Working Women’s Dilemma: Pregnancy and Professional Conflict

“The biological clock and career clock are in complete conflict with each other,” this famous saying by PepsiCo CEO Indira Nooyi highlights the crisis most of the women professionals face in the early or mid years of their career.

Last summer when I was expecting my promotion, I also discovered that God had planned some other promotion for me. In spite of being aware that be a mother is a significant milestone I have planned for myself, and have to cross at some point in my life. It was an exciting yet quirky moment for me.

As it happens in most of the multinational companies, my organization also have a system in place where there is a 3-4 months gap between updating the appraisal sheet and actual announcement of the result. That is the time when our managers, based on best of their capabilities tries to put their team in Bell curve. I was fearful that my first trimester is bang-on with the most critical window of the company’s financial year, where our manager’s radars are highly receptive to catch all activities of the team, big or small, official or unofficial.

Morning sickness and nausea were new normal for me, including asking for work from home. In spite of being participative and involved in my routine work, I was fearful of the concept called “Out of sight, Out of mind”. And, to an extent, it was making me paranoid.

The blame is not on the management; it is how the companies have created the dynamics of teams to churn out the best from their employees, and accordingly, it impacts the recognition, bonus, and promotions. This simulated competitive environment is a double edge sword. It motivates the employees to put more efforts, work smartly and think innovatively. But it also creates hidden envy, unhealthy rivalry, and stress.

So my imagination of possible equations and bondings taking place in the office and how it would have been different in my presence were making me feel lost and adding to my first-trimester weakness. How much ever we are prepared for such intersections and setbacks, our trained competitive mind always pushes us in the denial mode and compel us to question whether was this the right time? Will we fall behind the group and may loose on the perks we were thinking for quite some time and for which we have put so many efforts.

Whether you love it or hate it, but you cannot ignore the pregnancy cycle. My pregnancy journey was going on at its pace, and the first turning point came when I went for the 12th-week scan. It was the first time I heard the heartbeat of the little one inside me (looked like a bean structure in the scan). I was awestruck and felt how much power God has given to women. We are capable of bringing another life into this mighty world. That moment made me feel empowered and energized.

I realized that with each passing month, things were in much more control and were getting beautiful. Each week showed the new phase in the life of the little one and definitely of ours. I gradually realized that it all starts in our head if we want things to get worse and heavy on us, it will. But if we realize that this slowdown helps us to introspect the power we carry, the beautiful relationship we have in our lives and the grace God is showering on us, this journey will be one of the most beautiful phase of our life. Also, unless the doctor does not indicate any complexities, there is no reason we cannot continue going to the office and be as normal as we were in our work before.

Usually, we are ignorant about the power of relationships with family, friends and colleagues which we have cultivated and nourished over the year, this is the time to look up to them and seek necessary support. We often hear “SuperWomen” tag for multitasking women, but think do you need to be a superwoman, who is on her own and handling all crisis alone when you have people around you who are happy to help you and be with you whenever you want. One of my Indian friend, who was when doing her PhD from an American University had a one-year-old daughter to take care. She was alone in the US (unfortunately her husband died in an accident), and was not earning enough to pay baby care centre fees. That time her friend were her big support systems, they assured a healthy and safe environment to her daughter, which made my friend focus on her studies and complete her degree smoothly.

We are surrounded by lots of people some of them inspire us, accept us the way we are, ignore our mistakes and appreciate our success. Filter those people, reach out to them unhesitantly and share your loads. In addition to people we know, there are many people whom we don’t know and met them through an acquaintance or some work agency, with time many of these people also become part our family and help us to manage our life well, as they find joy in our happiness. But never forget to feel gratitude and grateful to them and make yourselves available when they need you. It will not be blunt to say that any relationship works on a barter system.

After delivery of my little one and post my maternity leave, it was my friends and family who helped me to bounce back in my work routine in no time and move ahead in my professional journey. Motherhood is a memorable phase which continues life long. So without any fear of losing, lagging behind in our professional life, we all should embrace it, as it has lot more incentives, appreciations and promotions than we expect from our profession.

Pregnancy and Profession are two completely different phases. But at the end, they are an integral part of our life. Like two sides of one coin!



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