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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.
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.