Pregnancy is probably the single most important and visible thing that distinguishes women from men. The way that we treat pregnancy, especially at work, is important. I used to write about this issue when I was a wee college student many years ago (ok, like 8 years ago). But living it is so very fascinating.
When I told my boss I was pregnant, he said "I am just going to treat you like a normal human being. I don't want to be accused of giving you special treatment." Gee, thanks. Other people have treated me A LOT differently now that they know I am pregnant. Sometimes they are kidding. They tell Jake that he should be carrying things for me. Or they offer to do things they'd never done for me before. Or they just assume, in a very subtle way, that certain things will be more difficult for me or that I am more fragile than I was before.
I'm not sure how I feel about all this star treatment. In many ways, I love it and appreciate it. In other ways, the girl-power side of me doesn't want people to think that I am weak and fragile ... but I kind of am! I am carrying some very special cargo in here, and all the changes in weight and stability, along with the morning sickness and constant headaches do take a toll. I told my boss, "Listen, just treat me normally - if I'm sick, treat me like I'm sick." I've been pregnant for 16 weeks without a single sick day from work, or a single change in my schedule. ... But it will get harder.
It will also get more visible. What do you think when you see a pregnant lady? I sat through a court hearing in which two of the attorneys (out of 6) were visibly pregnant. I could not stop thinking, "that is SO cool!" Followed by, "I wonder how they do it? Is she feeling up to all this?" I was a little distracted. A big pregnant belly carries a lot of baggage. And for some, its probably all they can see. The fact that the belly is attached to a very capable lawyer is lost.
I will be appearing in a trial next week. It should be interesting to see what, if anything, is different. The fact is, being pregnant is a very unique situation. There is nothing like it. You are not JUST sick, or JUST bigger - you are pregnant with a baby! You HAVE to be treated differently at times. If you work around dangerous chemicals, you have to be moved - but it doesn't mean you should lose your job. Other times, you shouldn't be treated differently at all. Like in court.
So, as I concluded many many long years ago, I think we need to THINK of pregnant women as equals, and still accommodate their needs, even when the needs are different. And we should WANT to do this. Because women make the babies. No one else can do that. And it is a very, very important job to have.