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Laboring at Home Has A Dual Meaning!

To the uneducated observer, I looked like another pathetically addicted e-mail junkie...but to reach that conclusion would be to miss the point entirely. I will always believe that subscribers to my newsletter were instrumental in saving my newborn's life.

© 1998, by Azriela Jaffe

Three hours after giving birth to our newborn son, Elijah, in an intentional home-birth, I momentarily parted with my sweet baby boy and hobbled down the hallway to my home office. Exhausted and sore from the work-out of my life, I mustered the strength to turn on my computer, log on to the internet, and send an email message announcing Elijah's birth to a group of 1500 people who subscribe to my online newsletter, The Entrepreneurial Couples Success Letter.

To the uneducated observer, I looked like another pathetically addicted e-mail junkie, a business owner with priorities so out of wack, she couldn't even tear herself away from her home office only hours after giving birth to her child. People could wonder how I'll ever give our son Elijah the care he deserves, if I couldn't even give him my full attention on the day of his birth. Some would see my action as proof that home offices dangerously hamper our ability to give our family focused attention when necessary.

But to reach that conclusion would be to miss the point entirely. My story reflects positively on the integration of work and family.

Let's start with the fact that I was healthy and strong enough to labor through the night, deliver Elijah without medical intervention or pain medication in the early morning, and then get out of bed and focus on work three hours later. Working from home allowed me to take superior care of myself during my pregnancy. I made time every day to swim a mile at my health club, until the final days of my pregnancy. I allowed myself a much needed afternoon nap. On days when my pregnancy was most difficult, I didn't push myself to work harder than seemed healthy. When pregnancy-related insomnia was at its worst, I worked in my office at 3 A.M. and then quit working early the following day after my energy had waned.

My quick recovery from labor was extraordinary -- back to work part-time within a few days, and resuming my previous pace within a week -- because working from home allowed me to follow my natural body rhythms and to make my health and Elijah's development my number one priority.

Why did I even have the desire to share the news of Elijah's birth with my newsletter subscribers? After all, most of them are strangers to me, email addresses from around the world who receive a free online newsletter every two weeks, but otherwise, are not part of my daily life. Writing the newsletter is one of many tasks in my business. How did this list of strangers, business associates, and acquaintances make it to the "A" list -- those who heard about Elijah's birth right after calls to our family and close friends?

In my third month of pregnancy, my waters broke and I almost miscarried Elijah. I was ordered to complete bedrest and warned that I would be unlikely to save the pregnancy. Before retiring to bed, in tears, I sent an email message to the ECS list, explaining the circumstances, and asking for prayers from those who believed that prayer would make a difference. Then I went to bed, and hoped for the best. Over the next two days, I was inundated with hundreds of prayers, emailed to me from newsletter subscribers of all faiths, in countries all over the world. ECS subscribers sent my request for help to their pastors, rabbis, family members and prayer groups, resulting in thousands of prayers for Elijah and me within a 24-hour period.

Most of the subscribers who responded were previously strangers to me. We don't normally discuss faith issues on this newsletter list -- it is, after all, a business newsletter. But I knew that many on the list had heart, since the focus of the list is taking care of your marriage and family while growing your business. I took a chance by lifting the normal boundaries between business and home and requesting help of a personal nature. The result was, I believe, miraculous.

Two days after being flooded with prayers from the list, a neighbor drove me for my follow-up ultrasound. I held her hand and cried, expecting to hear bad news. Instead, the ultrasound technician was puzzled -- he could find nothing wrong. The next day, my husband and I visited with my medical doctor who declared me entirely normal. He had no medical explanation for my miraculous recovery. Elijah and I were out of danger, and the pregnancy continued without incident.

I will always believe that subscribers to the ECS list were instrumental in saving Elijah's life.

When I wanted to get the word out to the ECS list only hours after delivering Elijah, it wasn't because I couldn't keep my mind off of my work. It was because the ECS list had become like family to me. I felt as though Elijah had hundreds of aunts and uncles around the world who would celebrate his healthy arrival in the world with us.

As I write this column, Elijah, one week old, is lying on my chest, peacefully sleeping. I do not need to take a six week maternity leave, and then tear myself away from my baby to return to work full-time, as his father needed to do this morning after a too-short one week vacation at home. I returned to my previous corporate job after eight weeks with my first-born, Sarah, so I have great compassion for mothers and fathers who must work outside of the house too soon after a new baby joins the family.

In about six months, Elijah will require more attention and stimulation than I can provide while working full-time from home, and we will enroll him in the daycare center where his sisters have thrived over the past two years. Until then, I celebrate the best that working from home has to offer: the ability to continue doing the work I love to do, while providing the best possible care for my newborn. And I will fondly remember going into my home office just hours after giving birth to Elijah, as a testimony to the notable rewards that working -- and laboring -- from home can provide.

Azriela Jaffe is the founder of "Anchored Dreams", and author of "Honey, I Want to Start my Own Business, A Planning Guide for Couples" ( Harper Business 1996), and "Let's Go Into Business Together, Eight Secrets for Successful Business Partnering" (Avon Books 1998) and Starting from No: Ten Strategies to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection and Suceed in Business. (Dearborn 1999). For a free online newsletter for entrepreneurial couples, or for information about her syndicated column, "Advice from A-Z", email [email protected]. Questions and reader response can be emailed, or write to: PO Box 209, Bausman, PA 17504.

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