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My Career vs New Baby Fear

I have the worry that all new Moms and Moms-to-be have. How am I going to balance a career and a baby?

There are no pictures today*. Just my words – my inner, personal thoughts, so if you’re here for the pics, please do come back tomorrow 😉

Since this is going to be a personal, vulnerable post, I’d also appreciate that if you do continue reading this, that you do it with kindness and no judgement. It’s tough enough being this open and honest.

Since the age of 18, I’ve had a career in broadcasting. I haven’t missed a single year of radio presenting and you could say that my career has been my baby. I am the type of person who is all or nothing. I don’t know how to do half measures. I have worked my butt off and I love it.

As a little girl, when I thought about future Bailey, I was a successful business woman and a wife and Mom. I also thought I’d be married and have 2 kids (twins) by 30, because 30 was “so old!” 

It was never a case of one or the other, but my focus was always on my career, (something I could do something about) and the wife and mother part was always just a “given” – something that I wasn’t focused on (even though I wanted it), because I knew it would happen naturally and in the right time (even if there were times when I felt impatient or wondered if I’d ever find my person.)

At 34 years old, wiser than my 12 year old self (thank goodness) and very sure of what I want, I’m now expecting my first baby. In fact, I’m only 2 months away! Pinch me.

I now face something, that every Mom with a career faces. The Mom Guilt. I’m not even technically a Mom yet and I’m feeling it. Oh boy!

I had a good sob the other day with Sox – it was cathartic, because I’d been bottling my fears and feelings in. It all came tumbling out of me in panicked sobs:

I want to be the best Mom, who is there for my little boy all the time and I don’t want to miss all the special moments, but at the same time, I still want my career that I love so much. I then feel guilty for wanting my career, when I should now want to be focused solely on being a Mom. Then I feel panicked about: what if I don’t want my career anymore, the minute he comes along? I panic that I’ll be “throwing away” my 16 year career.

Sox was pretty amazing and supportive in calming me down and telling me to take some deep breaths first and foremost. Then he said: “You won’t know any of this until he comes along and there is no point in working yourself up over something you can’t know right now or even control.” He also said that it wouldn’t be throwing my career away, if that’s how I felt – and perhaps just putting it on hold. He also reminded me that so many women are amazing Moms and successful career women. This I know, but sometimes when these thoughts become all consuming, you forget about the rationality.

He’s right.

Yes Sox, enjoy that being in black and white on this blog! Ha!

I won’t know until Baby is here and I can’t control it either. I’m having to surrender my control. I didn’t realize I was such a control freak, haha… perhaps – this is part of the journey and lesson.

I still feel stressed about trying to balance everything though. I also realize that I am not the first or last Mom to experience this, but right now, it’s brand new to me and it’s overwhelming.

Not for one second do I want to be insensitive to anyones work or career, but I can only speak for myself.

I think, by law, Maternity leave is 4 months. Some companies pay, some don’t. I had a meeting with our finance lady and our company doesn’t have a Maternity package and since I’m an independent contractor, I wouldn’t qualify anyway. I also apparently don’t qualify for UIF. So, while I am allowed the 4 months off, the time I take will all be unpaid.

Here’s the other problem. My industry is an incredibly tough one and taking 4 months maternity leave actually isn’t possible.

It’s not like I can hand over my role and responsibilities to someone else. I can’t hand over “files” or “clients” to be looked after by someone else, until I come back. I am my company/brand.

My Afternoon Drive Radio show is a 2 person show. Maurice and I co-host the show. We share the show prep, which can take a few hours alone, and the show itself is a high energy, fun show that requires full focus and energy for 3 hours. We literally take pee breaks based on how long a song is (most songs are 3 minutes 42 seconds! Yup, my pees are timed. Try tell Baby G that, who seems to like using my bladder as his personal trampoline.)

I’ve elected to take 8 weeks of Maternity Leave instead of the 4 months. Maurice can handle the show for 8 weeks, but asking him to handle a 2 man show by himself for 4 months is tough. My concern is that I would then be replaced by someone filling in for me.

