The Reveal

It’s that time, folks! The time when I have to tell my manager and team that I’m carrying.

And as should come as no surprise, I feel very uneasy about this. On a certain level, I’m still convinced that something will go terribly wrong. Like at my next ultrasound, my doctor will confirm that I am having a garden gnome, not an actual human. But I’m also getting to that point where it is going to be very obvious I’m not getting chubby, but getting babied.

I’m also just feeling a lot right now. My life is a whole lotta messy, but I’m finding a place of calm I can process this from. I’m coming to terms with the fact that my first pregnancy happening just as I lose my mom. To quote the immortal Whitney Houston, “It’s not right, but it’s okay.

With my mom’s death now common knowledge at work, I feel a little conspicuous. People come up to me and tell me that they’re sorry. I get hugs, invitations to lunch, random “Just thinking about you” emails. It comes from a place of kindness, I get that. But I’d really like to get back to being a normal person, thank you very much. Just as it looks like “normal” is on the horizon, I will be outing pregnant self. With this brings a whole new level public attention that I’m not really interested in, and yet is totally inescapable.

The workplace is weird. Not just my workplace, but any workplace. We’re thrown together with a bunch of people who we may or may not have anything in common with. Because we spend 8+ hours together 5 days a week, there is a false sense of intimacy. We see each other a lot, but we don’t really know each other that well. Not everyone gets this, and so sometimes boundaries are crossed. Which is part of the reason I’m queasy about this.

My manager, who I will tell first, is the bomb. He’s in the top 5 of people I’ve ever worked for. Part of the reason I adore him is that he gets the idea of privacy, while also being one of the most supportive managers I’ve ever had. He has never asked for justification for all the time I’ve needed off to go to my many, many medical appointments, and he has given me free reign to visit my family over the past year (which is part of the reason I feel at peace with my mom’s passing, if I am to be honest.)

All of this is to say that I’m okay telling him. He’ll give me the space and the support I need. He is like magic. My direct report will be over the moon. Truth be told, I think she may have already figured it out, but I could be wrong.

There are two colleagues who I am most concerned about. 1) Myna, and 2) a coworker I’ll call Robin*.

Myna should come as no surprise. In her book, boundaries are for chumps. She is the kind of person who will tell me about her labor horror story. Or how she worked up until the last possible minute, and was emailing between contractions. In short, there will be a lot of over sharing and insistence that I do my pregnancy exactly like she did hers.

My plan for Myna: I’ll accept her hearty congratulations and offers to throw an office baby shower. I will even thank her. However, I will not accept stories intended to terrify me or shame me into thinking that I am bad parent. I’ve been practicing this exact line in my bathroom mirror:

Thanks for sharing your experiences, but pregnancy is such a personal subject I’d rather not talk about it at work.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll cry at her and through post-it notes.

Robin is another conundrum altogether. You see, Robin and his wife lost their second child when they were 36 weeks pregnant, about a few days before my mom died.  I do not know the details- I’ve been respecting his need for privacy because I totally get it. Okay, I don’t get what he is going through at all,  but I do get the need not to have your grief on display.

When he returned to work, he sent an email to the team saying that if anyone wanted to talk with him about his loss, set up a meeting with him. He would talk about it with us, but he didn’t want to get approached in the hall or at his desk. (Which was the most gracious and mature thing I’ve seen a grieving person do.) Clearly, Robin understands workplace boundaries.

My plan for Robin: Uh… I’m not sure. I want to tell him about my pregnancy before it gets out. I want him to know that I understand if he doesn’t want to sit with me at lunch or hang out around the water cooler. I understand that the sight of my growing belly will likely trigger some hard emotions for him, and I do not blame him for any reaction he has. But I can’t decide if that is being presumptive or respectful. Obviously, I’m aiming for respectful.

So what do you think? Should I tell him personally? Or should I email him? Write him a letter? Send a messenger pigeon? Or should I let word get out in the usual grape-vine-y sort of way?

Advice and opinions are welcome.

*Nope. Not his real name.

