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.


Women making change in the workplace

I was required to take some OSHA training at work, and it brought up the Triangle fire that happened in 1911. This fire was one that took place in a “sweat shop,” which was really common for female (especially immigrant female) workers who sewed for a living.

These workplaces have since become infamous for unhealthy conditions, with no breaks and hazardous environment.

What happened what a fire that snuffed out 146 lives in 18 minutes. What also happened were a bunch of laws (eventually leading to OSHA itself, the occupational safety and health adminitration) that made the workplace a lot safer.

Those women were martyrs, really. They didn’t know what was going to happen to them the day they went to work. They knew it was horrible, but they knew they needed to support themselves and their families.

I think about them as I consider how women who are pregnant, taking care of themselves and their families, might feel a little uncomfortable or nervous asking for what they need throughout their pregnancy. That they might need to ask for a little special consideration, a little extra time off for doctor’s appointments, or for milk pumping breaks after the baby is born.

I would like to think we’ve learned somehting in the intervening 100 years. That the tragedy of the sweatshop workers would not need to be repeated, not even a little bit.

Here’s what I was reading about it.

A Wild Heavy Burden

I had already read the book, but I watched the movie Wild recently. From the book, I understood how much it was about her mother. The hero’s mom had been so central to her life that when she died, Cheryl came unmoored.

There was something about that enormous backpack. All the things she would need to sustain life strapped to her body–and at first she was so misguided about what she was going to need–her huge pack so evocative of the heavy burden she was unprepared to carry.

Her mother had to carry the burden of Cheryl and her siblings. Then Cheryl had relied on her so hard, she stumbled under the weight of her own life without her mother.

But somehow, watching the movie, I felt the weight as she pulled on the backpack. I suddenly found myself crying, because of the strange looped infinity symbol. That’s what motherhood feels like to me so often. I can’t put it down, because I can’t find any other way to be myself without it.

It’s too big. And it’s essential. Imperative.

Romantically, I’d like to think I would be so loved and needed by my daughter. Also, I pragmatically hope that I would provide her with more self-reliance than Cheryl had.

I had more than she had.

But I had different shoes than she did. All God’s children got shoes.

The movie really had a lot to say about motherhood. And daughterhood.

More than anything, it showed how you just have to keep showing up. Which is probably the most primal thing about motherhood I could say.


My Aim: Clear the Noise

I had a great conversation today with a newly pregnant friend. She’s young, and is still working to attain her university education goals. We were talking about how it’s not very clear what it takes to get the sort of education a person wants. Equally important, it’s not easy to tell how to pay for it.

We couldn’t help but compare the bureaucracy of the education system with the confusion of trying to figure out what resources are available to help you when you’re pregnant.

She said sure, you can go to the Internet. And there is so much information it’s overwhelming. How would I know what’s true? How do I know if I’m being taken advantage of, or lied to? It is SO REASSURING to know that I have the Pregnant Professional handbook to refer to. It’s short and clear.

Nowhere else can you get this resource.

In this program, in this slim guide, you can hold confidence in your hands.

Because people are just like the Internet. Everybody has an opinion. And even if they are well intentioned, they are speaking from their set of priorities.

For the women who are Pregnant Professionals, we know what we want. We have a vision of who we are and what we want our lives to be.

It’s ours. And thank you very much for your help, but we are going to make our own decisions.

The Pregnant Professional program is here to clear the noise and give each woman the power and the confidence to look over her options, examine her choices, and make decisions that work for her.

I believe in you, Pregnant Professional woman. I believe in your ability to make the right choices for you and your family. It’s my goal to help you towards your potential and be happy. And having the right information is a great start.

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.

Standing up for yourself is powerful

Women in Iceland protest a gender pay gap of 14% by leaving 14% early

Look at those women! Together, standing up for equality. It makes me cry. It is amazing what can be done when people stand up shoulder to shoulder.

It’s so beautiful to see women having each other’s backs.

