Liz Narins' pregnancy tests

How I Learned to Put My Pregnant Self First

For over a decade before I got pregnant, working as a writer, editor, and social media director in New York City took priority over just about everything in my life. Many days, I'd wake up early to do an hour of work in my pajamas before an 8 a.m. press event, then rush into the office where I'd stay as late as 8 p.m.

My personal life always played second fiddle: While preparing to move in with my then-boyfriend-now-husband, I sent him on solo apartment-scouting missions when showings took place during my workday. I was all too happy to sign a lease sight-unseen if it meant hitting a work deadline.

I found it so difficult to peel away from my desk that I was late for almost every weeknight dinner reservation ever. And forget about doctor’s appointments—I considered my office’s in-house nurse to be my primary care physician for nearly five years. 

I found it so difficult to peel away from my desk that I was late for almost every weeknight dinner reservation ever. And forget about doctor’s appointments—I considered my office’s in-house nurse to be my primary care physician for nearly five years. 

Although I'd always wanted kids, my commitment to work made it easy to put off pregnancy throughout my twenties. It wasn't until I switched from a stressful job rife with daily writing deadlines to a managerial position in a slower-paced work environment that I finally felt like I could fit a baby into my life.

My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for a few cycles when my A-cup boobs began feeling full, lumpy, and tender. Although you're most likely to get an accurate pregnancy test read in the morning when the hormone levels in your urine are most concentrated, I knew a positive test would mess with my morning routine. (I used to work out before work, rush back to my Brooklyn apartment to shower, and hustle to get to the subway before my first meeting.)

Due to several hectic mornings in a row—I admit, I'd earned a reputation for being late to work!—I put off peeing on the stick for days after I started feeling these symptoms. I tried to convince myself my period was coming.

Finding Out

After the tampons I’d tossed into my workbag went unused for a few days, I fished a fresh pee strip out of a mixed box of fertility and pregnancy tests one evening after work. (Pregnancy test directions be damned!) My husband was on a trip two time zones away, my apartment empty. There was no one to hug or high-five or yell "OMG!" when two red lines appeared on my test. It was positive!

Instead, I smiled broadly to myself, swelling with my own secret. Then I took three more tests, just to be sure. (That's what they do on TV!) Unsure what to do next, I took a photo of the tests and called my husband, who didn’t pick up. I checked my profile in the mirror, imagining what I'd look like with a bump. Then I slipped out the door for a stroll.

By the time I reached my husband, I’d walked about a half-mile to the Brooklyn Promenade overlooking New York City. The sun was setting, the sky filled with the most magical shades of pink—it was the perfect backdrop for my fluttery mood.

After asking if he was alone, I told him (and the countless strangers who noticed the happy and/or hormonal tears streaming down my face) that I was pregnant. We knew we didn’t want to tell friends or family until we heard a heartbeat just in case anything happened. The wait was on.

Sharing the News

Going to work the next day with my secret was weird—I couldn’t focus on anything besides the fact that I was carrying a freaking human! Suddenly I was hyperaware of everything I put in my body. I laid off the company coffee to control my caffeine consumption and splurged on salmon in my lunch salad. It felt like appropriate brain food for a fetus.

Going to work the next day with my secret was weird—I couldn’t focus on anything besides the fact that I was carrying a freaking human!

At the top of my agenda was to find an OB/GYN with very particular criteria: They had to be taking new patients; be very close to my office or apartment so as not to interfere with my commute; deliver at a top-tier hospital; and most importantly, take appointments after business hours so I wouldn't have to miss too much work.

I finally found a family practice right in our neighborhood that fit the bill. I wasn’t completely at ease with my doctor right away. I was used to buttoned-up medical facilities, and this one was much more mom-and-pop. However, I made amends due to convenience. 

It wasn’t until I was 14 weeks pregnant that I hijacked a one-on-one meeting with my boss to tell her the news. It was after I had seen my baby’s heartbeat, found out I was having a boy, and told my family and friends.

As a mother of one, my boss was so supportive that I forgave her for prompting me to make my announcement during an all-hands meeting. It was incredibly awkward until my coworkers erupted in squeals of excitement.

Being Pregnant at Work

After announcing I was pregnant, coworkers came out of the woodwork to swing by my desk with unsolicited parenting advice and child-birthing tips. It was like every conversation was suddenly about me: How was I feeling? When was I due? Have I picked out a baby name yet?

With my personal life finally in the spotlight, I felt more like myself at work and more entitled to prioritize my needs. If I needed to refill my water bottle between back-to-back meetings, go MIA from my desk 10 times a day to pee, or break for lunch despite an afternoon deadline, I did.

In many ways, being pregnant at work gave me a free pass; a sort of pregnancy privilege. While I have definitely put work first throughout my career, exercising leaning in enabled me to set boundaries and prioritize my wellness—something I should have done long ago.

In many ways, being pregnant at work gave me a free pass; a sort of pregnancy privilege.

I would even leave a little work early to make my end-of-day doctor’s appointment, which I'd have never, ever done before I was pregnant. Now, I did it without feeling one iota of guilt.

I realized that even after months of trying for a baby, I couldn't find time to take a two-second pregnancy test before work. When I was actually pregnant, however, it helped me reassess where I placed myself on the hierarchy of to-dos.

I quickly realized that putting yourself before work now (even before you make your announcement!) will set you up for success when it is time to put your kid first. During my first year of parenthood, which overlapped all too perfectly with the first year of the pandemic and working from home, you bet there were times I was late to a Zoom when my breasts were leaking or signed off earlier than usual to comfort my kid during the witching hour.

Every single parent you work with will understand that work isn't, and can't possibly be, your number one priority at all times. And chances are, they'll generously give you the break you need once your secret is out.

1 Source
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  1. Su H-W, Yi Y-C, Wei T-Y, Chang T-C, Cheng C-M. Detection of ovulation, a review of currently available methods. Bioengineering & Translational Medicine. 2017;2(3). doi:10.1002/btm2.10058