“You’re building a startup while you’re pregnant? Are you insane?”
That’s what everyone asked me when I decided to get pregnant while working full-time at a tech startup in New York City in 2015. There I was: working at a startup, and pregnant.
Pregnancy rocked me and asked me to question everything I knew. It wasn’t easy, or anything like I was expecting. I had a somewhat difficult pregnancy the first time around, and I was thrust into moments of depression, despair, and anxiety.
Pregnancy is hard as shit, and I didn’t hear enough people talking about it. Telling the truth. Being honest about everything it took.
Fast-forward two and a half years later, and I got pregnant again—this time, building my own company. From senior leadership team to CEO, all in the midst of the never-ending marathon that is babies and breastfeeding and diapers and pregnancy and vomiting—and doing it all over again.
Yet at the same time, it became one of the deepest transitions and reorganizing principles in both my professional and personal life.
Interestingly, getting pregnant shifted my focus, but not in the “I never want to work again” kind of way that employers often fear.
Instead, I became more discerning about the decisions we made at work, I gained a clarity and focus I’d never before experienced, I wielded a new power over my command of the word “no,” and I quickly adopted new strategies to get people aligned around negotiations. Strangely, I was surprised to notice that getting pregnant made me a better leader and a more efficient employee. At the same time, working at a startup made me a better mom.
And yet, when I looked around the world and to my bookshelves for advice and guidance, I found relatively little that would help. The books were either categorized as “women’s leadership,” to encourage women to step up in the working world; or they were focused just on pregnancy and parenting, giving only a modicum of advice about how to pump enough when you go back to work. Why wasn’t working-and-parenting a more exciting proposition? What were we missing?
I craved a new kind of storytelling, a place where we could talk about the reality of working parents, and I didn’t find it.
So I set out to build it.
No more fake bubbles and posed pregnancy pics and warped gender norms. Absolutely ZERO photographs of a woman holding a baby and working on a laptop unless it also shows that same laptop filled with mountains of crushed cheerios and half of the keys stuck together because how the fuck do you laptop and baby? REALLY?
We’re here to talk about the hard stuff. To share what’s working and share all of the parts that are messy.
And then, we’re here to do what startup founders do best: to shake things up, to disrupt, and to reinvent.
We want to imagine a new future of what it looks like to be a working parent, a business leader, and a pregnant woman in today’s world.
The old ways aren’t working. They don’t work. We can’t force ourselves into the old models of parenting or the past models of a work world that was designed for “Ideal Workers” (aka, men)—and expect it to work. Those systems are broken. It’s time for us to figure out new models for work and life going forward.
Startup Parent is a place to mix work and family, to talk shop about business and birthing, to recognize that we thrive better when we collaborate across these cultural phenomena that have been strangely isolated from each other.
And, in fact, we can learn a lot from one another about how to reinvent the way business works.
- What if working and parenting didn’t have to be such a crazy, elaborate dance?
- What if there were some simpler ways to manage this frenetic journey and make it more do-able?
- What if there were key strategies and tools to make the journey more manageable?
- What if we could be on the same team, the same page, supporting each other?
- And … what if pregnancy actually has a lot of inherent wisdom in it, lessons that could serve to teach the business world a fair amount about how to make the work world level up in a way it’s never been before?
This is a place for an ongoing conversation about what it takes to build a company, become a parent, and chase after the multiple adventures you’re craving in your life. It’s not “either-or” — it’s a messy pile of “mostly in the middle.” We’re a group of people that want to explore what it takes to build thriving businesses and modern families..
My name is Sarah K Peck, and I’m the executive director behind Startup Parent.
My partner and I are tireless project creators: we like to say that we are “curious for a living,” and we have never stopped building projects, writing books, starting companies, and chasing adventures. Our latest adventures have doubled our family size—we’ve got two young boys who have been along for the ride. They, along with my fierce love of making work in the world, inspired this podcast and project. But this site is more than just my story.