Audiences can be fickle (don’t kill me) and 4 months or even 2 months is a long time to be off air. People can either forget about you, or they can start to enjoy the new duo. I don’t want to sound insecure about my career or my talent/reputation…I’m confident in that, but I’ve been in this industry long enough to know how it really works – the nitty gritty and all.

I feel guilty for still wanting a career and not being there whole heartedly for my little boy. I feel guilty for not wanting a career and wanting to be a full time Mom.

BUT, if I don’t try I won’t know, especially since I still absolutely love my career. I also look at the many Mom’s in my industry who seem to have balanced it really well. I’m so impressed. They inspire me.

I’m also very lucky that it’s not 9-5pm and it’s just the afternoon that I’ll be gone. Although when I add up prep and time away, it pretty much works out to be a 9-5, but you know what I mean.

When I’ve told other Mom’s my short maternity plans, some have laughed at me like I’m completely crazy with a knowing-grin of: “Yeah right! Good luck with that!” and others have smiled gently and said: “You can only try!”

Yikes.

This is how I see it working… our plan, if you will (I hope God isn’t laughing):

8-10 weeks maternity leave from my radio show after baby is born. I’ve said 10 weeks just to be safe, but perhaps I’ll be able to go back sooner?

After 8-10 weeks, I’ll return to my radio show, which is 3-6pm. I need to be in studio an hour before, so that’s 2-6pm. I always do my show prep in the mornings. I live 15 mins from work, which means I’ll be home for bath time. I’m super lucky that Sox is flexible, so he will most likely look after him in the afternoon. When he can’t, we will need to get help OR I’ll have to bring him into work with me (if it’s allowed.)

I do plan to breastfeed, so I’ll express milk for the afternoons.

That’s the idea – how plausible it is, time will tell.

I started off by saying: I am the type of person who doesn’t know how to do half measures…. Well, I think I’m going to need to learn how to be all in my career and all in motherhood and find a way to balance.

Even as I type that, I think about how I’m all-in to my marriage, my friendships, my family and so on. I’ve managed to balance all of those, so it’s going to take some adjustments, but adding Motherood to the mix should be doable too, right?

I’d really love to know how you’ve made your career and having a new born work. How much maternity leave did you take and if it was shorter than 4 months, how did you find it/manage? If you’re in my industry, your advice would be golden too.

*Ok, I couldn’t resist a picture!

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25 Comments

  • Reply Kate Kearney

    You will always feel guilty, regardless of if you quit your job completely or work even harder. And you will work harder, faster and try to re-prove yourself to everyone. Your friendships will change and it wont necessarily be your fault. You will miss milestones and big things and berate yourself for it, You will need to get out there again soon and gym and drink wine and do things with Sox without the baby. You will need to become a superhuman but it can be done. I know what I’m saying isn’t what you want to hear but it will be tough. You are very fortunate that Sox and your jobs are flexible – take full advantage of that. The more you can incorporate baby into your lifestyle the better. Make sure you stick to a routine, it will create ‘definite moments’ where you can squeeze in work, expressing milk, washing dishes, washing yourself, show prep etc while he naps. I studied a diploma on maternity leave and since having a kid have 2 full time jobs which means I work 7 days a week. It’s fucking hard, so hard, but you can do it. And then wine, lots. You will be great.

    April 20, 2017 at 9:52 am
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      Kate, you are one of those woman I look to for inspiration! Thank you this comment – for the honesty and for the encouragement! I appreciate it, more than you know! x

      April 20, 2017 at 9:57 am
  • Reply Louise

    Oh wow, what a vulnerable post. You can work and have a new baby, but it’s not easy. And just factor in “what if” you suffer post-natal depression like I did? But remember this: we ALL navigated our way, somehow, through new-motherhood and our work. I worked doing illustration work and for my husband both. I stopped work too for a time. When you have a new baby, every day might be different, so you might need to take each day as it comes. But thinking about it now won’t really help that much. Have a plan, as you do, but prepare to change it as well. And I wouldn’t stress about missing moments – you will miss some, sure, but you will also be there for others. The beauty of children is that there are moments EVERY DAY with them that are precious. Don’t stress, if I can come out the other side of motherhood in tact (sort of) then you can too. But one thing I would do: if you can hire a dedicated nanny/childcare person to help, DO IT. Interview NOW. Make sure you really like and trust that person. You will need the help, especially if you and Sox want to go out (vital) or you both have commitments. That is just my five cents worth. xxxx

