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I was pregnant and simultaneously working towards a much-coveted job promotion.
It was sudden and unplanned. We would be parents now. Only 27, full of ambitions and corner office dreams, my heart skipped a beat. But shouldn’t I be happy? Isn’t this the miracle of God, the ultimate gift, the hope of fulfillment, which is supposed to ‘complete’ me? In all honesty, those were not my feelings. At all. My goal-driven, work-obsessed mind could only think of how I would manage to work towards my next promotion, which was due in 4 months!
What followed was lots of ecstatic reactions by friends and family and lots of biological changes in my life. But what remained was my grit to keep gunning for the promotion. As days drew closer, I was moved into 3 projects simultaneously. Yes, I was a management consultant – the type who works, travels and has no life really. I took them on – luckily no travel was involved – with only few client presentations and interactions. Why did my bosses do this? Of course, I never talked about being pregnant. And I had severe morning, afternoon, evening or anytime of the day sickness. But it was winters and I’m on the ‘healthier’ side anyway. So, well – let’s say this was part of God’s plan.
One day, when a dear (hence emotional) friend dropped in for dinner and saw me working furiously on the laptop way past 10 pm – he couldn’t help but say “Why do you have to be so ambitious now? You’re neglecting your health and more so the baby’s. Take it slow, Neha. Your life is changing.” I paused. Was this about being ambitious only? No. To me this was about getting my due. I had worked very hard over the last 2 years, and I was not going to let anything come in the way of getting rewarded and acknowledged for my hard work.
Was this about being ambitious only? No. To me this was about getting my due. I had worked very hard over the last 2 years, and I was not going to let anything come in the way of getting rewarded and acknowledged for my hard work.
And this was it – the first dilemma of a working mom. Is it fine for a mom-to-be to continue looking at her career goals the same way? Is it possible? Am I already harming my baby because of my desires? Am I a selfish mom already? Is a mom not supposed to have any goals of her own? I constantly dealt with these questions. I spoke to my little baby often. Explaining to her what this means to her mom and how this was nothing about loving her any less. I hoped she understood.
That promotion happened in my 5th month. It was my grit and my husband’s immense support and deep understanding of who I am that led to it. He never stopped me from working extra, over time, because he understands what work means to me. But he also ensured that our baby and her mum were well-nourished by putting the right food in front of me everyday for breakfast, packing me 3 dabbas of fruits (my only craving!) and force feeding me at night while I worked. My family was the backbone – no one intervened or questioned our ways – they trusted us to do the best we could for our baby. And of course, my baby. She was mostly well-mannered, not creating much of a scene by tumbling around, when I was in presentations/ discussions for hours at end. I think she heard me. I think she knew what she was getting into.
Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams and your beliefs. Don’t be apologetic for gunning for your goals. Choose your sacrifices wisely. And most importantly, choose your life partner wisely too.
When I hear senior women talk about ‘a supportive family’ now – I know exactly what they mean. For a man to move ahead in his career, single, married or parent, the onus remains largely on him. For a woman, the dynamics change as motherhood approaches – for some these also change with marriage. But at the end of the day, it is about choices we make for ourselves. I chose to fight for my due, my reward at work. I did what I believed in – and those who truly loved me, understood me and stood as my pillars of strength. For true love is about nurturing and letting us fly. And it’s the same lesson I decided to teach my baby, the day I got that promotion call from the boss. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams and your beliefs. Don’t be apologetic for gunning for your goals. Choose your sacrifices wisely. And most importantly, choose your life partner wisely too.
Cover image courtesy Shutterstock.
Entrepreneur. Learner. Doer. Feminist. Free-Spirit. Spiritual. Non Ritualistic.
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