Ok so this one is for the girls, and it’s a tough one.
It would be great if being pregnant was a walk in the park, but that’s not quite how reality works. I can understand why there was previously a time when women would sit at home cooking while pregnant while their husband went to a full time job to earn the cash for the household, because quite frankly, it’s a big struggle to work while pregnant. However, I’m glad that times have changed and I’m proud of myself for earning my own money and buying my first house alone alongside being able to support my children, but it’s no easy task.
There were a few things that I did to help me with my pregnancy. Firstly, I want to say that I have had 16 miscarriages, so falling pregnant again was not only a surprise but also a very worrying time in the early days. Anyone out there who has suffered recurring miscarriages will know how difficult it is to keep in the right frame of mind to prepare for the potential good or bad outcome. It’s upsetting and stressful and a different lifestyle to a woman who is gifted with being able to carry children without any issues. That isn’t what this blog is about though, so I don’t want to dwell on this too much, but this does need to be mentioned to understand possible issues that happen within the first few months.
When I found out I was pregnant, it was a mix of emotions, it wasn’t a planned pregnancy Harrison and I hadn’t been in a relationship for that long. We had just finished an amazing roller coaster ride coming off the back of the Apprentice and we were both heavily focused on launching our companies which were featured on the show. We also lived at opposite ends of the country.
I remember the day vividly – we went to Morrisons for some food and I wasn’t feeling too good. I told Harrison and mentioned that I was worried I was pregnant. Harrison went fully green, and, the romantic that he is, he said “f**k off Michaela stop winding me up”. We then bought loads of sweets, a pregnancy test and some Prosecco as I said I was probably just worrying. When I went home and did the test, it came back positive. I told Harrison and he went into what is known as the “man cave” for about 2 weeks. At the time I was hoping he’d talk to me or say something, anything, but he couldn’t bring himself to speak about it. Looking back, to be honest, I was glad he didn’t as I’m not even sure there is anything I could’ve said.
At the time, I was running two companies full time (Design and Build UK and Vantage Utility Connections), I had just launched an extra branch to one of my companies and I was speaking with multiple investors considering investment. I already had an 8 year old that needed my attention as well. The next morning I got up, got dressed, then proceeded to cry for about half an hour (reapplying my makeup afterwards!), then I went to work. I put a smile on my face and told everyone I was feeling a bit rough because I had a few Proseccos the night before.
I made appropriate arrangements for my care in the early days with the doctor and over the next few weeks I just spent time wondering how I would be able to deal with it all. I was completely overwhelmed and concerned but certain I would get through the pregnancy and still be able to secure the investment required.
I continued with my business meetings, I was sick frequently and fell asleep in my board room a few times. I found out that I was about 5 weeks into the pregnancy, so I had a long way to go before I started to tell anyone. I had a meeting with my investor when I was about 8 weeks pregnant. It was the first time we would meet in person and I wanted to make a good impression. So, I had my breakfast early knowing I would most likely be sick around an hour after eating. I drove to the meeting and took a bag of ginger biscuits with me. My investors were lovely and made me lots of cups of tea. When I pulled out my own biscuits, I think they may have thought I was a bit odd, but with me being from Bolton they probably just thought it was some “weird northern thing”.
The meeting went great, and I knew they were going to be the right partners for me. The next day, I went to work and carried on as usual and I dealt with the stress of managing staff by calling my partner or my best friend and crying whenever I couldn’t handle situations. I don’t care what any war machine woman tells you, when you’re pregnant you’re vulnerable and unfortunately can’t deal with the normal day to day stresses as you normally would. There is no shame in crying and no award is given for keeping your shit together in private when you’re pregnant, so let it all out.
I also made sure that I carried on my life as normal. I didn’t wrap myself in cotton wool or expect different treatment from others and I dealt with my issues in private and kept a positive attitude in work. On the days when my head fell off or I was so tired that I thought I would fall asleep at my desk, I would go for a small walk or take myself for 10 minutes or so in the board room to help gather my thoughts. I allowed myself time to be overwhelmed or worried, but I also made myself eventually snap out of this. It’s important to release some emotions but you have to get a grip of these at times and make sure you continue with your day.
When I was around 10 weeks into pregnancy, I accidentally added a midwife appointment to my work’s calendar instead of the personal calendar I share with Harrison. I deleted it around half an hour later, but I still suspected that someone may have seen the appointment. Even so, I still didn’t tell anyone about it.
