“You’re building a startup while you’re pregnant? Are you insane?”
That’s what everyone asked me when I decided to get pregnant while working full-time at a tech startup in New York City in 2015. There I was: working at a startup, and pregnant.
Pregnancy rocked me and asked me to question everything I knew. It wasn’t easy, or anything like I was expecting. I had a somewhat difficult pregnancy the first time around, and I was thrust into moments of depression, despair, and anxiety.
Pregnancy is hard as shit, and I didn’t hear enough people talking about it. Telling the truth. Being honest about everything it took.
Fast-forward two and a half years later, and I got pregnant again—this time, building my own company. From senior leadership team to CEO, all in the midst of the never-ending marathon that is babies and breastfeeding and diapers and pregnancy and vomiting—and doing it all over again.
Yet at the same time, it became one of the deepest transitions and reorganizing principles in both my professional and personal life.
Interestingly, getting pregnant shifted my focus, but not in the “I never want to work again” kind of way that employers often fear.
Instead, I became more discerning about the decisions we made at work, I gained a clarity and focus I’d never before experienced, I wielded a new power over my command of the word “no,” and I quickly adopted new strategies to get people aligned around negotiations. Strangely, I was surprised to notice that getting pregnant made me a better leader and a more efficient employee. At the same time, working at a startup made me a better mom.
And yet, when I looked around the world and to my bookshelves for advice and guidance, I found relatively little that would help. The books were either categorized as “women’s leadership,” to encourage women to step up in the working world; or they were focused just on pregnancy and parenting, giving only a modicum of advice about how to pump enough when you go back to work. Why wasn’t working-and-parenting a more exciting proposition? What were we missing?
I craved a new kind of storytelling, a place where we could talk about the reality of working parents, and I didn’t find it.
So I set out to build it.
No more fake bubbles and posed pregnancy pics and warped gender norms. Absolutely ZERO photographs of a woman holding a baby and working on a laptop unless it also shows that same laptop filled with mountains of crushed cheerios and half of the keys stuck together because how the fuck do you laptop and baby? REALLY?
We’re here to talk about the hard stuff. To share what’s working and share all of the parts that are messy.
And then, we’re here to do what startup founders do best: to shake things up, to disrupt, and to reinvent.
We want to imagine a new future of what it looks like to be a working parent, a business leader, and a pregnant woman in today’s world.
The old ways aren’t working. They don’t work. We can’t force ourselves into the old models of parenting or the past models of a work world that was designed for “Ideal Workers” (aka, men)—and expect it to work. Those systems are broken. It’s time for us to figure out new models for work and life going forward.
Startup Pregnant is a place to mix work and family, to talk shop about business and birthing, to recognize that we thrive better when we collaborate across these cultural phenomena that have been strangely isolated from each other.
And, in fact, we can learn a lot from one another about how to reinvent the way business works.
- What if working and parenting didn’t have to be such a crazy, elaborate dance?
- What if there were some simpler ways to manage this frenetic journey and make it more do-able?
- What if there were key strategies and tools to make the journey more manageable?
- What if we could be on the same team, the same page, supporting each other?
- And … what if pregnancy actually has a lot of inherent wisdom in it, lessons that could serve to teach the business world a fair amount about how to make the work world level up in a way it’s never been before?
This is a place for an ongoing conversation about what it takes to build a company, become a parent, and chase after the multiple adventures you’re craving in your life. It’s not “either-or” — it’s a messy pile of “mostly in the middle.” We’re a group of people that want to explore what it takes to build thriving businesses and modern families..
My name is Sarah K Peck, and I’m the executive director behind Startup Pregnant.
My partner and I are tireless project creators: we like to say that we are “curious for a living,” and we have never stopped building projects, writing books, starting companies, and chasing adventures. Our latest adventures have doubled our family size—we’ve got two young boys who have been along for the ride. They, along with my fierce love of making work in the world, inspired this podcast and project. But this site is more than just my story.
This site is a place to collect and share the stories of thousands of women and parents and your journeys across leadership and in life.
I’m honored to be the host of the Startup Pregnant podcast and the curator of stories for our website and blog.
Take a look around, thanks for being here, and don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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