The pregnancy card.

January 29, 2008 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Pregnancy | 9 Comments

I have to admit that one of the best things about being this busy is the fact that I sleep like the dead at night. I love that kind of sleep – where the alarm clock ringing startles you.

Because wasn’t it just a few minutes ago that you fell asleep?

And the sun is starting to rise earlier nowadays too. Which makes me happy.

There’s really nothing more depressing than utter darkness for months.

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Looks like we’re getting close to having daycare lined up . J is going to call today and reserve a spot for September 2. We haven’t yet figured out what we’ll do in the meantime, but I’m really not all that worried about it. We’ll figure it out – either we’ll get some sort of provisional daycare for a month, or I’ll stay home. Either way, the current plan is to sock away as much money as we can.

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I’ve been thinking nonstop about what my issue is with accepting that I need to slow down nowadays. Intellectually, the choice should be clear. I am an advocate for my son or daughter, who is growing inside me. Taking good care of my body is the best way for me to nourish the life growing inside me. My limitations are not a sign of selfishness; rather, it’s a sign that I’m putting the needs of my unborn baby before my own.

But. Bea at Infertile Fantasies has had a series of posts over the past few days about how being pregnant does not – and should not – give a woman license to demand special consideration, beyond the basic needs of being pregnant (i.e. a place to sit when her back aches, rest when she needs it, et cetera).

I’m parsing here, but her point was that there is a specific subset of women who are more than happy to play the pregnancy card – that is, expect special treatment – for nothing more than because they are gestating. The pregnancy card, of course, being a careless disdain for the rest of the world. Because, well, she’s pregnant. Who cares that work needs to get done and everyone else around her is just as busy – if not more? And who cares that there are people out there who are struggling get pregnant in the first place? They should recognize that this is HER time in the sun.

Obviously my experience with infertility has colored my own experience here. Perhaps if we had gotten pregnant right away, I might have strutted out in public, my hand on my belly, and demanded a less busy work schedule. Perhaps I would have complained that people on the T didn’t give me a seat on my way to the OB’s office, or been more comfortable with the fact that my clients jump up and immediately give me a seat whenever I walk into a meeting with them.

But I’m not. And here’s where I’m struggling. From the very get go, I was uncomfortable with even discussing the fact that I was pregnant. Granted, there was a lot of fear that I’d jinx it, that perhaps our positive pee stick was an universal oversight which, once realized, might be taken from me.

But now? As I feel my baby move inside me, and as my belly grows, I am uncomfortable with the very publicity of being pregnant. Everyone can see. Strangers ask me when I’m due. Every person I see asks me how I’m feeling.

I get a lot of attention for this belly of mine.

It’s as if being pregnant puts my body on display. And all of a sudden, I’m public property. Where anyone can remark at how my boobs have grown. Or how big – or little – my belly is. What kind of baby I’ll have, because I’m carrying low or high. Whether or not my ass has grown to match my belly.

Et cetera.

Certainly I’m VERY uncomfortable with this sort of attention at work. I have spent a LOT of money on advanced degrees to focus my coworkers on my mental acuity. Not the size of my boobs. So my inability to be comfortable with playing the pregnancy card at work clearly has roots in not wanting to draw attention to myself.

Not to mention that I am certainly not the only person who is insanely busy at this time. My manager? Currently juggling 4 different jobs at once. He’s run so ragged that he’s starting to joke (perhaps it’s NOT a joke) about leaving my firm. The other senior on this engagement? He’s got two audits going on at once – he’s essentially working 16 hour days – 8 hours on my job, 8 hours on his other job.

Were I the kind of person to demand that they lighten my workload… you know, because I’m pregnant? Well, I’m not convinced that they would actually be able to step in and get it done.

But more importantly… regardless of what’s going on inside my uterus, I have responsibilities. To my husband. To my workplace. To my family, my friends. And being pregnant doesn’t abdicate me from holding up my end of the bargain.

Ultimately, I am still me – just with reduced capability for sitting for long hours. And when my baby comes, I will STILL be me.

I suppose at the end of the day, using the pregnancy card doesn’t mean that I’m being selfish. Or that I’m disregarding the rest of the human race because I am the Holy Vessel of Gestation.

But that’s been my struggle these past few days, at any rate. I know that when Squishy is here and in my arms, it will be so easy for me to say “No, I’m sorry. I can’t work those 4 extra hours a day of overtime. I have a baby at home who needs me.”

Right now, saying that smacks of selfishness. 

