The Pregnant Intern: How I Handled My Pregnancy When I Started My New Job
Read the two precursors to this article here and here.
When I was hired as an intern at the publishing company of my dreams, there were two unexpected aspects: 1. it was a paid full-time position and 2. I was going to be with child.
Internships are typically viewed as something you do to build your resume while in college, and they have a stigma attached to them that makes them seem almost juvenile post-graduation. Because of this I felt kind of embarrassed to say that I was even considering accepting an internship position, even though I knew it was the best way for me to get a foot in the door at this particular company. But that sense of embarrassment disappeared immediately once my baby came into play. The urge to provide for your child is much more intense than the urge to have the job title you think you’re entitled to because of your college degree.
As my start-date neared I became more and more nervous about keeping my pregnancy a secret. The issue wasn’t that my pregnancy was noticeable (I was barely eight weeks along), but that I felt bad about not being completely forthcoming about my situation. I kept going back and forth about what the right thing to do was, and could not, for the life of me, make a decision I was 100% comfortable with. In the end I decided that I would follow the 12-week rule, which says to wait 12 weeks before telling anybody about your pregnancy in case something were to go wrong. It’s a bit morbid, but it makes sense and made me feel okay about keeping my pregnancy to myself for the first few weeks of my brand new job.
After getting to know my company better, I realized that my paranoia was completely unwarranted. For many other women, however, it’s not. I read countless stories online about women who were terminated from their jobs or had job offers retracted because they did the honest thing and revealed to the hiring manager that they were expecting a baby within a few months of their start date. While such firings are technically illegal, they still happen, and it’s incredibly sad. How heartless do you have to be to take away a mother-to-be’s way of providing for her child? People seem to forget that pregnancy is not an illness, or something that signifies irresponsibility in the employee; us pregnant ladies can still sit at a desk and respond to e-mails all day. It disgusts and terrifies me that such discrimination happens in this country, and I am so unbelievably grateful that I was brought into a company that values family and helping others as much as it does.
About three weeks into my new role as a pregnant intern, a fabulous thing happened. I was promoted to a full-time with benefits Editorial Assistant position. My pay increased, I was able to partake in the amazing benefits and I was going to get my very own cubicle! I finally felt like the working mom I knew I was meant to be, and I was finally confident in my ability to provide for my child. The internship allowed me to get used to working long hours and to the changes happening to my body (nausea and fatigue didn’t make my job any easier), but by the time I was promoted I was ready to start pushing myself again. I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have a variety of responsibilities at once, and I was ready to get back into the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to in college.
The only downside was that I was promoted before I had reached the 12-week mark, and the urge to come clean about my growing baby was stronger than ever. I still wasn’t showing too much, but I felt that I owed it to my new, super-cool boss to be honest with her about what she was getting herself into. My pregnancy had been relatively easy (I hadn’t, and still haven’t, thrown up once) so I wasn’t worried about my ability to perform my everyday duties; I was simply tired of keeping my wonderful news to myself. But I stuck to my guns and waited until my twelfth week ended before sending my boss an e-mail asking if we could speak in private, as I had some news to share with her.
When I met her in the library of our office building, she looked very nervous. I decided to quickly get the scary part over with and said, “So, I wanted to let you know that I am pregnant.” To my relief she was very excited for me, congratulatory and interested even, and asked me all of the appropriate questions. She told me she was relieved herself because she was afraid I was going to tell her that I was quitting; I reassured her that wasn’t even close to being a possibility because I love and need my job. All was settled and good and I could finally be my complete, pregnant self at my place of employment.
Since then I’ve come to know my boss as an incredible woman who understands the challenges that accompany pregnancy, yet completely trusts that I am strong enough to get the job done in spite of them. She has made these two big life changes much easier for me to take in stride, and I am so excited to continue working for her once my maternity leave ends. But I couldn’t have gotten to this point if I hadn’t figured out some ways to get through an eight-hour workday while dealing with all that is brought about by surging pregnancy hormones and bouncing babies. The following is a list of my go-to pregnancy symptom solutions for the workplace.
