April 16, 2014
I’m a 31-year-old New Jersey Wedding Photographer that has been married for 5 years and has over 6 years of stable business ownership. You’d think getting pregnant would’ve been no big deal – but it was for me.
As fate would have it, I wrote an article before I was pregnant called Why I Was Convinced Pregnancy Would Ruin My Life – and it was published in a NJ Newspaper just a few weeks after I found out I was expecting. The article mainly addressed my career and how even the remote possibility of my having children negatively affected my business well before I was even thinking about it. I had seen horrible behavior not only towards me, but also towards other wedding colleagues who dared to start a family. It wasn’t anything I wanted to experience for myself.
However, God has always had a way of going through with His plans for my life, despite my resisting them at times, and in April of 2014 I found out I was pregnant. Let me be clear, my husband (NJ Wedding Cinematographer Rob Adams) and I are thrilled to be bringing a baby girl into the world this Christmas season. However, our decisions on how to handle the announcement have been a bit off the beaten path. I think business owners, particularly females, will find the reasoning for keeping the baby announcement off social media to be interesting and applicable to their own lives and businesses, whether by agreeing or deciding the opposite works for them, so I thought I’d share.
1 – I wasn’t ready for it
Most women have been conditioned via mainstream media that if they’re married and find out they’re pregnant they should be jumping up and down holding positive pee sticks in their excited fists. After looking down at mine, and first cursing the engineer who designed it because I thought it was a mistake, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t doing the same happy dance I had seen in so many movies. In fact, I stood there (ok, sat there) with my mouth agape until I had the wherewithal to cover it with my hand and then squeak out an “Oh my God”.
Why wasn’t I ecstatic? We had been planning this for a few months so it shouldn’t have been that much of a shock. But it was – so I thought there was something wrong with me.
I continued to feel that way until opening up to a few friends who let me know they felt the exact same way when they found out they were expecting for the first time. I wasn’t alone! Unfortunately, I lost a few friends in the process who berated me for not understanding right away that every child is a gift. But the good friends, who chose to extend God’s good grace to me instead of judgment, stuck with my through what I later found out to be PrePartum Depression – something I didn’t even know existed but is quite common.
Needless to say, while I was sorting out my feelings about being pregnant, along with all the effects it would have on my life and business, I was certainly not going to open myself up to more attacks if I was going to be honest about how I was feeling, or task myself with the chore to put on a phony smile if I faked the “pregnancy glow”.
2 – I was aggravated with people viewing me as handicapped
I have always been a strong woman, loving to dive into tasks and get my hands dirty. You won’t find me waiting for AAA to come change my flat tire, or unwilling to do hard work to get the job done.
When I did start to tell people in-person that I was pregnant, I somehow became a porcelain doll to a lot of them. There’d be gasps if I picked up a couple of books or decided to climb on a step-stool to reach something. I constantly had to remind people that I was “pregnant, not disabled” and that I was in perfect control of my own body and knew what my limits were. The only issue I had while I was pregnant was that I had occasional back pain. I started looking at an upgrade for my mattress, like the Leesa mattress but found that it was manageable if I didn’t do too much work during the day.
From that, I knew that the last thing I needed was for my clients to start viewing me as physically unable to do things that I was perfectly able to do. Which brings me to point #3.
3 – I didn’t feel the need to worry my brides
As professional photographers, we should have in our contracts that if we’re unable to appear at an event we will find a replacement photographer or issue a refund. This is usually reserved for being severely sick or having an accident of some kind, but it 100% pertains to giving birth as well. Contractually and for having a replacement photographer on deck, I was more than covered in case I couldn’t work a wedding. This safety net trumped the advice I got from some that thought I should tell me clients “in case something happened”. This clause was exactly for that “just in case” and didn’t warrant me divulging my personal life to my clients if I didn’t want to.
My last wedding was a good 6 weeks before my due date. I am a very healthy individual and wasn’t having a single pregnancy complication, not even morning sickness. Why on earth would I put the fear in my brides’ heads that there is a slight possibility that I might miss their wedding? Was it necessary for them to worry for months about something that probably wouldn’t happen? Absolutely not and, in a way, I viewed it as unprofessional to worry my brides about it. I simply showed up at the weddings and told my brides that I brought a “+1” when they saw me – and I made sure they saw me as a happy, smiling ball of creative energy, and fully capable to do what they hired me to do.
4 – I didn’t want clients to think I was about to have “other priorities”
I love what I do, thrive on it actually, and resented the disillusion that other people (and I too) had about moms: that baby brain takes over and you fall in love with your child and forget and/or don’t care about everything else. The last thing I wanted was to give my clients, especially potential clients, the idea that I was about to have a child and drop my high standards of customer service and productivity. That would not help build the trust and credibility that I’ve worked so hard to align my brand with.
Anyone who knows how I run my business knows that I define success in it by the amount of free time that I have, not by how busy I am. I’ve done a pretty good job at making my wedding photography business run smoothly by outsourcing and delegating parts of it. I’ve done such a good job at it that I’ve been able to travel the world educating other business owners to do the same and run other side businesses in my free time.
Do I think I’ll fall in love with my daughter and have moments where I won’t want to do anything else but hold her? Yes. Will I make sure that I spend quality time with her and not work my life away? Absolutely. And I’ve been structuring my business to run like a well-oiled machine while I do just that.
5 – I grew to like telling people in-person
Social media has been accused of killing people’s social skills for quite some time. I have discovered that it’s also sucking the sheer joy out of life’s milestones. Telling people face-to-face and getting a genuine smile, hug and congratulations was so much more fun then getting a like or a comment on Facebook.
I grew to enjoy telling people I was pregnant in-person and seeing their real reaction to it. It also helped me distinguish my closer friends and family in life by not even texting the news to people, but only telling people I saw in-person. It was fun and I enjoyed having a part of my life that was personal could share with those closest to me. It was most fun when I posted a set of pictures like this one, (a couple holding a pumpkin typically announces pregnancy, but I said it wasn’t a pregnancy announcement – as it wasn’t), and my closest friends had a good giggle about it knowing I was pregnant.
6 – I could, so I did
Lastly, the truth of it is that no one could tell I was pregnant anyway. For one reason or another, despite having a perfectly sized baby according to ultrasounds, I could easily hide I was pregnant until I reached about 7.5 months. Not to mention, I’m a photographer, so I knew how to take pose in pictures that could be posted on social media without showing that I was looking like I had recently had a glutinous night of beer and hamburgers. I could keep my personal life personal for a while so I chose to do that as long as I could.
I’m quite pleased with the past nine months and how everything has unfolded as a result of these decisions. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my friends, my marriage and ultimately what I want motherhood to look like while running a full time business (or two). I understand that I truly don’t know what lies ahead as a first-time-mom, but I’m happy in having goals and ideals for the new experience while learning to be flexible and growing through it all.
I would encourage anyone in a similar position (or thinking about getting in it) to really think about and picture what your ideals are for it and make decisions that’ll realize those ideals in your business and personal life. These decisions are YOURS to make and you don’t owe anyone anything in making them, not even an explanation like this one. Build your business vs. personal life how you want it and you won’t ever regret staying true to yourself in doing so.