I’m so excited to introduce you to our newest family member: our daughter Tegan Li, who was born on March 15th, 2016.
I’ve been meaning to share the whole experience of becoming a mom with you, and the business lessons that came out of the whole experience… But I’ve also been learning the ins and outs of motherhood, and enjoying some maternity leave with plenty of baby snuggles.
So here’s what I learned, and how it relates to doing business online…
1. Interviews Matter: Find Out If You’re Compatible
We had a very healthy pregnancy, and after doing a lot of research we chose to have a home birth. In the process of making this decision, we also visited birthing centers and looked into more conventional hospital options. (If you’re curious about the different birth options, I highly recommend watching “The Business Of Being Born” and “More Business Of Being Born” documentaries, both available on Netflix.)
We conducted an interview with the various people who could have been on our “birth team”, and went with a local midwife with a lot of experience and the stats to back it up.
In the end this was the best choice for us, but I fully understand that home birth with a midwife is not right for everyone. The care that we received throughout our pregnancy, during the birth, and following the birth has been top notch and really helped make the transition smoother for all of us.
The Takeaway: Don’t settle on the first option, job candidate, or coach that comes your way… Do your due diligence, interview and ask the tough questions, and make the right call for your particular circumstances or business.
2. Just Because It’s Not How Everyone Else Does It, Doesn’t Mean It’s Wrong
Choosing to have a home birth brought a lot of resistance from our parents, family members, and anyone who heard us mention that we weren’t giving birth in a hospital.
We had to field a lot of questions about how safe or dangerous it was going to be (even though we were only 15 minutes away from the closest hospital if we did have to transfer)… but I also knew that my grandmother had given birth to all of her children at home, including a set of twins.
I faced a similar resistance from my parents and peers when I started my business. The same logic about how “risky” and “dangerous” it was to start a business kept being brought up, but today entrepreneurship is cool and even idolized.
I’m not saying that home birth is going to become the cool thing to do like starting a business has, but I am seeing a lot more women choosing to birth without as many interventions as most hospitals routinely give.
The Takeaway: Not everyone is going to like your decisions, and as long as you feel confident in your choices, listen to your instincts. Often, some of my best ideas are met with resistance, until they’re proven successful (like selling WebinarAlly for just a one-time fee of $27 when other webinar hosting platforms range from $99/month to $400 per year!).
Photo credit: Snapberry Photographs
3. Mindset Matters: The Birth Story
A personal reason why I wasn’t keen to give birth in a hospital comes from my mother’s experience. She was a few days past her “due date” and went to the hospital to get induced. The doctor thought she wasn’t progressing fast enough, so he used a sharp instrument to break her water… only to break the surface of the skin on my cheek.
My mom was appalled, but the doctor assured her this was routine and that the mark on my face would be gone in a few days. Over 30 years later, and it’s still there. But the real danger would have been if my eye was where my cheek was, instead!
This kind of “routine medical intervention” to induce birth didn’t feel appropriate or necessary to me, so we chose to let the baby decide when it wanted to arrive.
Tegan arrived 2 weeks past my “due date”, and the birth itself was relatively fast and smooth. We were encouraged by our midwife to go on a date and stop worrying about when the baby would arrive, and shortly after I started having mild contractions.
I had these gentle contractions for two days, and at first I couldn’t tell if it was a contraction or not because it wasn’t painful – it just felt like my stomach was tightening or like the baby was moving around a lot.
Finally, the timing of the contractions was getting more regular… So we contacted our midwife around 4pm and she recommended I start doing some lunges and hip circles on a yoga ball to help the contractions intensify.
That got things going, and by 9pm I was in active labor. By 10pm we had moved into our bathtub, and around 11pm my water broke and I started getting the urge to really push. Tegan was born just after midnight. We got to bond with the baby in bed while the midwives helped clean up and then checked all our vitals.
We slept all snuggled up in our bed, and I knew everything would be different from now on!
Although at the time it didn’t feel like the birth was happening quickly, looking back it definitely was a fast process.
I credit a lot of my “good birth experience” to the mindset I developed, and the positive birth attitude I cultivated.
A lot of our associations with birth are that it’s painful, dangerous, and just plain scary. Luckily, last summer before I even knew I was expecting, I picked up the book “Birth Without Fear” from the library… and while it was written a long time ago, it helped plant the seed that birth and pain didn’t have to go hand in hand.
I was also inspired to sign up for Debra Pascali-Bonaro’s “Pain To Power Childbirth” online program. Birth is an “in your body” experience as opposed to being a logical “in your head” thing, and I feel like this program really helps to ground women into their bodies and birth experience, gently over time.
Each week was like getting a new understanding of what birth is really about, and how to work with your body’s natural cues rather than against them.
Also the lovely ladies at Calm Birth School let me take a peek at their course.
Between all of this positive mindset training, I was able to stay in the moment even when things felt overwhelming or when I was getting tired from pushing. That made a huge difference!
4. Practice Consistently For The Big Event
One of the things I remember thinking while I was in our bathtub pushing out this small baby with a big head… is that I wish I had done more squats!
