Um, you might say, isn’t that a strange choice for a babymoon? Indeed it would be–but this was no babymoon. I was sans-husband, and in Vegas for a full week–longer than any human being should ever be in Vegas. Especially human beings that have another human being, almost fully formed, living in their belly. But I had a work obligation, so off to Vegas I went, just shy of eight months pregnant.
The truth is, the Las Vegas Strip is a fascinating place to be really, incredibly, noticeably pregnant. First of all, tourists in Vegas have lost all their inhibitions. Similarly, people who find themselves around pregnant ladies also tend to lose many inhibitions. This makes for an interesting combo of belly touching in casinos, shrieking in elevators, and perhaps my favorite, “You know you are DEFINITELY having a boy, right??” (No, I don‘t!)
The best moment was definitely one day when I was rushing from my hotel to the conference center, which required a trek through a casino. On the phone with my mom as I walked, I had just stepped off an escalator into the casino when I saw an older woman gesturing to me. Thinking she could be somehow related to my business, I told my mom to hold on a second and asked the lady to repeat what she had said. She giggled, looked at me, looked at my belly, and then reached out and poked my now-protruding belly button. Yes. Like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
But it wasn’t all strange touching and strange people. It was also a great moment of realization that I have coworkers who respect and support pregnancy on the job–and how lucky I am for that. I work from home most of the time, so this was the first time that I’ve had face to face interactions with my colleagues since I’ve started showing a baby bump. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a more supportive and wonderful team–their concern for me (and where my next kosher meal would be coming from!) and general excitement about the impending arrival of a new baby was awesome to see, especially amidst the recent “mothers in the workplace” debates that have been unfolding in the press–and scaring me sh*tless about being a working mother.
I went into this pregnancy a bit wary about how things would unfold with work. With only a few years of professional experience under my belt, I made the decision to start a family now, in my mid-twenties. I made it wholeheartedly, because I am firmly in the camp that believes there is no perfect time to have a child. I also believe that there are no professional or personal goals that being a mother excludes you from, unless you let it. But I have very little empirical evidence to support my views, and the way most people think these days is that you have to establish yourself professionally before you start a family, or else face the wrath of a sexist workplace that will deny you promotions and look down on you for the rest of your professional career. Even those women advocating for a new approach to working motherhood seem to be stuck in the “start your career first” paradigm. I was just reading Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent piece in the Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” and she advised young women to wait to have children–in the same breath as she advocated for a new system in which women can make the personal choices they feel are best for them. (Confused much? Me too.)
Even though I’m not yet sure exactly where my career path will take me, I’m relieved to be starting off in an environment that gives me some degree of support as a pregnant woman in the workplace. It gives me hope that maybe the professional climate out there isn’t as chilly toward motherhood as the media has been making it out to be recently.
What about you–do you feel comfortable being pregnant in your office?