To kick it off, I want to admit, I’m a little hesitant to write a blog post about being pregnant. It feels immensely personal and a little voice inside of me keeps nagging at me, “oh don’t be that woman who gets pregnant and that’s all she can talk about!”
I’m saying a big “SSSHHHH” to that voice because I think it represents an unhelpful dynamic that exists in the world today – that we don’t talk about pregnancy! The amount I’ve learned about being pregnant (and about what popular culture has lied to me about) is astounding to me and the fact that it’s all so secretive is, frankly, maddening. So here I am, talking about it.
It can be common to place value on “life experiences,” the ones that help us develop as people and as leaders. This is popularly chalked up to adventures like international travel, engaging in team sports, starting a business (successfully or not), etc. Yet, for the life of me, I couldn’t find any narrative online that aligned with how my experience of being pregnant has made me a better person and leader. Below I’ve summarized some of the highlights from how I’ve noticed myself thinking, behaving, and leading differently as a result of my development throughout the past 9 months.
I am very clear about what I can and can’t control
You may at some point in your life been exposed to Covey’s Circle of Influence model. Briefly, it encourages a “proactive” focus on what you have influence over as a means of enhancing your influence, over a more “reactive” approach, where we focus on what we can’t control in the world around us. The latter of which is characterized by feeling victimized or blaming, the former being more empowering.
This model has been important to me for years, but from the very beginning of deciding to try to have a baby, much less by the time I actually got pregnant, my practice of this mindset and approach has taken on a whole new meaning. I started to realize how little control I had over both the journey and the outcome and how frustrated, worried, and helpless I could start to feel when I started to dwell on all the “what if’s.” What if I get morning sickness while I’m trying to teach a workshop? What if I need to have a Caesarean? What if I develop a complication? As I’ve truly embraced the unknown and instead focused on the factors I can control, I know that it’s had a positive influence on my physical and mental progress in my pregnancy, more so than any worrying would have gotten me.
At work, this mindset has enabled me to let go of control over projects when I needed to in a way that would have been really hard for me in the past. Given my line of work, I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but the people around me who have stepped up have really surprised me. They’ve stepped up in ways that as I reflect now, I wish I’d empowered them to do so a long time ago.
I am more self-confident
I am very thankful that I was advised early on to work with a midwife. While I can’t speak to the experience of having a doctor (and I’m sure it varies) the approach that the midwifery practice I work with believes in is that pregnancy and birth is a natural process. As much as our bodies necessarily change in this process, it’s what we are designed to do.
Embracing this confidence in my body has led to greater confidence in myself and who I am as a leader. I can’t exactly say what it was, other than surrounding myself with people who fundamentally believe that this is a natural process and the body knows what to do (as opposed to it being some kind of medical condition to be fixed). I am not saying that the little voice of self-doubt isn’t completely gone (note my first paragraph), but I have noticed my self-confidence increase and as a result, it has enabled me to be more decisive, resilient in the face of setbacks, and adaptable as a leader.
I can focus on what’s truly important
Perhaps it goes without saying that when you are growing a life inside of you, that takes precedence over anything else, and yet, it can absolutely get more complicated. The amount of information, advice, check-ups, do and don’ts, that I am bombarded with is astounding. Some of this is of my own accord (note: stop signing up for daily email lists…) and some are truly unsolicited.
To wade through all that information, it is easy to wonder how many of us ever survived before the age of all this information and medical advances. What I’ve learned going through this is how to wade through and make decisions about what is truly important and meaningful, and not to let the other stuff create noise that gets in the way. Sitting in strategy meetings I was taking more of a long-term perspective- like what kind of company do I want to come back to a year from now, as opposed to in the past where I would be more reactionary. I realized that supporting people taking on my tasks in their own way was a way better use of my time and more valuable than spending hours writing down a specific procedure to follow.
I feel very grateful to have gone through this experience and to work in an organization and operate in a community in which I feel that I can be truly open about how this experience has changed me. My wish is to continue this narrative and to hear more stories about how being pregnant has made you a better person and leader.
Since this article was written, Krysty is now the proud mother of beautiful baby Grace.