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11 comments

  1. thebarrenlibrarian · February 6, 2015

    36 weeks? God. There really is never a point where you can feel “safe” is there? I’ve been trying to let myself get to 28 weeks before I breathe. I know 24 weeks is viability, but 28 weeks carries a 90% chance that if you deliver your baby will live, so that’s what I’m considering my own personal viability. But 36 weeks? I mean, thats a week away from being full term. I cant IMAGINE (don’t want to, that’s selfish, but don’t want to) what they’re going through. Big virtual hug to Robin.

    That being said, best of luck with your big reveal. I told peeps early on because they knew I was in treatment and I was pretty miserable at first, it was hard to hide.

    • thecommonostrich · February 6, 2015

      Oh goodness, I certainly don’t mean to scare anyone! I was completely floored when I heard it, and stammered stupid things like “But that’s not possible…” To which my coworker (not Robin) said “Life is fickle.” Sadder and truer words have never been spoken.

      At the moment, I just look like I’ve continued holiday bingeing well into the new year. But I’m going out of town next week, and I have no idea what a week is going to do… Deep breaths…

      • thebarrenlibrarian · February 6, 2015

        NO-I’m not blaming you! It’s not the first horror story i’ve heard. I just think it’s awful. I wish life could come with a few more guarantees, you know?

  2. My Perfect Breakdown · February 6, 2015

    It meant the world to me when someone at my old office gave me a heads up about another pregnancy. A friend who knew what we were going through would send an email or tell me at the end of the day so I could easily go home to deal with my emotions. I highly recommend however you tell him, you tell him before he hears it through the rumor mill, and you tell him at the end of the day. To this day I am grateful to those who showed me that level of kindness.

    • thecommonostrich · February 6, 2015

      Me too. A friend of mine did who knew about my challenges wrote me a separate email a few days before she told people, and it was the kindest thing she could have done. I adored her before, but I absolutely love her now.

      I was going to write it in a note, because I’m much better with written words than in person. Do you think it’s better one way or another? (Better being a shit word to use, but you know what I mean…)

      • My Perfect Breakdown · February 6, 2015

        I have had both emails and in person, and I honestly don’t think it matters. What matters is that you show compassion, and by telling him you are. And, while it will suck for him no matter how you tell him, he should see that you took the time to care and give him a heads up.
        If you are more comfortable with the written word, then I say write him a note. 🙂

      • Fox · February 6, 2015

        For me personally, I’d prefer the note. That way he has a chance to process it on his own time before facing you in person. But that’s what *I* would prefer if I were in his shoes. No telling what *he* actually would prefer.

  3. vtr87 · February 6, 2015

    I strongly considered just letting my coworkers think I was getting fatter, and then sending out the pre-mat leave email that said “If you need anything, find someone else. I’ll be dealing with my new human”. What a chuckle that would be! I hope it goes smoothly, and that the attention is fleeting and a comfortable level.

    I think, personally, I would send Robin an email. If you feel comfortable sharing with him some details of your tough journey here, then explaining that because of that you know how your emotional world spins when it comes to children, babies, pregnancy that you wanted to be sensitive to his situation and let him know directly (in a space that was safe and comfortable) and that you understand if he needs to adjust or distance. And offer to meet with him in person, if he would like to talk.

    Face to face talks like that are always hard, because the receiver feels obligated to react a certain way and often times has trouble processing afterwards… where I feel via email he could take the time to process, and respond without having to put on “the face”. I think just the fact that you take the time to reach out to him personally, directly, and privately shows a lot of respect and consideration.

    • thecommonostrich · February 6, 2015

      Yes. So much yes. I’m actually pretty open with people about my IF now that I’m pregnant. I have no qualms about it, though admittedly it was much hard when I was in the midst of treatments.

      I also completely see your point about face-to-face vs. email. That gives him time to process things and sort out his own feelings without an audience.

  4. Katie · February 8, 2015

    I agree with vtr87, although initially I thought face to face I think it could be very difficult for him. Explain in your email why you thought it would be the best avenue and follow his lead that if he wants to talk to you about it he can privately. Or you could write him a note to give him towards the end of the day so doesn’t have to think about it all day at work. You are so considerate to think of him when you have so much going on. Poor guy.

  5. Pingback: Letter to Robin | the common ostrich

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