Unfiltered Thoughts: Advice for Working With a Pregnant Lady

I just started my new job a few days ago, and unlike at the interview, now I am obviously showing. I’ve made the switch to maternity clothes and I definitely look pregnant. My new coworkers seem to be really quiet and maybe even shy, so I’ve been keeping to myself, using my lunch hour for a walk since it seems like everyone here just kind of eats at their desks by themselves. Today, one of my coworkers approached me and said, “So….when are you….uh….” and then made a motion of ‘pregnant’ across her belly. And when I said “I’m due July 4” she said that she’d be winning the office pool, then. Because that doesn’t make the I-just-started-a-new-job-six-months-pregnant-lady feel awkward. At all.

So a bit of advice to those of you working with a pregnant lady, whether she’s a new coworker or not:

  1. Do not have a behind-her-back office pool about when she’s due (or if she’s even pregnant).
  2. Do not eat fish at your desk. Or cheeseburgers. Or anything with onions. In fact, stick to foods that produce no odor, or EAT IN THE KITCHEN or GO OUT TO EAT.
  3. Do not act jealous when your new coworker’s upcoming maternity leave is announced. That six weeks that sounds like “vaca” to you, moron? That’s for her to recover from squeezing a baby out her hoo-ha, and bonding with the little baby. And btw, she might feel bad that she’s not getting the 12 weeks that other new moms get at ‘real’ jobs under FMLA.
  4. Under no circumstances should you ask “Are you sure you’re not having twins hahaha?”

I’ll post more as they come up, but that’s a good starting point.

Welcome?

I started my new job today, 29 weeks pregnant. Last I saw them, I was not obviously pregnant. Maybe I’m deluding myself, but at the final interview, I was still fitting into my regular clothes without any problem. Now that I’m fully third-trimester, I’ve all of sudden had to replace my wardrobe overnight. I had to rush out over the weekend & get one workweek’s worth of maternity clothes – 2 dresses, 3 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, and one pair of jeans. There’s no doubt now that I’ve got a rather fashionable bump (thanks, Old Navy!).

Once again, I was nervous about the awkwardness of starting a new job while very pregnant, but two things were working in my favor: (1) I just started a (different) new job 2 weeks ago so that experience is still pretty fresh and (2) my new boss knows from the outset that I’m very, very pregnant (unlike my last job). As a result, I’m feeling quite warmly welcomed to my new job – they chose me even knowing that I will soon be gone for maternity leave –  and now that the awkwardness of getting through my second first day on the job in just two weeks is over with, I am relieved.

Until my new coworker approaches me and asks “so when are you, uh…” and then makes a motion of rubbing her own belly in lieu of finishing the question. I smile and say “July 4” she responds with an overly loud “I KNEW it! I told them you had to be about 30 weeks pregnant!”

Um, thank you, I guess, for your uncertainty about whether I’m just locally fat, but seriously? You guys couldn’t just, well, ask? Is there some sort of betting pool?! Scratch that welcome feeling. Now I just feel self-conscious as I waddle out to my car to go home.

When it Rains

Two weeks into my new job, I got offered another job. Note that I don’t say a better job, because I’m actually a little surprised to find that I really am enjoying what I’m doing now. But the new job is offering me way more money AND guaranteeing me at least 6 weeks of maternity leave. Unpaid, but that would be the case anywhere. And, with the unknown of my current job giving me “leave” having yet to be determined, a guaranteed maternity leave of any sort is a deal-maker.

So I start my new new job in 2 days!

An Embarrassment of Riches

Having just landed a new job, and having started it (and it’s actually a half-decent job at that), I just got offered another job. I won’t say that it’s better, except that it is. It pays way better, it’s closer to my house, it’s less structured, and I really like the people I’d be working for. So when I told them, I’m, uh, 6 months pregnant and will need some time off this summer, they were all, “ok, no problem. How much time will you need?”

So I guess I start a *new* new job in a week!

