It can be heartbreaking, when you have to hide what you have been longing for years. Even if you have not been longing for it, getting pregnant while working in certain organizations might come with a lot more downsides than upsides, so much so that you begin to blame yourself for getting pregnant, as, all of a sudden, your career is on the brink.
For five years after she got married, Jolomi* did not have a baby, and no one questioned why. Her job kept getting more and more demanding, and she just kept on working, late into the night most times. It was commonplace for her to get home tired, and not even able to function in the bedroom…should the Mister touch her.
She hardly got enough sleep, and her job had become her life. The honest truth was that she was not actively trying to conceive. Even though she thought a baby would be nice to have, she just did not have any breathing space. She lived for her job, and since it was something she loved to do, a lot of other things no longer mattered.
It was after she got a much needed working vacation that she had a little down time, and realised that five years had gone by since she got married…and she wasn’t getting any younger. The holiday proved the perfect opportunity to reconnect with her dear husband, and they, upon their return home, went to see a fertility doctor, who carried out some investigations on them.
They found that, although nothing was wrong with both of them fertility wise, she was susceptible to cervical cancer and needed to be treated for it urgently, before more HPV cells grew on her cervix. She started the treatment and after six months, when she went back for a test, she was all clear. This served as a wake up call for her. She knew that it was no longer wise to put off getting pregnant, as she might not be lucky next time. If her illness had been more severe, her fertility would have been compromised forever, So, she and her husband started trying to conceive in earnest, and three cycles later, she was pregnant.
During the course of her treatment, right up till when she initially got pregnant, her work did not suffer, at least to her. She made sure all her doctor’s appointments were well scheduled (during her lunch break, or even after hours). Even though someone had hinted that the bosses were beginning to think she was slacking. She just smiled and said, “But my job is not suffering.”
If only she knew what lay ahead, she would have just continued to smile…because her first trimester was a disaster! She suffered from horrendous morning sickness, and was ill most of the time. In fact, she was a mess… and the worst part was having hide the fact that she was feeling very ill. She wasn’t ready to disclose her pregnancy at work, and needed to try her best to divert attention from the fact.
When she requested for sick leave, her company’s Human Resource Manager was so surprised, he took her request to the CEO himself, especially considering she had never made such a request since she started working there, some ten years ago.
Eventually, she was given some time off to rest, and then she resumed feeling much better. Her dressing changed. Gone were the sharp, high fashion dresses and sky high stilettos. These were replaced by loose clothes, that did her no justice at all. The changes were subtle, but not subtle enough for people not to notice.
In all of this, she desperately wanted to keep the pregnancy a secret for as long as she could. This she was able to do…at first. But by her fourth month, there was no more hiding the fact, as her growing bump refused any further camouflage. It just popped seemingly overnight, and that was when both sincere and insincere surprised reactions started pouring in.
It started with her name being conspicuously missing from that year’s promotion list. When she took it up with her Line Manager, he explained to her that, whilst they were ecstatic that she was finally pregnant, her impending maternity leave, as well as anticipated time off work after the baby’s arrival, had made such a consideration close to impossible. Jolomi was shell shocked! She tried to argue that she had given her best to the organisation, and deserved better treatment…but it did not change anything. If she were to be honest, all of it didn’t come as a surprise to her. She realised that this might subconsciously have been the reason she had put off getting pregnant for so long…because of the conflicts she knew would arise. Unfortunately, she loved her job too much to quit, and accepted the fact that it meant her current subordinates might soon become her boss.
Michelle* is another case, who got married at age 28, a few months after starting a new job with one of the new generation banks. She definitely had baby on her mind from the get go, and it all worked out in her favour, as some four months after getting married, she got pregnant.
Although, no one outrightly told her that she was endangering her career in the bank, by getting pregnant so soon, she definitely felt the vibes. She said “I just started hearing stories of how long each woman in my branch waited before they got pregnant, and how that affected them when they did. The hints were too much at a stage! Imagine putting that pressure on a pregnant woman. But thank God for my husband, who wiped my tears and gave me strength to go back to work every morning.”
Today, she is the mother of a six month old baby, and has resumed work after a full maternity leave. Although, she is not due for a promotion, she is always a prime choice for trainings and workshops, all of which will contribute towards improving her work. She is one of the lucky ones.
This is a situation that women have been managing for years. You want a child, but your work schedule is not accommodating of that loving addition to your family. In the end, it is a call that each woman has to answer in her own way.
Some women are able to leave the job and become their own bosses, so they can decide when to have a baby or not. Some women stay where they are, praying and bidding their time, for when it is the most convenient to have that child. But when you are TTC , it becomes complicated as your job may not allow you go for as many medical appointments as would be required, without it impacting your job negatively.
In the end, there is no tried and tested solution; there is only what you want to do. Whatever is your choice, never ever feel that you have to hide God’s gift to you. Work or no work, the One, who gave you the baby, knew it needs provision, so He will surely make a way for you. Just do your part…and have faith!
Good luck on the journey.
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