This site is a place to collect and share the stories of thousands of women and parents and your journeys across leadership and in life.
I’m honored to be the host of the Startup Parent podcast and the curator of stories for our website and blog.
Take a look around, thanks for being here, and don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Our latest + most popular posts across entrepreneurship, business-building, pregnancy, and parenting.
If You Work Hard Enough You Can Do Anything, Except Get Pregnant: A Journey Through Infertility — Episode #118 With Lucy Knisley
Her whole life, Lucy Knisley wanted to be a mother, but when it was finally the perfect time for conceiving, it turned out to be harder than anything she’d ever attempted. Fertility problems were followed by miscarriages and her eventual successful pregnancy was plagued by health issues and led to a dramatic near-death experience during labor and delivery. She chronicled this experience and more in the book that she recently wrote called “Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos.” The book is funny and terrifying and informative and useful and real and raw, just like our conversation with Lucy today.
The Myths of Miscarriage, The Lean In Fallacy, and Mothers’ Rage — Episode #115 With Katherine Goldstein
Katherine Goldstein found our she was pregnant as she was trying to launch a podcast about how mothers experience bias and discrimination in the workplace—making the issue front and center in her life. Yet she experienced trauma and blowback despite the knowledge. Today we still force women to wrap their miscarriage and fertility traumas into a bow—“But now I have a baby, so it’s all okay”—to make it palatable to the public. Award-winning journalist and podcast creator Katherine Goldstein goes deep with us on so many of the most pressing topics for working mothers and holds nothing back. Between her research, the data, her own experience, and her reported experience of hundreds of moms, Katherine is waging war against cultural forces holding mothers back from being their fullest, most ambitious, most rage-filled selves.
Data Driven Parenting: An Economist on Breastfeeding, Sleep Training, and Vaccinations — Episode #111 With Emily Oster
After disrupting the fear-based pregnancy advice space with her first book “Expecting Better”, Economist Emily Oster is back, applying her data-driven decision making to parenting with her second book, “Cribsheet”. Many of her conclusions will surprise you: like who is the biggest beneficiary of breast-feeding, who is correct in the sleep train or not debate, and how to understand the full body of research around vaccinations. If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate Oster’s warmth and candor about her own parenting experiences and you’ll leave this interview feeling informed, empowered, and confident in your own parenting choices.
Redefining Motherhood: Matrescence and Debunking the Myth of the Perfect Mother — Episode #110 With Dr. Alexandra Sacks
In our culture, mothers are divided into two camps: the “Perfect Mothers” and the “Bad Moms.” This false dichotomy robs women of a shared language to speak about motherhood as it really is: an expansive, grey emotional zone of swirling, conflicting feelings. Dr. Alexandra Sacks guides us a through a new way of looking at motherhood through the lens of “matresence” — or the natural psychological experience that is the identity transition into motherhood.
Postpartum Recovery: Healing, Being a New Mom, and Nutritional Health — Episode #059 With Lily Nichols
We place a lot of emphasis on planning for the perfect birth and making sure that our bodies are healthy during pregnancy. But what do we need to recover after the baby arrives? Lily Nichols shares her postpartum journey, discussing her extreme caution around physical exertion and the nutrients new moms need to heal damaged tissue and meet the energy demands of breastfeeding.
The first few days and weeks postpartum are challenging. Not only are you resting and recovering from the massive feat of bringing a baby into the world— but you’re also transforming in your relationships. Alongside this, I found that communicating clearly to others and setting good boundaries was also quite hard. How do you communicate to those around you what you need and want? How do you tell them how to help, and when it’s too much? In this post I want to share a strategy I love for preparing for your postpartum period: writing out to-do lists for other people ahead of time. Here are three lists you can use in your own planning.
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STARTUP PARENT SCHOOL
Ask For What You Want
Writer’s Workshop: Storytelling Foundations
Content Strategy For Thought Leaders