After several initial scans, we got the signal that everything was going to plan around 14 weeks into the pregnancy, and I was quite confident that we were out of the danger zone. This was a huge relief of course but at the same time reality caught up to me. I was probably going to be having a baby and at this point I was in serious discussions with my investors who were running a fine-tooth comb through my business plan. I genuinely didn’t know what to do. After speaking with a few people and getting their opinions (including, randomly, Claude) I decided it was time to tell my future partners. We had a meeting with the investors, partners and financial advisors a few months later, (I carry very, very big, so I was huge at 5 months) so when I turned up, even though they had prior warning, they all seemed somewhat surprised that I had a huge bump up my top.
They were amazing and very supportive and continued with the investment. The plan was changed slightly as there would come a time that I would have to give birth to this beast, so we factored this in and began our business venture together.
Harrison was as supportive as he could be. He lived 200 miles away and had just launched his business down south so there wasn’t much that could be done. There were times where I was incredibly sad throughout my pregnancy. I really wanted to try and enjoy it as I’ve experienced so many difficult times when it came to pregnancy, but in all honesty I just couldn’t. I had the usual dramas associated with pregnancy – feeling fat, wondering how it would impact my life, hoping my son would get on well with the new baby, etc. On top of this, I also had to worry about launching a company alongside running my 2 current companies. One of which needed a large investment from me at the same time to help it through a difficult period. I had pressure from all sides, which made me question my decisions on multiple occasions.
However, as a person I am positive and very stubborn. I believe the stubbornness is what got me through this. I firmly believe that anything I put my mind to will succeed and I don’t like to fail, so every day I would wake up, hype myself up, tell myself some positive shit I had read somewhere such as “you can do this, try not to kill anyone” and I would turn up to work and try to get the team going and organise my life so I could achieve all that needed to be done.
Luckily, we have 9 months to prepare for the baby so I was ready for when he would be born, the time I would have off (2 weeks) and the running of the company in my absence. However, I started to go into labour around 7 months pregnant and it started and stopped for around a month. My waters broke early and I managed to hang on for a while longer while going in and out of hospital. I would go to hospital every morning, check if the baby was OK, go into work (in slow labour), then go home, sort out my son and finally clock off for the day. I literally sectioned my life into an hour by hour basis. I would deal with what needed to be done within the next hour, then the next and so on. Looking back at it, I’m extremely proud of how I held myself together in difficult circumstances. I am fortunate enough to have an amazing support system where people would listen to me moan about being fat, lonely or busy or whatever it was and the people listening would push me on. This was invaluable to me and something that I will never forget.
Around 8 months pregnant, the doctor said I had to stay in and have the baby, who was having a few issues with his heart rate – plus my waters had broken, so he needed to come out. I threw off all plans with work and the business as new plans can be made and the baby was obviously the priority. Labour is slow (for me anyway) and I remember sending emails from the hospital bed which, looking back at it, was fun and kept my mind on other things when possible.
During the birth there were complications so I had to have an emergency c-section, but the doctors and nurses as well as Harrison were all amazing. Grayson arrived safe and sound screaming his tiny head off and proving he would have his mother’s mouth. I’m not going to lie; I was so relieved once he had been born because, finally, I wasn’t the only one responsible for this little human. I could now have help with him and work and not be the sole carer. People would ask me how I was feeling a lot and honestly, I was just on top of the world. My little baby had arrived safe and sound, I was no longer pregnant, and I no longer felt constantly worried or alone.
My pregnancy probably wasn’t the best story ever, but there were times I felt like it was going to last forever and I still got through it. Work panned out as planned and We Connect Construction took off, going from strength to strength, much like my son who has recently taken his first steps, which is amazing. Life has gotten easier every day since.
Here are some things I learned throughout this journey which I’ll leave you with:
Firstly, I hope you can be inspired by my story. I want people to see that no matter what’s going on, us women really can do it all and make it work.
Be organised – allow yourself time for yourself as it’s so important.
Be open and honest with people about how you’re doing.
Prepare for your time off and any difficulties that may occur.
Take walks or swim or even train if you’re up to it.
Eat ginger biscuits!
Have a 3D scan.
Put yourself first – it’s the only time women can be truly selfish, but your health is the most important thing.
Don’t be hard on yourself, it’s all normal even when it’s not.
Eating curry and pineapples and cod liver oil doesn’t work (when you know, you know).
Don’t worry about putting on weight and bouncing straight back, no one gives a shit.
It’s fine to not be happy with the situation because it’s hard and no one will judge you for finding it hard.
And most importantly enjoy every little moment you can because that’s all you end up remembering in the end.