I am 39 weeks pregnant.
One night last August, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. It was welcome. It was also unplanned.
The very next day FFA kicked off Ready Set Raise, our accelerator program for venture-scale companies with women and non-binary founders, for the very first time. Lucky for me, I was able to mask the shock of an unexpected pregnancy with first day jitters.
I spent the first five known weeks of my pregnancy – the entire Ready Set Raise program – sneaking off to the bathroom to vomit two or three times a day. I also spent more than one afternoon at the emergency room with unexplained bleeding. I was scared of sharing my pregnancy news given the uncertainty of all that bleeding, so I put on my bravest face and one foot in front of the other, and somehow made it through the first trimester – simultaneously delivering on the work front. Ready Set Raise was a blowout success.
Somehow I made it to 12 weeks with me and my baby – a little girl, I learned – unscathed. I had newfound belief in the Female Founders Alliance, which had picked up steam beyond all previous (and already high) expectations. I went on the road and started to meet investors, openly sharing news of my pregnancy. Things were looking up.
At 16 weeks, my closest mentors told me that FFA’s core foundation was shaky.
Sure, we had delivered great results – but I had not built an organization that was capable of repeating them. FFA’s strategy was unclear and processes nonexistent. My very small team was missing key people with necessary skill sets to make FFA sustainable and scalable. And those that were with me, in my rush to go out and scale, I neglected to notice when trouble brewed.
Getting all that feedback from people I respect so much really, really hurt. But it hurt even more when I realized that they had been right.
That’s why I spent weeks 19-23 – what the rest of the world called “the holiday season” – recruiting key people that FFA was missing, and seeking partners who could help us scale. Honestly, those were very dark weeks. I felt so alone, marching towards my due date, recruiting in one of America’s toughest labor markets with limited budget but high expectations, in December, with major member programming scheduled for the new year – all of which I’d have to accomplish alone, while pregnant, if I couldn’t find the right people. Or if I found them and couldn’t convince them to come on board.
I was also diagnosed with severe anemia. I spent more afternoons at the hospital hooked up to intravenous iron infusions. The doctor ordered me to take it easy. But taking it easy – and giving up on FFA – felt mentally impossible.
On January 7th, at 25 weeks, I went back to work having pulled off a few miracles. I hired two incredible leaders to join FFA full time and brought on board a hands-on board advisor that I admire deeply. I closed a partnership with WeWork Labs that will benefit all of our members (and was picked up exclusively by Fast Company), another one with Reverb that upleveled this year’s Champion Awards, and a third with Simplicity Consulting that brought us our latest team member, a talented marketer who became part of the FFA family literally before she set a foot in our door.
In my third trimester, this team of employees, consultants, sponsors and partners put on three back to back, sold out, impactful and unforgettable events (including our first outside of Seattle), grew FFA’s membership by nearly 20%, secured marquee sponsors, and prepared to launch Ready Set Raise Cohort 2. In less than 3 months this team is able and empowered to operate without me, and I trust them, admire and respect them deeply. In less than 3 months this team became my family. Like I said – a miracle.
I am now 39 weeks pregnant, and the end is imminent. I spent my last day at the office this week and hugged everyone goodbye. In my forced downtime today, I’ve contemplated what an incredible rollercoaster this pregnancy has been, how much I’ve had to grow as a human, a mom and a leader. How privileged I am to get to this place. How much work is yet ahead.
In just a couple of days, assuming all goes well, a new little baby girl will join the FFA family. One day I will tell her the story of this pregnancy, because she was with me every step of this journey, kicking hard from the inside, making herself heard even before she can be seen. I can’t wait to meet her. And I can’t wait for the adventures that lie ahead for all of us.
To everybody out there that has been reading through these pregnancy posts, sending messages of support, actively participating in the FFA community, working with the extended team and spreading the brand and mission beyond what we can do ourselves, I just want to say:
And as crazy as this sounds: this is still just the beginning.