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.