The thing about expecting parents

Earlier this week Suburbicon director George Clooney opened up on discovering his wife, Amal Clooney, was pregnant with twins… then trying to absorb the news as he went straight back to work.

Suburbicon director George Clooney (Getty Images)

“I said to Matt, ‘I just found out we are having twins!’

and he was all ‘Congratulations! How far along is Amal?’

and I said ‘about 8 weeks.’

and he said “shut up! You’re not supposed to be telling anyone that early!’

and I said ‘I know but I have to tell someone!'”

While I haven’t been able to find a clip capturing this part of the interview (all coverage instead focussing on Clooney’s “manny”, Matt Damon which was actually just a ruse to get the latter on the Jimmy Kimmel show), I thought it was important to share to highlight the challenge facing working parents.

Discovering you are pregnant is an explosion of emotions; regardless of whether you are working. However in those early weeks when you are waiting to see whether the pregnancy is viable, expecting parents have another layer of difficulty to work through. For expecting mums there may be the physical morning sickness and navigating gross communal bathrooms (dear everyone, reminder to please use toilet brushes to make bathrooms less gross!) as well as the psychological fear of either losing your baby or your job (as a contractor I know I found myself worried about my job security). For fathers or the non-carrying parent, there may be the growing feeling of responsibility (omg we are having a human!) and fear for your partner and all they are going through and how kind of helpless you are… all this while trying to appear professional, focussed and competent.

Expecting parents get to juggle the joy, fear and excitement of pregnancy with trying to remain focussed at work.

I remember going into a meeting after finding some spotting (sorry for the overshare) and trying to concentrate on leading my team through our fieldwork while also trying to find an excuse to leave the room so I could call our obstetrician and trying to calm myself as I tried not to freak out, wondering “am I losing our baby?”

It was then that I realised that for all the pregnant bellies I have ever seen at work; there might have been countless of colleagues going through the difficult stages of trying, of hoping and of losing. It’s something we don’t really talk about in the workplace. One’s fertility is quite intensely private and something that I know I wanted to keep private until I was good and ready to share with my new colleagues. And so we bottle all of this hope inside until finally after the first trimester, when doc may give the all clear to share the news more widely. Even then we were told we might want to wait until 20 weeks before sharing the news. And even after 20 weeks, that waiting and hoping continues all the way until finally you are holding your baby.

For all you who are trying and hoping – I am thinking of you and wishing you all the best of luck.

And when a colleague finally confides in you that they are pregnant, be mindful of all they have already gone through in silence. You could ask whether they are happy for you to share the news or you could be respectful, and leave them to share the news themselves. Please don’t treat it like the office gossip and heck don’t treat us any differently. We expecting people are still fully able to be professional and have conversations about things other than growing bellies; we have already been through so much more than you’d know.

Comments

  1. “Strange but true.. in today’s competitive and super busy lives it is just a news for most to know a fellow colleague or acquaintance has conceived a baby. In-fact we aren’t really showing any humanitarian concerns toward the mental status the “would be” parents must be going through. We must try to show some emotions and concerns.. !

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