Getting more women in tech is a hot topic these days, as it should be. We need to do a better job encouraging girls and women early on to enter tech, we need to make sure those women don’t drop out, and finally we need to get more of the women who do stay to the top ranks. We’ve made great strides, even seemingly just in the last 8+ years I’ve been working in the field.
But over the course of my pregnancy this past year, I started to realize there’s a big difference between being a woman in tech and being “with child”. The former is a movement but the latter is still somewhat of an anomaly. During my pregnancy, the more I got out there and shared my story, participated in public speaking events, and even just tweeted about the daily grind, the more I realized this was not the normal path. There are already not very many women in tech, especially at a startup, and even fewer have kids. In fact, most of the people I worked with had not been around a pregnant woman ever before.
It was fun to be sort of a “trailblazer” throughout my pregnancy. I had a difficult pregnancy but not so difficult that I couldn’t power through it. The first trimester I was exhausted and throwing up all the time. In my second trimester, the ultrasound detected an anomaly with the fetus which suddenly required me to get a battery of tests and additional monitoring throughout my pregnancy. Fortunately it turned out everything was completely normal (something I wouldn’t find out until my baby was born), but by the time I entered my third trimester I had gained around 40 pounds for a whopping 65 pounds over the course of my pregnancy. And did I mention I’m only 5’2”? But none of that held me back. It was a struggle, and I definitely was not at my happiest towards the end, but I worked right up to my due date.
I assumed that when I went into the hospital, 2 days past my due date, to get induced, the worst was behind me. I would look normal, I would feel normal, and after 6 weeks of recovery, I could get back to work and resume startup life. I’d finally be able to go out to drinks with coworkers and make up for all the valuable drinking bonding time I had missed while pregnant.
But that hasn’t quite happened. I did go back to work after 6 weeks (yep, you can call me Marissa) but it’s been a tricky balancing act. I still don’t go to Friday night drinks with the company because I want to get home and see my daughter. I could not have understood this before I had a child. I thought it was just a logistical reason parents didn’t go out, like they didn’t have childcare, but it actually has very little to do with logistics. I just want to spend time with my daughter!
Just the other day I was feeding my daughter early in the morning and responding to an urgent email from work. I should have felt badass managing both of these things, but instead I felt like a shitty mom and a shitty employee for doing both these things simultaneously and neither of them as perfectly as I would have wanted to. Such is the theme these days.
But I’m pretty confident that with time I’ll figure things out and feel less imposter syndrome, especially as a mom. I’m only 11 weeks in. Most of my coworkers can’t relate to my life situation and that’s ok. A few of my coworkers do have small children and I’ve gotten closer with them which has been really nice. I’m hopeful that with time, there will not only be more women in tech but more moms in tech. There’s at least one more now and this one is not leaving tech anytime soon.