I was pregnant six different times in three different offices. When you're in such close quarters with other people for the majority of your day, you're bound to experience a few awkward moments, especially when there are so many strange things going on with your always-changing body. Well, misery loves company, my friends, so I asked other moms to share their most awkward stories about being pregnant at work. Of course, my fellow moms did not disappoint.
I've survived more than a few floundering moments in all those offices during all my pregnancies. You see, dear reader, corporate America is not set up for pregnant people. It doesn't have to be that way, to be sure, but it's definitely that way right now. Pregnant bellies are seen as a "weakness," an "inconvenience," and a potential "distraction." I tried, unsuccessfully, of course, to downplay my pregnancy. I made a solid effort to simultaneously be the jolly pregnant woman dedicated to her job, while actively trying to minimize any signs that I was growing another human being in my body. After all, it obviously made my superiors uncomfortable. None of it worked, of course.
The most awkward moment for me, hands down, was having to justify a work absence to a stone-faced superior. I had a routine 13-week ultrasound where I was told they could no longer find a beating heart. I cried when I told my superior I wouldn't be coming back for the rest of the day. After that, I was never able to escape being labeled "emotional" in the office. What are your most awkward pregnant office stories? Eight women shared their stories, so at least we all know we're not alone.
"I did have a colleague come up to me and say, 'I'm so glad to hear you are pregnant. I just thought you were getting fat.'"
"I was super uncomfortable during my first pregnancy because my son was so high and I found one thing that helped was doing pliés at my desk. It would have been fine if I had my own office and could close the door, but I shared it with a guy I didn't know super well at the time. So I would awkwardly and wordlessly just start busting barre moves while my poor colleague was trying to work. Later, after we became friends, we laughed about it."
"Mine is pretty out there, so brace yourself. When I got pregnant, my then-husband and I were both teaching in an Alaskan Native fishing village. No roads, no cars, no doctors — bush planes were the only way in and out while the river was frozen. Once a month, I flew in to Anchorage to see the doctor to get checked out. At about 30 weeks, I was flying in for my last check up (as I was required to relocate to Anchorage at 36 weeks and stay until baby was born). It was March, there was snow, and there wasn't a bathroom at the tiny one room waiting room where we change planes. I am wearing long johns, jeans, and snow pants. I'm 30 weeks pregnant, there is no bathroom, and I have to pee. So there I am, around the back of the tiny building, trying to inch down the snow pants/jeans/long johns/undies, crouch around my 30 weeks pregnant belly so I can pee in the snow — all while holding the husband's hand to keep from toppling over as his back is turned to keep an eye out for anyone I'm about to moon."
Author's Note: OK, so this one's not actually an in-the-office story, but I'm sure you'll agree having to leave your job to fly to your doctor's office and pee in the snow is pretty awkward.
"I stopped in to check in with my boss, almost two weeks overdue. He (jokingly, kinda), said, 'Um, don't break your water in my office.' It was definitely said in good humor, since I've known him since I was 14, and we both laugh about it now. He's no longer my boss, but still a colleague that I see on occasion."
"I was pregnant with twins while working in a substance use disorder clinic. I was full-term and still working, so I have so many stories from patients and co-workers. For example, a patient in line asked me, 'Wow, twins, huh? You going to have them vaginally?' My response? 'Are you really standing here asking publicly about my vagina?'
I also had a coworker watching me type at my desk with my keyboard propped on my belly since it was too big for me to reach the keyboard. 'Wow, I can't believe you can even exist that big!' Really?
Then a different coworker asked if I was sure I wasn't having triplets since I was "just so huge for being seven months along!" I told them, 'I'm pretty sure I have the contents of my uterus under control.'
After I returned from having to go to the hospital for dehydration, my boss refused to lower the temperature of the building. (I had complained multiple times about the heat making me sick.) Her reasoning? 'It's not that hard being pregnant.'
And finally, I also peed myself in [a] staff meeting after I sneezed at about eight months pregnant with twins. I think it was less awkward because my coworkers were worried my water broke and I was in labor. And I joked about it immediately, but still awkward as hell."
"I worked in a hot kitchen until I was eight months [pregnant] when I started having contractions from the heat. I went home that day to start my maternity leave and didn't deliver until I was induced three weeks later. Before my leave, and during every appointment (because my doctor's practice has rotating doctors who are on call), I would be introduced to a different doctor. Each doctor would awkwardly ask about the huge burn marks I had on my stomach (from the flat-top grill I worked on and my T-Rex arms not being able to reach without leaning) and if everything was OK at home."
"I work as a therapist in a nursing home. The most awkward part of pregnancy was constantly having my pregnancy underwear showing while bending over to treat a patient. Having to stop a treatment because I was out of breath or had to pee. Having patients ask me if I was having twins or triplets. Not being able to tie my own shoes while trying to teach someone else how to tie theirs. I could go on forever."
"Three months after my daughter was born, a subordinate asked if I was pregnant again because I was still wearing maternity clothes."