I’m nine months pregnant and hiding it from my clients on Zoom – here’s why

There’s a tension I’m facing between being a business owner and having a baby (Getty)

I have a confession to make: professionally, I am hiding the fact that I’m about to have a baby in a week or two.

I run my business completely remotely. No one can see much past my chest on video calls, and if it doesn’t come up, I don’t bring it up.

I want to create the illusion that I’m working all the time, the virtual version of the old adage of the jacket on the back of your desk chair with your light on, burning the midnight oil. It’s a mindset that’s toxic and antiquated, yet still permeates through me, a millennial raised by boomers under a Capitalist system and the bright lights of New York.

This illusion runs counterintuitive to the authenticity that we promote here at DFig Connects, and the way we encourage corporations and individuals alike to embrace the calm – and the time off. It is in direct contradiction to our beliefs that R&R is crucial in the workforce, and priorities should be shifted as life shifts.

Yet, there’s a tension I’m facing between being a business owner, having the rhythm of business hum along with my team, and having a baby. I don’t want my clients to think my business is any less effective without me. I don’t want them to assume that they can dismiss our conversations, to only reach out to me in a few months, and cut the momentum that we’ve been building. I don’t want people to think I’m losing steam – that I’ll be distracted, or that the business can’t run without me front and centre.

Studies show that men are considered more valuable after having a baby, while women are typically dismissed, passed over for promotions, or worse. Their careers often suffer irreparable damages.

Owning a business and being pregnant is a unique experience. There’s this fine line between wanting to work and grow my business baby – wanting to seem like I can do it all, without skipping a beat, and wanting to work to grow my actual baby and be there to bond and nurse it, to let my body heal. To give myself the time to transition into motherhood and shift identities from who I once was. This begs the question so many of our clients ask: “Can I have it all?”

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Logistically, what does maternity leave look like for a female business owner headquartered in a country where there is no mandatory paid family leave? It looks like not a lot of time off to bond with your baby and not many options. My British friends asked how much time I was going to take off and were in disbelief when I replied with four weeks. There’s not much help the US system provides.

Mentally, what does this look like? There’s this fear of not being top of mind, of not cultivating the relationships and partnerships that are in the pipeline of the business, of losing all that I worked for over the past few years.

I won’t delve into the US government’s attack on women’s right to choose right now, or the fact that the US is the only developed nation with no paid leave policy for mothers. And I won’t deny that I write this from a place of privilege, working for myself and from home, with a supportive partner, and not having to report to an hourly job that doesn’t pay me when I take time off.

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However, I will parlay this into the conversation of choice and the cultural shift. Employees having choice over their time and their day. There’s two different mentalities in a workspace: one where people are responsible for managing their own time and boundaries, and one where the company is responsible for that.

In working with our partner corporations, we’re seeing a shift toward the former. This connects to designing your own life and having control of your own narrative, which is a thread through our work at DFig Connects.

I can take time off to heal and choose to transition back to work or not. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I furiously started making hires and building a team to have the foundation laid for the business. I have choice in the way in which I run my business and life. However, I might still choose to hang my jacket on the back of that proverbial chair.

Deanna Figurito is the founder and lead coach of DFig Connects, an executive coaching and consulting group that works with individuals at organisations to establish their values and create a fulfilling workplace

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