Jul 7, 2016

How Pregnancy Actually Boosted This Woman's Career


When Jayne Juvan was 32 years old, she became a partner at the national law firm Roetzel & Andress, making her one of their youngest partners ever. She is the first in her family to navigate the crowded, competitive and traditionally male-dominated legal profession, and she rose quickly – within two years she joined a very small group of women with over $500,000 of business a year. And now at 35, she’s pregnant – with twins. Life changing? For sure, but in an unexpected way, and now she’s talking about it. This is Jayne’s Mentoring Moment, in her words:

In my early 30s, I had life completely figured out. Or so I thought. I made partner at a large law firm, represented sophisticated clients, traveled to exciting destinations and married a supportive husband.

But my life was forever changed when I met Dolly Lenz, a prominent luxury real estate agent in New York City who is known for being direct and candid. Dolly quickly identified one of my major deficiencies and refused to gloss over it.

When she asked about my family, Dolly quickly honed in on the fact that I didn’t have children. I explained the “impossibility” of children in my situation, given my demanding career (even though, admittedly, it was a painful void). But she didn’t budge. After all, she has reached the highest levels of corporate America and has two children and a strong marriage. She has already proven me wrong by example.

Dolly explained that pregnancy enhances your career, because people are able to relate to you on a deeper personal level. And, she insinuated, if some people didn’t understand, are these the types of people you want to build your career with anyway?

Afterward, I went through a period of intense soul searching. I questioned whether, as the founder of my firm’s women’s initiative, I could truly be a role model for other young women if I decided to forgo a family purely for professional reasons. And, would I live a life of regret?

More than a year later, my husband and I were overjoyed when we learned I was expecting, but we quickly became saddened when I miscarried on my way home from a business trip. I tried to suppress the grief and suffered mostly in silence, as women often do after they miscarry.

I became pregnant again, but this time, I had doubts and regrets. At 35, I was “high risk” (my doctor’s orders said, “elderly multigravida”), and I scolded myself for my choices. I even attended my first ultrasound alone because I doubted the outcome.

At my ultrasound, I received shocking news – not only was my pregnancy viable, but I was expecting twins! I was ecstatic, but still a little nervous because a twin pregnancy is more difficult and seems incompatible with a demanding professional career. “Morning sickness” often is “all day and night sickness,” fatigue is overwhelming and bed rest is a possibility.

Nevertheless, Dolly was exactly right. During my pregnancy, I had some of the strongest months of my entire career. I could relate to my clients on a much deeper level because they were excited to share their own stories about their pregnancies, children and families. These were conversations I was frozen out of before, likely because they didn’t think I’d understand. As relationships grew, referrals grew and business started flowing to me in seemingly endless amounts. At one point, I realized that this may actually be the best time of my life.

That doesn’t mean my pregnancy has been easy or that I have been perfect through it all. It hasn’t, and I haven’t. But for those who have made comments questioning my commitment or who haven’t been understanding, I’ve had to ask myself an important question. Are these the types of people I want to surround myself with anyway? Surely not!

To read the full article by Denise on Forbes.com, please click here.