Pregnancy and the working mom

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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MANY pregnant women have been chastised for not meeting their deadlines, getting in late, and/or not being able to exert the usual amount of energy at work, especially during the first trimester. And while women generally don't use their pregnancies as an excuse for falling behind at work, the fact is that nurturing a human being inside the womb is an invisible job, and only you can truly tell how exhausting this gets.

We asked new mothers to share how difficult it was managing work and pregnancy.

Tanice, 28, personal assistant:

I was so drained in my first trimester that I almost always wanted to sleep and it was difficult keeping focused. I was called up my boss twice because my numbers had gone down. He was concerned for me and so I just had to tell him what was happening. He handled it very decently and he supported me. He did not give me special treatment, but he was understanding.

Rachel, 36, sales executive:

I had just got a promotion and I found out I was pregnant two weeks after that. I was only five weeks along and my symptoms were severe — constant vomiting, dizziness, fainting — and it did interfere with work because nothing that the doctors recommended was effective. I was not performing as anticipated because I had to be taking so much time off and when I was at work, I was constantly ill and weak. It was not until about 20 weeks that I started feeling like myself again, thankfully.

Annakay, 30, accountant:

I felt like I was a constant bother to people because they had to be adjusting things to make the environment more comfortable. Once, as soon as a co-worker starting heating his lunch, my face was in the bin and everyone could tell that it made him uncomfortable. My boss had to change the chair at my workstation because I was in so much pain and I could sense people's displeasure because they couldn't find me when they came to my desk (I always had to throw-up, pee or use the sick bed). I needed the lights on my computer and almost everything else adjusted. I cried because I didn't want to feel like a burden or like I was asking for favours because I was pregnant.

Sanique, 32, police officer:

Well, thankfully nothing really happened except that I had a growing belly and considering that I had a desk job, it wasn't too much stress. The only sore point — it was quite annoying actually — was that I had swollen feet and no slippers or shoes could fit me even though I kept replacing them. After childbirth, though, that's when I had a problem with constant backaches.

Miranda, 40, programme director:

First of all, people looked at me weirdly — an older woman deciding in the prime of her career that she would go get knocked up. I was unmarried and that made them gossip more and while the physical pain was terrible, the sight of people in the office with pitchforks aimed at me and mean insults made me dread making it to the office every day. Knowing how people felt, it meant that I had to work thrice as hard to prove that I was not dropping the ball. I had to do more for myself so I wouldn't come off as needy. I would go in on days when my doctor ordered rest so that people wouldn't think I was making excuses. I fought through my entire pregnancy, pained and weak, but I didn't show anybody except my now husband and father of my child who was mad at what I was putting myself through. To fuel my days, though, I went in my van on lunch hours, turned the AC on and napped.

Theresa, 27, security guard:

It was an okay pregnancy, but I was almost always sleepy. Thank God for sending some of the best co-workers! Of course it wasn't easy, even though people were kind and everybody raced to satisfy my cravings, to rub my feet, and to help me hide so I could sleep. I know that if it hadn't been for those people it would have been hell.

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