1. Snacks! The best way to curb nausea (which is truly an all-day occurrence) is to surround yourself with a variety of snacks to appease whatever random craving you’re bound to have. My favorites are Cheez-Its, Honey Nut Cheerios, almonds, apples, nectarines and string cheese. We have a small kitchenette steps away from my cubicle, so I keep some stuff in our communal fridge and store everything else in one of my giant desk drawers.
2. Water. Ice-cold water has been a must for me, and luckily our kitchenette has an ice/water dispensing machine that I visit every few hours. Water is important in pregnancy anyway, so I’m definitely doing my baby and my body good.
3. Lotion. It’s true what they say about peeing and pregnancy. I am constantly getting up from my desk to pee (probably because of all the water I drink), and as a result of washing my hands so often my knuckles get dry, so I learned quickly that I needed to have a little bottle of lotion at my desk. It’s truly been a lifesaver, and it cost me nothing since I swooped it from a hotel room.
4. Something to put your feet up on. When I moved into my cube its previous tenant left behind a few things for me, including a cool footstool. I use it daily to relieve my legs, which I can’t help but cross on a regular basis. The crossed-legs position is pretty uncomfortable when your baby bump starts growing, plus your circulation is different, so keeping your legs elevated as often as possible is really the best way to go.
5. Music. I’m not sure about other offices, but at mine we are encouraged to listen to music on headphones. This helped to keep me awake during the first trimester when I was so incredibly tired my eyes would start closing after lunch. I highly recommend both the Grizzly Bear Pandora station and the Fever Ray Pandora station to get you through afternoons spent in front of a computer.
6. A backup lunch. During the second trimester, I ate more food than I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. I was constantly hungry and the only solution was to bring two lunches to work everyday. I’d eat my first lunch at 11, my second lunch at 2 and sometimes a third lunch at 4. Luckily I didn’t gain a crazy amount of weight, but I did spend a lot of money on food. Now that I’m in my seventh month, my baby has grown so much that I get full after eating half of whatever’s on my plate. But I still bring a backup lunch just in case she has a major growth spurt that robs me of all my nutrients.
7. Prevacid. Pregnancy brought to life a heartburn monster that caused me to take countless Tums to keep it at bay. Unfortunately, all those Tums created a kidney stone that resulted in an early morning emergency room trip and a surgical procedure to have it removed. I was told to stop taking Tums and to take Prevacid instead. I did and I haven’t had heartburn in weeks.
8. Maxi dresses. There is nothing more uncomfortable than a restricted baby bump. Unlike love handles or typical belly fat, a baby bump is hard and will not squish in as a result of a tight waistband. As such, I’ve adopted the maxi dress as my go-to outfit on the days when I feel like my belly needs some room to expand.
9. My belly. There’s a point in pregnancy where your baby becomes strong enough to make their movements seen as well as felt. My favorite way to give my eyes a break from my computer screen is to watch my belly go up and down and all around as my baby changes position or tries some new dance moves. Sometimes, if I put my hand on the spot where she’s currently moving the most, she’ll press against it. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.
Adjusting to life as a pregnant, newly employed woman was somewhat of a challenge, but having the support of others and faith in my own abilities made everything much more manageable. Since my third month of pregnancy, I’ve gotten engaged (!), attended four concerts, had a kidney stone removed, started prenatal yoga, attended childbirth classes and enjoyed the first of my four baby showers. It’s certainly been a rollercoaster, and I couldn’t have done it without my incredible fiancé, his family, my family and my coworkers. As my due date gets closer and closer (it’s less than two months away!), everything has become much more real. I’m so excited to meet my little Lorelei, and I plan on keeping myself busy by writing about all kinds of baby-related things for HelloGiggles until she decides to make her grand entrance into this world.
(Image via ShutterStock.)