Up until I found out I was pregnant I was going back and forth between asking to take on more projects at work or looking outward for a graduate program that was suited to my needs and interests. My husband and I had just finished paying off the federal loans that I borrowed for undergrad and were gearing up to tackle the loans that he has originally borrowed for his degree and we had lined up a series of international vacations. These were my priorities in September, but by October our focus was on saving all the time and energy (and money) we could in preparing for Baby Mitchell. We decided to keep the news to ourselves until we were out of the first trimester. Heres what I learned in this process:
- The first trimester really is the worst. The nausea. The bloating. The fatigue and general malaise. i found myself taking involuntary naps (these returned in the third trimester with a vengeance) and I had aversions to many of the foods that had become my staples.
- Not telling family and friends is difficult. We chose to wait out the first trimester after a close friend of ours experienced a miscarriage after 12 weeks of gestation. We had already purchased two international vacations, and I traveled with students to a conference on the other side of the country during the first trimester. Friends picked up on the fact that I wasn’t drinking on our group trip to Mexico — a topic which we skirted around for days while I disappeared for mid-day naps. I also needed naps frequently during the conference but was there to be a positive role model for our students while attending ABRCMS in California.
- It goes by faster than you think. By the time we told our moms at 16 weeks, we had gotten used to the idea that a baby was coming and my body had started to show signs of new life in the form of a bump. We thought we would wait another year or two before having kids and so they were both a bit surprised at the news that they would-be grandparents. I think they are still reckoning with this fact even now.
- Telling coworkers can be scarier than one might imagine. By the time we were back from winter break, I had a bump. a tiny bump, but very noticeable on my frame. I told my direct manager first, then my direct coworkers and employees, then folks I had been collaborating with for programs and initiatives on campus. Then it was to go to HR for FMLA paperwork to put in my leave request. It all felt so surreal.
I stopped writing as much, but applied to jobs and fellowship programs. I knew that as my child would enter the world, I wanted them to have a mom who felt fulfilled, not stuck. I was nervous about looking for new opportunities while I was pregnant, but my fear of everything remaining the same lit a fire under me to get my life in order before baby got here.