I've always thought it strange as my husband and I kiss goodbye in the morning, both on the way to our career jobs – he, in typical business attire, me in my safety-pinned, hand-me-down maternity clothes – that there's only one of us carrying the signs of an impending family addition. At six months along, why am I the only one showing?
If you're as ungraceful during pregnancy as I am, you hope that being pregnant will only slightly alter your life, especially your professional life. But as all mothers know, pregnancy changes everything. And as most working women know, pregnancy changes your work life in noticeable ways.
1.) The "Mom" nameplate. I'm now often referred to, endearingly of course, by my coworkers as "mom." Perhaps it wouldn't be so noticeable had I not been a mom from the moment they met me (I have a 3-year-old daughter whose lovely portrait sits proudly on my desk). The good news is, if I were to somehow forget my expanding waistline and surging hormones, I would certainly be reminded by the next person to walk in the copy room that I am "with child."
2.) Sappy hour. Whereas I used to be the toast of the party, I am now only a subtle reminder of prolonged sobriety and am seldom invited to Friday happy hours. In some respects I appreciate the gesture, as it's difficult for me to sit in a bar with indulging coworkers as they drink the week away -- me sipping on my cranberry club soda. My consolation prize? A generous helping of ear-to-shoulder, "Ah, too bad for you" looks.
3.) Labor jokes. How many times can an elevator stop abruptly without someone commenting, "Sure hope Cory doesn't go in to labor"? First of all, in spite of how desperately I want my body back, I couldn't make myself go in to labor if I tried. And secondly -- isn't this your floor? Get off the elevator!
4.) Am I dying or giving birth? I've noticed in multiple meetings now that planning calendars, once typically drawn by fiscal quarters, have only two phases: pre-birth and post-birth. Did I miss a memo? Am I dying? "We'll do this after Cory leaves." "I guess Cory won't be traveling with us." "We'll address it when Cory returns."
5.) Food patrol. It never fails. No matter what healthy snack I have in hand, my diet is carefully monitored, under the watchful eyes of my coworkers. My physician reassures me that my weight is on par, but, you'd think I was ballooning beyond my frame if you saw the curious stares in the break room. It's as if I've developed a rare allergy and may go into anaphylactic shock without careful monitoring. Is there some fascination with what pregnant women eat? Or are they simply afraid I'll take the last donut?