    April 20, 2017 at 10:29 am
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      Thanks Louise – I appreciate your message! That’s what Sox keeps saying: We can’t know until he is here. You can’t really prepare for something that is unknown. We don’t know if we will have a text book, angel baby or a tough, colic baby (please no) or what’s going to happen! One step at a time! x

      April 20, 2017 at 10:35 am
  • Reply Tricia

    Hi Bailey my son turns 15 next weekend so babyhood is a way back for me but here’s my input. I was a career girl loved my life in the NGO industry and being able to give back. I met you once through this medium I too struggled with loving my job and wanting to be a full time Mom. My life was further complicated in that my son was a third time successful IVF after years and years of infertility treatment. In the end I made a heartbreaking decision to walk away from my job and get similar fulfilment from continuing my volunteering in the sector. At the end of it I had a few years off which I haven’t regretted because subsequent IVF attempts were unsuccessful and I have just my one miracle boy whom I love more than life itself. I went back to work when he was a toddler and he went to play group three 3/4 days a week which he needed for stimulation and which he loved. You cannot be there for all the moments even if you’re home full time life happens. You cannot know what you will feel and want until he arrives and you settle into motherhood. Sox is right if you choose to not go back and work in a different format it’s not giving up there are seasons for everything in life. Go with your gut and trust your journey. Many different wonderful opportunities came my way. Don’t try and control what may or may not happen if you step away – having children will definitely teach you how little you control in life!! I will end by saying this so many people told me how quickly the time would pass I found it hard to believe with people saying does he crawl, walk, talk and so on. Enjoy every moment because I cannot believe my son is 15 next weekend! If you don’t feel like going back or it’s too hard to work it out when he’s a baby it will be because a better opportunity is out there for you be open to that. Much love for the weeks and months ahead xxx

    April 20, 2017 at 10:57 am
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      Hi Tricia, thank you for sharing this with me. I really appreciate it! I don’t want to give up my career and I think that’s where the guilt lies… but we literally do have to take it one step at a time!
      It’s hard for me to imagine having a 15 year old boy now… but everyone tells me it flies. My pregnancy has flown. This year has flown… so soon I won’t be imagining and Baby G will be a teen. Crazy! Hahaha!
      Have the best day! x

      April 20, 2017 at 11:03 am
  • Reply Gillian

    You’re just going to be juggling with another ball, except this ball is a precious egg who you cannot let fall. You’ll do great, Bailz….we all adjust and Sox is right. You cannot worry over something that you have no control over…enjoy the last trimester. I will be time to meet your wee man before you know it

    April 20, 2017 at 10:58 am
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      Thanks Gil 🙂 Really appreciate the encouragement! x

      April 20, 2017 at 11:03 am
    • Reply Tricia

      No need for guilt I’ve always believed and seen for myself that the happiest version of yourself will be the best Mom to your son whatever that entails. If you wish to go back it will work out just be prepared to feel differently or want a different version of your career should that happen. So much happiness lies ahead xxx

      April 20, 2017 at 11:10 am
  • Reply Megan Hartwig

    Thank you for putting into words what soooo many mothers with careers feel and don’t always know how to articulate. The most important job a women could have is being a mother. Yet, it’s so important for us moms to have our own things that help balance our busy lives.

    Even as I write this I know how it went in one ear and put the other when I was in your position. However…it won’t last forever. The seasons change. The balancing act shifts to new challenges. And all the while you have days when you scream and days when you begin to think you’ve got it figured out. What’s truly happening is that you begin to be kinder to yourself. You begin to let yourself off the hook a little more. You get tougher and stronger, while getting more gentle with your soul.

