When I finished school, I knew that with the way the job market was set up, the chances of me landing a job in my field of study (Criminology and Women’s Studies) were slim. To make a long story short, I ended up working for an organization in the field of mental health and disability. At first, I enjoyed my role as a residential support worker and I was overjoyed when I was offered a contract full-time position. However, all that glitters isn’t gold. Within nine months of being in my assignment, I decided to choose my mental health over money. In other words, I needed to leave the contract before it was finished.
Before I had walked away (I moved from a full-time to casual position) I job hunted as though my life depended on it. I was so desperate to leave my job that when I landed a phone interview, followed by an invitation to an in-person group interview, I dressed as though I wasn’t pregnant. To be honest, it wasn’t on my mind. I was just excited at the possibility of moving to a new company. Besides, who was going to hire a pregnant woman anyway? To me, it was a minor detail that could be put on the back burner for now. On the morning of the interview, I wore a soft button up shirt with 3/4 length sleeves and a beautiful navy A-line skirt. Luckily for me, I still fit into my regular clothes and I was determined to wear them for as long as I could.
Within two days after the interview, I was informed that I had gotten the job. On the first day of training, we were about an hour or so into the lesson when we heard a gentle knock on the door. The facilitator opened the door and in came a pregnant woman. She introduced herself as one of the managers. A pregnant manager? My manager was pregnant? I figured that this could work in my favour. After all, what are the chances of running into a fellow pregnant woman who would be able to emphathize with me at this point in time? I was also curious to know what it was like to navigate the corporate world as a pregnant woman. To me, it was like a sign that I should admit I was pregnant and that I planned to go on maternity leave myself at the end of July.
On my third day of training, I told her that I was pregnant. She seemed to be genuinely happy for me and admitted that she was in the same position as I was just a few months earlier. She had accepted her role as a manager when she was three months pregnant and nobody knew. On the record there is supposed to be no discrimination towards pregnant women in the workplace, but the reality is that employers aren’t bending over backwards to hire pregnant women for numerous reasons. In fact, many women are fearful that they won’t get hired and I admit that I was one of them.
A few months later, on her second to last day of work, she asked me if I would like to tell my training class the news. Although I was extremely nervous to admit to a class of predominantly men that I was expecting, I decided that I would do it the next day, with her support.
When I revealed to my colleagues that I was pregnant, I was already seven months and counting. I remember it like it was yesterday. Everyone’s jaw hit the ground. How did I hide my pregnancy for so long? Easy! I bought four business shirts in XL, two maternity denim and literally alternated the tops and bottoms like a minimalist. I walked with a blanket scarf as well and used that whenever I felt “chilly” and that helped to disguise my belly on the days that it seemed very obvious. After I told everyone, I felt a weight lifted off my chest. I didn’t have to hide my pregnancy anymore and it felt great. My colleagues were supportive and I couldn’t have asked for a better group to have worked with during my pregnancy.
I was still self-conscious for a while because people watched me and some were bold enough to ask questions. But, as I got further and further along, I started to waddle, there was increasing pressure in my lower back and then I REALLY didn’t care. I didn’t care that I couldn’t see my swollen feet but they hurt like hell some days. I didn’t care that the only shoes that would fit me were my white faux Birkenstocks. I didn’t care that I was repeating my outfits in the same work week because I was limited on what actually fit my growing belly. Most importantly, I didn’t apologize for being pregnant and being pregnant in the workplace. I showed up to work, even when I didn’t feel too great, and I got the work done. I pushed hard because I didn’t want anyone to think I wanted to use pregnancy as an excuse to not be a hard worker. I left work two weeks before my due date. I don’t think my timing could’ve been any better as Baby Reid showed up a week and some days earlier than expected!