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Friday, September 29, 2006

Pregnancy and Compassion

I am Pregnant, not sick. This is the sentence that appears in most of the Mills & Boons books where the pregnant heroine is treated with kids’ gloves by the Tall, Dark, Handsome hunk. I also found myself telling the same sentence to many people who tried to restrict me too much. I guess the only people who understood and applied this sentence in totality are the guys who give us Mediclaim cover – where in you need to get admitted to the hospital for 24hours and avail cashless facility for the expenses within the prescribed limit. The ugly truth dawned on me when I was carrying- pregnancy is not covered under Mediclaim but my company had negotiated with the insurance guys to allow around a quarter of what I am otherwise eligible- and this covered less than half of my actual expenses in the hospital. Infact some medication taken post a hospitalization incident are also covered under mediclaim but not the medicines taken post pregnancy. Atleast I was luckier than my husband, who got no coverage for his pregnant wife. The saving grace was that I was allowed to cover my kids from day 1 so their expenses were completely taken care of.

Somebody needs to educate the insurance guys out there that while pregnancy may not be a disease the pregnant woman has to endure 9 months carrying & hospital visits + 5 days in hospital + atleast 6 months recuperating. Atleast we can move to 100% coverage for up to 2 child births?

The discrimination exists everywhere. Bosses/ colleagues use the episode of pregnancy as a reference point during introductions- she has just come back from maternity leave, or she is carrying and is continuing to work for as long as she can, as if the rest of the achievements don’t count at all. As if she has done no work all this while, simply came, go married, got pregnant, took maternity leave & is back again. This happens when a girl gets married also- she is introduced as “just married” whereas men are never introduced using marriage or planning a child as a reference point. I have seen some women who are in the middle of crucial project, not telling the boss about the pregnancy until it becomes too obvious for they fear that their commitment levels would be questioned. Sad but true. Some bosses even leave the lady in question without meaningful projects, clearly doubting whether she would come back or not.

She bears the jabs from colleagues - I guess you are in a different world and your priorities are different so you have not been paying attention, or the inhuman ones like- how come you don’t come down to the lab nowadays totally forgetting that even walking down to the loo is such an effort for her who is carrying a hell lot of extra weight around her middle.

Bosses have been known to use pregnancy as an excuse during appraisal times indicating the poor increments a result of the long maternity leave. Totally ignoring the fact that she would have worked from home, received umpteen no of phone calls regarding work related issues from team members and ghost directed the projects. Completely forgetting that she would have filled in for others who would have resigned or were getting married & had taken a month long break and that she was working till the last moment until she could walk no more. Ignoring how beautifully she would have mentored the colleagues who would fill in after she leaves and how impeccably she would have maintained documents and records so that the transition is smooth. They miss out on the fact that after getting back to work post maternity leave, how swiftly she gets cued on to the whole set of projects and starts of from where she has left.

On the flip side, companies, bosses and colleagues also offer a lot of support in terms of extended maternity leave, allowing flexitime, ignoring late-coming and early leaving, allowing faster access to the lunch, at times taking a detour when she hitch hikes a ride etc. People are by & large compassionate but if only they were more professional about the job front too…

10 comments:

artnavy said...

well sai but u remember it rather too well I must say.

Hip Grandma said...

I think feminism in offices has to be dealt separately.BTW I've tagged you.Do take it up.

Anonymous said...

So true. And so well said too - I don't think I can add anything better to this.

sakhi said...

well this what have become too commonly-extra and really a bit more form guys.But down the lane we do feel like that we were treated as someone special for a while though it really had irritaed us once.

Sush said...

Good one.. your blog sheds a lot of light on practical stuff and thought processess and i love going through it.

Twisted DNA said...

It is very interesting how India and US are so different in this regard. In the US, any discrimination against pregnant women will result in a law suit. In India, I heard that pregnant women do get discriminated agaist. But as you said, in India, women do enjoy better maternity lave. (Enjoy is a bad word, I guess. They get longer maternity leave). In the US, It's only about 6-8 weeks.

Kalpana said...

It's almost true...

itchingtowrite said...

art- 1 of thoese days when i remember the past and feel what I felt during that phase
hip gmom- thanks. will take it up
getting there, kalpana - the expereince may be similar , the setting different for all of us
mj- i followed the principle of enjoy it while it lasts- the attention & the special treatment. feels good though
sush- thanks so much for the good words. keep coming
TDNA- yes, i heard abt the short maternity leave. inconvient isn't it? when u begin to enjoy the kid, u need to go back to work

Usha said...

I always appreciated the kindness that maternity eveoked even in the worst of the bosses. Had not had first hand experience of this kind of discrimination and I see your point. I guess they just do it out of ignorance and I think they are just clumsy in expression but mean well. Of course I cant get over the appraisal injustice. Does it happen all the time?

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