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Having a baby as a translator - seeking advice
Thread poster: EUyounglady

Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 22:13
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Congrats! May 28, 2014

I have not read my colleagues's posting in order not to be biased. I have three kids (they are all grown up!: 15, 20 and 23 year old!), and I'm always gratefull of being a freelance translator. I had the joy of enjoing every single important moment of their lifes, the joy of breastfeeding them when they needed, or when they demanded it (the eldest daughter breastfeed every half an hour, and took one hour each time! I was exhausted, while the second daughter finished the breast feeding in 20 minu... See more
I have not read my colleagues's posting in order not to be biased. I have three kids (they are all grown up!: 15, 20 and 23 year old!), and I'm always gratefull of being a freelance translator. I had the joy of enjoing every single important moment of their lifes, the joy of breastfeeding them when they needed, or when they demanded it (the eldest daughter breastfeed every half an hour, and took one hour each time! I was exhausted, while the second daughter finished the breast feeding in 20 minutes and sleept 4 hours: you never know how it will be the breastfeeding). I did enjoy my life as a freelance translator and mother at the same time. Of course, I never quit working and it was a little bit difficult: I learnt how to type on my keyboard while having a baby in arms... and I had to work at such unusual times. But I was working three days after I came home from the hospital.
I'm not a superwoman myself, thus some things started to have less priorities: I was too tired to have a perfect tidy house, my kids went to kindergarten, and I asked for extra help when I needed it.
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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:13
French to English
A wonderful, scary time! May 28, 2014

Getting the news that one is expecting a baby can be a scary time, but it is also a wonderful time - congratulations!

There are many things you can do ahead of time to ensure everything goes smoothly when baby arrives.

I would suggest looking into dictation software for example, for those times when you can't put the baby down but you still need to work.

Be sure to check about maternity benefits in your country.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:13
Member (2018)
French to English
thank you Clarisa May 28, 2014

Clarisa Moraña wrote:

I have not read my colleagues's posting in order not to be biased. I have three kids (they are all grown up!: 15, 20 and 23 year old!), and I'm always gratefull of being a freelance translator. I had the joy of enjoing every single important moment of their lifes, the joy of breastfeeding them when they needed, or when they demanded it (the eldest daughter breastfeed every half an hour, and took one hour each time! I was exhausted, while the second daughter finished the breast feeding in 20 minutes and sleept 4 hours: you never know how it will be the breastfeeding). I did enjoy my life as a freelance translator and mother at the same time. Of course, I never quit working and it was a little bit difficult: I learnt how to type on my keyboard while having a baby in arms... and I had to work at such unusual times. But I was working three days after I came home from the hospital.
I'm not a superwoman myself, thus some things started to have less priorities: I was too tired to have a perfect tidy house, my kids went to kindergarten, and I asked for extra help when I needed it.


Thank you for posting something closer to reality.

Breastfed babies are breastfed according to their cues: when they show they are hungry. This can be five times in two hours, then you might get a stretch of a few hours in which to get things done. Bottle-fed babies used to be fed to schedules and most would survive on a bottle every three hours, but in between you still have to deal with them, wearing them, giving them cuddles etc or leave them to cry it out (which is harmful to brain development), and nowadays doctors are recommending bottlefeeding to cue, as for breastfeeding, in an attempt to reduce the amount of time they cry.

Some babies will lie happily in their crib. My daughter was happy provided she could see me and hear music. My son, however, could never sleep for longer than 20 minutes unless in my arms or a sling, and if he wasn't asleep he was either breastfeeding or crying, for at least the first three months. And he was crawling at 5 and a half months: once they start crawling, then walking, you need to grow eyes in the back of your head. They don't come with a label and they don't have an "off" button either.

A sling is probably the wisest investment: one you can put on your back for better freedom of movement once the baby is comfortable there. Then of course you need an ergonomical chair where wearing your baby on your back is not a problem (these are usually very good for your back, which you need to be careful about if carrying a baby for extended periods). Playpens are good too, although you're mostly better off putting things in there to keep them away from the baby than putting the actual baby in there, who may then feel abandoned and cry.

