Let's rewind back to January.
I had just returned to work after the holidays, had decided to take the new job offer starting in April and was looking forward to seeing the Saffa after a couple of weeks apart. Life was moving on again in a new direction and I was pleased. Sure, my moods were swinging around a bit, but that was to be expected at the end of another holiday season, a visit to my family, a new boyfriend and knowing that I was winding up with a company that I really enjoyed working for during the last 10 years, right?
The Saffa arrived from London the week of January 3rd and I was more than happy to see him. Work was relatively slow that week with most people still on holiday so we could enjoy the peace and quiet of Munich in early January. Not to get into woman stuff too much but towards the end of the week I noticed that I didn't have the telltale signs that that time of the month was coming and I was just about due. I told the Saffa and we joked a bit that maybe I was pregnant but I for sure did not believe that. He left on Saturday and by Monday I was a lot more concerned. Something felt different and though I wasn't more than a day or two late I just knew. Off to the pharmacy for a pregnancy test after work on Monday and then straight home, to the bathroom to see what was going on.
I bought a digital one and I think I literally broke out into a sweat, heart pounding as I awaited the results. The display started flashing for what felt like an eternity and then there it was. Schwanger, 4-5 wochen (4-5 weeks pregnant). Just as I slid to the floor to avoid fainting, the phone started ringing and it was the Saffa, asking how I was doing in a cheery voice. In the moment, no words could describe how I was doing so I started giggling nervously. And with that he already knew - I think he more strongly suspected the week before than I did.
My mind started rushing, trying to both comprehend and figure out what I was going to do all at once about everything. I alternated between denial and panic, all kinds of thoughts tumbling around in my mind - the unsigned work contract, concern around the newness of the relationship, being a mother!?!, where would we live, did the Saffa want this, what would my family and friends think, was I too old, and on and on.
The Saffa never even flinched. Really, he was a rock. He knew as soon as I told him the news what he wanted and did what he could to soothe me as I spun out. After a few hours of talking he convinced me to crawl into bed, get some sleep and he would check on me in the morning.
By morning, I felt a lot calmer and sure about two things - the Saffa and the little one were my future and the rest of it would be sorted out step by step. We decided to keep it to ourselves for the first trimester, mostly to allow ourselves some time to digest the whole thing and to figure out some of the big questions we and others would ask before going public. Well, almost to ourselves - I had a big moral dilemma what to do about work as I had not yet signed the new contract and had to decide whether I would tell the new boss first or not and I had to tell one friend to avoid going crazy with the secret. He kept his word to keep it confidential and was a big support through what felt like a very isolated couple of months.
In the end I decided to tell my boss, something a German would never do, as they would immediately rescind the offer not wanting to be saddled with the very protective German maternity rights, namely having to hold the position for up to 3 years of maternity leave. Nevertheless, I didn't feel right about not informing the company that only 4.5 months after I would start, I would go on maternity leave. They were hiring me into a high level position to create an organization to address some major problems they were having and while we all shared the vision that this was not a 3 month consulting gig but would be a journey over the next years, I also did not think they would accept a big gap in my involvement so early in that journey.
Surprise of surprises, they were willing to discuss the options. I gave my boss a week to discuss with HR and his boss who had jointly recruited me and I used the week to determine how I wanted to handle my maternity leave. We came back together a week later and my proposal was acceptable to them. They had already prepared the documentation on what support they could offer for a working mother when I did come back (part time options, remote work, and preferential placement at local day care centers, where do to the societal norm space is very limited).
First hurdle crossed and for me it was a big relief as I really would rather be in the new job as a working mother than in my previous company where intense travel is hard to avoid and alternative options were not very appealing to me. I am sure I will be posting more in the future about baby and career in Germany as it unfolds. In Germany, and particularly in Bavaria, it is strongly frowned upon to be a working mother, especially before baby is three years old and I was told I would be considered a Rabenmutter (Raven mother, who leave their children in an empty nest while off pursuing their career). To me it is a personal decision and I made it fairly quickly with the time constraints but now need to learn through trial and error if I got that right for me and baby.
The Saffa and I went off to our first appointment with the Obgyn and while I cannot compare it to what I would have experienced in the US or elsewhere, I really love my doctor and her practice. She speaks flawless English, reacted as if it was the first time she told someone they were pregnant (excited and happy) and showed the Saffa and me the baby for the first time - a little tiny dot that we promptly nicknamed Pea.
We booked a trip to the US for March so we could tell my parents in person and so they could meet the Saffa, then debated whether to tell them before we went anyway. Finally we decided to do it together in person. The Saffa then started looking into options to transfer over to Munich, with the idea that if that would not work, he would quit and go back to independent contracting based in Munich.
Most unexpectedly, things were coming together...
Pea at 17 weeks, curled up and napping