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Pregnant and working

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:30 am
by dragon_rider
Hi all

I am currently 5 months pregnant with my first child. The pregnancy so far has been... ok. I haven't enjoyed as much as I expected to - my mum talked about being pregnant with me as being on a holiday (lucky thing!) - but then she wasn't working, so was probably able to deal with it all a lot better.

I work full time in a property management company. I don't particularly enjoy my job, but I don't hate it either, I am good at what I do and I get on well with most of my colleagues.

When I told my boss I was pregnant (at about 9 weeks) he wasn't particularly interested. His exact words were "oh, right, that's nice. Where's the .... file?" I was a little bit hurt as I've always considered us friends as well as colleagues, but hey ho, it's not everyone's cup of tea. Since then he has been more interested, and he has been great about me having time off to see the midwife, scans etc.

My problem is, really, that he is not really very understanding about anything else. He has three kids of his own, and thinks that makes him an expert on anything pregnancy related. I recently ended up in A&E a week or so ago with dreadful pains in my groin, naturally I thought I was having a miscarriage but it turned out to be something called SPD, which causes me a lot of pain. I have trouble walking, lifting things etc, it hurts a lot. But my boss told me that it's all in my head, his wife had it and and she just walked it off. I can't walk it off, it hurts! The doctor told me to rest as much as possible when it hurts and move around as much as possible when it doesn't, but my boss, that expert in all things abdominal, told me to walk around when it starts hurting, so instead of cutting me some slack and understanding that I can't necessarily jump in the car and go and sort something, he tells me that doing that something will actually help. And so I have to do it, even though it causes me pain.

I am also constantly tired. I was told by my midwife that after the first 3 months, my energy levels would rise and I would be much more my old self until about 7/8 months, but I'm now at 5 months and still struggling to get through the day. I'm sleeping all weekend, I go to bed early every night. I also tried not over-sleeping as I know that can make you more tired, but all that did was make me cry as I was then over-tired. I don't expect to be allowed to come in late, or anything like that, but a little bit of understanding that I perhaps can't cope with my usual workload as I can't work as fast as usual would be nice. But no, if I'm here, it's as though Bump isn't. And to an extent I understand that - we still have a business to run. But I simply can't cope with it. I get in the car at the end of the day and I cry. I get home and I cry. My husband is having to do everything - he cooks just about every meal, tidies the house, takes the bins out. I do things when I can, but that's usually only at the weekends. I feel awful making him do so much, especially as he works all day too!

I guess my real problem is that I am not coping as well as I had hoped, with the tiredness and the pain, which I totally accept as a part of pregnancy, and working full time. My husband and I have discussed me cutting my hours, but we can't afford it, we're going to struggle enough when I go on maternity leave. I just don't know what to do about it.

I called in sick a few weeks ago, back in July. I had had a very bad night, I was suffering from hayfever and couldn't take any tablets due to Bump and I just felt dreadful. I rang in and said that I wouldn't be there that day. He rang me back hour later (when I was settled on the sofa with a box of tissues and a book!) and told me to basically, get in the office, that I can't use pregnancy as an excuse to have a day off (I wasn't) and that there were plenty of anti-histamines on the market that I could take. So I dragged myself in. Turns out that I had a virus. I worked all that week, collapsed at the weekend, saw a doctor who basically rollocked me for pushing myself through the week. When I mentioned this in the office, I was told I was over reacting. Just because his wife (who doens't work, by the way) didn't struggle like I am, he seems to think that anything else is made up.

I don't really know what to do, because technically, he's not doing anything wrong. He doesn't stop me going to appointments, he doesn't ask me to make the time up to cover them, he even allows me to use the office phone to book appointments etc. But the lack of understanding in the day-to-day stuff is really getting to me, and I think is making it even harder for me to cope because I have the added stress of being exhausted and not being able to say/do anything. I don't even like to mention in passing because I get a lecture on what I should be doing, how I should be doing it. Sit on the floor not the sofa to support your back, make sure you go for a walk every day, eat this, don't eat that, go here go there. I even got a telling off for finding out whether we were having a boy or a girl, because he doesn't think you should know in advance. I'm at my wits end, every Sunday night is stressful at the thought of having to get up in the morning, I get through the week by focussing on reaching the next weekend... I used to enjoy working (to an extent) but now I am counting down the minutes until maternity leave, which isn't until December!

