Pregnant at Work

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.

Sybil Dunlop
Sybil Dunlop is a litigator at Greene Espel. Sybil clerked for Judge James M. Rosenbaum of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota before entering private practice. In her spare time Sybil enjoys walking her goldendoodle (the perfect dog for a fearsome litigator) around some of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, reading British mystery novels, and dining out.

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