What Pregnant Women Need Co-Workers To Know

One of the most fun things about pregnancy is breaking the news. Though I was nervous about how my boss would react when I told him, I was so relieved when he responded with genuine excitement for me. Telling my colleagues brought on squeals of joy and knowing looks (as some of them had a feeling I might have been expecting). Still, there were some things I didn’t share, and they were things every pregnant woman needs her co-workers to know.

Pregnancy was so weird to me because it’s extremely personal, but also very public. There were crazy changes happening inside my body, but over the course of nine months those changes were on display for the world to see. People would reach out to touch my belly and I’d recoil. Others didn’t know where to look when I sat across from them, my swollen boobs sucking up all the air in the conference room. Pregnancy could be awkward for everyone, depending on where they are in their own lives.

As I worked through my pregnancy, I knew my whole life as a child-free woman was about to end. However, my desire to stay in the workforce and continue my professional journey remained steadfast. I hoped my actions proved that, as I never slacked off and made up for any time I missed when I had to run to my obstetrician appointments, but I guess there are some things I would have really liked my co-workers to have known when I was pregnant:

My Sudden Addiction To Saltines Is No Big Deal

That first trimester, before I announced my pregnancy to my team, I was dealing with some serious nausea. My morning sickness would last all day. I never vomited, but I often felt like it. Saltines were the only things I could stomach. More than once I caught a co-worker’s eyes lingering a bit too long of the sleeve of crackers as I drew my 8 billionth one out. I knew they knew, but they were doing me a huge solid by not saying anything. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone at that point.

I Can Smell Your Lunch…

My sense of smell was sharpened to the point of superhero ability when I was pregnant. I could detect a hardboiled egg being peeled a half mile away. I couldn’t stand catching a whiff of other people’s lunches.

…And It’s Gross

Since most everyone at their desks in our open floor plan, I felt assaulted by the pungent odors of reheated leftovers, tuna subs, and Chipotle take-out. Even some of my most favorite food smells, like freshly brewed coffee, hot bagels, and pizza, made me gag.

My Baby’s Gender Is None Of Your Business

Seriously, ask me one more time if I know what I’m having. Not only do I have no idea, but I don’t want to know, and even if I accidentally found out, like if the technician had the wand parked over the kid’s genitalia, but didn’t give me the heads up about it (like we had discussed), I wouldn’t discuss my child’s anatomy with you. Next time I hear the question, “Do you know what you’re having?” I’m going to respond with, “Yes. A baby. Hopefully a human one.”

I May Look Like I’m Totally Into This Budget Meeting But I’m Totally Thinking Of Middle Names Instead

Yes I’m taking notes and jotting down ideas. I am also scribbling lists of possible names. In a way, being pregnant in a team brainstorming session is a lot like doing group work in eighth grade: you make your points early so you appear engaged and get counted as having contributed, and then sit back and half-listen while you doodle in the margins, looking up and nodding every so often.

I’m Worried You’ll See Me Differently

And not in a good way. Maybe it was because the corporate environment of my employer didn’t exactly exude a family friendly atmosphere, or because only one other person in my office area was a mom, but I was nervous about how I’d be perceived by my co-workers after having a baby. Not having a lot of role models or any mentors who were working mothers didn’t provide a lot of examples of the kind of working parent I might model myself after. I had to look really hard to find working moms in my organization. They would occasionally bring up their children, but I never heard them discuss the experience of being a parent, and having a career. Was there a reason nobody talked much about it? Did working moms feel their families undermined their attention to their jobs? I didn’t want to feel that way.

I Can Still Do My Job

The hardest aspect of being on the job while pregnant (and showing) is that you are immediately categorized. There was no way to hide my pregnancy by my sixth month (and by my fourth month, the second time around), so it was difficult to make any sort of impression on a co-worker outside my obviously physical state of “Pregnant Lady.” My attention to detail, listening skills, diplomatic responses to ire-inducing emails asking me to revise a cut for the 47th time were all much less apparent than my pregnancy. It’s hard to feel valued and respected for the work I do when people can’t see past my belly.

I Still Value My Job

It may not have been obvious, since I entered every room belly first, but my mind was not always on motherhood when I was pregnant at work. I had been cultivating a career for over a decade before I planned on having a baby, and I was not even close to thinking of permanently off-ramping. My work defined me well before my children did, and I have never regretted being a working mom. It has afforded me, not only the income we need to raise a family in New York City, but the satisfaction of setting and realizing professional goals that fall outside the parameters of motherhood and marriage.

Five Of The Eight Browser Tabs I Have Open Right Now Are Telling Me My Fetus Is The Size Of An Avocado

Being a working mother has made me an extremely efficient person. My time management skills are on point, since I literally have no time to waste, between caring for two kids, and meeting deadlines at my full-time job. But that doesn’t mean I am working for eight hours straight. I need to take breaks. We all do, if we are to feel energized and motivated to do our jobs.

When I was pregnant my breaks consisted of trolling parenting sites to gather info and poke around message boards in the hopes of learning what the absolute best stroller (in my price range) was. While I think multitasking is a joke, since I know I could never do two things at once, I became an expert at toggling back and forth between career and parenthood mindsets.