This is what her text said: “FYI I had a baby a couple hours ago.”
But let me back up a sec…
A few months ago I gave up a piece of what I’d bootstrapped and built from the ground up and took on an equity partner. She was pregnant, had a toddler and cobbled together her work from home hours because early stage entrepreneurship and affording full time childcare don’t usually go hand in hand.
Basically, by “traditional” work standards, it was either the worst timing or the wrong partner, so it’s a good thing I care zero about old school workplaces and rigidly defined roles because bringing Saira on as my business partner was the best decision I’ve ever made for Babies4Babies.
This week, Saira sent me a text message: “FYI I had a baby a couple hours ago.” A couple hours ago?! WUT? Wasn’t that, like, when we were chatting on Slack about the wholesale line sheet?
Saira, my work wife. She embraces Babies4Babies as her own baby and does everything in her power to build our company into what we both know it can and will become. While she isn’t technically a co-founder, we both thought that three years in was a little past the founding stage, she is equally committed to the company and I cannot imagine doing this journey without her.
Saira and Inara
Saira's daughters, Aiyla and Inara
So after that “FYI I just had a baby” text, Saira went on maternity leave. With the shameful (non-existent) standards of American maternity leave and postpartum care, we had long ago decided Babies4Babies would be different and established a policy for unlimited maternity leave which allows the woman to opt back into her role gradually and at her own pace. We already use technology and telework to stay connected and run an efficient and lean ecommerce company, so the demand to come into a physical office and all of the barriers that creates for postpartum moms, like pumping and off site childcare, will never become an issue for Saira.
Will some pieces at Babies4Babies slow down as a result of Saira’s maternity leave? Yes. But in the meantime, the company will survive and we will wait for her because if we’re serious about equality (and we are), a woman should never be punished, cast aside or knocked off her trajectory for becoming a mother. Over the long term, Babies4Babies will thrive because we are reinventing the way work works for women and above all, we are a company that believes the work and recovery Saira is doing right now with her newborn and family are so much more important than selling blankets.
As any friend and partner would be, I am over the moon for Saira; I can’t wait to see how this next piece of motherhood grows and shapes her as a woman. I don’t know exactly what it will be like for her, but I do know it will be significant because I, too, have done it twice. Something about becoming a mother opens your heart and rocks your world and each time you experience motherhood and in a whole new, entirely different way. One thing’s for sure, when she’s ready, I know she’ll come back from maternity leave wiser and more powerful. Until then, wishing Saira and her new babe a healthy, peaceful beginning and a future filled with love, friendship and building businesses that matter.