Photo credit: The Eye of JA
Ahead of her upcoming maternity leave, Jazzmine Breary reflects on pregnancy, parenthood and publishing, and on recent developments around pregnancy loss.
This week is both a happy and sad one for me. Happy because at the end of this week I will begin maternity leave; I am expecting my first child and I have never felt so blessed to have this time to prepare for and welcome my baby. Sad, because after more than 8 years I will be taking a year away from a company and a group of people I love deeply, here at Jacaranda Books, especially our founder Valerie Brandes.
Thanks to the many women who have come before me, having both a career and being a mother is a possibility. However, that does not make it easy, emotionally, financially or practically. Add to that the terrifying statistics around Black maternity and the way Black women are treated differently by medical institutions, and it is essential to have support from your colleagues, your bosses and your industry, as well as from friends and family.
I am grateful to have found that.
Telling Valerie, our founder, that I was pregnant was one of the most uplifting and emotional experiences of my early pregnancy. I could actually feel her happiness and love radiate through the phone. From that point onwards I was fully supported, from extended lunch breaks and more flexibility to help manage the fatigue that comes with the first trimester, to respecting my decision not to reveal the news until now, and not even to the rest of the team at the very beginning. Having been with Valerie since the earliest days of Jacaranda, we knew a year away, with our exciting publishing programme more ambitious than ever and a number of new partnerships and collaborations underway, was going to be a challenge. And yet she was clear that my health, mental and physical, and my unborn child would be prioritised, always ensuring I was taking care of myself first.
Jazzmine and Valerie embrace at the #TwentyIn2020 launch party,
credit AO Photography
Last week Bonnier Books revealed the trade's first pregnancy loss policy for parents under the leadership of CEO Perminder Mann, in collaboration with Tommy's charity, dedicated to pregnancy complications, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and neonatal death. This is an important development and raises much needed conversations about how we support staff and colleagues through the process of growing their families. While it was great to see this change, and how other companies were also improving their policies, it struck me how lucky I am. I knew little about policies around pregnancy before, but one thing I knew with absolute certainty when I became pregnant was that Valerie and Jacaranda Books would have my back, give me the time I need and support me in any way they could, whatever happens. And this attitude is not restricted to pregnancy, it is at the core of who we are, part of our values of inclusion, equality, and the celebration of humanity. Once again, I appreciate the role that we play as a company, not only in terms of the authors and books we publish, but in terms of the positive and wholesome experience we aim to offer our team.
At Jacaranda we are more than just a team, we are a family. My colleagues, as well as our wonderful authors, partners, suppliers and friends, have been amazing as I slowly reveal my news and I am so happy that my baby will come to this world with so many loving aunties and uncles. Jacaranda is in my heart and it means everything to now share this experience with our extended Jacaranda network.
I am excited and nervous for this new stage in my life and grateful for the time I will have to focus on my growing family. But I am also looking forward to being back; Jacaranda is a business making the kinds of positive change in this publishing industry that will mean that my beloved child and others will have a better oppportunity to enter into publishing, and will be treated fairly and equally to their counterparts should they choose to do so. It is my honour to be part of this story and I look forward to returning God willing next summer, ready to continue our mission. I am under no illusions that managing both motherhood and my career won't be a challenge, especially given that I am a bit of a workaholic and not the best at balancing life and work, but knowing that I won't be alone in this process, nether at home nor at work, makes a huge difference.
NB. Please note that Jazzmine's roles and responsibilities have been distributed among various individuals in the Jacaranda team - please refer to the Contact Us page for up to date information.