Reader Question: How Do I Balance My Professional Dreams with Motherhood?

I received an email the other day from a young pregnant woman, Christine, still trying to process her unexpected pregnancy. She recently landed her dream job (a few months before finding out the news), hasn't told her employer yet, and is scared that becoming a mother will hold her back from the professional goals she still desperately wants to achieve. It's not that she doesn't want to be a mom, but she doesn't want to lose herself in the process.

I had a lot to say to her because this is exactly how I felt too. I felt like everything I had worked towards, everything I had planned, was a waste. Much like Christine, I wanted to be a mother, but I didn't want to lose the other goals I had set for myself. Goals that would probably be easier to achieve without another life to take care of. I was terrified. Lost.

And after a year of hemming and hawing, weighing my options at a job I didn't love, I decided to take the leap and chase my dreams. Of course I'm not a Features Director at a magazine in Manhattan, but to be honest, that's not my dream anymore. I was so determined to not let pregnancy "define" me, to hold on to my ambitions and goals, but there's no way you can prepare for how motherhood will change you. And I wish I could have known that everything would turn out better than I had expected back when I was stressing and worrying, especially during my pregnancy. That's not to say I didn't struggle in the beginning, and that's not to say I'm not up answering emails and writing articles between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m., but that's the balance I'm happy with.

My advice to Christine? If you have a drive and ambition, don't silence it. Be persistent and determined, but also be flexible. It might not be easy — not much about motherhood is — but it can be done. And at the end of the day, don't we want to teach our kids to follow their passions with courage?

I know that plenty of women feel that their only calling is motherhood, but that's not the case for everyone. And because every profession is different, I'm opening it up to you: How did you successfully balance your professional dreams with an earlier-than-expected pregnancy? I know Christine could use some positive role models right about now.