and for all of your support.
A whole long week of angst and worry went by after that experience on October 22, 2013. It was a long week. I ate extra. I slept a lot. I avoided all stress. ... Somehow I thought I could fix it. If I worked hard enough, that everything would be ok.
Going through our version of our experience, for us, our seedling only lived for 7 weeks, and affected us in so many ways.
After that first shocking doctor visit (on October 22, 2013), my husband and I went to the ultrasound specialists on October 29, 2013. They spent a good half hour doing a very thorough exam and despite all of our prayers and positive wishful thinking, we got the same news. It was still hard hearing that second time. They sort of walked us through the reasoning, ... I'm not sure, it didn't really sink in. On October 30th, 2013, we went and saw another very well recommended OB doctor. They spent a good long time looking at the ultrasound and for the final third time, gave us the same dark news. This time, the evidence made sense as they slowly walked us through what was going on: no heartbeat. No chance of heartbeat. Baby had not grown in size from last week. No blood flow at all. No movement. ... I couldn't help thinking, I should have tried harder...
On October 30th, 2013, we decided to move forward with the D&C procedure, without the general anesthesia. I know... crazy. In hindsight... completely. I do not recommend doing it that way... My reasoning, was that 1) I hate hospitals, 2) I'm wary of general anesthesia, 3) I wanted to be conscious during the procedure, 4) because I thought it would help with the healing process (emotionally and mentally), and 5) I didn't want to wait "x?" weeks for it to happen unplanned the natural way. We did the procedure the same day. Took a pill to get the process going. Took a couple pain killers an hour before. Took some Advil right before the procedure. She injected to large shots of the local anesthesia inside of me... and then the procedure began. Let me stress - don't ever do or advise a friend to do this without the general anesthesia. Never. If you have a choice and you decide to do a D&C, always go to the hospital and always get the general anesthesia. The most horrific pain I could have ever imagined. My husband held my hand the whole way through. I spent the evening of October 30 in pain and it was about a week later (November 6) where everything in my body seemed to mostly work again.
My husband and I are planning to have a mini service for the seedling that didn't make it soon....
That's it for today.
This post was written on October 24, 2013. I appreciate sharing this recent miscarriage journey with you... especially with the last few posts, it's been really helpful for me to share, let go, and repair emotionally. Actually, re-reading this post today makes me a little somber - I can hardly believe it's been a little over two months since this all happened. Remembering the shock of it all... It was a very rough September - December 2013 this past year.
Today... we are stronger from the experience. For that, we are thankful for each other and the gift it is to live everyday a part of something so wonderful, through both the good and hard times. So lucky to be married to my husband...
On October 22, 2013 - my husband and I went in for our very first OB appointment for our baby. I was so excited. SO EXCITED! I made a lunch box at home for both of us and brought it to my husband at the appointment. I got there 15 minutes before the appointment. By our calculations, we were thinking baby was 7 weeks, 3 days old. The first half hour was not too bad - we did paperwork, and more paperwork, we met with the nurse that walked us through packets and pamphlets and papers. SO EXCITED! I got weighed and measured. They took a urine sample (my guess is to verify that I am really pregnant. And you know my story, I took the pregnancy multiple times to be extra sure.). We met the doctor briefly for about 5 minutes where she gives us a very super high level overview and introduces herself. She says by my LMP, I should be at 10 to 10.5 weeks along now. She explains the whole cycle of the egg and how the calculation is made. We're pretty sure the baby is NOwhere near 10 weeks. This isn't math - it's nature. ...
Then we get to what we think will be the good stuff... we do the trans-vaginal ultrasound. My husband has got his new iPhone 5S (a big deal that he has an iPhone) out ready to take photos of the screen. About 5 seconds in, the doctor made a funny sound - a concerning sound. OH G-D... NO.... She clears her throat and restarts the ultrasound. And the again, concern on her face. She blurts out, "there's no heartbeat. There should definitely be one by now, you're past 10 weeks!" .... Uh... say what? OH G-D... NO.... Then she measures the embryo, and says it looks like it's only 7 weeks along and isn't growing. PLEASE... Then she says she needs to get a second opinion and runs to get another physician in. HOLD ON HERE.... The other doctor comes in awkwardly, stands in the far corner as she redoes the ultrasound in a hurry. He glances at the screen and says, yes, there is no heartbeat. WOA... By 10 weeks you should definitely be able to see a heartbeat. Sorry about that. He walks out. I'm sorry, are you a doctor? A HUMAN BABY DOCTOR? WHY ARE WE RUSHING AROUND HERE? CAN SOMEONE SLOW DOWN AND CONSIDER THAT MAYBE IT'S NOT 10 WEEKS? OR MAYBE, REDO THE ULTRASOUND A LITTLE BIT MORE SLOWLY AND A LITTLE BIT MORE THOROUGHLY? SOMEONE HELP US! WALK WITH US... No... No... Apparently not.
She asks me to redress and that she'll come in and give us our options. My husband and I are in shock. Tears running down our faces. What the hell is going on? What just happened? I mean SERIOUSLY? My body says nothing's wrong - I've had no fall, no injury, nothing out of the ordinary since the start. No bleeding, no miscarriage symptoms at all. So confused.
