In September 2020, just shy of my 30th birthday, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I had already been negotiating the terms of my lease, and it wasn’t too late to back out. I could stay where I had built a full client list, had guaranteed work and not nearly as much responsibility. I was so close to everything I had worked so hard for that I decided there’s no way I can stop now. It was scary and exciting all at the same time.
Once I made the decision to keep going, I received an outpouring of support from family, friends, and my community. I was 3 months pregnant by the time I had signed my lease and began setting up the new space. Even though there was a lot of work to do, the process wasn’t as arduous as I thought it would be because of the help I received from family. Painting my salon with my mom and her friends and watching my dad install little things here and there are memories I will always have.
I wanted my friends and family to be able to visit whenever they wanted to, and I wanted my baby to grow up in the salon with me. It’s not a farfetched idea - I had seen many other mothers who are groomers, and their children thrive this way. Some of the great groomers of today have fond memories of watching their mothers as they grew up. No matter what my son decides to do when he gets older, I’ll always cherish the memories I get to have with him while doing what I love.
Grooming while pregnant is a special challenge. My first trimester was spent mostly battling a fatigue I didn’t know was possible. Some days I did not want to get out of bed. Other days I’d take a 10-minute nap in my car between appointments. I was running on the adrenaline I’d feel from wanting my salon to be set up before his arrival.
In my second trimester, my energy levels picked up a little bit and I was now fully running my new salon. A new symptom I had developed was not being able to process stress the same way I did before pregnancy. My grooming strength is the ability to stay calm while working with different personalities and behaviors of dogs. While I was pregnant, this strength was hard to dig up. If a dog was resistant to the grooming process, I would immediately develop a headache and lose my breath. I knew that stress wasn’t good for my baby, so I had to respectfully tell my clients with more difficult dogs that I couldn’t groom them until after I had my baby, especially if they were big dogs. This was hard to admit when I still needed clients for my new salon. Luckily, all my clients were understanding.
The second trimester is also where I found support from other women like me. I joined the “Pregnant and Grooming” group on Facebook and found that there were many other soon-to-be mothers that worked solo in their salons. I was able to search for questions and find solutions to worries I was holding onto. There are pregnant mothers who already have children, breastfeeding mothers, owners and employees, and support for women going through complications in their pregnancy. If all of them can do it, why can’t I?My third trimester was the toughest to handle while grooming. I wasn’t doing yoga nearly as much as I used to. My body felt like someone else’s. My belly was heavy, and I had gained over 60 lbs. I had to take a lot of breaks and groom on an exercise ball. My favorite ways to restore were warm Epsom salt baths, the foam roller, and a heating pad. I wanted to groom all the way up to my due date like I had seen other women do, but ultimately, I called it quits two weeks before my due date. My wrists had started swelling and it was hard to grip with my hands, making it unsafe for me to groom.
I didn’t have a plan for grooming late into pregnancy or maternity leave. I chose to go with the flow and trusted that everything would be okay. I didn’t worry so much about the “what ifs”. I just took it one day at a time. If I didn’t feel I was physically or mentally able to handle a dog, I would tell the client I can’t right now, but I’d love to try again after I deliver. I communicated with all my clients through my website and email, which was easy when it came time to close for maternity leave and when I opened again 6 weeks after delivery.
Here on the other side of pregnancy and the pandemic, there are countless reasons I can say I am glad I made that leap when I did. The hard work is far from over and I doubt things will ever be easy, but the flexibility of my time and the ability to bond with my son at the salon is worth my best shot.
True Vibes Unleashed, LLC