Pregnancy, freelancing & new challenges

It’s officially just under two weeks to go until my due date and hubby (Dave) and I are super excited to meet our first born little girl. Ruby, our chocolate lab who until now has been our baby is aware something’s up and hovers around me like a furry bodyguard, which is adorable and a little unnerving for strangers on our doggy walks. I have a bit of a reputation for being ridiculously organised and so, not wanting to disappoint; the nursery was ready weeks ago. We’ve got everything we could possible need along with some gorgeous things we didn’t know we’d need until my loving friends threw us a surprise baby shower last month. I am a very lucky woman. Among the gifts was a personalised bottle of red wine which I’m super excited to open. I’ve missed wine! Don’t panic, I know I can’t be indulging until the breastfeeding is finished but oh my, am I excited about that! It’s been a whirlwind time of pregnancy, freelancing and new challenges.

Leaving Work

Dave is gearing up to leave work for almost a year too and is looking forward to being a hands on Dad. I’m very lucky there too! Since the change in legislation last year we’ve taken advantage of the shared maternity leave option and decided it would be best for us if Dave took the maternity so I was able to get back to work as soon as possible. This might sound like a new mum’s worst nightmare but honestly, it’s the only way we can sustain my freelancing business. How can I tell clients ‘sorry, I’m going to be out of action for 6 months plus’? They’re most definitely going to find a new designer. I can’t have that. It’s not all bad, I work from home so we’ll both be home full time which is going to be a lot less pressure on both of us.

This isn’t my typical blog post as I usually write about recent work or tips on marketing and design but I had such a good response from my article Self employed and pregnant? Don’t Panic, which was essentially just a diary entry and some therapy for myself, that I decided it would be good to bookend the pregnancy with another post. It’ll be something to look back on and hopefully will help someone else looking to start a family if they’re self employed. It’s also a place for me to vent about naysayers and negative comments.

Turns out it was a little harder than I thought to follow my own advice from that post. Instead of asking for help, outsourcing and taking some time for myself I found myself taking on as much work as I could in bleak attempt to save as much dosh as possible before baby’s arrival. Unsurprisingly this led to a stressful few months and not the chilled out, organised ride I had imagined. I do immensely enjoy what I do though and there is some part of me that doesn’t feel like I’m working hard enough unless I’m working long hours and slightly stressed so I can’t say I didn’t bring it on myself. Consequently I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing clients on some amazing projects and pleased to say that we’re already discussing some repeat projects in the near future. ‘Chilling out’ in the last months of pregnancy is simply not an option most working mother’s to be have. Most of us I imagine are still ploughing through an exhausting workload while giving in to those nesting instints at the same time and trying to decorate, clean and organise everything in sight.

Preparing

The next couple of weeks are all about wrapping up some projects and catching up on some admin, social media and blogging. Realistically baby could arrive any day now so I’ve thankfully been organised enough to let everyone know that I might fall off the face of the planet any day now but not to worry, I’ll be back in about 3 weeks. Being self employed with a new baby is going to mean some long days and nights but it’ll all be worth it in the end. I love my job and I’ve worked really hard to build up a successful business over the last three years so there’s no way I’m going to let it suffer. Not only that, financially we can’t afford to let it suffer so this is the way it’s got to be. I’m just extremely lucky that I have a very supportive husband who’s willing to take on full time childcare for as long as possible. Frankly, why is that so surprising?

Among the usual ‘Your lives will never be the same again’,  ‘say goodbye to sleep’ and ‘you have no idea what you’ve let yourselves in for’ comments which are infuriating in themselves (we haven’t gone into this completely blind!). Many people have commented on the fact that Dave will be the one to take on the majority of the childcare, dog walking and housework and rather rudely (we think) suggesting he won’t be able to cope and will be dying to go back to work. We’re not completely naive. We both know that the first few months will take a lot of adapting too and I will be breastfeeding so it’s not completely all in Dave’s (very capable I might add) hands, but if another mother suggested to a mother to be that they don’t think they’d do a good job, wouldn’t you be offended? Just because Dave will not have ‘given birth’ doesn’t mean he will be out of touch and unable to rise the challenge.

Other fun conversation I’ve had multiple times is to do with my choice of resuming work as soon as I can. This has been greeted by ‘Ohh you’ll soon regret that’, or ‘You’ll need more than that’ and even ‘Don’t you think you’ll just want to concentrate on being a mum for a while?’. These comments have mostly come from women who don’t work at all or are in jobs where they’ve been able to take 6 months to a year off after having their babies. How lovely it must have been to stop work and not have to think about where you’re money’s coming from for the next few months. Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it would be wonderful to be able to take 6 months off, not have to think about work and focus completely on my new baby but unfortunately freelancing doesn’t work quite so smoothly. If I did take a long period off, I’d have repercussions of clients going elsewhere, losing regular work and it’s a case of if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. There’s no holiday pay or sickness pay in the world of freelance. This response is then met with an infuriating sad face and pity! I know it will be hard but as I said, I’ve worked hard to build a business and I’m not going to let it slide.

A New Challenge

Anyhoo, Dave and I like a challenge and over the last 10 years we’ve thrown ourselves into many adventures (one of which was going freelance). We’ve worked hard and are lucky enough to say that they’ve payed off. Not ones to buck a trend, we’ve added another challenge to our list. We have registered as dog boarders and sitters on the wonderful site Dog Buddy. Our chocolate lab Ruby has been an absolute joy since we adopted her nearly two years ago and we’d love to have a house full of dogs. Unfortunately it’s just not practical, space wise or financially so this is the next best thing! We get to look after dogs of all shapes and sizes for their owners, who are going away for a weekend or just need some extra attention in the day. Genius! Think we’re nuts? A few friends do. Like we won’t have enough to deal with in the shape of a newborn and a business to run but like I said, we love a challenge! Life would be dull without a little trial and tribulation.

Having said that, ask us in a couple of weeks time how we’re coping. I’m sure we’ll have some new insights but in the meantime we’re very excited to be starting a new chapter, and confident we can rise to the challenge. Thank you as ever to all my wonderful clients who’ve been very supportive and all the well wishes. On that subject as well, thank you all for voting and I’m still on a high from winning Freelancer of The Year 2016 at the Regional Awards! It’s been one hell of a year! On to the next challenge! Wish me luck!

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