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.