Pregophobia in the Workplace?

Who’s afraid of a pregnant woman? No one, right? Maybe the impregnator? He who impregnated? The Imagepregnant woman is hungry, angry, sleepy, pissed off? Maybe yes. Maybe all of the above.

At work, though, who is afraid of the pregnant woman? No one, really.

Well … some people blush when you tell them you’re expecting. They’re thinking “wow, she had sex. she was inseminated. awkward. super awkward.” This happens, thank goodness not very frequently in my experience.

Others don’t know if you are pregnant or not. Well-educated, accomplished professional males sitting across their desks are thinking “good lord, could her breasts possibly get any larger?!” “Focus. Focus on the work. Focus on what needs to be done.”

But two – count ’em two pregnant women – that’s enough to drive fear in any man’s heart. Please see exhibit A – the picture on the top. Look at me (on the right) and my big bean. I’m sure by now she’s already graduated from “bean” to “Liron Etta Giller.” And take a look at my former collegue, JH on the left. She’s got a boy in there. A handsome one. Trust me. We are celebrating the creation of a view from a clinical trial management system to an R&D custom Web application. Are you snoring? Sorry. Long story short, JH and I attended a lot of meetings together over the course of this systems project. Believe me when I say I saw the fear of god in a some of the faces of colleagues as we passed by the their offices or cubicles on the way to one conference room or another. No, it’s not contagious. No, my water probably won’t break on your Manolo Blahniks, and I probably won’t go into labor right now. Seriously, remember the Sex and the City episode where Miranda’s water breaks on Carrie’s shoes?  The episode came out in 2002 and is called “I Heart NY” – the name is quite fitting as it came out right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Check out the episode plot summary on IMDB. I linked it here.

I happened to work with an amazing group of men and women, and I only tease those that I allude to in this posting, or only slightly criticize. Don’t hate.

Being pregnant in the workplace afforded me numerous opportunities to talk to more experienced parents, men and women alike, picking their brains about various child-rearing topics. We discussed Ferber, progressive city schools, social skills, diet, etc. Anything under the sun. And coming from the biopharma industry where healthcare is the main focus, there was a greater level of comfort when body topics came up then perhaps there would have been if I worked at say, Jiffy Lube.

A few things irked me, however when coworkers would ask:

  • “Do you know the baby’s gender?” (to which I think, no, how can I know my baby’s gender? Um, it’s a boy stuck in a girl’s body? But I do know the sex. Go on. It’s okay to say sex. That’s how I got into this mess in the first place.”)
  • “Did you (or will you) have a natural birth?” (to which I say, drug-free or vaginal? We can say vaginal now can’t we? Or will I get thrown off the congressional floor?)
  • “You’re still here??” (this only occurs prior to giving birth, when you’re stuck in the elevator with your protruding belly already feeling really pissed off. Yes, I’m still f-ing here. I want this baby out of my belly too. Please don’t TALK TO ME ANYMORE!!!!!!!!!!!!)

The top two comments in particular demonstrate some lack of comfort with the whole process of conception (intercourse) and delivery (vagina birth v. cesarean section), though they could also indicate confusion with nomenclature (gender v. sex). We as a society tend to be uncomfortable with certain rituals of the body. Look at death rituals. In this country we are uncomfortable with death and leave the cleansing and removal of a body to the professionals. Seen The Darjeeling Limited?IMDB link here. Amazing movie. My favorite part? A death ritual is played out. It is sad, beautiful, and is comprised of the family and their community. The body is honored and laid to rest by people who know and love him.

Warning – quick transition of subject. Mind the gap.

Closing this episode out, folks. I guess the key takeaway is, if you see a kangaroo-like woman coming out you with enormous breasts, offer her a cookie. Speak in literal terms. Get comfortable with it. And for god sake when it looks like she’s nearly bout to shoot that baby out from between her legs, don’t say “You’re still here!?” It just ain’t cool.

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