    Time really does fly with your kids. It just seems never-ending while it’s happening. Self-employed persons have a particularly difficult road (even though it seems glamorous on the outside.) Learn the phrase ‘It’s ok.’ Repeat it like a mantra. I promise that someday…you’ll begin to believe it. 🙂 xx

    April 20, 2017 at 11:09 am
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      Megan, you have put this down so beautifully!! This really resonated with me… “What’s truly happening is that you begin to be kinder to yourself. You begin to let yourself off the hook a little more. You get tougher and stronger, while getting more gentle with your soul.” Thank you! x

      April 20, 2017 at 12:49 pm
  • Reply Caley

    Such an honest post Bails but often good to share and say it loud for more clarity and for others to share their stories too. This is something so many women struggle with but we all find a way that works for us and our families…

    I have been lucky enough to not be working full time with any of my girls but I had serious guilt with Sophie because I had just finished my Post Grad in Teaching and was desperate to get into the classroom. I had no desire to work after Ellie but then last year, I launched my own business LuluPop and had these great ideas to work through my pregnancy and juggle having three kids and a business – but my sick pregnancy made me close down and put work on hold until now… And juggling three is no easy task so I will be waiting a bit longer.

    It’s been scary for me because I’ve lost so many clients through referring them all while I was sick and the industry has boomed since I started last year so it’s going to be a tough thing to be up and running again… But time will tell what my plan and path are meant to be.

    Thinking of you lovely x

    April 20, 2017 at 12:49 pm
  • Reply Marina

    Hey Bailey.
    People are extremely judgemental and it is so unfair. Not everyone has the luxury of 4 months maternity leave and if you go back to work after one month or one year you will always feel the same. I think you will be an amazing mom. My daughter is 3, I am a control freak too and she has taught me that I can’t control everything! xx

    April 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm
  • Reply Elaine

    Bailey, thank you for actually posting something no one really talks about. I always thought all working moms are super woman. With my first daughter I had 4 months maternity leave. She was an angel, she slept well, never cried hours on end, she was just perfect and because of this the 4 months at home I longed for the busy days again. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful mother in law that looked after my daughter when I went back to work. At first it was strange not having my daughter with me but then it was my normal. With my second daughter, my wild child, she was more of a challenge. She slept well while I was on maternity leave but once I started working again she didn’t sleep anymore!! There were nights me or my husband were watching barney, teletubies, mickey mouse you name it just so that the other one can sleep a bit. She started sleeping through the nights now, at 3 years old. I can proudly look back and say: YES I HAVE SURVIVED those nights and days I thought I wouldn’t!!!! Now that my oldest daughter started grade 1 I do wish I was there for her more. The bakers day at school, the netball games, the singing. It’s not a problem making arrangements at work to be there but I do feel guilty now that I am not there to help with homework and the little things. It is now only after 7 years I am considering to stay at home for them. Now I can have conversations, pic nics, play hide and seek -and really not know where they are hiding- with them, it is now that I miss them more and that I long to be with them. I must also admit that although I love my girls sooo much, I do look forward to that moment after I dropped them off at school and I can finally change the Barbie songs in my car back to my music. Just remember don’t do what other moms do, and don’t feel pressured to do things a certain way that is not working for you! Yes you are a mom and you have to take care of you husband and baby now but you can’t take care of them if you are not taking care of yourself. You got this, you will see

    April 20, 2017 at 2:15 pm
  • Reply Susan

    You will be just fine Having my own business I was literally back on my laptop after a week or 2, had the girls over at my house for meetings and continued to handle the finances of the business, payments and salaries etc. I did put plans on place for staff to help but at the end of the day when it’s your name / brand / reputation it is impossible to completely hand over to someone else.

    But as you said you’ve worked hard in your career and clearly you have that good work ethic in you. I look back at the first 3 months of the twins in a bit of a blur. I had a terrible heamatoma on my Caesar cut. Ty was in NICU for 22 days. Trav literally took a month off to help us all. We roped in grannies and hired fill time nanny and a night nurse 3 nights a week. So my advice is don’t be scared to ask for help or to hire extra help.

