Jun 16, 2009

A Rant About Gender and Pregnancy

First, some (much abbreviated) background, my apologies to those for whom this is a repeat.

I got married at 30. We started trying to have kids at 34, by 35 we were full into the ART (assisted reproductive therapy) swing. At 37, tired of all the hormones, tests, and procedures, we called it a day. At 38, we unexpectedly (very unexpectedly) had a baby girl. At 39, we lost a baby. At 40, we plunged back into the Clomid full force and, at 41, had another baby girl. Afterward, we decided that to just let fate do its thing. I wasn’t going back to hormones (either assistive or preventative), I wasn’t going to monitor for ovulation. After all, fertility has always been an issue for us and, of course, it declines as one gets older. Not to mention, with two kids under 3 and me working nights, how much, er, personal time do we get? As we now know, the Great Good Thing had different plans for us, of course.

Ok, on to today’s rant...

So, my boss calls this morning with some action items (I hate that term) from yesterday’s ExCom (I hate that term too - we’re not the military, for Pete’s sake) meeting. She wants me to make another presentation on why contracts and, more specifically, the language in our contracts is important and to go through our contract procedures with our PMs (project managers, not prime ministers though, of course, some of them think of themselves as the latter). They want me to make this presentation at one of the monthly staff meetings. Now, there’s really only one date that will work as July’s meeting is coming too quickly to put a presentation together on our currently shortened hours and still get the other work done and September is, well, occupied. So, August it is.

In the course of this discussion, she reveals that she’s told ExCom that we’re expecting. I have to say I’m a bit surprised. She was the one that wanted me to keep this quiet (because our COO was p-i-s-s-e-d that I got pregnant last time - that much was made very clear to me at the time: heaven forfend, I should put my personal life above the company) and, given that I work from home, it’s possible I might have kept it secret until well after the fact. (We don’t have maternity leave, per se, and, last time, I was working 10 hours a week within a week of getting home from the hospital.) But, ok, they know. And, she adds, “they’re all happy you’re expecting a boy.”

Ok, this I have a problem with. Like they wouldn’t be happy if it was a girl? Still, I’d think it was just a wording thing except that I’ve talked to several people for whom the only saving grace of this pregnancy is that the baby appears to be a boy.

The pregnancy was received poorly by many people until we/they found out the baby is a boy. From my parents to random acquaintances, people seem to think that we’re crazy/disobedient/inappropriately fecund to have a third but, oh, it’s ok because “John’s getting his boy”. So, WTF? How could our pregnancy possibly affect you? It’s not like my parents babysit or really have much to do with our children at all. It’s not like we’re imposing on friends to watch our kids or run errands, etc. We’re not on public support; we pay our taxes, Katie’s preschool tuition, and our bills. It’s not like I work fewer hours or ask for weird accommodations due to pregnancy... as I mentioned earlier, I was back in the saddle within a week, answering emails, and back at 10 hours a week the following week and back to my full 20 hours a week within 6 weeks. I took no unpaid time off. I took no paid time other than my normal sick leave and normal vacation time: time to which I would have been entitled whether or not I had a baby. So how could our pregnancy, the number of children we choose to have, possibly be any business of yours to judge?

Let me just say this publicly: we were thrilled about this pregnancy from the day we discovered it. We are happy it’s a boy; we would have been happy if it had been a girl - we just care that it’s healthy (which, thank God, he appears to be). Every child is a miracle, particularly when one has had such trouble conceiving... every child.

I guess I am grateful they don’t have to have the experience which leads them to understand how precious each chance to be a parent is. Fertility crap sucks - there’s only about 1 or 2 people in this world that I’d be tempted to wish that misery upon (and those people I wouldn’t want reproducing anyway so I suppose in the end I wouldn’t wish it upon them either).

But, I say again, WTF?!

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