Just a Tiny Bit Awkward

Well, this is just a little bit awkward…

I started my new job on Monday, and, while I was really excited to start my new full-time job, I was also really nervous. Not only am I starting a whole new job, I’m starting a whole new job when I’m 6 months pregnant. I just didn’t know what I was going to say if (when?) people asked me about my, er, condition. I mean, I’m just meeting new coworkers, my new boss (who is a training manager, a temporary boss for the next 6 weeks until I get assigned a manager who will be my real boss once I finish training and start work), I’m a little out of practice when it comes to sitting in an office for 9 hours a day, and I’m not sure how I will get through that – sitting for hours on end hurts my back, I have to pee all the time, and I have to admit I’ve become quite accustomed to taking a nap to alleviate my constant companion, fatigue. OMG – how will I even get to my new job at 7:30 a.m. without caffeine?! Basically, I had a lot of unknowns to sort out heading in to this week, so I didn’t even have time to give thought to how I would answer any questions about the Baby on board.

Luckily for me so far the training has been very passive. All new employees in one big classroom watching presentations by various college administrators and department heads talking about things like the college’s long-term goals, which departments do what, and workplace policies. During breaks and lunches, people kind of scattered and did their own thing. We don’t even know who’s in what department, who we’ll be working with, and so while the cool kids some folks have kind of naturally ended up eating lunch together or heading outside for a smoke during breaks, the shy folks (including me) have kind of scattered and gone solo. I have to pee every 5 minutes anyway, but not wanting to call a ton of attention to myself, I’ve been trying to hold it rather than ducking in and out every half hour, so by the time a break comes, I’m taking 5 out of our 10 minutes just to pee. And by the time I get out of the bathroom, it’s totally weird to just elbow my way into a group to join in a chat. Besides, taking little walks around the hallways during the other 5 minutes helps relieve my backaches, anyway. At lunch I’ve been taking a walk outside lying down in my car hoping that will help both my extraordinary fatigue & back pain. I’ve been able to breathe a big sigh of relief that there hasn’t been any forced sharing of personal info.

That was the case until today, anyway.

Starting today (and for the remaining 5 ½ weeks of training), we broke into small groups based on our job titles, so that we get intensive training specific to our new roles. Instead of being in a room with, I dunno, 40 other folks, I’m now in a group of 10 academic advisors. And instead of an orientation led by dozens of different people, we now have one trainer who will lead us and serve as our boss until we start actual work. Rather than passively watching  presentations, we now have to pay close attention and participate. And we are doing lots of ‘get to know you’ activities designed to elicit personal information so we can bond as a team. Things like, “Spend the next 5 minutes chatting with your neighbor so you can introduce her/him to the group. You’ll want to share at least 3 things about them!” Obviously, I can come up with 3 things about me that don’t involve that I’m about to be a mom for the first time, but we’ve done about 5 of these types of games just today. I’m not all that interesting, people – I’m gonna run out of other fun facts about me really quick.

Look, I’m not ashamed AT ALL to be pregnant. And while there’s nothing to be ashamed about to be 6 months pregnant and starting a new job, it’s still just awkward. Hi, I’m Beth! I like reading and music and baking…and oh yeah, I’m about to be a new mom! Nice to meet you!! I can’t imagine something I’d love to discuss more with total strangers than how it is that I find myself 6 months pregnant AND starting a new job.  But another thing that gives me pause is that I don’t know how bonded I am going to be to these folks. As I mentioned before, this new job has a hitch. I have no clue whatsoever if I’m going to get a maternity leave until I meet my real supervisor…six weeks from now. From now until then, I report only to my trainer. We don’t know who our future supervisors will be…and we won’t know for six weeks. And with all the strict policies and lectures we got during the first 3 days of orientation about how critical it is to not miss any time during training, how we’ll be written up if we do miss any time…I have no reason to believe that this is anything other than: work until Baby decides it’s time to come and then I’m unemployed again.

So far I’m holding steady – nobody has asked me about my baby bump…and since these folks have never met me, and I’ve gained a lot of pregnancy weight, maybe they’re just erring on the side of caution. (After all, the worst sin is to ask a woman when she’s due when she’s, um, not.) But while you think I’d be using this time to figure out what I will say if when it comes up, I’ve been too busy with other things. Trying to stay awake in the absence of caffeine, trying in vain to ignore my back pain & sciatica without any Tylenol, heat pads, or yoga moves at my beck & call, and trying not to sweat through every single item of clothing I own.

Conversation with the Neighborhood Kids

Kid: “Did you know one of the kids in the neighborhood is…MISSING?!”

Holy sh*t! I haven’t seen any posters up at the park or on the mailboxes, no cops have come to my door.

Me: “Wha?! What do you mean?”

Kid: “Nobody’s seen him for, like, 30 minutes!”