I'm not trying to discourage you. If I were blessed with being able to live any period of my life again it would be when my children were tiny because it was the time of my life when I grew to be a truly better person, the most demanding, stretching time of my life, the hardest yet the most rewarding. The sheer joy of seeing a helpless newborn grow into a lithe and lively little being is like no other. Just don't expect the baby to fit into your plans, because it won't, it will have its own needs and its own agenda. You have to either fit your own needs around those of the baby (with a post-it to stick on your translation to remind yourself how far you got) or delegate.

Enjoy your pregnancy (and learn to get by without sleeping)


 

EUyounglady
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Korean to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you May 28, 2014

Thank you 2 as well for your responses.

I had a look at maternity benefits and I am pleasantly surprised, I didn't realize you get so much, I thought it would be more like thirty pounds a month or so, so I wasn't really counting on that to be significant... But apparently people have been thinking about this problem long before I have.


 

EUyounglady
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Korean to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I need to keep coming back for advice.. May 28, 2014

Playpens are good too, although you're mostly better off putting things in there to keep them away from the baby than putting the actual baby in there, who may then feel abandoned and cry.


A playpen to keep the baby out and all the stuff you don't want the baby to touch in... Brilliant. Imagine we could just put all the bad things in the world in a playpen...


 

Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:13
French to English
Maternity allowance May 28, 2014

This seems like a good article on maternity allowance for self-employed women in the UK: http://www.motherandbaby.co.uk/2014/04/top-maternity-pay-tips-for-self-employed-mums-to-be

By the way, just to put your mind at ease, don't worry too much about losing customers while you're on leave. When I took maternity leave in 2010, I explain
... See more
This seems like a good article on maternity allowance for self-employed women in the UK: http://www.motherandbaby.co.uk/2014/04/top-maternity-pay-tips-for-self-employed-mums-to-be

By the way, just to put your mind at ease, don't worry too much about losing customers while you're on leave. When I took maternity leave in 2010, I explained to my main customers before leaving, and contacted them again a few weeks before my planned return. I didn't lose any customers, they all came back eventually. I think many translator mothers find this is mostly the case, especially for "good" customers who understand! Any lost customers are likely to be the ones you would be happy to lose anyhow (ie: low rates, bad payment terms, the bottom feeders!)

Anecdote: one customer called my cell phone a few hours after I gave birth to my daughter - she wanted to know if I was available for a project! I was literally "just recovering" from the birth, it was quite funny actually, she even got the good news before my own parents
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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:13
Member (2018)
French to English
coming back from maternity leave May 28, 2014

yes, as a PM, I was always anxious for the good translators to come back from maternity leave, and tried to spare them hassle in the first months back.

There was one who was really great, she only once failed to hand in a translation, and that was because the contraction were coming hard and fast. So I got to know first (and she gave my son's name to her son too!!)

And yes, I got a call while still at the maternity. This was in pre-mobile days, and it was my partner wh
... See more
yes, as a PM, I was always anxious for the good translators to come back from maternity leave, and tried to spare them hassle in the first months back.

There was one who was really great, she only once failed to hand in a translation, and that was because the contraction were coming hard and fast. So I got to know first (and she gave my son's name to her son too!!)

And yes, I got a call while still at the maternity. This was in pre-mobile days, and it was my partner who gave the ward number! He said "well you told me the baby was sleeping fine".
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Romina Eva Pérez Escorihuela
Argentina
Local time: 22:13
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Team work! May 28, 2014

Dear EUyounglady,

I definitely understand your situation... I am 30 and not thinking about having a baby at this time because I started my freelance career 4 years ago and I still feel I have a "long" way to go before thinking about babies... But I am aware I could be surprised by fate and I'm sure I would do my best to adapt to the new scenario!

Anyway, I suppose it could be "pretty much" like when going on holidays: I have a team of translators and interpreters I real
... See more
Dear EUyounglady,

I definitely understand your situation... I am 30 and not thinking about having a baby at this time because I started my freelance career 4 years ago and I still feel I have a "long" way to go before thinking about babies... But I am aware I could be surprised by fate and I'm sure I would do my best to adapt to the new scenario!

