MICHELLE BATTERSBY: 'I delayed having a baby for years because of my career. Now I'm pregnant.'

So I’m pregnant and it was a surprise after feeling nothing but fertility anxiety for the last few years.

Each baby announcement I saw reminded me I was consciously delaying my own.

Each IVF update I saw reminded me my delays could lead to hardship.

Each egg-freezing journey I saw made me worry — people younger than me were taking steps to secure their fertility when I hadn't.

Watch a 3D animation on how IVF works. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

Before I get into how — and why — I began writing my story, I want to acknowledge that there’s also a side to all of this I don’t know: pregnancy loss.

For those of you who have experienced it, I am so sorry. I don’t take for granted how fortunate it is to have one of these moments — my heart is with you. I also want to acknowledge women who choose not to have children. I see you.

No matter your path, dealing with the different expectations placed on women in relation to motherhood can add immense pressure to this time in life. As the founder of SunroomI know many women look to me for 'career inspo,' which is why I feel the need to share my own struggles.


I understand how incredibly hard it can be to think about when you might have time to start a family.

I understand how painful it is when you know you want to have children but you’re worried the decision will jeopardise your career.

 Michelle Battersby. Image: Supplied.

When I found out I was pregnant, I looked for women who I could relate to. Women who were guns blazing in their careers so I could reassure myself that I could do both. I have found many women like this.


But this is my experience. For the past five years, I’ve made a conscious decision to delay having children. Something I understand many other women are doing too.

I’ve fallen pregnant twice and had two abortions, both with my partner Bill. I had those abortions for my career.

I believed (at that time) having a child would hold back or sabotage my career and everything I had worked for at a pivotal point in my growth. I don’t regret those decisions — I was young and had time up my sleeve. I didn’t have to challenge or interrogate my long-standing beliefs about balancing a career and a baby, so I didn’t.

When I had my second abortion at 28 years old, I started getting my eggs counted every year. Knowing that I’d had abortions for my career — and knowing I wanted to be a mother one day — made me want to ensure my future delays were always educated.

I would strongly recommend this for any woman looking for peace of mind, and I’m happy to talk more about these options (both in Australia and the US) if you are interested or know someone who may be.

Things changed for me when I turned 32. The idea of the biological clock dawned on me and caused a wrestle in my mind — 'career or baby, career or baby, career or baby.'

Suddenly, my egg-counting sessions weren’t reassuring me anymore. All I could think about was when I could fit a baby into my life.


Until now, I had accepted that those two things simply could not co-exist for me.

To hear more about Michelle Battersby's business journey, listen to the whole Lady Startup Stories episode below. 

This pregnancy was somewhat of a surprise. So I hated that the moment I found out, all of my conditioning, societal pressures and the restrictions I’d put on myself for the past five years dominated my emotional response.

I felt so guilty and so selfish to allow myself to have this baby. To allow myself something alongside my career.

My mind started racing with questions. Will investors no longer invest because I’m pregnant? Will I look like I don’t care about my company? Will my company fail if my output changes? What if I’m raising capital from a man — will they give money to the pregnant woman?

Some people also instantly assumed I would have an abortion when I told them.

I was scared to tell people (and I’m scared of sharing this) because I think women are doubted by a lot of people when managing their career and family. We have got to change that.

I've since had the realisation that I felt like I had to suffer for my career to be worthy — I think that was my way to fit the 'founder' mould, especially in tech (an industry overwhelmingly run by men).

I felt like I needed to make big sacrifices to be taken seriously. It had to be a choice. It had to be mutually exclusive.


We’ve made huge advancements in what women can do in their careers, but I’m not sure attitudes around balancing a family and a career have really caught up.

We talk a lot about 'the right time', but I’m not sure that really exists. Imagine knowing this is something you desperately want but you think you simply cannot because your career. Your company and your industry won’t allow it.

This is the reality for many women. Others won’t even allow themselves to truly admit how badly they want it and, instead, bury their head in the sand — as I was when I had my abortions — because it’s all too much.

So all this to say... I’m a tech founder with a venture-backed company, and I’m pregnant.

I know I’m in a privileged position  — it’s my company, so I can make the rules. I also have an incredible support system (none of which I take for granted). But despite this, I’m still trying to convince myself I can do this (I’m doing it now, while I write).

In reality, it's been proven time and time again that it is possible. I’m not saying women can have it all, or that the way the system is set up doesn’t make matters a million times harder but I’ve realised sacrificing happiness to try to keep the scales balanced isn't the answer either.

I have no idea what I’m in for and I know it will be hard. I’ve had to do a lot of reflecting and wanted to share some of the big feelings I’ve had to work through in the first trimester, in case they resonate with someone in a similar position to me:

  • If my company can’t survive me having a baby, it was never going to survive in the first place.
  • If an investor no longer takes me seriously or doesn’t want to invest, they never should have been associated with a woman-built and focused company.
  • I’m still going to have my founder struggle story! Just in a different direction. I will no longer be struggling with the pain of when I can allow myself to do this and feeling anxious every time I see pregnancy content. I will be struggling with a newborn. 
  • The most cruel thing I’d been doing to myself was doubting my ability to figure this out and allowing my career to hold a desire hostage. I’ve already sacrificed so much, I’m not willing to give this one up. 

Shout-out to all the mums I’ve spoken to so far who’ve reassured me this can be done. The 'just you wait' comments can wait outside... and shout-out to my mum who wisely reminded me, "Pregnancy isn’t an illness Michelle. Women give birth in fields and work that afternoon," which is the energy I’ll be channelling (safely of course).

I’m going to make it a personal mission to encourage more babies in boardrooms, more nursing mums in meetings, more parent’s rooms/creches in office buildings, more babies on Zooms and more support initiatives for parents in a corporate environment.

It’s the content I’ve found myself longing for in this first trimester (and it is out there!).

And to my partner, Bill. The support you’ve given me over the past few months goes beyond what I could have imagined.

From cooking my two-minute noodles and potato gems, to taking Leia on all the walks, and learning to do Pilates with me.

I’m excited to bring someone as kind and caring as you into the world and to raise a child who knows they don’t have to sacrifice everything in order to succeed.

Michelle Battersy is the founder of Sunroom. You can reach out to her on Instagram here.

Featured Image: Supplied.

Love to travel? Take this short survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!