After almost a year of waiting for both, my husband and I are expecting our first baby and I am close to landing a first pastorate. The congregation I’ve been talking with is a great fit for me and I’m really excited (albeit a little terrified) about the possibility of becoming their pastor. Here’s my dilemma: because of my husband’s work commitments, the soonest we could transition to our new city and I could transition to this pastorate is in my seventh month of pregnancy. The other option is to transition shortly after I give birth (although I would then likely lose the possibility of taking any paid maternity leave). Am I crazy to be considering making both of these major life transitions at once? Does anyone have advice on whether it would be better to be a new pastor in the last trimester of pregnancy or with a newborn?
Newbie pastor and mom to be
Exciting times ahead for you and the church!! Our matriarchs have some thoughts about your questions and some ideas about how to make the transition. Prayers and blessings surround you and your family and the congregation as you journey through this year.
Kay Yaks writes:
I think two major transitions at once is not that much worse than one major transition at a time - there will be stress either way. If you move before the birth, you'll be exhausted, and if you move after the birth, you'll really be exhausted. If you move before, you'll have help from the congregation. You'll have a chance to settle at least a little before the baby arrives, and you can scope out potential babysitters. I am leaning towards moving before the birth.
Long time rector and mother of young child offers her experience based wisdom:
Check maternity policies. In the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts you weren’t able to take advantage of the family and medical leave act until you had been in the diocese for a year.
Regardless – speaking as a rector-mother, it is much easier to do the job very pregnant than to do so with sleep deprivation of infancy. I would highly recommend if you can afford it to have a doula or grandmother around for a while to help you get some sleep!
earthchick also notes those first sleep deprived months but says share the joy with your new congregation:
First of all, congratulations to you and your husband on both counts!
Making two transitions at once will certainly be difficult and stressful, but it sounds like it might be worth it. Only you can ultimately decide what is best for you and your family, but if I were in your position my inclination would be to start in the last trimester of pregnancy. Those first few weeks after giving birth are so intense, so life-changing, that I would find it difficult to contemplate making any other major change, especially that of starting a brand-new job. I would also want to have the option of paid maternity leave, so that would be a consideration as well. It won't be easy to take the time off for maternity leave so soon after arriving, and I would make sure before making this decision that you will be guaranteed your full leave, even though you will only have been there a short time.
If you start in the last trimester, you will also be giving the congregation the gift of being your partner in your transition into motherhood. I gave birth to my twin sons while pastoring the church I am serving now, and it meant a lot to me (and, I think, to them) to be a part of the congregation at that time. Congregations go through so many challenges and transitions, and few of them are as joyful as the birth of a child. I think it could be a nice start to your ministry with them, to allow them to share in this joy with you.
Share your advice and ideas in the comments for Newbie pastor and mom to be.
P.S. The font color is Dodger Blue - in honor of the opening of baseball season!