Monday, June 10, 2013

Preggo Diaries (From a Non-Pregnant Girl)

I knew this day would come eventually. I just didn't expect that it would happen so soon.

Virtually within one day of finding out she was pregnant, girl 1 all of a sudden started waddling in a maddeningly slow pace, nursing her thermos of herbal tea in her hands, and painstakingly steadying every chair before lowering her imaginary weight down on it.

The day before, she was rock climbing and bouncing around with the best of us.

Then girl 2 also announced that she was pregnant by first sending a lawyer's letter invoking China's overly progressive maternity law, kindly informing us that we had to keep her on regardless of lack of performance and attendance for the next two years until her child was weaned. She also accompanied it with an immediate request for three months off work to relax during her first trimester.

I had never felt so much angst over somebody else's pregnancy.

Perhaps it's because I have never been pregnant. Or wasn't raised in a traditionally Chinese household. But either way, it is stretching my Asian imagination to fully comprehend some of the 'musts' surrounding pregnancy.

After the dual baby announcements were made, the two ladies started fussing about seat arrangement. Apparently they could no longer sit next to (aka three feet away from) the printer because the printer is a source of radiation.

Yeah. Radiation.

Girl 2 can't even work on reports from home because the laptop has too much radiation. But she can use her iPad and watch TV with reckless abandon.

Girl 1 says that she can't do conference calls because five minutes on the phone is her max. Once again, radiation.

They even wear special flimsy aprons all day around the office, which supposedly can shield their baby from radiation.

I finally put my foot down when they begin wearing pajamas to work.

I have always thought of myself as a sympathetic leader who encourages people to tend to their family/ personal needs first. When they're looking drowsy in the afternoon, I tell them to go home. When they're alone at home, I call to see if I could bring dinner over.

But I still have to insist on some work. So, I finally explained that no pregnant woman in America has ever heard of the concept of guarding against radiation in every day electronics. They looked shocked.


Yeah, people tend to go about their normal lives up till the last few weeks of pregnancy. 

They thought about it.

Well, Americans are naturally more built to have children. Look how big and fat they can get.

See. Can't win with logic.

A foreign colleague suggested that I talked to the HR lady to ask her how to best communicate with them about maintaining productivity during this special time. Then I realized that they got their magical radiation-proof aprons from her.

Resigned, I signed off on their requests for time off. Three months for one. One month for the other. And they both just got pregnant. After they give birth, they will each need another four months off for the recovery period. Chinese women are even more fanatical about post-birth rituals. No stepping outside of the house for both mother and child. No makeup. No cold drinks. No showers.

I suppose, in that state, I wouldn't want them to come to work any ways.

Magical Aprons.
It's quite a big industry here.