I woke up this morning at 6:15am and was so awake (despite having gone to bed at 11:45pm) that I decided to get up and write. So, I had a bit of plain whole-milk yogurt and checked in on some blogs (my midwife just sent me her food blog with great recipes, it’s here), and I’m back in bed with my laptop.
This week I told my team at work the big news! For almost two years, the solo mama project has been kept entirely separate from anything work-related; whereas all my friends and family have followed my every step (largely through this blog), the work folks knew nothing. When they asked me what’s new, I made something up. I’m not used to keeping such a big secret, especially one that is so central to my life–as you know, I’m not the most private person in the entire world. Clearly, though, it was smart to keep this one to myself. Even if it was difficult through all the appointments, the disappointments, the tearing my hair out over wondering if a conference was going to overlap with my fertile window, etc.
I know that disclosing a pregnancy at work is a pretty universally terrifying conversation. I’ve wondered why this is. I mean, how many managers really say, “How DARE you!” In my non-scientific sample size of friends’ anecdotes, the conversation usually goes fine, and managers are congratulatory. But I think it’s terrifying because it’s the very first time (of many) when this new child is inserting itself as an important enough priority to be discussed as something that will eventually conflict with work. And, knowing that this is a conflict that is essentially unresolvable, that, for the rest of our lives there will be tension between our careers and the needs of our children, breaking the ice on this just feels huge. HUGE.
So, I decided to tell my manager on our regular weekly phone call (she is in NY), with as unquavering a voice as I could manage as I paced around with my heart pounding. Once we had run through our list, I said, “Well, if there isn’t anything else, I have really big news from my personal life.” She said, “Uh oh.”
I told her I was 15 weeks pregnant. There was a pause. She said, “WHAT?!” in the most incredulous voice, then WOW!, then Oh my God, K, I am so happy for you! She asked a few questions about how I’ve been feeling as she absorbed this big news and I told her a bit more of the story, that I decided to become a single mom, used an anonymous donor, and couldn’t be more thrilled. We talked for a while longer, and she said how she knows I’ve wanted this for a long time (I shared this back when I was still dating) and she’s so impressed that I went for it and made it happen. She said she hoped I’d tell the rest of the team soon otherwise she wouldn’t be able to to explain her big, dumbfounded grin.
I got off the phone with a full heart. Ultimately, it felt like the disclosure wasn’t about work, or how this affects or fits in with work, it was purely about me and my life-changing news. I had kind of lost track of just how huge the news is, and her heartfelt reaction reminded me. It really couldn’t have gone better.
I went on to call the rest of my outside-of-SF team, one by one. They were all similar conversations and I realized that whether or not someone has kids, wants kids, or even likes kids, the story that rose to the top was that I wanted this and I made it happen, and they just loved that. There was only one co-worker who said, “I *thought* you had a lot of doctor’s appointments!” and I was like oh, honey, and I only called about a third of them doctor’s appointments!
The next day, I told the local team here in SF, and they had actually been speculating about my growing mid-section and all-day crunching at my desk. Apparently there was a meeting where I had my hand on my belly. They were less surprised but also extremely happy for me, some of the parents even got teary.
The release of all that held energy was so cathartic and also exhausting. I shared more of the back story. I sent my blog to a couple more people, although keeping a general boundary there (and my anonymity) seems like a smart thing to continue.
Life went mostly back to normal except now I can wear more form-fitting clothes and we talk about what fruit I’m on (avocado) and people make references to how I won’t be needing drink tickets at our conference event.
Meanwhile, my midwife experience continues to be awesome (I’m going to her house for gluten-free crepes in a couple of hours), but my transition out of UCSF IVF and back into UCSF OB (as backup) has been a bureaucratic nightmare that reinforces my decision to have my primary care outside the system. I needed my medical records sent to Em, and the woman from whom I requested them was on emergency leave and no one checked her email–delay of 2 weeks. Then I called the OB dept and they couldn’t find me in their system at all, acted like I never existed and could find no records or scans, and insisted my midwife fax over my “file” even though she hasn’t received medical records from the IVF dept and had only had one appointment with me… Every time I called the OB dept and tried to get past the script in the call center, they blocked me–I tried dropping the midwife story and they just couldn’t believe that I hadn’t had prenatal care before now, or that I haven’t done any prenatal testing (which I haven’t, outside of genetic testing of the embryos). Finally, Olga came to the rescue and I think we solved it (so far).
I have an appointment with a midwife on 12/4, I’ll get set up in their systems and can make my appt for the 20-week ultrasound. Also, at my midwife appt next week I’m doing a blood test but I can’t really tell you which one…I’m enjoying paying less attention to the testing. I’m going with it because by checking out, I’m not feeling too worried.
And finally (because I’m starving), I hosted my first SF Single Moms by Choice meeting yesterday. We’d gotten kind of out of the habit of monthly meetings, and now we’re back. My best SMC friends were all there (B, C, and R, minus JJ who we think was in labor across the street), plus friends I’ve gotten to know more recently (T, J, L) and others I met for the first time–a couple of thinkers, many tryers, a few pregnant ladies, and moms with 4 babies and one toddler. My place is party-ready! And it was great to catch up with everyone’s stories.
Later today, dear friend and mom-of-three J is bringing a car load of baby gear over and I hired two Task Rabbits to carry a heavy changing table up the stairs. Welcome to baby furniture.
As I share my story with more people and get it reflected back to me by people such as the call center operators at UCSF OB, I realize just how niche-y I am as an SMC who is planning a homebirth… So sue me! It’s going to make a fascinating book! And I gotta be me.
Must eat. Love to all and happy Sunday xo