East Durham Business editor Leanne Fawcett has welcomed her first (and third) child, Ellis. Here she chats about juggling newborn parenthood with running a business, the challenges it brings and what she loves most about ‘workternity leave’…
When I tell people I run my own business, they think how nice it must being your own boss, working the hours you want to and having as much time off as you desire. Well, let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is, you never switch off because you can’t, cash flow is a constant challenge and the benefits are few and far between. So, when I found out I was pregnant with my first biological child (I am already mummy to my husband’s children, Quin and Darcey, who we have full custody of) I knew there’d be no such thing as maternity leave. Yes, of course there’s a legal requirement to take two weeks off. But after that, well, let’s just say having a break was a challenge.
I welcomed my son, Ellis Luke Derek (Derek being my dad’s name) back in April, completing my already beautiful family (I truly am blessed). Thankfully, I worked right up until two days before Ellis was born, so was ahead of the game when he arrived, meaning I could enjoy some much needed down time while my husband took a few weeks off work. Those precious early weeks were both exhausting and wonderful in equal measure and I am so grateful that I was able to give Ellis my full attention. But like anyone who is self-employed will tell you, when it’s your business is it hard to switch off completely – and often, you just don’t want to.
So, by the end of the May I was back into work and in full swing – well, semi-full swing as I do still want to enjoy watching him grow. I know I’ll not get that time back. I am very lucky that I have such lovely clients, who were all keen to meet my little boy, so my first few outings to meetings were with Ellis in tow. He loved all the attention he was getting from his new friends, but for me, it was hard to fully relax, especially when he cried and needed soothing. That’s not to mention the dreaded ‘F’ word – feeding. Let me clarify, I absolutely love breast feeding my son and there is nothing more natural, however in those early weeks having to halt a meeting because he was hungry wasn’t ideal – more for me than anyone else.
But as the weeks passed by and I became fully relaxed with my duties as a working mam to a newborn, I started to enjoy the craziness of writing features and press releases with my son lying next to me, or putting out social media posts or updating websites with him on my shoulder (thank goodness for Baby TV). Don’t get me wrong, calls and Teams meetings are a different proposition these days – timing is key to a successful outcome. That and fingers and toes crossed that Ellis stays quiet. Overall though, we make it work. In July, East Durham Business Network had its first event since Ellis was born and quite a few people asked me if I would take him along.
I have to admit, I was in two minds – on the one hand I wanted to show him off (by this point he was 11 weeks old) but on the other I did wonder if some people may think it unprofessional, especially if he cried. But my network colleague Guy Bashford, whom I’d met with the week before for a cuppa and a catch up, persuaded me to bring him and I am so pleased I did. As soon as the attendees saw him, they were straight over and there was no shortage of people wanting cuddles. There was one man who even said how refreshing it was to see a baby at such an event as his children were all grown up.
I can’t say enough how proud I was and am so pleased I took him. He was good as gold and certainly enjoyed being centre of attention. Being the mam of a newborn whilst running a business is certainly challenging, and at times I do wonder how I keep all the plates spinning. But just about spin they do and I count my blessings every day that I am in this position.
Life is certainly a rollercoaster but you know what, I’m not sure I would have it any other way!