How Amanda Slavin, CEO and founder of CatalystCreativ, mapped out her last big vacation before becoming a parent.
Each mom has her own totally unique path through pregnancy—with lots of great advice to share. So the Pipette team is asking interesting women from all over the country to open up and tell us stories from their nine long months—and what they’ve discovered along the way. First up: Amanda Slavin, CEO and founder of CatalystCreativ, from New York City.
I’m an extremely type A personality who loves to work. I can work all day, every day—because to me, it doesn’t feel like work! I started my company CatalystCreativ seven years ago—my first baby, if you will. Since then, I’ve been traveling 100,000 miles a year for work, going to countless meetings, and working with clients all over the world since the day I started. This year, I also decided to launch a book, so you might imagine this was not the right time for me to get pregnant. But I always like to do things full force, so…why not add a baby to the mix?!
But when I got pregnant I was forced to slow down—something that’s very difficult for me, as you can see from my go-go-go mentality. I tried googling a lot about women in the workplace with babies, but didn’t find much about company founders and how they dealt with being pregnant. I had dealt with a miscarriage before this pregnancy—an experience that most women don’t talk about, but I feel it’s important to share. But after having been through a miscarriage, I didn’t feel like sharing the big pregnancy news in the first trimester was the right fit for me. So while I wasn’t showing during the first trimester, I was exhausted, nauseous, and running Catalyst as if everything were the same, but it WAS NOT! Growing a life while you’re growing a business is not easy.
My team of ten and I all work remotely, so traveling for work is a big part of my life (as I said, I was used to traveling 100,00 miles a year). But taking a proper vacation was not something I’d been able to do for a full year. I was burnt out.
I’m a former educator (I have a masters in curriculum and instruction, and taught first grade), and I’m no stranger to being around children. I also have a lot of friends who love to travel with their babies, and while I know it can be an incredible, beautiful, amazing experience, it’s not the same as traveling when it’s just you and your partner. So I felt it was the right moment to take the time to plan a proper vacation for when I would be about five months pregnant. My babymoon goals were as follows:
2) Give this baby a relaxed body to grow in
3) Spend time with my husband
4) Go somewhere with nice weather that wasn’t extremely humid like NYC is in the summertime
5) Take a trip before ramping up my work life prior to going on maternity leave
There was a LOT that went into planning this babymoon. Oh, and side note, when I told people I was going on a babymoon, they somehow thought I’d already had the baby! Oddly, most people hadn’t heard of the fact that a babymoon was a vacation to take prior to having the baby—so that you can be present with your partner and yourself before your lives change completely!
Here are some tips that were helpful for me to think about when I was planning our babymoon. (Keep in mind, none of these are from a medical professional, and were just what worked for me!)
- No Zika. This seems like it would be a no-brainer, but it’s actually fairly difficult to find information on the most recent Zika outbreaks. We decided not to go anywhere that had had Zika over the past few years, just to be safe.
- Nowhere specifically known for soft cheese, cured meats, wine, or raw fish. That took out most of Europe (I personally didn’t want to go to France or Italy and not be able to eat the unpasteurized cheese!) and Japan (I definitely didn’t want to be dreaming of sushi the whole time). While I do believe that it’s fine to have things in moderation, I didn’t want to tempt myself!
- No flights longer than 7 hours. My back hurts when I sit for a long time, and plane flights are extremely dehydrating. (I’m happy I had my Pipette Belly Oil to stay hydrated!)
- No time difference longer than 6 hours. The jet lag normally impacts my body, but even more so after I became pregnant.
- Talk to your doctor about whether or not it’s okay to travel. I’m a high-risk pregnancy (I’m Type 1 diabetic) but because I control my blood sugar and I’m 33, it was fine for me to travel.
- Rent a car! I didn’t want to be taking too many different planes, trains and automobiles—the constant transferring felt like it would be a lot for me—so renting a car was the easiest way to get to multiple places.
- Leave your work at home (for real). A huge part of the culture at CatalystCreativ is that when you take a vacation, you should actually take a proper vacation—for babymoons, or for any other time off. You should set your colleagues up for success so they know everything you’re working on, and then you should be offline completely. When you actually take the time for yourself, you can come back fresh and ready to work. (Otherwise, what’s the point of a vacation?)
- Babymoons can be any length. If you can’t get away for a long stretch, even a weekend or a single day away can function as a babymoon. It doesn’t have to be a full week or two.
Because I mainly wanted prenatal massages, good food that wasn’t soft cheese or raw fish, sun, good weather, a short flight from NYC, and a not-huge time difference, we decided on…Portugal. I would HIGHLY recommend everything about the experience.
As a gift to me, my husband planned the entire trip so that I could just show up and relax. We stayed at three different hotels, and spent the whole trip relaxing, eating, exploring, and sleeping in. (I even read six books! I highly recommend Permission to Parent, and How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kids, both of which I finished on this trip.) The trip was incredible, and so restorative—and despite my Type A personality, I told all my clients I would be completely offline. I put up an auto-response and didn’t look at emails, take phone calls, or message anyone back on Slack for the entirety of the trip. I knew this would probably be one of the last times for at least a year that I could do that, and I wanted to relish this whole amazing pregnancy moment. Not to mention, it’s good for the baby when the mom relaxes!