    I, like you, love my work and feel passionate about it, so I never begrudged my work and I feel I am a better mom being a working mom and spending quality time with the boys. As a family we have made decisions to make it all work and you will find your groove.

    I promise you will be fine!!!

    Ps. I also took Eglynol for 3 months and it really helped me with milk production and a put me in a good mood 😉

    Xxx

    April 20, 2017 at 7:03 pm
  • Reply Renay

    What a beautiful and honest article Bailey. One of the things I found going into motherhood is, for some reason, fellow moms are so hard on ourselves and each other! We need to say how it really is more often, so people don’t enter this experience with unrealistic expectations. We all have had these fears.
    Trust me, you are going to be % ok. First few weeks will be hell, but then you find your routine and way of doing things, and you start to realize that you can do it.
    Working for myself, I also never had the luxury of proper maternity leave. I had two months with Emma and only about 7 weeks with Meg.
    It was hard, but I still managed to breast feed (with a few top ups here and there that you can’t beat yourself up over, please!). I feel like I have a lot of balls in the air all the time, and I’m only juuuust keeping it together, but it is possible to be a good mom and still be awesome at what you do. I think your little boy will be so proud of you one day, and respect you for it.
    My advice (for what it’s worth);
    Get a nanny (live in if possible). This was the best decision we ever made! Irene is part of our family, and helps me so much, with the girls, with dinner and everything in between. Nanny will allow you to still have date nights every now and again, and for you to let baby sleep in his own bed when you need to work
    Ask for help when you need it! And in those few precious weeks at home with baby, sleep when baby does! And limit visitors to hours you know baby will be up
    Don’t expect it to be easy or anything to be perfect, trust your gut, and don’t over analyze everything.
    And, lastly, gripe water will be your best friend (the real one we were given, not the alchole free crap), have formula to top up if you need it, a hungry baby isn’t a happy baby (which makes for a unhappy mommy), and it’s ok to have a good old cry every so often – you can blame the hormones for months after baby is born. Trust me!
    You guys are going to be amazing parents! Enjoy the last few weeks as just the two of you, soak up the TV time, have long baths and watch as many movies as possible!

    April 20, 2017 at 7:36 pm
  • Reply Che

    I just loved this post!! And I’m not even pregnant!! (Although these exact thoughts do cross my mind in a daily basis!) to add another perspective – I would say, don’t limit yourself to any one way of thinking! Don’t limit yourself to 8-10 weeks maternity leave or limit yourself to being solely a mom! I think deep down you will know what the right thing to do is when the time comes <3 true, audiences can be fickle, but people who are truly connected to you will always be connected to you and who knows maybe this baby will bring a whole new career path your way?!? (Podcasting/motherhood radio/alternative broadcasting?!) you DEFINITELY have enough energy, drive, charisma and support to have it All!!! Xxx

    April 20, 2017 at 8:50 pm
  • Reply Amy

    I’m a mom who works. That’s how I like to look at it. My babies come first, always but I need to work so I find the good in it. Something for me. I was lucky enough to have 6 months off with both babies but you’ll find a balance. You’ll miss things but they won’t be any less important when YOU see them for the first time. I have guilt, obviously but this is the best thing for me. I’m a better mom for working. Good luck! You’ll be great. And get a nanny. They are a life saver!

    April 21, 2017 at 5:51 am
  • Reply Clea

    What’s amazing is that you will find a way to make it work 🙂

    April 21, 2017 at 6:16 am
  • Reply Sharon

    I am a control freak and probably, slightly OCD ;). I went back to work after maternity leave with a full time, live-in nanny looking after our daughter. It was initially tough with minimal sleep (she wasn’t a good sleeper) and her evening breast feeds were replaced by formula, as I ran around all day and didn’t produce enough nutritious milk for her. A few hours in the evening and weekends were filled with “baby time” and we didn’t miss out on any of her developments. Woman can do it all if we want to, but your body or something else will take strain, if you don’t try to find the “balance” as so many others mentioned. When baby G arrives NOTHING, NOTHING on earth will be more important, including your career :). Children are a blessing and a lesson! You can do this Bailey!!!! xx (PS my young adult children are my reward for being the best mom I could be).

