I am self-employed, 31 weeks pregnant, and I was WOEFULLY unprepared for the experience that it’s been so far. I had big expectations of what I could accomplish during my pregnancy and how to set myself up for maternity leave. Little did I know what my body, mind, heart and soul was in for.
Let me back it up a bit. I’m about to give you some of my history for context, so if you already know about this part of my life you can skip ahead to the part where I find out I’m pregnant. Otherwise, settle in for story time.
How My Coaching Journey Began
I started my coaching business 4 years ago after many years of searching for my ‘purpose’. Ten years ago, I had realized that the life I was living didn’t feel like it ‘fit’ anymore. What once felt exciting and challenging no longer fulfilled me. Even though I was very successful in my career as a high-end hairstylist, I knew I was no longer living up to my full potential and it felt AWFUL.
I took different courses and explored different avenues. For SIX YEARS I searched for my new life path and my exploration led me to became a registered holistic nutritionist. That wasn’t quite it. I received my Reiki training and started practicing. That also wasn’t quite it. However, those opportunities led to my introduction to the world of coaching and I knew immediately that this was IT.
I had no idea this field of work even existed, but once I discovered it there was no looking back. My entire body was resonating with excitement. I started researching coach training and everything fell into place effortlessly. I had FINALLY found my new path.
Let me be clear, it was no cake walk the entire way, but there was enough resonant alignment in the beginning stages to help fuel me through the challenges to come. I continued to do hair to pay the bills while undertaking my coach training and certification. Training was super intense in that I was learning so much about myself and my own blocks, blind spots and strengths. It was a powerful experience of self-discovery that later contributed immeasurably to my capacity to lead others through that same process.
It was during my training that I started to put myself out there as a coach. It started with an Instagram account (@mischaelacoaching) where I shared my journey, inspirational quotes, powerful questions, and information about coaching. I was TERRIFIED to claim the role of ‘coach’. I was going from being an expert in one field to being a novice in this new field and the Imposter Syndrome was REAL. I was afraid of the judgement of others. I was afraid of being discovered to be a fraud. I was afraid I wouldn’t be any good at coaching. I brought all of these fears to my sessions with my coach and persevered through those painful initial stages of navigating uncharted territory as a beginner again.
My coach reminded me of the value of Patience and Trust. Patience through the process of learning and gaining experience, and Trust in the process that would inevitably lead me to Mastery of coaching, as long as I didn’t give up.
Building My Coaching Business
I didn’t give up. I kept putting out my IG posts and clients were starting to roll in with consistency. I was learning and gaining experience, and with that came more confidence. I started listening to podcasts by coaches and entrepreneurs I admired. I devoured audiobooks. I worked ALL the time between hair and coaching. I’m talking 12 hour days, 6 days a week. (For about a year of this time I was also planning a wedding and running an AirBnb out of our lower level apartment).
Over the next couple years I slowly decreased the hours that I did hair while increasing my coaching hours until finally, 3 years almost to the day from when I first started my coaching training I quit my day job to take the leap into coaching full time. This was January 2020. I had big plans and bright ideas about how this year would look.
Then the Pandemic hit my area that March. It was a weird and scary time as we all know.
I had clients drop off due to financial uncertainty. I had a lot of time on my hands, so I put it all into building my business. I was hired as a coach (Guide) by a coaching app called Sphere (www.sphere.guide) I created a YouTube channel and started putting out weekly videos. I joined mailing lists of successful coaches I admired. I started a mailing list of my own. I attended every free webinar I could. There is SO much free content available out there and I absorbed as much as I could about entrepreneurship, online marketing, digital content creation, you name it, if it helped me build my business, I was learning about it.
I also purchased courses (YouTube for Bosses by Sunny Lenarduzzi, Online Offerings for Peace & Prosperity by Sara Kelly) I created an online course and ran my first group coaching program (Recharge & Grow). I was envisioning how to scale my business from here and started researching mentors and programs to help me through that process.
I was hustling hard and I loved it because I knew I was on my path. I loved coaching SO much, both the value it offered to my clients and the fulfillment it offered me.