Anyway, I suppose it could be "pretty much" like when going on holidays: I have a team of translators and interpreters I really rely on (we constantly work together), so before I leave, I let my main clients know the contact details of my colleagues, so they can get reliable translation/interpreting services while I'm not available... If my clients contact my colleagues, they cc me on their e-mails, so I am aware that there has been contact or projects during my absence. Then, my colleagues pay me 10% of the fee after they receive the payment from my client.
After my return, clients contact me directly again. This always works, perfectly well. Why wouldn't it after a maternity leave?

If you consider your are an expensive professional, don't be afraid of being the first one to lose, as you said, if you are unavailable. It works the other way round: clients trust you and they prefer to invest in your services They'll contact you again once you're available. That's how you should think about yourself and your services!

All the best
Romina
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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:13
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
freelancing with baby May 28, 2014

Hi!
I'm a long-time freelancer and mom of two, and I will tell you that the moms who have to go in to an office every day have it harder than we do. I'm not saying that lightly. Sure, some days are extremely frustrating when my kids keep popping in to my office while I work feverishly to finish a project. But most days are very nice. I get to see my son as soon as he gets off the bus, feed him a snack and wind up my work while he watches some TV. I pick up my daughter from her grandmother'
... See more
Hi!
I'm a long-time freelancer and mom of two, and I will tell you that the moms who have to go in to an office every day have it harder than we do. I'm not saying that lightly. Sure, some days are extremely frustrating when my kids keep popping in to my office while I work feverishly to finish a project. But most days are very nice. I get to see my son as soon as he gets off the bus, feed him a snack and wind up my work while he watches some TV. I pick up my daughter from her grandmother's house and we water the garden together. Then we eat dinner as a family, and I head back out to my office for an hour or so once the kids are in bed (not every night, but often). If I had an office job, there would be more rushing and less free time to watch my kids grow.

I guess the takeaway is that you need to find your rhythm. Work over, under, around, before and after your child. Work *a lot* at the hours when it is least stressful to do so. Get a phone or tablet that lets you read email anywhere so you aren't dashing off to your computer when you don't need to.

So take heart, you can do it! (This is from someone who once translated an entire screenplay with one hand while breastfeeding a baby in the other arm, it starts out very hard and gets easier)
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Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 22:13
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with Elizabeth! May 29, 2014

Elizabeth Adams wrote:

(This is from someone who once translated an entire screenplay with one hand while breastfeeding a baby in the other arm, it starts out very hard and gets easier)


Same here! I don't remember how many texts I translated in the same position!
And it is true, having a baby is not an easy thing! I also agree that those moms working in-house "have it harded than we do", as Elizabeth says...
But every single day in my life I thanks to life for having such a good luck of working as a freelance translator, which allowed me to enjoy my kids since the very beginning. And as I said in my earlier posting, please remember that we are not superwomen, like those seen in TV or films, we are just real women.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:13
Member (2018)
French to English
spot on May 29, 2014

Elizabeth Adams wrote:

So take heart, you can do it! (This is from someone who once translated an entire screenplay with one hand while breastfeeding a baby in the other arm, it starts out very hard and gets easier)


Yes, this is spot on. You definitely get plunged in at the deep end with a baby, and things get much better quite quickly.
The first month is the worst month, then by the time the baby reaches three months, you get up to cruising speed (well at least until teething).

I would reckon it's best not to count on working much for the first three months at least. Maybe you can fit something in before that but you should be grateful for having an easy baby
You're probably thinking "three whole months this woman must be crazy that's far too long" but while it may seem a long time to your clients it's nothing out of the 18 years you will be entirely responsible for your child (and that's just the legal aspect, motherhood is usually for life). And the early years are the most important: if you don't bond then, the relationship will be skewed forever.

And by the age of about three years you can count on them letting you have some quality time with your partner AND a good night's sleep into the bargain. Unless you have the second baby before you get to that stage of course!


 

John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:13
Spanish to English
+ ...
My take May 30, 2014

Clarisa Moraña wrote:

I have three kids (they are all grown up!: 15, 20 and 23 year old!)


I've also got three and the same ages as yours Clarisa. Obviously, I can't give motherly advice to the poster, but I can tell her: try to enjoy every minute of your time with your child(ren). When they're little they can quite frankly be a pain in the neck and it seems that they'll never grow up and stop giving you so much work, but then one day, before you know it, they are all grown up and you'll wish it had all lasted a little longer.

I console myself now waiting for grandchildren.


 
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