Pregnancy check-ups: Stop whining and count your blessings

The Wall Street Journal has a forum called The Juggle: On choices and tradeoffs people make as they juggle work and family. In a recent post, one woman who just entered her third trimester complains about the hardships of juggling work and frequent doctor appointments (once every two weeks… is that really so frequent?). Apparently her doctor told her that these visits are probably not necessary, “but rules were rules.”

In addition to having to take off time from work in middle of the day, she has to commute for an hour to get to the doctor’s office, “hauling my pregnant self through public transit,” and coordinate schedules with her “incredibly supportive husband” who accompanies her to all her appointments. She realizes that soon she’ll be leaving work for an extended period of time and just wants to be able to “focus on my job” while she still can.

What I found interesting, though, were all the comments (47 so far). I tend to agree with those who’s sympathy levels are low for this unfortunate mom to be. I mean really, if the “excitement and anticipation of welcoming a new person into the world is building,” as she claims, then what is she kvetching about? Doctors visits are part of the program and she should try to be grateful for the care she’s receiving. She should also be glad that her husband can and does keep her company at her doctor visits. She should be happy that she’s experiencing a healthy normal pregnancy.

Here’s a sampling of what other women have to say:

…life does not revolve around work. When you got pregnant, your life already changed and you already lost the right to focus on your job first. This is what life is all about so relish these moments of anticipation that you have!

…This is when it really helps to have the doctor’s office near work… Annoying though the appointments are, it is a good thing for the health team to be able to catch any issues early.

…I go to a mixed midwife-OBGyn practice and am seen by the midwife group… the midwives don’t take call (don’t deliver babies, don’t assist on procedures, don’t do anything outside the practice) on the days they have scheduled appointments. So far, that has meant no waiting, an office that runs efficiently and professionally.

…the theme I see is essentially denial that Everything Is Going to Change. It’s understandable to feel a little desperation to preserve your professional identity. But bending over backwards is a disservice to everyone in the workplace. We need to stop apologizing for having lives… By choosing the pregnancy, you have already made the decision to alter your work availability. Own the decision, and be grateful that you’re a) fertile and b) not on bedrest.

And the most compelling reason for a woman with a natural, normal pregnancy to stop whining and get on with life:

For those of you who got pregnant naturally and now whine about how hard your juggle now is, how about juggling the following:
-dozens of appointments, many of which cannot be scheduled in advance because your body determines the timing
-injections of drugs that must be kept refrigerated
-two whole-day absences (egg retrieval and retransfer) scheduled mere hours in advance which are non-negotiable regardless of what’s happening at work or at home
-after that, more blood tests and ultrasounds and continued injections for ten weeks

-Followed, in many cases, by failure

…Imagine going through all this… while suffering the disappointment of not being a mommy, while still having to pick up the slack for your colleagues with children… That is my juggle, repeat fertility treatments, miscarriages, etc. without letting anyone at work find out. I have extreme flexible hours and even so, it’s a challenge. I would DEARLY LOVE to have the problem outlined by the original poster.

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Comments

  1. Michelle says:

    As a feminist who’s read the Juggle post and comments in question, I find your analysis here pretty poorly thought out, even for the Internet.

    Let’s first consider the forum where this post went up. The Juggle is a blog that, to my understanding, discusses the challenges facing professionals who seek work/life balance. So by definition, the author cannot disregard her sense of obligation to her job. The point of the forum, for the sake of its intended audience, is that some parents do care about work. And it’s a good thing they do. Food, clothes, doctors, college… None of these essentials are free, after all. Who’s paying your bills? And your complaining (read “whining”) about her post is a bit like complaining that characters on sitcoms are always making jokes. You’re missing the point. This is what she’s supposed to cover, as part of her job. You’re not reading her diary! Imagine if, in a post written as part of her job, she said she wasn’t concerned about her job anymore. Does that seem like a wise thing to do? With a baby on the way? Is that the best time to cavalierly publish feelings that your job is less significant to you–while using your employer’s bandwidth?! It’s hard enough for working moms to be taken seriously. Shame on you.

    But let’s address some of your specific remarks. I find that more useful than getting caught up in sweeping generalizations.

    >>I mean really, if the “excitement and anticipation of welcoming a new person into the world is building,” as she claims, then what is she kvetching about?

    She’s not kvetching, she’s doing her job: addressing a specific challenge faced by professionals with families. But let’s forget that for a second: Do you really believe that an expectant mother’s joy is so all-encompassing that nothing else in life could possibly be so much as a bother to her? Good grief. Have you ever met a pregnant woman? Forget work. Even those who can stay home have complaints. About the couch, the doorbell, food, weight, bladders, heat, sleep, men, women, antidisestablishmentarians, ice cream… This is all part of the majesty of a pregnancy. This is all, to borrow a phrase, “part of the program.”

    >>Doctors visits are part of the program and she should try to be grateful for the care she’s receiving.

    Here’s what she said in her post: “I know I’m lucky to have good medical care and an attentive doctor.”

    >>She should also be glad that her husband can and does keep her company at her doctor visits.

    “To my delight, my incredibly supportive husband comes to all the appointments.”

    >>She should be happy that she’s experiencing a healthy normal pregnancy.

    “To be sure, I’ve been lucky so far to have an uncomplicated pregnancy.”

    Check. Check. Check. What’s the problem?

    Your offhand prescription for a nothing-can-bother-me attitude demands of the author an almost cartoonish extreme of Dalai Lama-grade Buddhism. And if you yourself possessed such insight into the universe, you wouldn’t spend another minute on your silly Web site complaining that people complain, screeching out straw man examples in an attempt to illustrate an impossible point.

    For that matter, by extension of your “logic,” no one should ever complain about anything, because there’s always someone worse off. And fine. Maybe that’s what you believe. Bless you. But if so, why are you complaining about this author’s outlook? Shouldn’t you be busied with being endlessly thankful for all your good fortunes? You should be glad you have a Web site and that, for the most part, you know how to read and write–moreover, that God loves your dopey ass unconditionally, despite what you think, say, and do.

    To sum up: Your stated lack of sympathy (note that the Juggle post was not actually a plea for sympathy) may well have been intentioned as a bit of tough love, but I found it, on balance, grotesquely ignorant. Like your choice of yellow as a background color.

  2. Thank you for the comment. Constructive criticism is always a welcome change from the constant flow of loving support I receive on this website! You write that the author cannot disregard her sense of obligation to her job. I agree with that, as well as the fact that, as part of her job she is supposed to cover the challenges of juggling various aspects of her life.

    You also ask if I have ever met a pregnant woman? Well, I’ve been pregnant twice. Aside from that I’ve got dozens of friends who have been pregnant, most of them more than once, as well as many more acquaintances who’ve also carried babies. Sure, we all find one thing or another to kvetch about, and that’s OK with me. Never the less, I feel I’m entitled to voice my opinion that the overwhelming feeling an expectant woman with a healthy pregnancy should feel is gratitude (along with a prayer that things continue to sail smoothly.)

    I’d also like to point out that most of the complaints directed at this poor, pregnant, working woman are quotes from the women commenting on her story. I copied them because I thought they contained valid points worth sharing. You are free to agree or disagree.

    By the way, I am a stay at home mom, but I juggle three jobs from my home office. So to answer another one of your questions, I am paying my own bills. So if you want to hear someone sing about the joys of juggling, I sure could belt it out… but I won’t. I’m too busy counting my blessings.

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