The Pregnant Professional offers creative solutions, coaching and encouragement to pregnant women and working mothers so they don’t feel forced to choose between two things they love: their children, and their own identity outside of their family.


Month: November 2016

You Earned This

I had been planning my pregnancy for years. I imagine a lot of people have this sort of plan too. First comes love, then comes marriage, then the baby in a baby carriage.

For me, there was a first marriage that lost its love and thankfully didn’t result in a baby. Bullet dodged there.

Love came again, and this time I got a mortgage for a house before a ring. A 30-year mortgage felt more of a commitment than a marriage, honestly.

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to get married…it was an existential question, really. Weren’t things fine the way they were?

I read Marriage: A History and was full of insights and epiphanies. Then I tied the knot –which was amazing–and got ready to get pregnant.

Of course I made plans, and started tracking my ovulation and all the things I’d never paid attention to before.

But I did NOT want to give up my career. I’d worked so hard and diligently on creating my professional skills, on having a crafted skillset. I wanted to start my long-delayed family, but I was NOT going to lose ground on my career.

And whenever some crusty baby boomer implied that I would not be coming back to work after the baby was born I burned with indignation.

Why did they assume I could be removed and it would matter?

Why didn’t those older types tell me what I really needed to know? I can say that NOW, after the fact. At the time I thought I knew.

I was full of what I thought I knew. I knew I needed to find out what sort of maternity leave I could expect. So I called HR.

“Hello? Yes, I wanted to find out what the Maternity leave policies are. Can you give me the intranet website that explains it.”

No. No they could not.


Yes, they had policies, but they were not gong to make it easy for me to find out what they were.

It seemed that the ancient ritual of feminine secret was brought in once again. I had to go through the grapevine. Go find a woman who had been through what I was facing and ask her…most likely in secret or in the ladies bathroom.

I was outraged at how medieval this system was. How dare my employer not treat this common occurrence with professional respect.

I was a professional and I should be given the tools to do my job.

As I talked with my friends it seems that my experience is common.

Somehow, women as professional skilled workers and managers are not supported as mothers.

That’s not right. It’s downright medieval and I did something about it. I sat down and wrote a tidy little handbook that walk a woman through what she needs to consider when managing her career transition into motherhood. And that handbook grew into a course.

The world cannot do without these women. the world cannot do without YOU. All that education, experience and training? That’s necessary now, especially now.

I didn’t work this hard to quit. You didn’t do all this work to let it be pushed aside and disregarded. Your ambitions, family and career ambitions, matter and deserve your attention and support.

That’s what The Pregnant Professional is here for. This is the place that gives you the vital, valuable information before you have to make a decision that affects the rest of your life. And I’m so glad to be able to do it.

Doing it All Wrong

Looking back, I am embarrassed. I was so sure I knew what I was doing. I did not.

Boy, I did not.

Pregnant at the busiest time in my career, and ready to take on the entire world, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Take breastfeeding. I thought it was easy. I did nearly nothing to prepare. I figured it would all happen like the sun rises in the morning. Inevitably.

What actually happened was the doctor took an ultrasound look at my baby and said, “Oh, this child is going to be too big. Look at how long she is! See…See that?”

Um…I see it. I don’t know what it means.

“Based on our estimates this child will be 10 pounds if we wait the week until your due date. We need to induce.”

10 pounds? I wanted my water to break and to have to time the contractions and then be driven to the hospital. My husband had already mapped out three different ways in case there was traffic on any of the routes.

My birth felt industrialized and manufactured now. I wasn’t in control at all.


Me and my doctor agreed on a day. I picked Jan 20th to start the induction because it meant she would be an Aquarius, not a Capricorn like me. I was clutching at crumbs of choice.

Well. She was born two days later, with many dramas and traumas and almost no control on my part. She came out healthy, giving a surprised cry moments after exiting my body.


They placed her little 8lb 6oz body on my chest right after giving my vagina a hemstitch.

“Skin on skin time is vital.”

I had never heard this, but I figured holding her was a good idea. She was fascinated with her fingers, spreading them. We all admired them.

“Put her to your breast!” the nurse said. What? OK. She latched perfectly.

I didn’t know how lucky I was.

I had planned to breastfeed, which everyone said was a good idea. Sure! The world turns, the sun rises and I will use my body to feed my child.

Well. Sort of. I suppose my body would have done better if I hadn’t let my brain get in the way. The doctors kept asking me in the checkups “Do you feel blue?”

I felt something. “I don’t think I feel blue. I feel red. Like every minute I have to panic.”


She laughed. I didn’t.

I made a lot of mistakes. But one thing I did do right:

My job, that I was so eager to return to, didn’t have a lactation facility of any kind when I was pregnant. All the people I worked with were not of a fertile age, so no one had thought of it.

I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby and that meant pumping milk.

It was embarrassing to think about baring my breasts at work, and hooking up an apparatus. I wanted a safe comfortable place to manage this procedure.

