EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in the three-trimester blog series Diary of a Pregnant Lawyer – Pregnancy in the Professional Workplace. The first blogmester is here. On December 22 (after she wrote her last “blogmester” post, which we’ll publish later this month), Mallory gave birth to Margot Eleanor Ricci. Congratulations, Mallory!
You have survived the first trimester! Many consider the first trimester to be the hardest of the three (I respectfully disagree and will elaborate more in the upcoming Third Blogmester post).
If you spent the first trimester escaping to your office for 30-minute power naps, escaping to the bathroom for vomit sessions, or escaping to the fridge for some craving-satisfying snacks, things may be looking a little better for you now.
Unless you’re like me, and the fun times are rolling for a little while longer.
In any event, this second 12-week period is considered to be the easiest. But that doesn’t mean the second trimester doesn’t come without issues, some of which involve the place where professional women spend the majority of their time – work!
Let’s read about some other practicing attorneys’ experiences during the middle of their pregnancy and see if this trimester is as uneventful as it seems . . .
“I was six months pregnant with my first child, and huge. I was at a hearing in the judge’s chambers. Opposing counsel asked when I was due, and I said in three months. The male judge looked at me in amazement and said ‘are you expecting twins?’ I said ‘no,’ and he was hugely embarrassed. Needless to say, I won the hearing.”
“I may be one of the only women who HATED being pregnant. (Or at least one of the only ones to admit it.) I was grouchy, to say the least. However, with that grouchiness came a positive. For approximately 25 weeks (after I went public in the office), I reveled in the fact that the men completely left me alone. I got more work done those 25 weeks because our male dominated office at the time treated me like I had the plague. It wasn’t mean–it was for their own safety and self-preservation. I was spared the hour-long football story distractions and petty arguments that come along with practicing law with an office full of brilliant A-type personalities. My partners also took advantage of my ‘grouchiness.’ I was the one who was always picked to have the controversial phone calls with opposing counsel (also men). It was a great way for me to vent my irritation–and useful, too, because we were preparing for trial all that summer with a very difficult opposing counsel. Needless to say–I usually got my way, and my husband enjoyed the fact that I was a little nicer at home!”
“While I was pregnant, opposing counsel was pregnant, too. Under the state rule, the duration of a deposition is severely limited, and I ended up having to ask the Court for additional time because of the number of bathroom breaks that my opponent took. She opposed the motion, but I was granted the additional time.”
“When I was pregnant, I would get a lot of swelling, especially in my feet. One day I had to make a long road trip to a client’s place of business in another town. I took my shoes off for the drive. By the time I got there my feet had swollen so much I could not get my shoes on! I had to walk into a Target barefoot in order to buy myself shoes in a bigger size before meeting with my client.”
Belonging on the top 10 list of things NEVER to say to a pregnant woman – “are you expecting twins?” This is a valuable workplace lesson for judges, coworkers, family, friends, and employers alike. Generally, the best thing to do is to not say anything at all about a pregnant woman’s appearance. Even “you look glowing” can go wrong – trust me. Sometimes the “glowing” is really that pregnancy-induced hot flash, and we don’t want to be reminded of it.
The overarching theme here is that during the second trimester of pregnancy, professional women have to balance meetings, depositions, and travel with run-of-the-mill pregnancy limitations. These include frequent bathroom breaks, not sitting for long periods of time, and eating small frequent meals. We also have to navigate workplace social issues, such as the “twins” comment described above, and people rubbing their bellies (I know employers know this, but it bears repeating – do not touch your pregnant employees’ stomachs). Finally, we sometimes have to face actual complications arising out of pregnancy, and work with how to prioritize our own and our babies’ health with the demands of a rigorous job.
On the positive side, it is usually pretty simple for professionals to work in the extra bathroom break, get up every hour on an airplane to walk, pack snacks, and not smack the coworker who just made the dumbest comment known to man relating to our size. But if there are medical complications, things can become a lot trickier.
Pregnancy accommodations have actually received a lot of attention in recent years thanks to the Supreme Court decision in Young v. UPS. The Supreme Court found that employers may have to accommodate pregnancy and related conditions if they accommodate a large percentage of non-pregnant workers (such as employees with workers’ compensation injuries or disabilities within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act). The EEOC’s most recent pregnancy-related guidelines say that if you offer light duty to non-pregnant employees, you may have to offer it to pregnant women, too. (See Question 10.)
A good rule of thumb is to be nice to pregnant people. And, to professional women who are dealing with complications in their pregnancies, try not to be too hard on yourself! Not everyone’s second trimester of pregnancy is so easy peasy.