The First Trimester

A few weeks ago I had to break the news to people at work that I was leaving.  That wasn’t the hard part.  The hard part was explaining why.  “Well, I have this animal charity,” I’d tentatively begin, “Something I’ve played around with…but I felt that I needed to do more.  I wanted to get serious…create a more reliable funding stream.”  And I’d weave through my story until I’d explained the concept of opening a store, of reselling very nice women’s clothes, the kind we all have clogging our closets in four different sizes we never want to (or will be able to!) wear again, of donating the proceeds to our local shelters and rescues.  “Pittsburgh has such a strong cultural identity!  My mission is that we’ll become the most pet-friendly city in the whole region!”

“Sounds wonderful!” would be the inevitable reply.  “Where’s the store going to be?  Are you going to have employees or volunteers?  Are you going to take in animals?  Do you have a website?  When does it open?  Are you going to have plus sizes?  What about formal wear?  You should sell clothes for teens.  And your cookies – you should sell your vegan cookies!”

And suddenly, sweating under a barrage of terrifying questions, I understood why people don’t reveal that they’re pregnant until after the first trimester.  With every answer I gave – The website?  Almost ready.  I don’t know…volunteers?  Plus sizes?  Sure, why not.  Formal?  Absolutely.  Cookies?  Maybe I’ll give them away – I was digging myself deeper into my commitment.

As confident as I may have appeared in my answers, all I could think was: What if something goes wrong?  What if I can’t find a good space for the store?  What if my budget is completely off?  What if no one wants to donate clothes?  What will I sell?  Should I be opening a bakery instead?

In the first trimester of a pregnancy, things still feel kind of normal.  There’s the excitement of what’s to come, but it seems far off and somewhat conjectural.  After all, you’re still wearing your skinny jeans and are able to go out on Saturday night without lining up a babysitter.  Heck, your friends don’t even know, though they have their suspicions when you turn down an Appletini.

It’s the same in the early days of planning a business.  I’m still working at my “real job.” I’ve printed business cards because they’re cheap and easy, but I don’t have my 501 c 3 exemption yet, and I’m not up-to-my-eyeballs in retail renovations.  I have my sanity and my weekends free.  Only my husband knows what I’m really up to.

And then bam, the cat’s out the bag, and everyone wants to know what names you’ve picked out, if you want to know the sex or if you want it to be a surprise, if you’re going to do natural childbirth, if you’re going to quit your job, buy a bigger home, raise it to be a Steeler fan like your husband or a football atheist like yourself.

The inquisitors don’t know how you’re doubting yourself, wondering if it’s the right time in your life, if you have the right stuff, how you’re going to raise this baby right when you CAN’T EVEN KEEP A HOUSEPLANT ALIVE!

So how do you reassure yourself?

Take a deep breath and look around.  Every parent is a first time parent.  Every mother goes from zero experience having a baby to 100% experience having a baby in nine months.  No one knows how to do it, but somehow we (mostly) all figure it out.  You rely on your wits, your friends and your family.  You buy the books, talk to strangers and Google Google Google until you can’t Google any more.

Same with starting a business, or learning a new language or going to law school.  You have to start somewhere, and somewhere is usually the intersection between an all-consuming vision and complete and utter ignorance.  The stride from step one to step two isn’t the mastering of seven hundred of the most commonly used Chinese characters.  It’s not Constitutional Law to Supreme Court appointment.  In between our ignorance and our vision are a million baby steps to take along the way.  We might begin with our fingers entwined in the fingers of our supporters, but there will be bumped chins and knees before there’ll be success.

Today, as I write this first blog entry, we’re in our first trimester at WearWoof.  We’re not Animal Friends; we’re the group of concerned neighbors that took in the soldiers’ pets as they headed off to fight the second World War.  We’re not Best Friends Animal Society; we’re the idealistic animal lovers who let the Golden Rule guide them toward a mission they couldn’t deny.

We’re here today to share the news that we’re expecting, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.  We hope that you’ll join us in celebrating our good news, and that you’ll stick around to watch us as we get big and fat and our ankles swell!  We hope you’ll believe in our mission and want to get involved, to donate your clothing to our store and your time to our efforts.

What will WearWoof be when it grows up?  I don’t know.  I don’t care.  I just hope it’s healthy and happy.  Oh wait!  Give me your hand.  Did you feel that?  I think I felt her kick!