And it started to work! I had clients booking in with me from all over the world. In the past year I’ve worked with clients from England, Australia, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Indonesia, Morocco, and all across Canada and the United States. I’ve achieved every goal I’ve set my mind to so far in my coaching business, including a $10000 month (I brought in $13000 in January!) The hard work was paying off the momentum was building. IT WAS ALL HAPPENING!
Then I Got Pregnant
Then in October of 2020 I found out that my husband and I were expecting a baby! This is something we had been trying for and we were overjoyed…and also terrified. Both my husband and I are self-employed. My mind went to: how would I replicate my income while on maternity leave?
I came up with a plan and made a HUGE investment in my business, taking the leap on one of the mentors I’d followed for years and purchased a course/group program (The Authority Accelerator by Sunny Lenarduzzi) to help me scale my business and create an online course to bring in passive income while I was off with the baby. I had 10 months before the baby was due to create this course, set up my sales funnels and have it running on autopilot. It was going to be a TON of work, but I was no stranger to hard work, and I was excited to get started.
I was still finishing up with the creation of my first course and running the group program along with it, so I set the goal of starting this new course in January once my group program was completed.
Then the morning sickness kicked in.
It hit me HARD. And not just nausea, but exhaustion like I’d NEVER felt before. I was vomiting multiple times a day, napping for hours at a time and somehow still conducting my 1:1 sessions while creating video and digital content for my group program and running those group coaching sessions as well.
It took all that I could muster just to meet my current obligations, without adding MORE to the workload.
In January I had a major influx of clients between referrals and my YouTube channel. I was saving what little energy I had for my 1:1 sessions, but I was no longer keeping up with content creation for my YouTube channel, my Instagram account, or my mailing list. Nor was I starting this program I’d invested in. I was wracked with guilt over this but I told myself that I still had lots of time to create this course before the baby comes and I would get to it soon.
At this point I was well into my second trimester and there were no signs of this ‘energy boost’ people spoke of. I still felt just as nauseous and exhausted as ever. I also had pregnancy induced hypothyroidism that contributed to the exhaustion and it took MONTHS to determine the dose of Synthroid required to balance me out and bring back some energy.
As January turned to February I started to panic. I was meeting my obligations but I didn’t have the energy or mental clarity for anything more than serving my current clients. My focus and productivity had gone from an all-time high right before my pregnancy to the bare minimum. I wavered between beating myself up for this and reminding myself that I was GROWING A HUMAN.
In my sessions with my coach, I brought up the balance between my masculine and feminine energies. I had been operating heavily from my masculine energy of FOCUS and ACHIEVEMENT and GETTING SHIT DONE. This was no longer available to me, no matter how much I wanted it to be. I was still stuck in trying to CONTROL my experience, instead of surrendering to the flow of what was here now. If there was ever a time to lean into my feminine energy, it was now!
Surrender vs. Control
I started to focus on surrendering control and leaning into trust. My mantra was ‘let go and let it flow’. Resisting the reality of the physical, mental and emotional journey pregnancy was taking me on was only bringing me stress and anxiety. It took months of intention and work, but I continued to recognize when I was beating myself up for being ‘lazy’ and instead check in with my needs. I slowly started to let go of the guilt around all that I WASN’T doing and focused instead on what I WAS doing. I learned to surrender to my needs. I rested when I needed to rest and worked when my energy allowed.
Clients continued to come to me, even though I wasn’t posting anything consistently. All of the groundwork I laid in 2020 was still working for me. It was a lesson in trust and flow. But still in the back of my mind was this course I had invested in. As soon as I had more energy, I would get started I told myself.
Finally in late March I restarted the course. I started watching the training videos and rejoined the weekly group coaching sessions. I put the word out that I was doing market research to help me clarify my niche and the specific topic that my online course would address. I told myself that if I worked hard, I could just maybe squeeze this course out before the baby came in July.
