Working and pregnancy are not mutually exclusive

Today’s guest post comes from journalist and all-around awesome woman Kris Hill. In another life, she and I both covered Henderson City Council together for competing papers and we’ve been friends ever since. Today, she lives in and covers a suburban beat near Seattle. And since becoming pregnant, she’s been writing a nice blog, Baby Babble. But because Kris is awesome, this post is just for The Siren … enjoy …

Throughout my pregnancy, family, friends, colleagues have coddled me, fretted over my work load, my activities, everything.

It’s really been driving me crazy.

In May, early in the second trimester when my husband and father-in-law were working on the baby’s room, I was whisked away with my mother-in-law and her mother to go shopping. It was an early reconnaissance mission to Babies R Us. While I don’t regret the shopping trip now, I really wish that I had been able to help with re-painting and re-flooring the baby’s room, because at this point I am becoming more limited physically.
Right now, I’m 35 weeks and change, with a due date of Nov. 15.

I have always been independent, always done things for myself, but I’ve had to let go of some tasks which is especially hard at work.

I’m a journalist. I am a jack-of-all-trades reporter who works for a small community newspaper in the Seattle suburbs that prints weekly and publishes daily online. I cover anything you can think of from city hall to sports to schools to cops. I shoot photos and video as well as lay out the paper.

My editor, Dennis, and I split the responsibilities pretty evenly but in the past month I’ve been shooting fewer photos and covering sports less. Dennis has been particularly concerned about my working nights but in this job it is unavoidable at times. With sports shooting, I was banned from photographing football or soccer.

I’ve also been writing a bit less just because it’s getting harder to balance everything.

Something about being pregnant, though, causes moments of fierce independence.

Last Monday I insisted against Dennis’ protestations that I cover a local school board candidate forum. It lasted only 20 minutes but between taking notes and shooting photos, I was pretty tired by the end, but I did stick around for another 45 minutes after it finished to get more photos and make sure I had everything I needed for the story I would write the next day. But, I survived.

This past Saturday I told Dennis it would be better if we divided and conquered because we had two events going on at the same site, I told him I’d shoot one and he should shoot the other.

It was the closing day of the local farmers market, significant because it was wrapping up the market’s inaugural season, and I had been covering it all year long.

After an hour of shooting photos, most of which would be used in an online slide show, one of the vendors asked if I’d shoot a photo. It was a typical posed shot, exactly the kind of thing we wouldn’t put in the paper, but it was fine for the slide show.

Then one of the trio in the photo asked if I got his product in the picture. I looked at the photo on the LCD on my Nikon D80 and alas, I had not, so I squatted down and shot the photo. As I was trying to get up I ended up shifting my weight backward and I fell over, either from a coffee can used for weighing down the vendor’s canopy or the pole of the canopy. Being pregnant, even though I’ve only gained 15 pounds, I do have enough of a belly these days that my equilibrium is messed up.

I fell flat on my butt. In front of a lot of people. Including my editor.

Before I knew it — because everyone there knows I’m pregnant thanks to my columns in the paper and my blog, Baby Babble, on my newspaper’s Web site — there were six or eight unidentified people helping me up.
Dennis told me I was done for the day and it was time to go home.

I was ready to leave. I’m eight months pregnant. I had a protein smoothie for breakfast and I really had to go to the bathroom.

Now, the baby is plenty well cushioned, I fell on my bum and only about six inches since I was squatting, so I was fine. As soon as I got home and situated in my recliner, this baby of mine was doing some tae bo or kick boxing in my belly, so I knew she was fine.

Still, this morning, Dennis was worried about any ill effects of the tumble.

I swear, I’m fine. I just have to look where I’m walking. Pregnancy klutziness is common. This was the fourth or fifth time I’ve fallen.

On the other hand, I realized today that I am somewhat limited at times, especially with my mobility. I was out at the new school district transportation facility where the buses live. I was getting a tour of the place and learning about all the great new amenities the staff and drivers can enjoy after working out of a modified shack and remodeled 90 year old school building.

But, being pregnant, all the muscles in my abdomen are stretched out, my hips are spreading and the ligaments are loose. My right hip has been out of whack since last week, so has my right calf, and after 15 minutes of walking around I had to ask to cut the tour short and finish the interview somewhere I could sit down. My leg was killing me and I just couldn’t put any more weight on it.

It was no easy feat to do that because I’m usually totally flexible when out on a story. I pride myself on the fact that I can roll with the punches, walk all over the earth, talk to a million people, shoot a ton of photos and get something great out of it. I am thorough.

Today I had to compromise. It sucked. I can’t lie.

Because I used up three weeks of vacation throughout the year, two of it planned before I found out about being pregnant, I have just six weeks of paid time to take off for maternity leave. I am asked daily if I plan to take more time than that off. I’ve had people tell me I’ll regret not taking more than six weeks, that I am not going to want to leave my baby and on and on.

Financially, though, it’s just not feasible. If I could just quit working completely, I would. But there are two reasons for not doing that, money as I mentioned, and besides, I love my job.

If I took two extra weeks off before the baby’s due date, I’d be bored in about three days, and be right back in the office even if all I could do was sit at my desk and do phone or e-mail interviews.

I am just trying to manage the challenges of being pregnant and working. I try not to complain. Yeah, I’m sore, yeah, I’m easily worn out, yeah I have a baby in there crowding my internal organs including my lungs so it gets hard walking around for long but I’m going to keep doing it.

This Thursday I’m going to take the morning off so I can shoot a high school swim meet in the afternoon and then cover the city council candidate debate — all three positions are being contested — that night, which is going to be a long, tiring day. But I WANT to do it. I like it. Yes, I will be worn out, but that’s OK. I’ll manage.

People tell me to take advantage of being coddled because I’m pregnant but I can’t subscribe to that attitude. I know my limitations and when to ask for help, but, I won’t sacrifice my independence because I’m pregnant.

Even though my baby girl doesn’t know it now I’m trying to be a good role model for her from the outset, even if it means sucking it up sometimes so I can keep doing my job, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.

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