Two Tuesdays ago at ~3:30pm I received an unexpected call from our HR Director, and I about shat my pants. (Is this the right usage of shat? Because I could’ve just used shit, but I like to vary my vocabulary.) “Hi Christine, It’s Kathleen. I have something I need to speak to you about. Do you have ten minutes?”
“Sure,” I managed to choke out, probably after letting out a huge, audible gulp.
“When can I come down?”
“Now’s fine,” I answered.
And as I waited, my life (or my entire existence at my company) flashed before my eyes. I knew Kathleen could only be coming down for one reason, and for one reason only – to fire me. I immediately pictured how this would play out…
Kathleen would plop down across from me in my dark office, only the lights of my double monitors illuminating my face, and proceed to shove a stack of papers towards me and ask, “Christine, do you know what this is?”
And I’d burst into tears and answer, “My blog!”
And she’d explain, “Yes, we found it. And we’re not fans of it. There’s some foul language in it, and sometimes you border on inappropriate, and other times you talk about work situations. And we just can’t have this coming out of our highly-esteemed accounting department.”
And I’d have to beg for forgiveness and tell her about how my blog’s helped me and others, and about how it’s one of the only reasons I’m still here (and by extension one of the only reasons the financial statements are being prepared). And then I’d have to offer to shut it down, all the while knowing that doing so may very well kill me. So I’d actually delete it in secret and then re-launch it, but then no one would be able to find it ever again, so I might as well just jump out my twenty fourth story window immediately, because obviously there’s no better way.
So since Kathleen was taking FOREVER to come down two flights of stairs, I did what any normal person would do… I started hyperventilating, and I called Mark.
“What’s wrong,” he asked, sensing my panic.
“The HR Director wants to see me. She’s coming now. What if she found my blog? I’m about to be fired!” I explained, fighting back tears.
“Hun… Calm down. They can’t fire you. Plus, there’s nothing bad in your blog. Breathe. They won’t fire you.”
So then I went on a stream of consciousness monologue into the phone, “You’re right. They can’t fire me. Because I’m pregnant. So it’s illegal. But they don’t know I’m pregnant, so maybe they can. But if they found my blog, they know now, so they can’t. But I’m sure they can, because I’m an at-will employee.
But you’re right – I can totally argue there’s nothing wrong with the content. I’ve never used anyone’s real name or divulged any trade secrets, and anything I write about is usually trivial like about how someone railed on my dead flowers or about how everyone uses the shitter office restroom now.
And I didn’t actually yell ‘Fuck you!’ and throw things at a co-worker or fall asleep in the conference room like the former temp who resembled Harry Potter, but he had an aggressive streak, so the police had to forcibly remove him from the premises, so I should be fine.
And also, none of the language in my blog differs from what you might hear at one of our company sanctioned events, or meetings even. And the other day someone made a very questionable comment to AB as she was washing her cucumber in the sink. Oh my God, she’s here – I have to go!” I hung up on Mark.
“Hi,” I greeted Kathleen sweetly as she entered my office, shut my door, and sat down across from me.
“Hi,” Kathleen answered, “So I just have a few budget questions for you.”
“Okay,” I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
So thank the Lord Kathleen didn’t bust up my blog and further ruin my life, but this little incident got me thinking that maybe I should tell AB and JVB my news, since they’re such the freaking beacons of support (except the day when AB betrayed me, agreeing I should throw away my dead flowers). Plus, Mark thought it’d be good, and he’s smart.
But it’s really hard for me to tell anyone about Jay in person, so much so that I have yet to do this hardly at all. But I don’t share my blog with co-workers, so I’d have to tell AB and JVB face-to-face if I wanted them to know. So every single day last week at lunch I tried to tell them, and I failed, because just when I thought I might be able to get the words out, a little voice in my head whispered, “What if this baby isn’t even alive anymore?” And it’d silence me. This is how effed up pregnancy after loss is, my friends.
But then I somehow decided Friday was the day. So we were huddled around a table at St. Louis Bread Company (or Panera Bread Company?) eating our creamy tomato soup, and AB was talking about how her cube-neighbor blew a fuse with her space heater, the use of which is prohibited.
So I grabbed this golden opportunity and was like, “So I’m pregnant again.”
And they looked at each other, exchanged high-fives, and explained they’d known for a couple weeks. (Oops!) I asked how they knew, and they were like, “What in the hell have you been wearing? Like you wear black every day, and it’s warm outside, and you’re wearing these huge scarves and sweaters and shit. And you were skinny, but now you’re chowing down on these ginormous freaking muffins and calzones!”
But besides all this, they were extremely sweet, expressing their happiness and hope and excitement, while simultaneously acknowledging my ongoing grief and immense terror and severe anxiety, which is usually the best policy upon hearing our news.
And then they proceeded to tell me that only a couple others in the office have guessed it, which is kind of uncomfortable, but oh well…
But ever since I told AB and JVB it’s been nice. Like maybe I should’ve told them sooner. But there was that damn voice. (There still is.) But now I feel much more supported on a daily basis. And now they can help me decide things like when I should tell others. And they can help me google things like, “Is your employer allowed to ask you if you’re pregnant?” (The answer’s “No,” apparently.)
It’s not really that I don’t ever want to tell others, rather I just don’t feel ready to yet. Because there’s some awkwardness there. Like I found out yesterday that some have been coming to AB and JVB and analyzing my behavior, saying things like, “Christine
doesn’t look like a hot mess wore more makeup and dressed more professionally today. We’re so glad she’s doing better,” or asking things like, “It seems Christine’s in a downward spiral. Do you know what happened?”
I told them they can always answer the last question with, “Well, her child’s still dead.”
And I think the first comments are just kind of funny. Because their assessment of the reasoning behind my makeup and clothes is so off base. Like so much so that please remind me that if I’m ever in charge of the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI (because my career is clearly headed in this direction) not to hire these people as profilers.
Like I probably wore more make up one day because I wanted to see what this would look like with my newly brown hair, which I dyed dark to match my mood. And I suddenly spiffed up my wardrobe, because Mark’s a shopaholic, and he grew tired of buying clothes for himself and felt sorry for me (or was embarrassed for me?) seeing me wear such ass-revealing yoga pants on an all-too-frequent basis, so he purchased me a bunch of clothing, which was therefore clean and readily available to me.
So work continues to be weird all around.
But I wonder if it would all be different if people weren’t so intimidated by me and by what happened to me. Like they could just come ask how I’m doing, and then maybe listen to my answer instead of running around the office deciding what message I’m trying to communicate with my pants or lack thereof?
I get that people don’t know what to say. I get that they’re uncomfortable. My situation scares the crap out of them. They’re also worried they’ll piss me off. But is it really so difficult? This avoidance is a weird phenomenon in human nature I don’t understand – I’d like to analyze it further.