That was a month ago, and after conducting about 20 market research interviews and pondering it non-stop I was not feeling any closer to an answer. I felt like I was swimming upstream again, fighting the current. The surrender I had felt was giving way to anxiety again. I recognized that I was back in a place of CONTROL. I was trying to force something that wasn’t coming together for me with any ease or flow at all.
I was also in my third trimester by now, and still feeling nauseous and exhausted, with the addition of major heartburn, restless legs and anxiety. I discovered that my Iron levels had dropped considerably, and this was contributing to my anxiety, low energy and feelings of frustration at not being able to perform once simple tasks. Basically, I was still dealing with A LOT. Mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
In a recent session with my coach, I finally gave myself permission to let this course go for now. I have lifetime access to it, and it felt right to allow myself to hit PAUSE on this one. I recognized that I was about to go through a major life change here in a few short months and with that came the distinct possibility that my niche and my program offering could change as well. Why put all the effort into creating something that would very likely change shape as my life and perspectives changed shape?
Grieving & Releasing
That session with my coach was HUGE. At one point in the middle of the session I literally broke down and sobbed for several minutes while my coach silently held space (bless her heart). I’m talking messy, snotty, gut wrenching sobs. I was releasing SO MUCH from the very depths of me. The pressure I’d been putting on myself. The expectations I had of myself. The grief I felt around losing the productivity and drive I once had. The anger and injustice I felt because I had to put my business dreams on hold. The tears and emotions just poured out of me.
That session brought me some much needed clarity, and right afterwards I made a list entitled ‘The Next Chapter’ and outlined three headings: ‘I Need to Focus On’, ‘I Do NOT Need to Focus On’, and ‘To Wind Up This Chapter of My Business Consciously I Need To’.
This was last week, and since then I’ve been continuing to feel and release emotions that I had been storing for some time. The tears keep flowing when I think of what I’m letting go, but I know it’s the right decision for now.
The reality is: I want to devote all of my energy and focus on our baby for their first months of life.
The reality is also: I want to devote all my energy and focus on building my business so I can serve more people.
These two realities cannot exist at the same time, try as I might, and I’ve finally come to accept that.
I give myself permission to pause my business when this baby comes so I can devote myself to giving them all of my focus and energy.
I also trust that I will experience expansion and insights through this process of parenthood that will serve my growth and the growth of my business. I trust that the time will come when I can shift some energy back to my business and it will grow and thrive just as it has been this year.
I am also allowing myself to grieve. It’s been absolutely crushing to watch my energy, drive and productivity wane. I’ve felt like I’m watching my business crumble before my eyes as my due date draws nearer. I’ve spent SO many years searching for this path, finding work that aligns with my purpose. I put SO much work into building this business over the past 4 years and it’s been devastating to have to put this on hold when I feel like the momentum is really starting to build. I’ve had moments where my mind is screaming “IT’S SO UNFAIR that we as women have to put our careers on hold to raise children!!” I know I’m not alone in feeling this.
My business is my baby. My firstborn. I love it more than I can express. Serving my clients brings me so much joy and fulfilment. Coaching fires me up like nothing else ever has. I sometimes burst out of my office after my sessions literally punching the air and high kicking because I LOVE MY JOB SO MUCH AND I CAN’T BELIEVE I GET PAID TO DO THIS (it’s true, ask my husband).
There are times where I wonder if this baby will bring me the same fulfilment. Will it be worth this sacrifice? These are the fears that hang out in the dark corners of my mind. What if I regret this choice? What if this was a mistake?
Those fears hang out in my head, but in my heart I know that I won’t regret it. When I feel this baby kick, when I picture holding them close to my heart. When I think of my husband as a father, my eyes well up and my heart explodes and I’m reminded that I’ve made this choice consciously and whole heartedly. I trust the feelings in my heart more than the fears in my head and I know that I am about to experience a love that I can’t even imagine. I know I’m embarking on a depth of experience that will expand my growth in a way nothing else can, and I am ALL about growth!
We can’t always have it all at once, but we can have it all in good time. There are many successful female coaches and entrepreneurs out there that are also mothers. The time will come again for my business to thrive. I have no doubt about it.
In the meantime, I trust, I surrender, I let go and let flow.