Pregnancy + Working

Wednesday December 6, 2017

Pregnancy + Working

For the sake of hopefully offering even a bit of comfort or camaraderie to any expecting + working mamas, I wanted to revisit my miserable first ten weeks of pregnancy so that even a handful of you might feel a little less alone. The juggle of pregnancy and a career is no small feat for women, and even more so for those of us who are prone to extreme sickness and nausea. It can be such a lonely, isolating time and I so appreciated connecting with other mamas who simply understood. No suggestions about ginger or lemon or crackers, just an empathetic, I feel you, sister.

At 27 weeks pregnant , my first trimester seems (thankfully) lightyears ago. Maybe it’s the way our brains process and protect ourselves from difficult experiences, but the sheer terribleness of the unending sickness and vomiting has become fuzzier in my memory, softer somehow - though the sight of sweet potatoes and zucchini still brings very fresh, very real waves of nausea. My sickness was so severe for the first few months of my pregnancy that I was was virtually horizontal for ten straight weeks, confined to either the couch or my bed because I was too nauseous to move. My former apartment became the stuffiest, most unbearable 712 sq.ft I could imagine and the thought of eating a sandwich could literally make me cry. I was horribly nauseous when I ate, even worse when I didn’t, and became very friendly with my bathroom floor.

The sickness was most taxing physically, of course, but the mental and emotional drain of not being able to work, move, or function was almost as tortuous. I’d scour the Internet for blog posts from working pregnant women who might share that they also had to take months off of a career they loved, who would please encourage me that it was truly okay to take this time to be at home, to be gentle with myself and put my health and growing baby first. Instead, I found forums on baby site after baby site of women discussing how they’d crawl under their desks at work to vomit and bring mouthwash to hide the evidence of their sickness. To me in my vulnerable state, it felt like these women had a level of grittiness and commitment to their careers that I somehow hadn’t been able to muster up. I kept feeling like the goal was to be back at work ASAP so I could earn some badge of honor that yes, I too powered through my sickness.

I’ve realized since that there is nothing impressive or noble or honorable about senselessly suffering, and no shame in accepting grace and help from people around us. Every woman’s body reacts differently to growing a tiny human - some women have abounding energy and can carry on, business as usual, while others can barely take a shower (hi, me). I’ve developed such compassion for all the pregnant mamas who don’t have the blessing of an understanding work culture or the luxury of being able to forego their incomes even in the thick of their sickness. The lack of choice for women in these circumstances feels impossibly stifling .

As a business owner, I’ve become extra sensitive to the importance of maternity benefits for our team of women. Patricia and I are intentional about creating a work culture that honors and celebrates the gift of motherhood so that no one on our team ever feels like they have to make an either/or choice between a having vibrant career and being a present mama. We hope that in our small corner, we can contribute to the changing culture around working and motherhood because we so strongly believe that all women, if they choose, should be able to do both and do both well.

from one mama-to-be to another,