Motherhood Pregnancy

MOTHERHOOD vs. CAREER

July 28, 2016

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I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood and having a career (for obvious reasons) and struggling with my identity lately. I know this topic has been discussed and debated ad nauseam by women from all different backgrounds but it’s definitely one I never thought I would have to worry about.

My career has always been my priority and a big part of who I am. Marriage and children were never even a thought when it came to my future. While all my friends were getting married and having children, I was content building up my company and focusing on work which brought me a lot of satisfaction and happiness. Career first, all else came after.

And then I met my Husband and EVERYTHING changed.

We eloped in March and a month later I found out I was pregnant. This 4th pregnancy wasn’t planned at all. After my 3rd miscarriage, we decided to push pause on trying until we could figure out what was causing the losses. We were also planning on doing a lot of traveling this summer including going on our honeymoon. But life never goes as planned, does it?

When this pregnancy was confirmed by my OB, he sat me down and instructed me to take it as easy as possible and rest as much as I can due to the very high risk nature of my pregnancy. Fortunately, I wasn’t put on bed rest. Unfortunately, I was told to not push myself as I normally would.

Being a photographer is a very physically demanding job. We’re lugging heavy equipment around, we’re on our feet for hours at a time constantly moving, and when we’re shooting outdoors the weather isn’t always favorable. In other words, not the ideal job for someone with a very high risk pregnancy.

My first reaction was, ‘Ok, cool. I have a legit reason to take it easy and relax.’

And then it slowly sunk in and I realized what it really meant. It meant I had to start easing out of work way before I could even figure out when I would take a maternity leave. It meant instead of me working up until my due date (which I naively assumed I would do), I would need to turn clients away and certain shoots were off limits to me now.

I found myself asking the question I think every mother has asked herself many times: Motherhood or Career?

Well of course Motherhood. Right??

I mean, right. Yes. Of course. But is it really right?

Suddenly the career and business I had focused on for the past 7 years had to take a backseat. Instead of figuring out how I can work more and fit more shoots into my schedule, I was now having to refer them out to other photographers and figure out how to work less.

I started feeling…useless. And almost like a failure. Everything I had worked for for the last 7 years of my life felt like it was all slipping away from me. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, but there have been several nights where I’ve broken down in tears just feeling lost and unsure of who I was anymore. Unsure of my purpose.

Please don’t get me wrong, along with meeting my Husband this Baby is the best thing to have happened to me. To us. And every single day Baby Boy and I survive together is cause for celebration. I’m excited to become a mom, to be this baby’s mom.

Perhaps I’m making a big deal over nothing. I don’t know. I mean, can you have both aspects of your life balanced equally without feeling like you’re sacrificing one for the other? I naively told myself that of course we can have both and succeed! Girl power! And then this all happened and I became very doubtful.

Maybe if we were going to have 24/7 help, I wouldn’t even need to worry about any of this. However, we don’t plan on hiring a nanny because we want to be completely hands on and involved in every second of our son’s life. Until he’s 40 (joking…kinda).

I don’t know if I’ll ever not have this internal debate with myself. I don’t know if I will ever be able to completely let go of the career aspect of my identity IF I ever needed to.

How did you do it? How do you do it? Is it possible to do it without feeling guilty or does guilt just come with the territory? And how has your career changed?

Seriously, is it even possible to have it all?

 

 

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14 Comments

  • Reply Katrina July 28, 2016 at 12:18 PM

    You said once you met your husband that everything changed. Once you meet your baby, your entire universe will shift!!! It is truly the best thing and all you want to do is be with the baby. I was all about my career and now I’ve decided to work part time until the kids are at school. Working full time after 5 months of just having her, I became depressed and wasn’t happy. If you could, take a step back and enjoy every minute. Your career will be put to a hold but they’re changing everyday, every minute, and you’ll just want to cherish every moment.

