The Journey: Part 3/3
While all of this was going on, I also made 3 significant improvements to the business:
(1) Until February 2017, I had actually packaged every single box personally or with the generous help of friends. Not scalable, to say the least. Now that I was pregnant, I had no choice and so, with the help of my husband, I hired local yeshiva students to pack the boxes each month.
(3) I hired Elana to run our “strategic partnerships” and focus on getting the word out to synagogues, federations, organizations and communities throughout the US.
As each month and each shipment passed, I got closer to my August 18 due date and became bigger, sweatier and less mobile.
I had a pretty easy pregnancy but around June (third trimester), my hormones started to kick in and I began to develop a bit of anxiety about work. Mainly: how am I going to manage this when I have a baby at home? What if I have a difficult birth or long recovery? How will I run a company, let alone grow it to become more profitable? “There is no possible way I can do this,” I thought… "Why don’t I have a normal job with a steady salary and paid maternity leave?" I was really worried and, to be honest, so was my husband. We went to meet with my accountant one day and I cried in his office. The level of panic and anxiety became unhealthy and almost dangerous for my pregnancy.
Looking for a lifeline, I asked my mom-friends if they had been able to work with a baby at home; if they thought I was crazy to think I could maintain (even grow) a business as a new mom. The response was mixed.
At one point, so desperate, I even posted in a few Facebook mom groups (something I never do): “Help! I am looking for positive stories of working moms. Can I do this?!” I got a lot of positive encouragement and support. Some women even commented that working in those early days, weeks and months of motherhood saved them from feeling bored and isolated. Thankful for this new lifeline, I held onto it with all my might.
Before all this anxiety struck, Ofir and I had booked a five day trip to Crete for our 1 year wedding anniversary. We were so stressed out that we actually thought about cancelling it so we could save the money and spend the week “figuring stuff out” instead, whatever that meant. In the end, we decided to go. It was the last week the airlines would allow me to fly and would be our last opportunity to take a romantic vacation as a couple. And so, despite a lot of apprehension and extreme feelings of financial stress and guilt, we decided to go.
I am so glad we did. There is a reason that people take vacation.
It turned out be exactly what we needed to take a step back, regroup, and re-energize. I felt calm and healthy again. When we got back to Israel, Ofir actually had to go to reserves (ironic?) and I spent that week getting our home ready for the baby, figuring out a strategy for the months around the birth. The plan would ensure that the business could go on, no matter what happened.
When the month of August rolled around, we packed-up and shipped 200 boxes as usual. We got organized for the September shipment and I relaxed a little, telling the baby that I was ready for her, if she wanted to come out now. I ended up going into labor and giving birth on August 16 - two days before my due date. Luckily, I had an incredible birth and easy recovery, and now we have a gorgeous, squishy baby girl named Tagel.
Pretty soon after, I realized I was able to get work done. In between nursing, diaper changes, laundry, bath time, hormonal meltdowns and everything that comes with a newborn, I meet with vendors, order product, coordinate deliveries, supervise the packers, answer customer emails, speak with partners and get whatever else that needs to get done done. In fact, I am writing this post from a cafe in Jaffa while I nurse Tagel.
So ... what’s next?
Well, we are gearing up for a busy holiday season and have a new goal to send-out 500 boxes in the December shipment. To do that, we are going to be running all kinds of exciting new promotions, giveaways and contests - so stay tuned, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.
I think we can do it and I’m excited to take MATANA to new heights.
Do I wish I had a regular job with a steady paycheck and maternity leave? Sometimes. But it doesn’t matter, because I don’t have that right now. This is the choice we made as a family - to build a business with all of its risks and benefits. And it’s a choice I made: to make aliyah, to be an entrepreneur, to become a mother.
So, stay tuned for my weekly blog posts and follow along as I set-out on this new chapter.