Pregnant at Work

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I’m 30 weeks pregnant. There were no classes in law school (or even chapters in new lawyer books) detailing how to be pregnant at work. Pregnancy websites and books universally recommend “taking it easy,” and that’s about the long and short of the advice. This pregnancy has: (1) made me infinitely grateful that I do not have a job that requires me to be on my feet all day; and (2) given me a crash course in how to be pregnant (but engaged) at work. I thought I might share my experiences.

When to Tell

The first question I faced was when to tell people at work. I am terrible at keeping secrets, so waiting to share my news tortured me. That said, I held out until the 12-week ultrasound just to be sure everything was fine before passing along the update. I’m exceedingly grateful/lucky that I did not suffer from morning sickness because I know that would have changed my calculus. If I was ill, I would have likely told my colleagues to assure them that I was not contagious. But really, for the first 12 weeks it didn’t feel real and it felt odd sharing my news when I didn’t feel pregnant. I’m a firm believer in sharing news when it feels right.

What to Wear

Shortly after the 12-week mark it became fairly clear that I was pregnant, and a search for maternity clothes ensued. This is difficult stuff.

I spent last night searching the racks at Gap Maternity for SOMETHING to wear to a business dinner this week. I concluded that the women who shop at Gap Maternity must all be going on babymoons this month because the clothing offerings consisted of maxi dresses in neon colors, shirts that (in an earlier life) I would have worn clubbing, and tons of glam exercise clothes. Really, if I was going on a cruise or hitting Vegas this weekend, I would have been all set. But there was nary a blazer or even a respectable cardigan in sight. I settled for trousers and a button down shirt (the shirt does, however, have cutesy coffee cups on it).

If I have any complaint about being pregnant it is the lack of clothing available for professional women. Sure, I could hit up the uber-expensive  A Pea in the Pod and purchase one of their $149.00 blazers that I will wear for two months. But this seems unfair when, in my pre-pregnancy life, I could have hit up Ann Taylor and grabbed a blazer on sale for $30. My go-to spot has turned out to be a maternity consignment shop in a far-away suburb. But, I have purchased all of their blazers and nobody seems to be bringing in any more.

Do these experiences translate into any advice? If you see work-appropriate maternity clothing at a reasonable price I recommend purchasing it immediately. Otherwise, you may experience my fate of wearing the same four outfits every single day hoping that with a new necklace or scarf you can feel a little better about the whole thing.

Taking Care of Yourself

I have a hard time admitting that I need to take it easy or do anything differently no matter what I am facing. During my pregnancy, however, I have been forced to admit defeat repeatedly. My first trimester, I was so tired that I would fall asleep on the couch immediately after work until my husband would wake me up at ten and I would move to the bedroom. As strange as this schedule was, it worked fine and was conducive to maintaining a regular work schedule throughout the first trimester—I just had to cancel every single other post-work commitment (book club, gym, happy hours—all gone). The second trimester was brilliant—I felt great and had a lot more energy, returning to the world to see friends and take prenatal yoga. This month, however, I can feel things starting to come full circle.

I traveled for work this past week and, for the first time, experienced horrible swelling ankles as a result. On the trip home, I traded work clothes for leggings and a hoodie, apologizing to my co-workers for dressing like Sporty Spice instead of a colleague. Nobody seemed to care and the ankles did better on the flight home (I also drank a gallon of water).

Our bodies will apparently remind us when we are not listening, but I have found my body willing to compromise. I don’t have to stay home from the trip, I just need to down all of Fiji’s water. I don’t need to take a shorter day at the office, I just need to fall asleep as soon as I get home.

I have a big fear when it comes to writing about pregnancy. The experience is such a personal one that it feels awkward sharing my thoughts. And, I certainly don’t want to turn my lawyer blogging into pregnancy blogging. That said, I have benefited from the advice and insight of my colleagues during this time, and I thought I should offer up my own thoughts in return. Life should be something that we are always willing to talk about.

 

 

 

  • Grace

    Thanks for sharing! I am pregnant in law school right now and wish there was more information and advice on being a lawyer and pregnant/mom at the same time!

  • http://www.thefrlawfirm.com Sonia

    You are so lucky to have been one of the lucky one’s who didn’t get nausea. I’m just getting to the end of the first trimester and business was hit hard by my constant daily battle with the toilet. The most frustrating part is that I never actually threw up.

    Here’s to hoping that I can reel in more business during the second trimester and get some help before I have to take a couple weeks off! Now that will be a great post…”How to Take Maternity Leave While Running a Solo Practice and Raising a Toddler.” I’ll be available for writing about the experience in early November Lawyerist! Although, I’m afraid the answer is “you don’t!”

    • Sybil

      I have so many friends that have suffered with nausea–I feel a bit guilty that I escaped the problem.

      Good luck with the solo practice–that sounds like a book waiting to happen, not just a post. I have my fingers crossed for you.

  • http://www.scottspringerlaw.com Jennifer

    Belly bands were life savers to keep me in my suit pants during my pregnancy. I just bought some work appropriate tops, which due to current fashions, were regular blouses that just happened to be roomy in the tummy.

  • http://www.thefrlawfirm.com Sonia

    Don’t feel guilty, Sybil! You’re just lucky! I’m happy to see someone writing about this topic. I’m kind of freaking out about how I’m going to manage two kids and a business, but it has been done before and it will be done again. Good luck with the rest of the pregnancy!

  • http://pospislaw.com/ Mike Pospis

    Sybil,

    Great post. Keep up the good work.

    Have you considered addressing (perhaps in a follow-up post) workplace discrimination and/or harassment based on pregnancy or related medical conditions? I frequently encounter these issues in my largely plaintiff-side employment practice.

    Go ‘Dores!

    Mike Pospis
    (Vanderbilt University, BE 1998)

  • Catherine Tucker

    Congratulations.

  • LAB

    Congratulations! Take special care of yourself.

  • Martie Evans

    I highly recommend Target for maternity/work clothes. I found great button-down shirts and pants there, as well as dresses. Especially the Liz Lange for Target line.

    Great post – I worked at least 60 hours/week during my first pregnancy and was very nauseous, but my boss/lead partner was very understanding. I was honest with him and he was flexible. I couldn’t sleep, so I went into work around 5 am and so would go home earlier (but never before 5, of course!) when I COULD sleep.

    I did not return to my large firm after having kids. I will be interested to see how that goes. Everyone always said you work the same amount of hours but get paid less. I hope this is not true (at least anymore – it’s been 9 years since I had my first).

  • http://spolawyers.com/ Carly

    Thanks for addressing this! Female attorneys being pregnant and *gasp* taking maternity leave is never talked about. I had my first child a week after I became licensed, and my husband and I are planning for number 2, but the idea of working while pregnant and having another child can be terrifying at times, especially since I am the only female attorney at my firm. Reading about other people’s experiences normalizes it and makes it a little bit easier consider. Thanks again!