There are two schools of thought, at work, about How To Deal With A Pregnant Colleague. My school, which comprises thank fuck most of my office room, says you hold doors open for her and help her carry things with more enthusiasm than usual, and otherwise, if she doesn’t mention it, you don’t, and that is that. The other school, comprising a large chunk of the other office room, thinks you should not only speculate wildly and at length about the poor innocent woman’s belly-contents, but you should try to make everyone who passes through the room join in, and you should also tell anyone in ear-shot all about every other pregnancy you ever did hear about, whether anyone else knows the people involved or not. I am not, I think, according to Emily Post, allowed to shout ‘shut the fuck up,’ which is a shame, but manners are manners, and I have some even if others do not.
And then H had a work ‘do’, as we call them in the UK, and took me along as his +1. H was rather involved with the event, so sweetly introduced me to a handful of people before he beetled off to Organize Things and Corral People and, frankly, Show Off.
The first person he introduced me to was the husband of H’s pregnant colleague. Which was fine, I knew she was pregnant, H had told me a while back. However, several other people did not know, so I stood by this very nice man, smiling, as he told about six people in a row that yes, that’s right, there was a baby on the way, wasn’t that amazing and cool, yes indeedy.
To be honest, I didn’t really think much about or of this. It seemed all very fair enough and understandable and I am not really at the utterly skinless Allergic-to-the-P-Word stage any more. I have callouses on my P-Word receptors. However…
The next group of people H introduced me to, all ladies, began by discussing H’s above-mentioned colleague’s pregnancy. OK. And then the pregnancy of someone I’d never heard of. And the pregnancy of another person I’ve never heard of who looks just like someone else I’ve never heard of, who was also pregnant. And did I know that yet another complete stranger to me had had a baby? And so had someone else. Had anyone heard how total unknown was? Was she expecting yet? As they moved on to ideal presents for people going on maternity leave, I sidled away.
Later on in the evening, during a break in the music, two men stood directly behind me and talked about how the recent spate of redundancies was probably why all the ladies in the building were going ‘fuck it’ and getting pregnant. I did laugh – ‘fuck it’ indeed – but still.
And then someone I’d actually met before leaned over and asked me if I knew that H’s colleague was pregnant. Given that H’s colleague was on stage at that very moment looking like she’d put a party balloon down her smock, I said ‘no, is she?’ in tones of amazement. Forgive me.
When H had finished showing off, I went straight home and ate a mini-cheesecake. It didn’t help. I still feel completely hollow.