Today’s ezine is a special edition – I want to share my big personal news with you.
So, some of you already guessed it after last week’s teaser – I’m pregnant!
I’m due in the beginning of April, I feel great and I’m starting to get big – here’s a recent picture of me at about 23 weeks:
So now that I’ve given you the big, exciting “reveal”, I want to bring you deeper behind the veils with me into the journey that I’ve had so far with this pregnancy, and how it intersects with life in general, and a whole lot of business lessons, too. It’s very personal, and kinda long, but I am sharing all this with you because I sense it’s important for you to hear and take in, that there are places for yourself you’ll recognize and learn from, whether you’re a mother or not.
Even though this pregnancy had been nearly meticulously planned for quite some time, somehow the news of the pregnancy didn’t delight me in the ways I had expected. I remember sitting in the bathroom, staring at the faded “plus” line on the “pee stick”, and just being frozen. A feeling of dread and anxiety was rising inside of me.
For one thing, I was remembering the sleep deprivation after Penina was born (I am a woman who loves my sleep), and how hard it was for me to be the mother of a newborn. I was not a “natural” those first few months, and often stood amazed at other new moms who loved every moment of it, while I simply felt disheveled, overtired, and clueless.
The other thing is that Jon and I aren’t spring chickens any more (in fact, I’m considered “Advanced Maternal Age” – they seriously need to re-coin that term!). All of a sudden it hit me that Jon would be pushing 50 before we’d go away on a romantic vacation again, that I’d likely be one of the oldest parents in the class, and that my body probably wasn’t going to go back to pre-baby firmness as easily as with my first.
It also became real that my life as I know it would be changing drastically – Penina turned 5 this last August, so we’re firmly out of the “diaper” years. I generally sleep through the night, have time and space to go out socially, can cook dinner without worrying about how Penina is amusing herself, go to yoga class when I want, make the work hours I want, and so on. Understanding that all this would change for a while hit hard, and brought on a sense of panic about where my life was going, where my business was going and what the future had in store for me.
Of course, none of these realizations were breaking news– they had certainly crossed my mind many times when we were planning on getting pregnant, but somehow the longing for another child superseded the fear and concern. Now that I was for sure pregnant, the longing dissipated, the fog of idealism lifted and I was faced with the tough question of was I sure I wanted the whole kit and caboodle of what it means to be the parent of another child. And WOW, did I beat myself up about that. “But Joanna, it’d be one thing if it were an accident, but for goodness sake – you planned this. What were you thinking!?! How could you not have fully thought it through? You’re a terrible person for even having these doubts – most women would be thrilled at this news!”
Honestly, it was as if all of my tried and true energy management tools got thrown out the window, and I was in a total tizzy. The tension between wanting another child and the responsibility that came with it was immense.
The other piece was that, even though the timing of pregnancy was planned far in advance (around my business)…I got the timing wrong! You’d think that it wouldn’t be so complicated to count out 9 months, but somehow it was a total shock to discover the baby is due in April and not June. That meant making some considerable changes in my business, my mastermind curriculum and my schedule – certainly not impossible, but definitely not the “perfect” plan I had banked on.
All in all, none of it was fun.
A week after my pregnancy test, things got even more complicated: I learned I had a genetic mutation that brought with it an increased likelihood of Down’s syndrome and Autism. Now, this is when the sh*t hit the fan for me – because of my mother’s illness, and how profoundly it’s shaped my life, the possibility of more illness was a lot to take in.
So, there I was, with extreme nausea (that seems to be a 1st trimester theme for me), extreme anxiety and confusion about bringing another baby into my life, and a new sensation: extreme fear that the child developing inside me had physical or mental issues that I wouldn’t be able to handle.
We waited a long seven weeks before we could take a special new test for chromosomal issues, and another two even longer weeks waiting for the results. When the results came back negative for chromosomal issues, I felt relieved and even joyful, but it lasted only a few hours before the anxiety, confusion and fear set back in.
I knew something needed to shift for me big time, or else I’d be miserable through the pregnancy, not connect in with the baby, be constantly worried about the future, and drive my husband nuts through the process.
When I say it was a dark night of the soul passage, that’s an understatement.