Around here in california, we have an earthquake preparedness day. It’s calle the Great Shake Out. It’s planned way in advance. Businesses and schools work take part and they have earthquake drills so that everyone can practice what to do in an emergency.

We also have fire drills from time to time.

It is not unreasonable for women to protest. It seems like the world would continue. Like we do after emergency drills.

Then again, what if there were crises because of this? Isn’t it a good thing to prove the value of the women who are undervalued by 14%?

I am deeply moved by this.

Pregnant in the spotlight

It happened a while ago, but I just found out about it. President Obama was giving a speech, and a very professional pregnant woman was standing behind him.

What  a great opportunity! Wouldn’t you love to be given a place on the stage behind a sitting president? I loved her dress, too. She looks very groomed and professional.

And pregnant. Oh my. Sometimes standing still can be excrutiating. It seemed to be for her. She started to teeter, and the other people around her noticed.

What would you have done? I would HATE to have to excuse myself. I would have set all phasers to “tough it out” and stayed there.

What actually happened, as you can see in the video, is that she began to teeter and nearly faint. Her colleages next to her noticed. The one woman reached out to steady her.

No one asked her to leave. No one told her to sit down.

It is a bit sticky, isn’t it? Because if it were me, I would NOT have wanted to admit that I couldn’t do it.

There was a lot of sunlight. I suspect that she may have also not had enough water. I would probably worried more about needing to go to the bathroom while on stage and have avoided drinking water before the event.

It’s a real fear. I remember taking the 4 hour PMP test while I was 7 months pregnant. I knew that any time I spent leaving to use the facilities would be deducted from my total time to finish the test. No way was I going to miss this valuable certification because I had to pee.

And I always had to pee at  seven months pregnant.

So I carefully drink smaller amounts of water, and strategized how I would handle the 4 hour test.  I didn’t have to pee, so my strategy worked.

Even better, I passed the test and got the certification so my strategy *really* worked.

I can feel this poor woman’s pain. I imagine her gritting her teeth. Her inner monologue must have been IcandothisIcandothisIcandothis as she swayed and tried to keep it together.

She had to be thinking, How humiliating. This is a one time opportunity to be on the stage. This is a rare honor not given to just anyone.

I’m here! I am taking part in history! My baby, when the little one arrives, will be so proud to know that Mama did this.

And she teetered. And it was undeniable. Everyone noticed.

What was most incredible is the President Obama noticed. He had to have been hyper focused on his message. He was talking about his Affordable Care Act, which in common parlance was given his name: Obamacare. Talk about a legacy!

He still noticed. And it was incredibly charming that he noticed this teetering pregnant woman behind him and took the time to help her off the stage.

She looked so professional up there, even to the point of near collapse. And President Obama looked amazing in his response to her. He was able to take a moment from his speech, help this woman, and even make a self-deprecating joke about how he was probably talking too long.

I love this story.


Career life

I have to say, when I started my career I had put the idea of motherhood on the furthest back burner I could find. I knew I wanted a kid. It would happen.

I am not a person who allows things to happen by accident. There was a very long lead up to the arrival of my daughter. Probably a decade.

And during that decade? Every day I labored on my career. I planned and schemed and despaired and triumphed (why does it feel like I despaired more than I triumphed? I should cut myself a break)

When motherhood arrived, when I was at home with my infant, I could not imagine how I would enter the career again. I wanted to go back. I could not imagine not going back.

Think about that.

I could not imagine going back and I could not imagine not going back.

I could not imagine myself at all.

It was very very uncomfortable.

For my pregnant professional friends, you are my people. I do NOT want that feeling for my people.

That’s what this program is about. A roadmap that applies to you. A roadmap with a tiny LED light for when your life goes dark.

Your friends and your family will give you help. Take it.

But this is the only place I’ve ever seen that lays out the journey all the way.

I would have loved to have this, it would have made a difference in my life. So I want you to have it.

Here is the way for you to be confident, to see around the corner and know that you are handling the things that are important to you and that make you YOU.