Sucking on a slice of lemon and taking a swig from a bottle of soda, I waited for the nausea to pass.
I continued to hide my secret as I crouched between two cars in the company car park.
I was lonely and tearful. I swore I would never do it this way again.
When I finally felt that my last meal would actually stay inside me, I stood up and adjusted my clothes. With the soda and lemon slices concealed in a bag, I returned to my desk and opened up yet another packet of crackers, hoping they would delay the next nauseous wave.
My colleagues were enjoying the new snack stop on the block; I attempted to be a gracious smiling hostess.
“I knew it! I always know when my female employees are pregnant!” claimed a member of senior management upon hearing the news that I announced as I entered week 13.
How did he know to deliver exactly the type of comment a pregnant woman wants to hear? Luckily, the reaction among my female colleagues was more encouraging.
Boundaries and Balance by Nomi Melul Ohad from the book Purple Leaves, Red Cherries
With my news announcement behind me, I was determined to get back to full productivity.
Just as the books had predicted, my nausea disappeared by the end of the first trimester and I was looking forward to a second trimester full of energy. And I did pretty well until week 25 when suddenly, I couldn’t walk.
I’d never paid too much attention to my lower back, but in pregnancy I would learn to treat it with tender loving care. A gentle chiropractor/miracle worker put me back on my feet and I returned to the office with cushions, a foot rest and two commitments: to perform yoga cat poses when needed and to take regular strolls around my office (on two feet, not on all fours!).
I could do that.
But as the weeks went by, what I couldn’t do was cope with the intensifying work load.
As is the way in many start-up software companies, the one where I worked was not renowned for encouraging a work-life balance. By my eighth month, I had already found a replacement to cover me during my maternity leave but my boss was throwing work at me as if I was the last person on the planet who could market the company’s products.
My body started displaying symptoms of stress and I started having a recurring dream of me walking up the hill to my home in the evening, carrying not only my laptop bag but my boss’s as well.
It was time to confront him:
“I'm heavily pregnant!” I explained, as if it wasn’t clear for all to see.
“I just can’t work at this pace anymore. Soon I'll give birth and I won’t be in the office. But that’s okay because we've found a replacement.”
Sometimes, you just have to spell things out.
In the end, I left work two weeks before my due date to ensure I would have time to relax before the birth of my first child.
I never looked back.
I'd promised myself over lemon and soda that I would never be pregnant while working in such an environment again.
Pregnancy and working in a start-up was tough enough. Add motherhood to the mix and that creates a cocktail I could never hold down. I admire women who can.
Good fortune has allowed me to become a mother of three while keeping my promise.
A promise I'll never regret.
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