    • Reply Nina July 29, 2016 at 11:23 AM

      Hi Katrina! You’re so right about needing to cherish every moment. I definitely need to remember that since I know how quickly it goes by. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights! XOXO

  • Reply Nadia July 28, 2016 at 3:24 PM

    Sadly… this feeling of guilt and deciding career over family doesn’t go away after returning to work. I personally am not capable of being a stay at home mom. It’s just not in my genes. It also happens to not be within our budget. So I returned to work and I’ll tell ya.. dropping off the little one at daycare, saying bye, and having them watch you walk away… SUCKS. When they first get sick and there’s nothing you can do but watch them suffer.. SUCKS. Hearing about their firsts from the teacher at daycare… SUCKS. I don’t know that any mom has the perfect situation. We all need to live in a world where we need money to live and that’s the hard part for me. That I feel like I’m letting someone else raise my child while I’m making money. In the end you just have to do what is best for your family. Try to enjoy this time with you and your husband because it’ll never be just the two of you again!

    • Reply Nina July 29, 2016 at 11:26 AM

      Hi Nadia! So nice to hear from you! I don’t think I have it in me to be a SAHM but who knows, right? I’m sorry some things have been challenging for you. I can’t even imagine what all that would feel like. And thank you for reminding me to enjoy this time with my husband. I really do need to take advantage of it being just the 2 of us for the next few months.

  • Reply Jannet July 28, 2016 at 4:00 PM

    Remember this: You are not alone! I’m pretty sure hormones do play a role with our heightened emotions during pregnancy and even postpartum. I totally get how you would feel “useless,” but at some point through all the changes and chaos of having a new baby, you do gain clarity. The feeling of being “useless” is no longer there. You gain so much more perspective and purpose once the baby is in your loving arms. You will find yourself just staring at the sleeping baby , most of the time in the dark and it will feel like only minutes have gone by when it’s actually been an hour!

    As for your career, I know how important it is to you and that won’t change even with the baby. It will be difficult at first finding that balance, but you’ll get there! Trust me! Seriously, mothers are superhumans! You are not alone feeling this way and you will find your way just like all the other mothers do! I know you will have the most perfect baby and find the most perfect balance and live out all your dreams!!!

    Just enjoy this time and try and relax (easier said than done, I know…), it’s going to be a bumpy ride, but in the end you will come out smiling!

    • Reply Nina July 29, 2016 at 11:28 AM

      Thank you, Jannet! I needed to hear this and be reminded not to let these crazy hormones get the best of me. haha Thank you for always being a wonderful friend. :) XOXO

  • Reply Caroline July 29, 2016 at 12:52 AM

    Your journey is real and personal. You will hear a lot of moms including myself tell you “balance” is important. But not everyone’s balance means 50/50. Most important thing I feel is to not lose your identity. How do you define yourself. I would say I’m a wife first, then mom, then a speech therapist. So I focus on my marriage first bc if that suffers, so do my kids. I chose to go back to work early not only bc I needed to, bc I really wanted to. I love my job and what I do and it was another part of my life that gave me joy. I don’t feel guilty for leaving them at daycare, preschool or summer camp because I know being there with their friends provides them a kind of joy that mommy cannot deliver. But I do look forward to picking up my children at the end of the day and once I see them I remember how much I missed them , so I play with them with full force when we get home. I also look forward to putting them to bed at 8:30 bc then I get to spend time with my husband. To me that is my balance. I rarely feel burnt out in any of my roles. But when I do, I seek the role of sister and friend and I find joy in the company of my girls. ???? You will find your balance.

    • Reply Nina July 29, 2016 at 11:32 AM

      Caroline, you are super mom. Really. I’ve always admired how positive you are and how you make everything look so easy and effortless. I know you put in so much work in every aspect of your life. I’m thankful I have you as a roe model especially because I feel my priorities are the same as yours – husband, son, career. I told myself that I would always put Christopher and our marriage first because it’s the foundation of our family and because he deserves to be priority. I really appreciate you sharing all this with me and I know I’ll turn to you for a lot more advice. ;) Love you!

