When my husband and I decided that we wanted to have a baby, I was terrified about what it would mean for my beloved career. I didn't think about what it would do to my body, my mind, my relationship with my husband, my relationship with my family and friends—I only thought about its affect on my career.
I am smart, ambitious and damn good at my job, and I decided that I didn't need to give up one for the other. I leaned in to be sure that I kept my seat at the table and that my voice would be just as strong after the birth of that child as it was before we even conceived of the child in our minds.
I spoke to a number of successful moms who were also high-performing women, gathering information on how other people "like me" made it all work. I was shocked to find that many, many successful women made choices to establish the right balance. I took in all of their advice and formulated my own plan and my own path. Doing so proved that I could take this bull by the horns, be exactly who I wanted to be and have a family.
In the end, having a child had no bearing on my career: I was promoted the same year that I took four months of maternity leave.
What I learned through this process was that there's a lot of support out there that I didn't expect. My male counterpart at work is one of my biggest supporters and he helps me find balance every day. I have no idea why I was shocked by this, but once I made the decision to be a mom and maintain my career, everyone and everything else fell in line.
All women should learn to expect that their companies will help them find the right balance, too. And it's not just about children; it's about any commitment (pets, working out, friends, etc). You find your balance, set your rules and figure out how to make it happen, and the support group will fall into place. Do not let your company or career determine when you want children. You decide that. The only person holding you back from those big movements in your life is you. Go for it!