Although I did some prenatal yoga, and we took walks almost daily during my pregnancy to keep active… I still felt like my leg muscles could have been better prepared.
When I look at other cultures, where toilets are just a hole in the ground or require you to squat low, it makes me realize how important squatting really is to us as human beings. It helps us bear down when we’re giving birth, and keeps us looking fine, too!
In term of business, I can definitely see practicing your craft as a key to success. When I give a 45 minute keynote presentation or webinar, I usually practice for at least 5–10 hours… not counting the time spent crafting the talk itself.
For other types of activities, like writing marketing copy or coaching a client: it gets better the more you do it.
The Takeaway: Don’t think you can just “wing it” when you get there. Practice and preparation make a huge difference in your delivery. (Pun intended!)
Photo credit: Snapberry Photographs
5. Ride The Waves: Push and Pause for Pleasure
One of my big takeaways from becoming a “birth geek” and learning about the hormones that are present during the birthing process was that the body naturally produces Oxytocin, which is often called the love hormone. (Pitocin is the manufactured version of Oxytocin that’s often used to induce labor, but it doesn’t have the same feel-good effects as your body’s natural Oxytocin.)
The best way to tap into the power of your body’s natural pain reliever (Oxytocin) is to stay in a relaxed state, and not get caught in the fight or flight adrenaline cycle.
For me, that meant having some of my favorite music playing in the background, dimming the lights, and having lots of privacy. In fact, for about 80% of my labor it was just me and my husband, while our midwives were in the next room listening and timing contractions.
This level of privacy allowed me to just do my thing, and not worry about what I sounded like (a cow mooing?) or what I looked like (pretty sweaty!).
My best pushes came when I was able to be fully zen during the pauses between contractions. Sometimes I got so relaxed and tapped into that “Oxytocin love feeling” that I almost forgot about what was coming next or what just happened.
I think this kind of push and pause for pleasure is important in business, too.
Whether you look at it on a weekly level: working hard for 5 days and taking 2 days off on the week-ends to rejuvenate and have fun. Or you look at it on a larger scale, for big projects or launches having more of a “push” focus and then taking time to coast between marketing campaigns.
The Takeaway: Allow yourself to enjoy the down time between pushes – whether they’re marketing or physical rest phases.
6. Feel The Inevitability Of What You’re Creating
During my labor, I soundly remember thinking that there was no way out, but to get through it.
In many aspects of life and business there are a lot of exit strategies or “ways out” of doing something. For example, if you decide that you don’t want to record videos for your marketing, you can stop. Or, if you’re in school studying a particular topic and you find that you’d rather study something else, you can always change majors.
But when you’ve made a baby, and carried it for 9+ months… you can’t change your mind, it has to come out! (This might sound obvious, but it really hits you when you’re laboring!)
There were certainly times when I felt like I was too tired to keep going. I would have liked to take a break, maybe continue the next day after I slept or ate something… but when it’s time, you just follow your body’s lead.
In business, there haven’t been many times where I felt like this “inevitable” force of creation coming through. But every time I have, it has helped me to keep going when I felt like giving up.
Some of the times where I’ve felt that inevitable creative energy in my business have been when I set deadlines for myself that involved other people and kept me accountable. The big ones are hosting live events, webinars, retreats, and pre-selling a product and then delivering it on time.
The Takeaway: Deadlines make your work feel like an inevitable creative force is carrying you forward… and sometimes you’d rather take a nap, but you don’t have much of a choice when you’re giving birth or birthing a new part of your business.
7. Trust That You Can Do It
During my pregnancy, I had doubts about my ability to birth this baby au natural. It didn’t help that most TV shows and people you talk to make birth look and sound like the worst pain imaginable.
But taking a logical look at mother nature, and the millions of babies born across all the different species of animals in the world helped to ease those doubts.
One of my favorite quotes to help me trust my body is from Ina May Gaskin:
“We are the only species of mammal that doubts our ability to give birth. It’s profitable to scare women about birth. But let’s stop it. I tell women: Your body is not a lemon.”
What this meant for me was to remember that if I was able to conceive this baby, and nurture it for months, then surely my body would know how to successfully bring it out into the world, too.
The idea that my body is “not a lemon” meant that it has everything it needs, and there’s no manufacturing defect like with a “lemon” car.
In business, you also have to trust that you have everything you need to accomplish what you set out to do. Sometimes you don’t know “how” you’ll get it all done, but trusting that you can figure it out as you approach each hurdle is key.
I can’t count the times that I’ve sought to do something that might have seemed crazy or impossible, but by rallying the right people and trusting in the vision… we made it happen.
The Takeaway: Trust that you have what it takes to make it all happen. Whether you’re afraid you won’t reach your income goals, or you don’t know how you’ll deliver on a complex project… you can do it if you remember that you’re not “less than” anyone else and you were designed to handle this, too.
Birth and Business Lessons: That’s Just The Beginning…
Now that Tegan is here with us, I’m learning so much about being a parent and it’s clear that birth is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to “lessons learned”.
I’d love to hear your birth story… whether it’s the birth of a child or a business, project, or other venture. Leave a comment below and share one of your big “ah has” around birthing something from your experience!