I surveyed the facilities. No one offered to help, but this was important to me. I inspected the cube farm, and down the hallways for different possibilities. I found one closet that had an electric outlet and brought over a chair and a little stack of boxes to act as a table.

I made sure to get a key for my spot. My typically unsupportive supervisor was presented with this arrangement as an accomplished fact. I had made a nest for me to support my little chick even while I was away from her.

Back to my panicked red alarm days at home with the newborn. I did not know what I was doing, and with every passing hour (how slowly those hours passed!) I felt the tide of ignorance rising. I had spent my whole adult life battling ignorance on every front.
That’s what it meant to be a career woman, to have ambition and be good at my chosen profession.

I would work so hard to nail down the answers to questions. Having the right information, not just at the right time but WELL IN ADVANCE of when the decision must be made–that was who I was.

No wonder I felt on red alert all the time. Motherhood is far more nuanced than the engineering field I worked in.

Back in my swollen pregnant days, I thought it would be easy to find out. That’s what people think before they become moms. It all looks so easy from a distance!

At home with my newborn, I wanted everything to be right for her. And I had no certainty at all that I was doing the right thing. I remember thinking, “This is not possible. It will not be possible for me to manage this and go back to work. And I have to go back to work!”

In my terror I could at least picture where I would pump milk when I got back to work. There was a physical space that intersected work and my fledgling motherhood. I clung to that little scrap.

I did pump at work when I got back. I remember it so fondly, a moment in the day to have some privacy and to think of my newborn. It didn’t last as long as I wished. I was able to breastfeed my baby for the first few months, but because of over-confidence and a lack of knowledge on my part I didn’t have enough milk to do it longer.

Sorry, baby.

How did this happen? I am information girl! I’m the one who studies and knows what she is doing.

The next year my baby’s godmother got pregnant for the first time. “Oh my gosh! I am going to write you some things you have to know. There is so much I have to tell you.”

I spent a long time writing. I wrote a book. Literally. That was how the Pregnant Professional was born. I didn’t tell my friend how to breastfeed. I’d failed at that; there are so many people better qualified to advise on how to manage your milk.

What I did write was how to handle the work side. I couldn’t find anyone who had focused in a meaningful way on what a working woman has to think about.


Now I work with career women who are starting their families to help them feel confident, preserve their ambitions, and work with their employers to get what they need. Like me, a huge number of women have worked tirelessly to gain expertise and make their dreams come true. Motherhood is one part of our lives. Our ambitions are also important.

I want every pregnant professional woman a chance to avoid the stupid mistakes I made. I mean it! I took the time and made a whole program to support these superheroes.

We’ve come a long way, and we have so much further we want to go.

It’s our Right!

This is the moment for women. It’s time to vote tomorrow.  And wow, is this one a doozy. Blood is running hot. THe candidates are controversial. I can’t help but mention, there is a woman candidate! This could be the year we elect a female president of the United States of America.

That’s is a big one. No small thing. Women have been eying that tall climb for a long time.

I was at the Huntington Library and they had a display about Susan B. Anthony. You know the one on the dollar coin?susan-b

Of course I knew about her. She was a pioneer in helping women vote. My daughter is seven now and I explained to her that once upon a time, women couldn’t vote.

“What? That is really mean!”

“Yes, I know. It’s not fair. That’s why about a hundred years ago they fixed it. People realized it was mean and unfair that women couldn’t vote, and now women can vote. It’s really important to pay attention and vote, especially since people had to fight for the right to be able to.”

What I didn’t know when I was telling my daughter about how women got the vote, is what Susan B. Anthony had to go through to make it possible.

At the Huntington Library I learned she voted. In 1872 she voted in an election, and was arrested. She sat in jail because she refused to acknowledge that what she did was wrong. She refused to plead guilty because she strongly believed that it was NOT a crime for a woman to vote.

She sat in jail to prove the injustice for America. She stood out so that all women could have a voice.

It took a while longer for women to find (almost) equal footing in the workplace. For certain, women have been given access to equal education. We’re still working and striving to make our mark, for women and also for our own individual selves.

Thank you, Susan B. Thanks for standing up and forcing America to see you and see your point of view.

As I think about the laws that affect pregnant women in the workplace, I have to think about the stand she took.

Laws as only as strong as the people who use them. The people who enforce them, and the people who demand their protection.

It’s harsh to think about what Susan B. Anthony did. How far things had gone for her to have to make such a stand! To protest all the way into a jail cell! That’s hard-core!

Most of the time, pregnant women have a softer road. The social environment of a job is full of small concessions and compromises.

“Can’t you just..?”

For the pregnant and new mothers I am supporting, I want the process to be one of equality. The compromises should not be one-sided. I want women to feel confident and secure when asking for what they need for themselves at their workplace.

We have rights. Thank you Susan B. Anthony.