I suppose I’m just not the type to play the pregnancy card.

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9 Comments »

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  1. I emailed you before I saw this, so I’m just going to say it again, more or less.

    You’re allowed reasonable consideration on the grounds of being pregnant. Don’t forget that. That’s not “the card”, that’s just an exchange of basic courtesies. Even bitter infertiles understand that, no matter how much they’re hurting.

    Bea

  2. i think it is okay to expect the world to have a little humanity and act kindly towards someone is is living life for two. and this isn’t in direct competition with the poor guy working 16 hours too, can’;t we be considerate of you both?

    i don’t think that just because you’re infertile means that you don’t deserve basic kindness.

    sorry, i just gotta call bullsh1t.

  3. and, the cat woman, described as infertile fantasies has nothing to do with it…she would be a ride hag no matter her condition. why punish us all because of the 1%?

  4. I am totally feeling the same way. I feel so horrible when my husband does things for me. I still want to feel like I am contributing the same way I was at home/work everyday before the pregnancy. I still want to be able to do it all, but the physical limitations are a struggle. I don’t think you should feel bad pulling the pregnancy card, but I understand how hard it is to do. Now I need to take my own advice.

  5. What has saddened me is that even though I’ve tried so hard to not play the pregnancy card – it has been played for me in my workplace. I went from their shining star to basicially a nothing in a matter of months and that hurts because I thought I was valued for my capabilities. Within weeks of announcing my pregnancy I was told that even though I planned on coming back ultimately I wouldn’t because “that is what all women say and when they see their babies they change their minds.” The only area they haven’t allowed me to play the pregnancy card is with my doctor’s appointments-I was told yesterday that I have too many-gee I’m almost 35 weeks pregnant

    I agree with Christina in that there are aspects of respect and humanity towards a woman carrying another life (especially as she reaches the end of pregnancy). Things get tougher the further along we get and whether you have struggled to get pregnant or had it come easy we all deserve to be given a certain amount of basic human courtesy.

  6. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for anyone to balk at obligatory 16-hour days, whether they are pregnant or not. It just isn’t good for anyone’s body or mind. We all deserve adequate rest, sleep, leisure time, exercise, and days off- including your non-pregnant coworkers. It’s totally OK for health and family to take priority over work. Why should we harm ourselves for a business?

  7. Certainly i don’t think that because I am pregnant I should be waited on hand and foot (though I admit to being a blob for weeks at the onset of this pregnancy when I had NO energy and NO will to move), however, the health of both you and Squishy will require some sacrifices. I’ve heard too many stories (and had to be nudged a few times myself) about women trying to do too much and setting off PTL, etc. because they thought they could do it all. Your body can’t do it all – it’s growing a person, maintaining you and hopefully hanging in there until it’s safe for Squishy to make his/her debut. You’re not being a princess or whatever to look out for your health and sanity. That is an incredibly valid reason for slowing down.

  8. Well, whether or not you’re playing the “pregnancy card” depends on where you’re at in your pregnancy. Second trimester and early third trimester are not at all like the end of the third trimester when you are so big you are disabled in alot of ways. At nine months pregnant your internal organs are so shuffled around that not even the doctor can tell you where they are and you could very well be suffering from any number of discomforts that only bugged you earlier on but are now almost intolerable (varicose veins, back aches, constipation or diarrhea, hemorrhoids, achy hips and groin, swollen feet and hands, nasal congestion, sleep apnea, bladder control issues, breathing problems, etc.). You’re so uncomfortable and not sleeping that labor is a welcome change of pace. You shall see soon enough.

    I understand what you’re saying, and there are plenty of women who take advantage of their pregnancy, but still, come on. Sisters gots to look out for sisters–pregnancy is important and should be given lots of consideration, patience, and gentleness. You kind of sound like my dad, and he voted for George Bush twice AND advised me to drink gin fizzes to induce labor. Nuff said.

  9. There’s definitely a big difference between taking into account your (temporary) reduced capabilities and someone who excepts the world to stop for her because she’s pregnant. I understand the hesitation to not want to slow down and still do everything as you did before. When I was pregnant, I walk two flights of stairs to my office instead of choosing the elevator. Sure, it was a lot more slow-going than before, but I still did it, because I sort of had to prove to myself that I could do it, that I wasn’t any less than before. It was hard for me to give up things like that, but now I realize it’s not that I was less than before, but just a changed version of me that did have limitations. This transition time of pregnancy sure plays some mind games (to say the least)!!

    D


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