2013-12-18

Those that have followed my blog for a while will know how serious I am about my work.  How it is part of me, how I want to do it, how I enjoy doing it.  I’ve not really taken any time off work to do three cycles of IVF, and even when my Dad died I still did bits and pieces of work amongst the grieving.

You see for me, work is a coping strategy.  It gives me pleasure to do a job well, I like the people-contact, I get small victories and achievements that make me feel good about myself.  In the big list of things that I let go of under pressure, work is (deliberately) towards the end of the list.

So it has been a really really tough challenge for me to be so sick with this pregnancy nausea to have to pretty much give up work for a couple of months.

Now I know for some people getting signed off work for a bit can be a nice break.  You can concentrate on being unwell and getting better, and not have the hassle of work responsibilities weighing you down.

Not me.  Maybe there’s something about the mindset of self employment here.  I’ve set up a business doing something that is important to me, in a way that suits me.  It isn’t stressful or boring and there’s no difficult office politics or people management or anything like that.  I can do the contracts I want, to the (not at all excessive) hours I want.  There’s really no downside to working for me.  I’d still do it if I won the lottery.

So being forced to stop working – against my will – is thoroughly depressing and completely unwelcome.  In fact, it takes me from a very empowered position to a completely disempowered position.  I’m no control freak, but let me tell you I don’t like having my business taken off me with no notice.

And of course, if I don’t work I don’t earn any income.  I don’t get sick pay.  Just nothing.  So taking a full trimester off work is significant.  Plus time off is not just elapsed time I’m not working.  Because if I’m not working I’m not working on my pipeline – I don’t have future things lined up to be doing.  So that’s more time with no income while I look for work.

But OK, honestly, we’re not short of money.  If I don’t work the husband and I can manage.  But not paying my way makes me feel bad.  I’m under no pressure to earn, but I have been self sufficient since the day I graduated.  Not working feels anti-feminist and goes against the work ethic I have been brought up with.

To be fair I knew I’d have to give up work around the third trimester of pregnancy sometime when I was no longer able to commit to delivering projects.  And I expected to take some time off after the baby was born.  I was quite happy with that – child rearing is an important social function.

But I didn’t know I’d have to give up work the minute I got pregnant.

To be fair I’m doing a bit now, generally from bed, but it isn’t situation normal or the way I want to run my business.

Because when I run my business I insist on being on my A-Game at all times.  Delivering a crap or even mediocre service is not acceptable to me.  And it is important to me that all of my clients feel special, like they are the only one.  I would never be choosing to tell my clients that something in my personal life was getting in the way of delivering their contract.  This is just embarrassing for me, and makes me look unprofessional according to my personal values around customer service.

I thought I’d set myself up with a flexible business that could accommodate a bit of IVF and morning sickness and I could wind up and down whenever I wanted to suit my needs as a heavily pregnant person and later as a mother.

Maybe I have.

I always thought pregnancy would make me sick.  Problem is I had no idea how sick.  I just did not plan for being so sick I’d have to give up work this early and for this long.  I probably blame myself for that, for not anticipating this scenario.  But then, I’ve had a medical emergency and lost 5 units of blood before the doctors noticed, and even then I only took five weeks off work.  I just could never have imagined doing something that a squillion women do every day and manage to get on with things, and for it to be going so spectacularly badly for me.

Whatever the reason, the impact that this pregnancy nausea has had on my work really bothers me.

Yes, again, I’m bloody annoyed.

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