Friday, January 13, 2012

Week 19: If you try, sometimes you find you get what you need.


I stopped putting my sweater back on with one arm in and one arm out. "What?"

"Don't panic, but your blood pressure is elevated by 40 points."

The only thought that flashed in my head was: pre-eclampsia. And how we almost lost my cousin to it. Twice.

In came the midwife, who handed me tissues and calmed me down with a kind laugh and said, "You're fine and the baby is fine. You can't have pre-eclampsia until at least next week. And even then, this isn't it. This is just your 'get out of jail free' card, if you'll take it. Now let's talk about how to make this right."

We discussed my work load. How lucky I am to work for myself, and therefore be in somewhat of a position of power over my daily tasks. How I'm not sleeping or eating due to work stress (which is fairly par-for-the-course for PR folks, sadly). Her advice: "It's time to cut back. Not entirely, of course, but your body is in control right now. You have to convince your mind to listen is all. And believe me, this won't be the first time you have to make an adjustment like this. It's okay to give yourself a break."

There's no crying in PR, but let me tell you -- in the immortal words of Spinal Tap, I cried, cried, cried all the way home. And then I sat down with The Brit and made some hard decisions.

Yes, I just signed contracts the week before. And as usual, I said "Absolutely!" to new, exciting projects. A new year (and fresh budgets) is good for that -- you get a little giddy at the possibilities. Of course, the extra money doesn't hurt, especially with unpaid maternity leave on the horizon.

But something has got to give -- particularly with two lives on the line.

So I had a heart-to-heart with my main client. Who immediately put pressing priorities to the side, found another consultant to take on part of my load, and fixed the time/responsibility issue within 30 minutes. And then followed up these actions by calling me and talking through, as a friend would, the mental difficulty of evolving from hard worker to working mom. "I know this is a big transition for you," she said. "You've been doing things a certain way and framing your life like so for almost two decades. But I promise that soon enough, this new life will fit much better. And you'll get just as much personal satisfaction out of it. Probably more."

This morning, I received two exceptionally kind e-mails from my main client contacts, making sure I'm all right and thanking me for being so valuable to the team. I'm in a tough industry, but it's the people that make it more than a paycheck. Especially those who realize, even if it takes a mini-crisis to do so, that we're really only human after all.

I had a proper dinner last night -- my first good meal in a week. I slept eight full, hard hours. Today, my heart doesn't hurt. In fact, it feels at least two sizes bigger than it did yesterday. And that's from gratitude. Sheer gratitude for the people who surround me, near and far.