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Pregnant & Posting: 11 weeks

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Submitted by Sarah on Fri, 2012-02-17 14:40

I feel like I'm behind this week. I usually start my pregnancy posts earlier, but this was a crazy week and I'm just now getting here.

Physically, I'm feeling much the same as I was last week. Although the fetus is around an inch and a half long now, I don't think my look has changed much yet. I have switched over to maternity pants because it is simply more comfortable. The nausea and tiredness are still there, as is the anxiety. But hopefully some of that should wane in the next few weeks.

This week, I've been thinking more about the social implications of pregnancy and I'd like to talk a bit more about that.

During my last pregnancy, I told family and a limited number of trusted friends and colleagues relatively early on. However, I kept things quite at work until it became so physically obvious that it was impossible to hide anymore. For women in the academy, pregnancy is not necessarily viewed as a wise choice. They worry that by having children, a woman won't be taken seriously professionally. That no one will want you after you've taken the "mommy track." For the most part, these things are not said to one's face. However, the underlying message about the dangers of family for women in the academy is often there. No one was mean to me about my pregnancy, and I did receive a great deal of support from many of the people in my workplace. There were certainly people who were joyful and supportive. But the undercurrent of caution was present from some corners and colleagues elsewhere as well.

(Please note, I'm not saying that this is the message everywhere. Like anything else, some places and some individuals will be more supportive than others. I'm primarily talking about my perception of the issue facing women in the academy.)

Apparently the internet ate the rest of my blog post! I'm sorry this looked unfinished. I'll try to recreate the rest so that this will make sense.

This time around, I decided I needed to tell my current supervisor sooner. I'm working in a different place now and my supervisor is different. I felt like it was important to be honest with him while he was making the schedule for the next semester since my delivery will be during the college year. So rather than hiding what was happening for 20+ weeks, I found myself telling at 11 weeks in spite of having some anxiety about it. Happily, the news has been received at my current workplace very positively. Everyone I've talked to is pleased for me and supportive. This is a distinct relief and it's a new experience really being able to be "out" about it and how I'm feeling.

I decided to share this part of the experience this week because I've been thinking about the those social implications. For any pregnant woman, the decision to reveal one's pregnancy is a very personal one. In the U.S., there are employment laws (for example) which protect against being fired for being pregnant. But at the same time, I know women who work areas where pregnancy is not viewed positively at all. While they may not need to fear being explicitly fired for a pregnancy, they may face other professional consequences (like reductions of hours, disapproval of managers or coworkers, being passed over for promotion, etc.). It is hard enough to be pregnant. It is hard to be a mother (whether you work outside the home or inside it). In an ideal world, no woman should need to be worried about the social implications of announcing a pregnancy in the workplace. Yet the evidence is there that many women still experience social consequences in their workplaces.

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