So the doctor returns and says we have to options. She believes the baby has been dead for at least 2 weeks now because the embryo looks to be about 7 weeks, and should be at 10. She says I can continue to wait to miscarry naturally for about a week - HOWEVER, the issue is that she's going on vacation starting Wednesday, so she won't be around to help next week. She recommends a D&C to remove the baby. Oh, and since she's going on vacation, the only available time slot is this week, tomorrow in fact, at 7AM. Wait, what did she say? I JUST FOUND OUT THAT YOU THINK THE BABY IS DEAD AFTER DOING TWO 5 SECOND ULTRASOUNDS, AND NOW YOU WANT ME TO ABORT THE BABY FIRST THING TOMORROW MORNING AT 7AM TO ACCOMMODATE YOUR VACATION SCHEDULE??? .... You gotta be kidding me. HELL FUCKING NO WAY.
Yea. I'm angry. My husband and I are devastated. We are worried and sad. UPSET. DEVASTATED. We cry when we leave the office. We cry in the elevator lobby. We cry in the car. I decide to pull myself together and go into the office for a few hours to finish up some work. My boss makes a small joke about babies (harmless one), and I start sobbing at work. ... He says I need to take some time off to regroup - and so I do. Sob more at home, sob myself to sleep, sob when I wake. ... Crying. Sorrow. Confusion. Heartbreak. Sadness. ... And then, it dawns on me. NO WAY we're doing a D&C this week. NO WAY. I need a second opinion from another doctor who'll hopefully take the time to be thoroughly sure before telling us to abort the baby. I schedule an appointment for next week - one more week, our baby will have more time to grow. We're not giving up on you little one.
So... baby, hang in there. Focus on growing. I'll keep taking vitamins, eating well and resting plenty. I'm reducing all stress. I got a massage today. I'm getting a haircut. I'm napping. Next week, hoping for some more light and maybe even some good news. It's going to be a long 7 days for us.
This post was written on October 6, 2013. It's been about 3 months since the miscarriage... and it seems all like a dream. Like it never happened... I know it did, but it's completely surreal. Life is happily back to normal. My husband and I dined out over the weekend enjoying cocktails. I wore a fun dress with stilettos. I haven't lost any weight, but I'm not at all trying to. ... I'm scared about having to go through it again --- for those that get pregnant completely ignorant of what the real pregnancy experience is like, it's better that way. The fairy tales of carrying around an adorable baby bump, that it happens oh so very easily, that morning sickness is just a little throwing up here and there, ... It's true, "ignorance is bliss".
OMG. This morning was apparently my first experience with morning sickness. I've had a month long relationship with constant nausea - it's a pain in the butt to deal with. I'm used to it now, it comes and goes. I find that if I nibble all day long, I'm better. I'm also thirsty all of the time (for those that know me, this is rare for me).
Woke up this morning and suddenly, the room was spinning and my stomach was cramping. I breathed in and then gagged on the big gulp of air. Lots of gagging as I ran to the bathroom. Heaving. Moaning. Sweats, lots of sweats. ... After which, I crawled into bed with my husband and whimpered, "I think I'm dying".
Seriously. THIS is morning sickness? THIS IS HORRIBLE!!!
Keeping my fingers crossed that this doesn't happen again...
First doctor visit tomorrow. Wish me luck.
This post was written on September 29, 2013. Thank you to everyone that sent me notes after the first post last week - very encouraging to have your support. In my head, I was imaging people reading the posts thinking to themselves "she is crazy for writing this". ... Encouraging to feel your support.
As I write this pre-commentary, it's sort of eerie to read the post below that I had written more than three months ago. Since then, the indigestion and nausea is gone. I don't listen to music these days - I prefer silence and/or nonfiction. I'm still mostly vegan, and I no longer get sick when I do cheat with dairy or meat. I'm a light sleeper now - everything seems to wake me up in the middle of the night. I'm about ten pounds heavier than August 2013 and have not been able to shake off the acquired weight - I'm not that motivated to, either. It doesn't seem like most people can tell anyways, thanks to the winter wardrobe. I've been working on rebuilding and strengthening my body again (lots of fluids, nutrient rich food, more rest, less alcohol, ... just a whole lot more forgiving and kinder to myself with my body.) I'm thankful for my husband, who is my place of gentle calm and comfort.
Crazy... Crazy.... Crazy... our baby Citrus Seed is now in its 5th week of life. I look back on the past month and NOW EVERYTHING SEEMINGLY MAKES SENSE.
Well, this is all in hindsight.
I downloaded this clever app on my iPhone 5. It's called "What to Expect when Pregnant" ---- very clever and helpful. Week by week it walks you through the pregnancy process, what to expect, what to think about, what to prepare. I've found it very helpful the past couple of weeks.
I also find myself looking up everything on the web: what can I eat, what shouldn't I eat, how well should by meat be cooked, is sushi okay, what about raw oysters, is it safe to be scanned at the airport security, how often should I eat, how much weight gain is safe?.... the line of questions is just crazy. I've gone from a person that is so carefree about life and food and safety to a person that auto-magically thinks about this stuff. It's amazing what's going on in terms of the changes and the biggest change with the actual baby arriving hasn't even happened!
Next up... our first prenatal visit to the OBGYN.