All of my personal issues and fears (most of which I thought I had worked through already!) were wrapped up in this pregnancy – the years of living with a terminally ill parent and the accompanying fear of my own health, the fear of getting older, the fear of my business falling apart, my precious time being taken away from me, my life falling apart. It all came to a head with this pregnancy.
The inner work I had to do was immense. It included daily journaling, meditating, visualizing, crying, praying, reading, walking in the woods, and everything in between.
Looking back, I can see how easy it would have been for me to avoid the inner work and to simply continue on in the “comfort zone” of the anxiety. It was truly a CHOICE to face the fears head-on.
And the shifts began to happen. Through the intense inner work, I was able to arrive to a place of relative peace – and dare I say, even moments of joy and excited anticipation.
Here are some of the most important lessons I learned. None of them were new to me, but all were vitally important to re-connect deeply with:
- No matter how much you plan, life and business are still partially a mystery…and that’s a good thing:
There’s a famous Jewish saying – “We plan and God laughs.” This is so true. I am a planner to the max, and it is absolutely a big piece of why I’ve been able to be so successful in business. However, what I’ve learned is that planning can only take you so far, because LIFE is going to happen – a launch won’t go exactly as planned, a team member will leave the team, an event will get cancelled, a baby will be due in April instead of June (J), so on and so forth. The trick is to embrace the mystery, to understand that unexpected things will happen, to not let it move you off-center and off-balance, to know you can always re-plan around the new circumstances. And maybe – just maybe – you can even delight that we don’t know how it’s all going to work out and that life can still take us by surprise.
- Living Life (& being in Business) = Taking Risks:
There is truly no such thing as gaining or creating anything you want without risk being part of the equation. For me, for this pregnancy – the baby could end up sick. That’s a risk. It’s a risk any expectant parent is going to take. We simply don’t know. But my desire to bring a new being into this world and raise it and love it is greater than my fear of the risk.
Same goes for business – nearly every time you put yourself out there, market, outreach, make a presentation, have a prospect conversation, etc. you are taking a risk. You don’t know what the outcome will be, how you’ll be received, how it’ll go. And one of the main characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is that you are willing to take the risk. You choose to feed your desire over your fear.
- You can’t choose the outcome, but you can choose your experience:
One thing I’ve really come to understand is that no matter what I do, I can’t necessarily make this baby a certain way – a good sleeper, easy personality, without colic, etc. That’s all part of the mystery I was talking about earlier. What I can control, though, is how I experience it and move through all of it. I can choose to be lighthearted or grounded or joyful, no matter what. I can choose to be in gratitude or to not complain. I get to control and choose my experience of it all.
For business, I do believe you can control the outcome a bit more. With a good marketing plan and systems and structures in place, you can really create the exact outcomes you want. But, as we looked at earlier, the mystery is still there. And when sh*tty things happen (and I promise they occasionally will), what you can still choose is how you experience them – you can choose to remain connected to your value and your passion, to not get thrown off track, and to keep on moving forward no matter what.
- It’s not just about me:
One of the biggest turning points in my attitude shift around my pregnancy came as I was preparing to tell the women in my Sacred Leadership Mastermind that I was pregnant. As I imagined telling them, I could see their faces light up and them being genuinely excited about it. And so I asked myself: what is it that would make them so excited? Yes, of course, a new baby in your life is exciting, but I realized it was something more. I realized that my clients would be excited about this pregnancy because they felt I would be a good parent to this new baby, that I would raise her well, that she would be lucky to be my daughter.
And then it hit me: I had spent so much time and energy worrying about how this new life would affect me, that I had completely forgotten about the absolute privilege and blessing of bringing a new soul into the world and guiding it and supporting that person to live out their potential and their dreams, and to be happy.
Once I remembered the sacred role of becoming a parent, everything shifted for me. And the same is true of your sacred work and business – it’s so important to take focus off yourself at times and onto the absolute joy & privilege of touching and changing the lives of those you serve.
Ok, my friends – I know I’ve written an “earful” and given you a lot to think about. I hope you enjoyed it! In the coming months I’ll be sharing with you some of the ways I prepared for this baby and re-structured team, offering, and systems for a smooth transition: good tools to have, no matter what!