Does Marissa Mayer Know What She’s In For?

Seven months pregnant I work on a Sunday at the last minute when the Patch RV stops through town. My mom is there to support me. Photo by Chad Lyons.

I have been searching for something to blog about but nothing has inspired me. I want so badly to be poignant and witty about my upcoming return to the workforce after a 12-week maternity leave but honestly, I am prepared; I am calm, cool and collected about the whole thing (largely due to the fact that I will be working from home and have done so for the past two years). Then, as I am feeling horribly unimaginative, the atomic time bomb of inspiration detonates. Marissa Mayer, Google’s twentieth employee, will become CEO of Yahoo. Oh, yeah, she’s six months pregnant.

The web is exploding with blogs, tweets and news stories about this bold announcement. BBC wants to know, “Is pregnant CEO a landmark?

While I am among those women tacking up posters of Mayer (along side my poster of mom blogger Liz Gumbinner who shares my sentiment that Type-A Pinterest moms just make the rest of us feel bad), I am a fan because she’s not just a woman CEO but a pregnant CEO too.

If Mayer had just become a female CEO of Yahoo, I *might* have re-tweeted the news with mild enthusiasm. Wahoo, another woman breaks the ceiling. But, having just delivered my Joey IV and carrying him in utero as a Patch Local Editor, I commend anyone who can hold a job at nine months pregnant, and a stressful one to boot; never mind actually get hired as the CEO of a major company.

I’ll never forget the moment I found out I as pregnant. It was pure bliss because I wanted Joey IV so bad and it was pure fear because I had worked so hard to launch and grow my Patch website; what would happen over the course of the pregnancy and after? Uncharted waters had me, the planner, shaking in my reporter’s cap.

Four months pregnant I covered the local First Selectman election. I traipsed to seven polling centers, took more than 50 reaction photos and stayed up until after midnight to record and report the results. Leading up to the election I made enemies of the both the republicans and democrats (proving my fairness) and I cried every time it happened (I’d like to blame pregnancy hormones but I probably would have cried anyway).

At six, seven and eight months pregnant I rushed to breaking news scenes to report. I covered my mouth as I tried to capture a burning home on video. I dodged downed wires and fallen trees to report road closures after a freak storm. Did I mention that I was actually one week pregnant when Hurricane Irene wrecked havoc on our shoreline community? Yes, I was out there for two weeks straight reporting from the moment the bottled water ran out to the moment the first wave crashed over my head to the second the power was restored (all the while moving because we lost our apartment to the flood).

I delicately tiptoed around sensitive government stories at the height of my pregnancy when no clothes fit and my feet looked like latex gloves engorged with water. My laptop balanced across my belly (please don’t show me studies of how computers are dangerous for babies in utero), I sat in long meetings trying to fairly report the twisted inner workings of longtime political animosity; not an easy task for even the most experienced political reporter. I stayed late at town meetings to try to understand what was going on. I apologized to the subjects for my lack of knowledge. I came home and apologized to my husband for missing dinner.

At nine months pregnant, the town and school budgets were wrapping up and I reported them almost to the end, missing the final budget meeting just a few days before Joey IV was born.

It felt good. I did it. It wasn’t easy.

So when the news of Mayer’s announcement about becoming CEO at six months pregnant hit the wires, I have to say I feel more connected to this tale than any other piece of news as of late. Mayer faces the hardest challenge the next three months even if she does not know it yet. Even if she’s the strongest, most independent, most fearless women in the world. When you are filled with another life and you are responsible not only for yourself but for 10 additional toes, 10 additional fingers and one growing and developing brain, the challenges of becoming a CEO pail in comparison. And, no matter what you read, no matter what anyone tells you, and no matter how tough you think you are, you can NEVER really be prepared for becoming a mother for the first time.

Then, Mayer will face the next challenge, one so amazingly detailed by Anne-Marie Slaughter in the Atlantic Monthly: “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” The work-life balance of a career woman will haunt and challenge Mayer, I am sure, the way it will me.

So congrats to Mayer on her new job. It pains me to have to say this, but congrats to Yahoo for hiring a pregnant CEO (I am sure the hiring of an expectant father has never made headlines and it never will). And good luck to her as she faces an experience she can never quite prepare for and an existence a man will never fully understand – even the most sympathetic of them. I salute Ms. Mayer and will be keeping her, Ms. Slaughter, Ms. Gumbinner and every other mom who inspires me (including my own) in mind as I head back to the grind and back to my reality. From the moment of conception, the life of a mother will never be the same again whether she is the CEO of a major company or the boss of her home.