As the chatter about the BlogHer'12 Conference intensifies this week, I find myself in both an enviable and jealous place. Enviable, because I have the first-time luxury of viewing the excitement as others in the community do--in blog posts, on Twitter and across social media--something that Lisa, Elisa, and I try to do but never really get to do while we're onsite at BlogHer.
Jealous, because I am watching from the sidelines this year--36 weeks pregnant. And while confident in my decision to not fly to NYC and run around on my feet all week (like I did at BH'10, 33 weeks pregnant), the kid in me that always wants to be included will be reading about all of your experiences wistfully.
The event team has embarked on their trip to NYC. Our sales team have all flown in and gathered to prepare and experience the event. My co-founders will already have been onsite for a week when the conference begins. I know how it goes--the nonstop rush of speaking, interviews, meetings with sponsors and partners, spontaneous sightings and hugs in the hotel lobby and on the exhibitor floor. Stressful and exhilarating all at the same time.
And yet I sit here quietly, reading only a trickle of conference-related emails (the week of the conference everyone is using email for emergencies only, and there's very little I can do about onsite issues). I've told everyone I am on-call for anything that comes up, trying to be involved and stay out of the way at the same time. As much as I would like to have a stream of updates on Yammer and an always-on live video feed, I will instead have to wonder how the opening is going, how sessions with some of my favorite bloggers were received, how the parties are going--at least until I can read about them on blogs and Twitter.
"Yeah," she joked. "This year really wasn't the one to miss."
I reminded her that we think that every year. But then she had to go and confirm a live video welcome from President Obama himself.
Rub it in, Elisa. Rub. It. In.
I was at a dinner in San Francisco last week--enjoying some local events and trying to compensate for what I won't be doing in NYC. And I was speaking to another entrepreneur who has successfully built a media/tech conference brand.
"How are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm holding up. It's just so hard, with the conference next week and all. It will be hard not being there, but everyone's managing, and we'll be ready…"
"Actually," he said. "I was talking about the baby."
Made sense, given I was standing in front of him--in person--and quite obviously on the brink of welcoming a child into the world. I was a little bit embarrassed, actually, that I'd been so in my head, and so obsessed with where I WASN'T, that I could not acknowledge the gift of what has been with me all this time: another daughter.
Early in my pregnancy I had an awkward conversation with my doctor, sharing that while I knew my due date was in August, with her permission I would consider going to "this conference my company puts on in New York," despite knowing the stress I would be putting myself and my family (and possibly a planeful of innocent bystanders) under.
My doctor knows I'm an entrepreneur and co-founded a company. "Couldn't you just move your event?" she asked. "It's your company, right?"
Inside I guffawed, knowing how far in advance we plan BlogHer; knowing we'd have somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 people coming this year. Seeing how this "event" has transcended beyond anything that one, three, or fifty people could plan alone. We work hard on it, but it is a foundation, not the whole experience. It is, as Elisa loves to say, the event the community built.
"You have to understand," I replied, needing to remind myself, "This event is SO not about me."