I wasn’t planning on announcing my pregnancy right away. It was still early, and after over a year of trying to conceive and countless trips to the fertility clinic, I didn’t want to jinx my extreme excitement. So I had decided to wait through the first trimester before I left my company owners, staff and co-workers know the good news. But there was one person who I was having a very hard time keeping my secret from. Michael, my office neighbor, my venting partner and my computer systems trainee, knew me a little too well to miss all those tell-tale signs of pregnancy.
The day after I found out, he walked in to my office and commented, “Someone’s in a good mood today. What’s going on with you?” Though I brushed it off as a productive morning, he continued to comment on my cheery state. In truth, I was completely elated. I had a hard time refraining from bouncing at my desk. Then, Michael started to question my lack of morning coffee. I could always be trusted to have Starbucks in my hand as I walked in to the office. Or at least to make a cup of tea before I sat down to my desk. “What happened? Are you going on an anti-caffeine kick? Need help with any headaches?” He knew that very little could keep me between me and my morning pick-me-up. But there was a very little baby growing inside me who didn’t appreciate all that energy. Thankfully, I had avoided morning sickness up until this point. What can I say? I’m a very lucky pregnant woman.
Then, I made a simple mistake that would give away my growing secret. In a tell-tale move that seems to become second nature the minute you see that second line, I sat at my desk with my hand lightly rubbing my stomach. It wasn’t growing yet, but I think it’s an instinctual habit that pregnant women just can’t help. Michael walked in and I might as well have been Beyonce at the VMAs. Hello Baby.
In one second, a relationship that I was comfortable in, a professional friendship that had been growing for three years, changed drastically. Suddenly, I wasn’t just Lindsay, who knew the exact share of display space for every route in our sales team. I wasn’t Lindsay, who could answer any Excel question he could come up with. I wasn’t a professional co-worker, peer or supervisor. I was a pregnant lady. And for most men, when they think of pregnancy, they think of emotional, food-craving, irrational pregnancy stereotypes that have nothing to do with your job. No matter how much experience Michael had gained working with me, he was suddenly hesitant to address me in the same way.
Even working with a man that I knew well and got along with, our relationship changed. He stopped asking me for help, siting that I had “other things to worry about.” As if the only thing running through a pregnant woman’s brain could be her belly. He seemed to be treating me with kid gloves, trying to run errands for me or chastising me when I went to move a stack of files. “Why don’t you let me carry that?” he asked with exasperation. It seemed to me that my close work friend had turned into a chivalrous protector, who didn’t want me to be the strong, professional woman I normally was at the office.
Michael’s reaction made me terrified to inform the rest of my company. If one man who knew me well suddenly changed his demeanor, how would a sales team of 30 men react to the news that their coordinator wasn’t just the woman who set their sales goals or reminded them to finish their paperwork, suddenly I was a pregnant lady. An emotional, needy pregnant lady.
However, I never had to find out what my team’s reaction would be. Shortly after Michael walked in on me rubbing that non-existent bump, I found out that my pregnancy was lodged in my Fallopian tube and couldn’t survive. Suddenly, I had a whole new power dynamic to worry about. How do I deal with loss and grief while still maintaining my professionalism? Honestly, the sympathy involved there is a little less daunting than the stereotypes surrounding pregnant women in the workforce. And sympathy normally doesn’t take nine months to dissipate. Though it’s a rather pathetic consolation.
I do know that my husband and I aren’t done trying to grow our family. And I’m already nervous about the next time I show up to work unconsciously cradling my stomach. I wonder how it will work the second time around.