Friday, 18 April 2014

I'm going to be away for a while, but I'll be back...

It's been a while since my last blog. There's been a lot (and really, I mean a LOT) going on.

Some of the intensity of the last two months was anticipated. I knew things were going to be busy. There are a lot of books lying around my house right now that look like this:

I'm having a baby. Soon. It's been a largely trouble-free pregnancy and I feel incredibly blessed. Over the moon doesn't quite describe how elated we've been in our house. Not just me and my husband, but the whole family, from siblings to grandparents, has been brimming over with joy. It's been an amazing experience being able to spread so much happiness around.

What I hadn't anticipated or factored in was quite how busy I would also be at work. For anyone that has read this blog before, you may realise that I only started working at Palgrave Macmillan back in September 2013. However just six months later, at seven months pregnant, I was appointed Head of Open Research Marketing for Palgrave and Nature Publishing Group jointly. Whilst I wouldn't necessarily recommend starting a new job that late in pregnancy, it was a fantastic opportunity and I'm so excited to be a part of what is a constantly evolving area of scholarly publishing. The last six weeks have been a roller-coaster ride, learning about a new area of the business, and getting a new team in place as quickly as possible. All that whilst care-taking my old team through this period of change too.

As I say, being that busy by itself would have been exhausting. Doing that whilst heavily pregnant, with no access to caffeine or wine to get me through the stressful days, has been astronomically knackering. I've barely seen friends, my weekends and evenings have been spent mostly sprawled on the sofa, whilst my husband or parents have fed me and cleaned up around me. I've constantly felt guilty about this, and am eternally grateful to them for being so understanding.

I've blogged in the past about how passionately I feel about why, as a woman, I want to be able to continue to grow in my career without that being a barrier to having a family. Why should women choose one or the other? Why is it always women stuck with that decision? I know Cheryl Sandberg's Lean In isn't to everyone's liking, but for me, reading it back in the Autumn of 2013, it made so much sense, and I've been recommending it heavily to female colleagues ever since. She recognises that there are women, like me, who don't see starting a family as the end of the line for their careers. And she talks about how recognising that herself, she made it possible to have both the career and the family life she wanted.

Making that decision relies on having two things:

One is having the support around you to enable you to take that decision in the first place. For me, that's  been the support of my husband, who has constantly encouraged me to go after a fulfilling work life. Whilst we both wanted a family, and recognised that there are going to be challenges for us as we figure out what work-life balance looks like, he knows that the responsibility of parenthood doesn't lie solely with me, and we're planning on working as a team so that I can succeed both at home and work.

The other is having the confidence not to hold myself back by getting caught up in 'working mummy guilt'. Ok, I haven't actually got there yet, but what Lean In gave me was the belief that you can be successful in your career without hurting your kids. If anything articles I've read during my pregnancy suggest that working mums feel more fulfilled (assuming they want to work) because they're not resentful of having given something of themselves up just because they've had a baby. They are therefore much more mindful of quality time when they are at home, and don't therefore have any less a satisfying relationship with their child just because they chose to go to work. I want my daughter to look at me as a role model and see that she can be anything she wants to be. Being happy both at work and home will help me be that role model.

Having said all that, having now started my maternity leave I can say I'm very very glad to be concentrating just on one job for the time being. And having received this from a colleague this week (very apt for a marketeer), I'm bracing myself for the challenge of starting the 'toughest job in the world'!

So, if it's quiet on the blog for a while longer, you'll know why...