    April 21, 2017 at 9:06 am
  • Reply Paulina

    I agree with Clea, you will find a way to make it work. The amazing thing is how adaptable we are, we adjust and just get on with what needs to be done – be it being a mom, wife, career woman or any of the other hats we wear. You don’t have to give up your career, you just realise that you can’t do it all on your own (even though we all believe we are superwomen) and need to rope in some help when needed including husbands, partners, mothers, sisters, colleagues, friends, nannys etc. – the old adage it takes a community to raise a child is very true, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. xxx

    April 24, 2017 at 8:16 am
  • Reply Lisa Wilmot

    You are so amazing for sharing this with us. I am not a mom but I have watched my friends struggle with the daily juggle and all I can say is “be kind to yourself”. Every day will bring about its own challenges and the only way to move the mountain is one rock at a time. My mom was a full time mom with me and you know how I repaid her….I took my first steps when she was in another room. I crawled past her and went looking for my dad and walked into the bedroom where he was working. She missed my first steps and she was in the house.
    This is a new phase in your life and maybe it will take you away from radio but bring about a time for you to finish that book of yours!!!!

    April 24, 2017 at 10:40 am
  • Reply Linda Brown

    Oh Bailey, this world we live in can be so hard. I can totally see you with Baby G in the studio next door while you do your show. In fact I wish you will do it. Our lives have been created to exclude our children from our every day lives. Crèches for when they’re babies, school for when they’re bigger, all so that we can fit into a cog in the machine of “industry”. My career as an Engineer is very male dominated and unfortunately there was and is no flexibility. 9 – 10 hour days are standard because “the wife” is at home looking after the kids and cooking supper. However I was “the wife”. After 3 months unpaid maternity leave I went back to work and after only 2 weeks of 8 – 5 I resigned. I’ve since had another baby and love (almost) every minute with them. I suppose I could juggle another job but it’s not my career and thanks to my hubby I don’t really need to…

    April 25, 2017 at 6:26 pm
  • Reply Amy

    Hi Bailey! Thank you for making yourself vulnerable in this post, I relate to it so much! I am a writer and work as a contractor for several clients – this means that if I don’t work, I don’t earn! To further complicate things, I’m having a book published overseas and all of that literally kicks into gear in September, the month my little boy is born! I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed that two massive dreams of mine are coming true at the same time…I feel like my career will demand me to be one person and my baby will need me to be another! But whenever I feel overwhelmed I try ground myself in a feeling of gratitude for all the wonderful things happening at once!

    I have spoken to many women who freelance/work as contractors and they have made this flexibility work for them – I think everyone just finds their own personal rhythm in time. And that’s the best part I guess, we get to figure it out one moment at a time x

    April 27, 2017 at 4:39 pm
  • Reply Sam

    If I had described myself before having my son last year, I would have used the exact words you do: all or nothing. I was fortunate enough to get 4 months of paid leave – which is below the norm of 6 months most women in “cushy” corporate jobs take. But because I KNEW I only had 4 months by the time I went back to the office, I was ready. And honestly, returning to work has been one of the easiest decisions – I say this because I have an amazing nanny at home (who I am eternally grateful for!) and because my career has always been such a massive part of my life, it completes me! And for that – I am a better Mom. Every moment with my boy is special (even his 2am feed!). And as each month passes, I find I am able to balance and juggle a little bit more than the last; gym, social life, work, baby…. and for the first time in my working life, I am able to say “it’s okay” when I’m not at 100% my best.

    Be kind to yourself Bailey – as women we have this expectation of doing it all. It’s HARD work being a working mom – and still trying to look fabulous doing it – but it’s worth it all! Xxx

    April 27, 2017 at 6:14 pm
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