Starting my new job has been an exercise in juxtapositions. I feel really good about having been chosen for a good job, nevermind having been chosen when I was 7 months pregnant. And I came in with the usual first-day jitters, but I wasn’t as nervous as I was for my last (very recent) new job because I felt so much more secure knowing that my boss (and her boss, and HR, etc.) all knew from the outset that I was very pregnant and that my maternity leave was all arranged before I even set foot in the door.
But I also found that my coworkers were not informed of my condition. And when I think about it, why should they have been? So, we have a new person starting today and the top thing you should know about her is that she’s almost a mom. Nope, can’t see that email getting sent. But I guess that’s along the lines of what I expected because my new coworker’s question designed to confirm that I was, in fact, as pregnant as I appeared, threw me off balance. As did the glances my new coworkers stole at my belly when we were introduced (as well as the outright stares). Hey, my eyes are up here. So in some ways, I was totally at ease about starting a new job and meeting new people – those who already knew about the Baby. And in other ways, starting my new job was way more awkward than I expected.
I mean, they don’t feel comfortable asking me about it when we get introduced (and I don’t blame them! I wouldn’t know how to broach that subject) but I’m also feeling super uncomfortable and self-conscious that people are so obviously caught off guard for their new coworker to be so very, very pregnant. I don’t know how to transition from “tell me about what you do here” to “…so I’m due July 4!”
Once again, I find myself forced to revisit the notion of how to tell people. In this instance, it’s telling people with whom I have no relationship (yet). I mean, was I supposed to arrive with a sandwich board that said “Hey! Thanks for the job! Taking bets – boy or girl?!” In some ways I think that would have been easier.
But it also makes me to reflect on “telling” people I don’t give 2 sh*ts about. An example? My boss from the museum that laid me off last fall (who did nothing to save me from the axe) found out I was pregnant. Evidently, she overheard someone talking about my baby shower and chimed in with, “Oh! Whew! Cuz I saw her when I was driving around a couple weeks ago and thought, um, she looks a little…uh….ok, so it all makes sense now. I’m so happy for her!!” I really do appreciate the good wishes – it is sweet how a Baby who hasn’t even been born yet brings out the well wishes, and they are genuine and heartfelt. But I have no personal relationship with my former boss. But a better example of how I grapple with this would be summed up in one word. Okay, two.
Doing a pregnancy announcement via a status update seems so self-absorbed, and more importantly, inauthentic to how I want to tell people, which is in person. The “hey everyone, look over here! I’m a have me a BABY!” announcement is just such an impersonal call for attention. Try as I might, I can’t come up with a way to phrase this announcement in a way that is genuine to me wanting to share my good fortune to those who might care without sounding like a shameless self-promotion. And that’s just not my style. Because if there’s anything I have loads of, it’s shame, people! The only ways I can think of to phrase it that don’t strike me as shameless self-promotion might be too subtle. I hate vaguebooking status updates so I don’t want to post something that people have to guess at. And if I’m anything, it’s not cutesy, so changing my profile pic to a pacifier, booties, or a stork just seem gimmicky. As a result, I’ve come down on the side of: not saying anything on Facebook for now. Especially since I’m not terribly active on Facebook. I often go weeks (months?) between status updates so it seems particularly egocentric to pop on only to give such a major announcement in order to gather my laurels and dash off into the ether again. I have friends on there who are really only ‘friends’…or, more accurately, acquaintances made long ago, and I could care less if they are up-to-date on my life. For real friends? If they’re local, I do get the great pleasure of telling them in person & seeing the look on their faces & getting hugs & all manner of well wishes.
For folks who I adore but who aren’t local? I guess email and/or skype will have to do. And for those I adore but who don’t keep up well via email (on their part – I am a GREAT emailer, people), it seems terrible to send a “Hey! Haven’t talked to you in months / years, but guess what?!” note. So I go back to: I guess I will have to post something on Facebook. I just don’t know what the hell that will be.
Update: A month after this post, I posted a picture of my pregnant self on Facebook for all to see. Folks started rushing in with all kinds of love. Except for the folks who hadn’t gotten a personal announcement (either in person or via email/skype/phone). They expressed shock before expressing good will: I had NO IDEA! WHA?!?! etc. So I go back to my good old-fashioned uncertain unsteady, self-conscious self. Um. How was I supposed to handle this? I didn’t realize there was a protocol for those of us who aren’t super heavy FB addicts who post all personal declarations and self-absorbed crap. Can someone direct me to it?
Okay, then. I rest my case. I drew the line as best I could: those who needed to know knew before it went up on Facebook.