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.
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.
Ann Cowlin, founder of Dancing Thru Pregnancy told me once during an interview that a mother never has the same body after pregnancy. In fact, she said a mother has one body before, one body during and one body after. That’s just the way it is. Embrace the body you are in, she said. This was before I became pregnant.
With her words heavy on my mind, I’ve been anticipating the awkward crawl back to fitness. It’s been no shock to me that my stomach is not flat six weeks postpartum. I am not saying I like it, but I didn’t expect the cellulite on my thighs to just melt off – though it would have been nice if it had. It looks like I’ll have to do some old-fashioned exercise and I’m OK with that. I have even come to terms with this new body and bought myself a pair of mom jeans. They are double my old size and I am comfortable with the fact that they might be my “new” size. What I am really, really, really struggling with is my hair. Ms. Cowlin never talked about that.
Like the morning my biological clock went off and I told Joe I HAVE to become pregnant, is the same way I’ve decided I NEED to cut my hair. I am mom now and I must have a mom cut to match my mom jeans. It’s about keeping the harmony in mom land. But am I really being cliché?
It’s not like I am going to go all Kate Plus 8 or anything, but I have this very strong urge to lope off all my locks as if losing a foot of my chocolate-colored mane will make me more of woman. I assure you that short hair does not make me look more womanly, but inside it does makes me feel like She-Ra.
I’ve had a pixie before (see photo) so this isn’t really that drastic, but my hair grows slow and it has taken almost five years to get it the right color and the perfect long, but not too long, length. And Joe loves it. I, on the other hand, do not. I whip it up into a ponytail or tie it up with a pen any chance I can get. I don’t hate my long hair I just hate it in my face.
Unlike the cute moms you see in magazines, on TV and very seldom in real life, my short hair does not flip just right or bounce just so. It hangs, stick straight, in its mousey-brown dullness and does, well, nothing. No matter how much I gel it or curl it or twirl it, my hair just hangs. The fantasy I have about this short due being sleek and sassy, well I know that’s not going to happen. That’s reservation number one when it comes to cutting.
Reservation number two is far more grave; what if this short cut is my new hairstyle for, well, forever?
My mother has been sporting her mom-bob since the 1980s and the only real variation she has made in the past 34 years has been the shade of blonde. The length has dipped between her chin and shoulders through the years but all, in all, it has been the same style (see photo-study). It’s how people recognize her, how people know her. It’s nothing like the strawberry-blonde flowing shoulder-length mane she wore on her honeymoon. There’s only maybe one or two pictures of her with this illusive hair. It’s her finest look.
If I am to travel down this road, the do I get today could be how Joey IV sees me forever.
Like I’ve embraced my mom jeans, will a new haircut be the same? Can you help me decide what to do?
Yesterday I took Joey IV to Foote Memorial Park for some fresh air and because I am struggling to drop my last 20 pregnancy pounds because a good walk would do us both good.
Joey IV slept like a lump in his stroller and I had lots of time to let my mind wander as I circled the park lap after lap, the smooth pavement guiding my way. I thought about Joey IV hanging like a loose rag doll in the stroller – he’s too small to fill out the big bucket right now but I know soon enough he’ll be busting out of that nylon harness. I wonder as I push the stroller and let it slip from my hands and glide on its own in front of me, if he could actually somehow slip out of the safety device. I know this is not possible and I catch the stroller after one and half strides and I push him away again.
I try to enjoy the warm breeze from nearby Long Island Sound and listen to the birds nesting and visiting the bountiful trees of the park. I try so hard to “be” in the moment but I am not very good at it. My mind quickly slips to my most recent preoccupation, my occupation, and I think about the future. I think about my career. How will I juggle Joey IV and work? Will I be good at being a mom? Will my job change? My mind races and Joey IV sleeps in a deep, peaceful slumber.
I round the corner past the tennis courts and as my mind wanders thinking about how I’ll never be someone who plays tennis, a gathering near the swings shifts my attention. A father pushes his new child who is maybe eight months old – I am still really bad at recognizing the age of children by the amount of chub in their cheeks – and a mother stands in front of the swing documenting the event on video. A grandmother is nearby beaming. The child, who may have special needs, appears to never have been on a swing before and he is laughing and shrieking with joy. He is smiling with lips stretched as far as humanly possible. I am so touched realizing that this woman has captured this experience of sheer joy and elation on video. At that very moment, all four of them are “in” the moment and I am pulled in as well.
Joey IV and I emerge from the scene for one last lap around the park and we stop halfway to sit under the shade of a tree. Joey IV is still sleeping soundly but I gently pull him from his harness and sit him in the grass with me. We both listen to the sounds of nature and I notice the beauty of the tree bark and the way the light dances through the leaves. I hope Joey IV can smell the earth and enjoy the way the wind dances across his skin. The moment is short-lived but for the time I am really “in” it and I quietly thank the baby on the swing for reminding me how to just “be.”