The day I found out I was going to become a mom, I quit my job. And this wasn't just any job. I'd recently earned a seat at the table with the top editors at one of the most influential newspapers in the world. Not only was I covering breaking news, but I had the privilege of attending embassy parties, watching the Obamas dance at an inaugural ball, mingling with movie stars at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and even sitting behind Anna Wintour at New York Fashion Week. It was the job I had dreamed of when I decided to major in journalism as a college freshman. But the truth is, what I wanted as an 18-year-old wasn't quite living up to what I wanted in my 30s.
Specifically, I knew the amount of office hours required for me to succeed in my current job would be challenging for me at best (incredibly stressful at worst) when I became a mom. It's not that I didn't have plenty of female role models at my company who I could look up to. In fact, these women were some of the strongest, savviest moms I knew. Watching them "lean in" brought Sheryl Sandberg's book to life. But, as much as I tried, I couldn't figure out a solution that made sense for me. I didn't have the budget to cover around-the-clock child care or a partner with a flexible schedule (my husband was just starting out as a doctor), plus, I was living in Washington, D.C., thousands of miles away from my mom and in-laws, so family help was out of the question.
To tilt the scales even more, my husband had received a job offer in Louisiana near both of our families. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, but before my pregnancy was confirmed, I was still dragging my feet. This would mean I'd have to walk away from the career I'd fought so hard to achieve.
But all it took was one look at a positive pregnancy test to change my mind. Which is how I found myself, in the final days of my first trimester, staring out the window of a moving truck as my former life faded away. I didn't know what the future held, beyond the tiny creature growing in my stomach—giving me waves of nausea at every bump along the way—but somehow I knew we made the right decision.
I slowly acclimated to life without a job in a new city, with my growing belly a constant reminder of my transformation. Looking back, I'm thankful for those lingering days, where my longing for what I left behind was replaced by anticipation for what—or more accurately "who"—was to come. But in the beginning, I felt like I'd lost my whole identity.
My husband and I were on our babymoon when I got a message from my former colleague, Katharine Zaleski, who recently co-founded a company focused on connecting women with remote work. When I told her my current situation (jobless and pregnant) she replied, "Women like you are my specialty." Katharine eventually hired me as an editor at her startup, PowerToFly, where I write and edit stories about how women are balancing their lives and careers. Coincidentally, Katharine turned into a trending topic a few months later with her apology to working moms everywhere.
Working remotely made my last two trimesters easier than I ever anticipated. Eating healthfully is a cinch when you're right next to your refrigerator. And when getting out of bed felt like climbing down the side of a mountain, I pulled my laptop onto the pillow next to me and kept typing. I worked until the week I went into labor and never had to worry about my water breaking in the middle of a conference room.
Now my daughter is 4 months old, and my office is a few rooms away from where her nanny watches her. I can take a break to see her roll over or listen to her babble while I'm on a conference call. I work more efficiently from home, although balancing any job with a new baby has its challenges. We struggled with nursing issues, and I had to come to terms with the fact that my to-do list will never be completely checked off and my house will never be spotless. At the end of the day though, it's totally worth it.
I feel lucky that I get to devote my professional life to building a culture where more women can have the option I did. And, I wouldn't trade my new life as a mom for any embassy parties, inaugural balls, celebrity selfies or designer fashion shows. It turns out I had to give it all up to have it all.
Marie Elizabeth Oliver is the managing editor of PowerToFly, the fastest-growing network connecting women with remote jobs. She was previously an editor at The Washington Post, Parents, and Better Homes and Gardens. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and daughter, Annie.