Thursday, 29 June 2017

That's how it goes, and everybody knows

(Pregnancy talked about, rather abstractly)

I remember my first encounter with a school grapevine. I was 23, doing my first practicum at a junior high school. I mentioned  to ONE person that I'd taken harp lessons. The next day, two or three people separately asked me about my harp playing.

I made a mental note: "Oh, so that's how things get done around here..."

I'm not hugely opposed to gossip (if it mainly means spreading true information, not rumours or malicious statements). For one thing, as an introvert, I somewhat rely on people being more assertive than me in getting to know others. It's not a bad thing when people push at barriers to make sure people are cared for. In a school, it is important that teachers and all staff talk to each other about what they know about people because that's how wrap-around supports are built for students. And this particular junior high was a caring environment where I had good experiences and many students did too (of course there were also problems and mistakes made).

But still. Whenever some government agency or whatever is in the news for not sharing information properly between its departments, I think that the staff should come hang out in a school 'cause we would show them how it's done.

So, anyway, I think anybody that cares to know at my school knows I'm pregnant. I didn't really mean for that to happen. I'm not big on announcing things and I don't particularly want attention. I would have probably kept things mum till September if I could. But I went from being mostly normal to incapacitated with sickness in 24 hours. I told a couple of administrators and the people I work closely with that I was in the early weeks of pregnancy, because lying about it felt wrong and illogical. Most forms of GI upset get better quickly; it doesn't usually hang around for weeks and weeks and leave you incapable of working. I also didn't want people to worry that I was seriously ill with something awful. Plus they would start to being straightforward was the only good option in my view.

I never told anyone "keep this a secret" because that seemed weird too. What am I trying to keep a secret? People would still notice things were not normal. And then asking people be dishonest with others on my behalf is also weird. Still, any time I talked about being pregnant I added that it was "early" and "fingers crossed" and what I thought were obvious hints that this was not an "announcement" but a disclosure of necessity. My conclusion: People either don't understand the difference, or they do understand but they don't think it's significant.

Rather like the junior high of my practicum days, within a week of most five people?...all sorts with no direct connection to the situation were were congratulating me. Okay.

The two ladies I work most closely with say they didn't tell anyone. And I believe them because the obvious people that could have known first didn't know. Or said they didn't. But many less obvious did. I dunno how it all went down. People could have guessed too. Shrug.

What it amounts to is this: If everyone knows that I'm pregnant, they will also know if something goes wrong with the pregnancy. And I'm OK with that. I think. I can't say for sure of course. But I'm at a point in my life where I do not feel the need to pretend that everything always works out and human reproduction always goes smoothly.  The truth is, if you live long enough, some bad stuff is going to happen to you. Hopefully lots of good stuff too, but nobody lives a perfect life. I hope I get the happy ending of course.

There are many positives to honesty, and thank goodness I work in an environment where I'm reasonably certain I will be supported and won't be discriminated against. Unfortunately that is probably not true for every work place.  My principal almost immediately started planning for next year and strategizing how she could support me. This is new. At my last school nothing was done until I'd formally submitted paperwork for my leave. Here, plans are already in place and another teacher is (informally?) attached to my class with the intention of taking over next year (rap wood). Part of me is of course going "is this getting a bit ahead of things?" especially since I haven't even had the 12 week scan. I'd seen a heartbeat when all these wheels started to turn but nothing else. The other part of me is impressed: I can see how advance planning benefits the school and students and I can't help wondering if it has something to do with having a female principal. She exhorted me to please let her know how I was feeling later in the summer because it would help with planning. Okay then.

Everything looks fine with the pregnancy so far: I'm still tired and nauseous, with pretty good days and worse days. This is my last week of school thank God. I have no particular ambitions for the summer except to mosey along depending on how I feel. AJ will still be in full time care allowing me time to rest if that's what I need, but hopefully I can do some fun things with her too. Next U/S is July 21st which is when they do the screening tests such as nuchal translucency. So one day at a time remains a decent mantra.


  1. Oh, man. It's always interesting when news travels and people are vehement that they didn't say anything. But, good that you have to tell less people I guess? I think in some ways having people know at this point is good, because they can support you if anything does go wrong (which I sincerely hope with every fiber of my being that it won't). I know people who said that as justification for sharing at 5 weeks, or 6... SO EARLY in my opinion but to each their own. I'm so glad you have support in this new school and there are plans in place... that is comforting even if now it seems a bit like gun-jumping. In my school there's this annoying practice of hiring the leave replacement teacher right around the due date, in some cases the day the person goes into labor. Which is nuts, because it was made clear far earlier... Sigh. I'm hoping you feel much better soon, and I'm glad you have some time with AJ at care so you can rest. I am still in awe that you go all the way until the end of June. Jeezum. I hope you have air conditioning!

    1. Yeah, my take on it is that there are different ways of "saying something:" You can say it directly "Turtle is pregnant" or indirectly "Turtle is really sick but it's not the stomach flu, wink wink". And then add in all the subtle nonverbal communication that people use. Plus there's the fact that my students are high needs and if they aren't taken care of, shit happens.. So it might have been more practical: Challenging pregnancy-one woman down-go to def con 2 (not that dramatic lol). Plus, as more people found out and the news got farther from me, there's the assumption "everybody knows anyway" so people become freer in talking about it. People who have struggled with fertility are intensely aware of all the stages of pregnancy and the risks but most other people aren't. Even if they know problems can develop it's a theoretical knowledge and not this intense burning awareness that permeates your bones and leaves you shaking and reality on the edge of disintegrating (I remember). For me the dubious parts are outweighed by the benefits, and I am relieved not to have to keep up a lie. Yes, we have air conditioning but different parts of the school are always different temperatures: it's not unbearable though. After this morning: freedom!

  2. A supportive workplace?!?! Nope, that's not something I'm familiar with. Unfortunately. Sounds wonderful to have a principal who knows looking out for you is looking out for the school and kids, too!

    1. Yeah, I remember you talking about your work and the difficulties. I try to always remember I'm very lucky in the big scheme of things. I agree, it's better for everyone to plan ahead even if it feels a bit overwhelming at times.

  3. Most of my close friends knew we were doing IVF so I ended up sharing our pregnancy news earlier than I would have necessarily liked. I stressed to everyone that it's still so early though. If the worst were to happen then I'd want to tell them anyway. That's awkward that news and gossip travels so fast in your school but glad to hear your principal has been supportive!

    1. Yes, it's a bit annoying but on the other hand, hardly the worst problem to have if everyone just wants to wish me well and be supportive. I feel weird having secrets anyway and I have never liked announcing so in a way it's relief to have it taken out of my hands.