Seems unbelievable, but I’m rounding the corner at the end of the first trimester! I had a prenatal appointment today at 12w5d. Going into the appointment, I felt the Schrodinger’s Cat duality of wondering whether my baby was alive or dead. As I walked into my OB’s office, I reflected that despite my knowledge of the statistics, it felt to me as though my personal odds were about 50/50 of getting news of a living baby. I would have been equally unsurprised by either outcome. Fortunately, this time the statistics prevailed, and I heard a strong, steady heartbeat, which the OB had to chase around my abdomen since apparently this baby is particularly active. I really like this OB, and she seems to have picked up on the fact that I am not really interested in chatting until I’ve heard the heartbeat, so this time she got right to it. I still didn’t have much to chat with her about, since, I mean, what is there to ask at this point in the pregnancy? But I appreciated her willingness to keep letting me come back as often as I want to check in on this new little guy (I’ve been successfully limiting myself to every two weeks for these late-first-tri visits, although with all the RE/MFM visits this was the first actual two-week stretch that I went without news).
Since everything was still looking good, I decided to go ahead and tell the other faculty in my department — with the way I’m popping, I’m going to need to switch into maternity pants soon, so I figured I’d tell them before they had to awkwardly pretend not to notice. Their responses were completely in character for each of them. My chair, who is the next-most-senior faculty member in my department, the person in my department I am most friendly with, and dad of three young children, was delighted for me, asked questions, reminisced about when his older kids first met their younger siblings, asked about how S was taking the news, and assured me when it came up that we don’t have to talk about my teaching load for the fall right away if I don’t want to and went straight back to baby talk. A+ response for him.
The next-most-senior faculty member was pretty formal. He shook my hand, asked if I was “ready,” and did a bit of reminiscing about when his own two kids (now teenagers) were little, and about how he didn’t sleep for seven years straight. Fine. I’ll give it a B+.
Then I told our research faculty member, who has a 6-year-old daughter and who is also the most stereotypical nerd I have ever met. He “wow”ed and “that’s amazing”ed and told me about how his daughter keeps asking for a younger sibling even though he and his wife are clearly too old. He didn’t have much to say, but was supportive, and I know he’s the sort of nice guy who is just happy for me and doesn’t really know what to do with it. He gets an A- for effort.
Then, there was the senior member of my department. He… was also true to form. Awkwardly gave me a high-five when I told him, then immediately asked if the pregnancy was planned. I answered politely, but had to work really hard to keep my eyes from rolling. Then he asked a few more questions, I told him I was due Nov 7 and it was a boy, and he immediately became concerned about teaching.
Him: November… are you taking leave in the fall?
Me: I don’t know yet. I need to talk to [chair] about it.
Him: But what are you teaching?
Me: The advanced course.
Him: Oh, man, that’s going to be a tough one to schedule around. Have you thought about it yet?
Me: I’m going to talk to [chair] about it. I have some ideas.
He finally moved on, but just did not take the hint that I was going to talk to [chair] about it and was not interested in discussing it with him at that moment! I mean, I know he’s been around our department the longest and has been chair the longest of anyone and is super-attuned to curriculum issues, but… as my husband said when I told him about the conversation after I got home, “That conversation is a great example of the things people say that make women feel discouraged in science/academia.” Knowing this guy, I know he wasn’t trying to be discouraging or insensitive, and that he is happy for me, so it didn’t actually bother me much at the time. But he’s also put his foot in his mouth in this way a bunch of times before and I kind of wish I could call him on it once in a while.
Anyway, that’s the story. We are at the hairy end of the academic year, when things are just completely off-the-wall crazy, and so I think I’ll put off the nuts-and-bolts conversation with my chair about teaching until next week when we’ve both had a chance to finish our last classes and breathe a little. I would like to get to it soon, because I am worried about what the university will/won’t allow and would just like to know that there’s a plan in place, but I was also grateful to just have the happy conversation with the chair today and save the nitty gritty for a bit later.
So, that’s the scoop! I’m feeling optimistic heading into the second trimester. Still nervous, still with my (many) moments of panic and uncertainty like this morning, but overall handling things better than during my pregnancy with S, I think. As far as spreading the word further than the people who see me every day, I’m not in a rush. I think I’ll let it spread organically as I run into friends and acquaintances. But as scary as it can be to tell people about a pregnancy when you’ve had so many bad experiences in the past, it’s also fun, and it’s nice when people you like are happy for you. (My chair/friend told me that my news “made his day” as I was leaving.) So, I’m looking forward to spreading the news as it happens, and am also starting to allow myself to get a bit more excited about the prospect of adding a new little one to our family this fall.