25 January 2011, by Tan Yi Lin
Most pregnant women don’t want to go public with their pregnancy until after the first trimester.
Understandably so, given that before 14 weeks, the pregnancy has yet to stabilise and the risk of miscarriage is at its highest. In the unfortunate event that the foetus doesn’t survive beyond the first trimester, it is clearly very difficult to have to field continuing questions about the lost pregnancy and to have to inform half the world that you are no longer expecting a baby. Having to hear people try to console you the only way they know how to — by telling you “Never mind. You are still young. Can try again for another one” — might make you feel even worse.
There’s the other reason for not going public — superstition, although I’m not sure how telling people that you are pregnant constitutes “pantang” behaviour. Maybe it’s case of if everything is going well, you shouldn’t say anything to jinx the situation.
Personally, I don’t think I would be able to keep a pregnancy a secret for three whole months. That’s a quarter of an entire year! I would be bursting to spill the beans all the time. Pregnancy can be a worrisome experience and I think keeping all the thoughts and worry within you probably isn’t very healthy. Of course, you could always share your thoughts and feelings with close friends, but in my opinion, nothing beats being completely open about things.
I’ve discovered that sharing news of my pregnancy with my close colleagues and immediate supervisor has been beneficial to the first trimester experience. How they found out about the pregnancy was pretty much accidental. It would have been pretty weird to have just announced over lunch that “Hey everybody, guess what? I’m pregnant!” Some of them were already aware that I was on a few bouts of medical leave for the IVF procedures. I was seated at my desk when KKH called to deliver the good news of the positive pregnancy test. Upon hearing the results, I apparently blurted out “THANK YOU!” so emphatically and loudly into the phone that everybody around me couldn’t help but hear. When I returned to my desk from taking a second phone call outside in the lobby, all my colleagues immediately started congratulating me. According to one of them, my voice told of “a joy that could only have come from deep within”!
Work-wise, informing my supervisor early allowed us to plan better for my work assignments for the next few months. It also enabled him to plan for a better distribution of projects within the team. For example, I immediately requested to be taken off an overseas work assignment taking place in March so that the project could be quickly reassigned to another team member as soon as possible.
Health-wise, struggling with work while coping with new pregnancy symptoms such as constant fatigue, nausea and sensitivity to smells can be quite a torture. I’m lucky not to be experiencing nausea and vomiting for this pregnancy. But my friends who kept their pregnancy under wraps during the first trimester have related stories of how they wore long-sleeved tops in the office every day to hide the presence of acupressure wristbands, sneakily nibbled on dried orange peel snacks hidden in the desk drawer and made ‘quiet’ dashes to the washroom to throw up when nobody was looking.
Thus, letting close colleagues know that I am expecting can be a good thing:
1. Nobody thinks me a pig for wolfing down a 2nd breakfast of fried carrot cake at 10am, having lunch, then munching on a Kit Kat bar at 5pm before dinner;
2. Despite eating like a pig, I’m still offered first dibs on where to go for lunch every day;
3. I’m allowed to display a huge pile of snacks at my desk, enough to open a mini-mart at my work station. Despite that, nobody is shocked whenever I ask, “Does anybody want anything from Maxwell Market… again?”
4. Lunchtime routes are thoughtfully diverted to utilise escalators so as to avoid stair climbs;
5. People ask if it’s okay for them to eat their lunch in front of me before they unwrap the items and release food smells into the air;
6. I’m not allowed to carry heavy items;
7. I’m constantly reminded to walk (not run) to meetings;
8. Nobody is surprised by my sudden change from fitting office attire and high heels to frumpy loose dresses and flats. And until my belly grows large enough for me to consider buying maternity wear, nobody comments on my limited office wardrobe as I outgrow my clothes;
9. Nobody calls me a clock-watcher for wanting to leave the office on time because I’m genuinely tired and really need to go home and crawl into bed; and
10. It’s just very nice to be able to share details of my pregnancy with those who ask.
Surviving the first trimester in the office has been a pleasant and enjoyable experience so far. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about the possibilities of a miscarriage and having to break bad news to everyone. But there’s no point in fretting about such things, is there? So let’s just hope that things in the office remain this good all the way into the next trimester!