By Annie Gannon, MarCom Programming Chair and Vice President
There are a lot of questions you don’t want to get while you’re at the doctor’s office. Especially when you’re nine months pregnant. So when the nurse practitioner looked at my blood pressure cuff and asked very seriously, “Are you still working?” I felt nothing but panic.
Of course I was still working. Where do you think I was headed after this quick checkup? I had three weeks until my due date, a new employee starting that day and my transition plan was just being implemented. Yes, oh yes, I was still working.
She squeezed a swollen ankle. “Hmm…I’m going to go talk to the doctor,” she said before leaving the room. I looked at my husband in fear. Did he hear the same thing? I didn’t comprehend what was happening. I felt fine. I mean, as fine as you can at this late stage of pregnancy. Sure, my blood pressure was high last week, but all my labs came back normal. There wasn’t anything to worry about, right?
Well, wrong. Gestational hypertension is apparently a real thing, and it meant I needed to be home, with my feet up, not at the office. The good news is that there’s a cure. That cure is, however, birth, which everyone was hoping we could hold back for a couple more weeks.
There went my transition plan right out the window. But that does bring me to my first point of planning for an extended leave:
BE FLEXIBLE – You never know what can happen. Maybe you have months to plan, maybe a day or two in the instance of a family emergency. But nothing is ever certain so you can’t fight it. You just do the best you can and forgive yourself as much as possible.
I did have fair warning. Sure, my plan has kind of fallen apart at the end, but I still had time to pull things together using my favorite method of organization:
MAKE LISTS – I made a list for every area of my life. I put it in three big buckets—baby, work and MarCom (can’t forget all of you!). Then I broke those into smaller buckets. For work, I had three big projects that I chunked my time into. Then I worked away at each bucket. I am still working away at those. Writing this very piece will cross something off my list, and everyone knows that’s the very best part of lists.
My last bit of advice can be hard to control but it’s vitally important:
HAVE SUPPORT– My organization has been accommodating and helpful every step of the way—much more than they’ve had to be. It’s really important to like where you work and the people you work with. This is even more important when you need to take leave or have a big life change. Otherwise, it’s simply not worth it. You should always find out your rights regarding leave and advocate for yourself, but if you’re at a place where you fear something like this could go horribly wrong, take a deep look at it now. Is this really where you want to be? As I said, nothing is certain. It’s a new year. Maybe make a resolution to be somewhere you feel supported and thrive.
Also, my MarCom team is amazing, and my personal support network is top notch. I have good people, which is part luck and part design.
I imagine some of this has come off as the ramblings of an extremely pregnant and tired woman (that's not inaccurate). But if it at all makes you think or plan ahead, then I hope it’s been worth your time. And may I offer one more piece of advice: If you find yourself working from couch or bed, I highly recommend those lap desks with the bean bag on the bottom. Most important purchase of 2015 so far. It even conforms to the bump!