  • Reply Rox July 29, 2016 at 1:35 AM

    Hey Nina!
    First and foremost, congratulations to you and your husband! Pregnancy is a beautiful and magical experience and I hope you have a wonderful journey!
    I worked as an HR professional until I made a career change that changed my life for the better. Twelve years ago, I decided to become a nurse. I knew that the flexibility of the career along with the physical demands (on your feet) of the nature of the job were challenging. At full-time, we work three 12 hour shifts then off four. I’m a NICU nurse, so I knew that many things about high risk pregnancies and prematurity. I did not want to be a statistic, but I was able to work full-time nights until we were 23 weeks pregnant. My OB wrote me off work and ordered me on bedrest. That’s when panic mode set in. I knew I didnt want my twin boys to deliver as micro-preemies at 24 weeks!!!
    I felt useless and extremely fragile at home while my husband worked. My one and only job became my obsession as I was determined to go full term. 24/7, I was confined to laying flat and at 32 weeks they wanted out. They were born premature, stayed in the NICU for one month and again my hands were tied. I was now a mother and my friends and co-workers cared for my twins. I had to put my nurse hat away. My trust was with Him and them.
    They eventually came home and thats when the hard work set in. Sleep deprivation is real. Baby blues is real. Hormones are real. Blow outs are real. It’s all part of the game and it’s been the best game of my life! I had an amazing support system and my husband (and it sounds like you have a good man beside you also). I managed to return to work, but as part-time, working 2 nights a week. It’s been challenging and fun at the same time. I embraced the challenges I was given and look back at those times with such pride and joy knowing I did my best for my babies. Always. :)

    Every woman is different and you know yourself more than you give yourself credit for. Work will always be work. It will always be there. However once your babies grow, you’ll want to cherish every minute. The balance will always be a work in progress so don’t be hard on yourself. Wishing you all the best, always. ????

    • Reply Nina July 29, 2016 at 11:36 AM

      Hi Roxanee! Thank you so much for this. I can’t imagine the stress and fear and all the other emotions you must have felt during your pregnancy and after the twins were born. You’re absolutely right – I need to cherish and embrace every moment because I will never have this same experience again. And I should be grateful for what is good right now and not worry so much about the future which is out of our hands. Your twins are adorable and I’m so happy for you. You have a beautiful family. XOXO

  • Reply Yuri July 29, 2016 at 5:07 AM

    i can’t really speak to the core question – it sounds like a crappy choice to have to make. But I wonder if there are ways to do both if you change your perspective. Could you take on associate photographers and/or assistants to do the heavy lifting while you become more of a manager? Might that reduce the physical stress on you while allowing you to leverage the brand you’ve built up over the last 7 years to keep the business growing without doing everything yourself?

    • Reply Nina July 29, 2016 at 11:40 AM

      Hi Yuri! Thank you for your suggestions! Yes, I have actually brought on associate photographers and assistants to help me during the pregnancy. However, once the baby arrives, I plan on taking several months off and don’t want to do any work since I know I’ll be too overwhelmed and wouldn’t want my work to suffer from lack of sleep or lack of priority. So far it’s been working out well but taking those months off next year makes me worried about not having an income coming in, losing clients, and not being able to pick up from where I left off. Only time will tell how things play out. :)

  • Reply Kara July 29, 2016 at 10:15 AM

    Beautiful, Nina Lance! Gosh I adore you, friend. You are a revelation and an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your truth with us. Honesty is always the bravest choice. You got this, mama. The you that existed before the we that exists now as someone (literally) occupies your body will forever change you. And the amazing thing is that you can be anything…any woman, any mom you choose. You can push pause on your business or you can keep grinding it out like the warrior working woman you are now. You’ll know what feels right and organic and best when he gets here. And trust me, he’s going to love you no matter what you decide.

    • Reply Nina July 29, 2016 at 11:42 AM

      Kara!! My beautiful, amazing friend. I so needed to hear this: “And the amazing thing is that you can be anything…any woman, any mom you choose.” Thank you and you’re right. It’s still all in my hands which direction I want to go and how I want to mother my son. I’m so grateful I have you to lean on and thank you for being an inspiration and amazing friend. Love you!!

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