As if creating a human inside your uterus wasn’t enough, many of us have to do it while holding down a job. What gives?!
I say that mostly in jest. I worked while I was prego and I work now. I like my job…like I actually really like it. But there were some days when being pregnant and being employed didn’t exactly go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Here are some real life scenarios and how to get to the other side.
Scenario 1: Booze Before Announcement
First and easiest option, skip it. Make up any lie or excuse you need to. It’s your mom’s birthday dinner, the plumber is coming at 5 p.m. sharp, doggy daycare closes and you can’t be late to pick up Lassie.
But what if you can’t skip? Like you are on a business trip and it’s a team outing. Yeah, that happened. You have a few options. Order your drink from the bar alone and make the bartender your co-conspirator. Highball glass with club soda and a slice of lime or a cranberry club soda. Either will fool. Or make up some random ailment that you are on antibiotics for and thus cannot drink. Wah wah. Everyone will pity you. Or if your coworkers don’t know you well enough to notice, just order some other fun looking drink that will make it look like you are part of the festivities without having to lie. (But if you do lie, don’t feel bad. Even Honest Abe would agree that there’s a time and a place and this is it.)
Scenario 2: You’re Going To Be Sick
Work from home. Dear God, work from home. If you can’t work from home, come clean with your boss. It may not be ideal to share your big news yet but lying while puking is worse. Also, see Balance is a Crock, Sleep is for the Weak – their section on morning/all-day sickness is great and will make you laugh.
Scenario 3: You Need [insert craving] NOW
But you can’t get away from the annual Bosses of Everything meeting you are stuck in for six hours. Find a friend and buy them something too. Once, just once, I sent my intern to Starbucks to buy me a caramel brownie but she was paid in the Starbucks item of her choice. “Here’s my credit card; I don’t care what you spend on yourself, just get me one of those brownies!” (Thank you Sarah for going to Starbucks for me. It still makes my heart melt…and my mouth water for a brownie.)
Or if your craving is relatively non-perishable, keep your snack drawer at work (you do have a snack drawer right?) stocked with them.
Scenario 4: You Are Too Tired To Cook After Work
Get used to it.
I mean that in a nice way; get used to being too tired after work to cook. Because caring for an infant and working full-time isn’t any easier. It is time to come up with a new plan sistah! Scheme with your hubby. Can he cook? Can you alternate? Can you make a big casserole or lasagna on Sunday and eat leftovers for a few days? Is there an acceptable place on someone’s drive home to pick up dinner? What about prepared meals from HEB or Whole Foods? You gotta eat but you don’t gotta cook.
Scenario 5: You Are Getting the Evil Eye For All the Time Away for Appointments
This one is so tricky. You have to get to your doctor to check on the wee one but it can wreak havoc on your work schedule, coworkers’ patience and overall productivity. See if your doctor has early morning or late afternoon appointments that you can book up for the rest of your pregnancy. When possible, don’t call too much attention to the fact that you are out again for a doctor’s appointment. Just block the time on your calendar as away. You are a professional; you’ll get the job done one way or another.
Scenario 6: It’s the Final Countdown ’til Leave
Glory glory hallelujah! …Oh not how you feel? Feeling stressed about getting everything done on time and hopefully not coming back to a train-wreck from your backfill? Start to document everything. The PR Manager at my old gig once showed me her PR Handbook; it was amazing and I just assumed she did it because she was amazing. She laughed and told me it was how she prepped for maternity leave two years prior. Maternity leave became a forcing function for all the standard operating procedures she kept meaning to write down. Not only did it help the agency cover her leave but it made her return, subsequent years of work and training a new associate way easier. I completely stole that tactic from her.
As the big day nears, start to remind your boss what the timeline looks like. I started nudging my boss at 10 weeks to go. Overkill? Possibly. But I would say by the final month, make sure everyone has reasonable expectations. You have to start handing things off, not because you are a slacker but because if you don’t, then your leave will hit your team like a ton of bricks.
Scenario 7: You Decide Not to Return
Your new baby is cute as a button and you’ve made some aggressive savings plans, enough to give you the option to not go back to work. Assuming this is what you want – HURRAY! Good for you! Pick up the phone, call the boss and qu…WAIT! Don’t just quit like that. Think this through sister. Did you get some maternity leave pay or short term disability pay? Is your family on your health insurance?
Instead start scouring your HR handbook or if you have someone in HR who you really trust, ask them some questions. The last thing you want is to pay back some of your maternity leave pay or be left in a health insurance jam. If you can’t figure your specifics out, the best bet may be to go back for a day or two and THEN quit. Though I’m not an employment lawyer or HR professional, my understanding is that covers most bases most of the time.
What other pregnant and working scenarios are you facing or planning for?