Does anyone have any ideas on how I can learn to deal with this? Any tips to relieve the stress? I cannot give up work, I cannot cut my hours, and I have tried speaking to my boss about this - he just dismissed me. He is the owner of the company, there is no one above him to approach, it's him or no one. I did speak to another member of staff about it, asked her to have a quiet word, but she came back with the same thing; he basically thinks that because his wife coped very well with all three of her pregnancies that everyone else does too and that I'm making up all these problems.

Sorry this is so long, I don't mean to whine.

Re: Pregnant and working

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:28 pm
by Bel Bel
I don't think there is an easy answer.
He obviosuly does not understand and unless he walked in your shoes that's unlikely to change.

I think you should try to get a letter from your doctor explaining you must take it easy when your in pain and that pushing yourself could cuase more damage, at least then he can't say it's all nonsense.
It may be worth pointing out too that although his wife coped well everyone is different and there are different degrees of pain too.

Do you think he might be annoyed you are pregnant and that's what's really cause the problem?

If you are a fairly small team then losing one person puts pressure on all the others. I am not trying to make you feel guilty but if he didn't know you were planning to get pregnant then maybe you have disrupted plans he had for the office or he is just generally grumpy he has to find someone else to cover you or has to take on more himself.

I would go back to the doctor and discuss the tiredness again this does sound excessive. Are you getting plenty of iron?

I know Decemeber seems a long way off but it will be here before you know it so just try to hang in there

Re: Pregnant and working

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:07 pm
by dragon_rider
Thanks Bel Bel.

He did know that I was planning to get pregnant, as I said, he was a friend as well as a boss, and everyone talks about everything in the office. So he knew, but I suspect that there is some truth in what you say, that he is annoyed that I've messed things up, as it were. I think he suspects that I won't come back after maternity leave, but I really have no idea about that.

I spoke to my midwife today to book an appointment in a couple of weeks time and mentioned the SPD, she is going to talk to me about it and possibly look into physio, which will hopefully make my boss realise that there is more to it than he thinks. I tried to explain that it affects people in different ways, and that some people end up on crutches by the end while others just get mild discomfort, but he said that there's no need for things to get that bad, I just need to keep moving and not let it beat me. I will mention this to my midwife and see what she says. My baby is very active as well, he moves A LOT and kicks all the time (which is lovely, to be honest!) but lots of movement can have an effect on the SPD, apparently.

I think the fact that he may have to take more work on himself is a factor in this; he lives 2 hours drive away from the office and only comes in once, or a maximum twice a week, so he may be worried that he will have to come in more often to supervise new people to cover me etc, and he is probably annoyed that that will mean being away from home more etc. Which is kind of understandable, but not really my problem!

As for the tiredness, I am taking multi-vitamins as prescribed by my midwife and I was advised not to take anything else with them, but I will chat to her about the tiredness and see if she can suggest anything. As I said before, relaxing, getting plenty of sleep and resting don't seem to work, but neither does pushing through it and trying to keep going, so I don't really know what to do about it. I suffered from exhaustion a few years ago after I got married, I was signed off work for a week, so maybe it's just something I'm susceptible to. I'll have a chat to the midwife when I see her in a couple of weeks.

Re: Pregnant and working

PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:07 pm
by Ticktock
Write down what he has done so far and take it to an employment lawyer for a free consultation and watch him rub his hands with glee. This is all active discrimination against you on the grounds of your pregnancy and could end up with him in an employment tribunal, especially as you have tried to best to indulge him despite the pain...

You have at least 3 more months of this unless something goes dreadfully wrong and you are already struggling, how would you feel if you lost the baby because of his pigheadedness. That is a possibility if you keep trying to push through your own bodies warning signs.

Explain the situation to your doctor who should be happy to write a letter explaining the situation, give it to your boss with a covering letter expressing your concerns.

Sadly in this sort of situation an employer panics and the loss of an employee becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, get legal advice before he moves onto the next stage and tries to push you out before you can claim maternity pay...