The second trimester was better in many ways, but it was not without its own set of problems. As I started to feel better physically, financially things were beginning to deteriorate. I had been teaching English at a community college two days a week, but the contract was up at the end of the spring semester. When I finished teaching my class, I inquired about teaching for them that fall. My boss Mel, short for Melanie, suggested that I try to get a job somewhere else in the college, like the writing center. I was puzzled as to why she would say such a thing, but I let it drop. I rationalized that they probably just didn’t have any openings for fall.
A couple of months after classes had ended, I noticed want ad in the local paper. The community college was looking for someone to fill an opening in the English Department. Realizing that my contract was not renewed because I was pregnant made me very frustrated and angry. In this era of enlightenment how could this happen? I might have expected such prejudice from a male head of the department, but from a female was unthinkable. What happened to solidarity and support.
I sent a diplomatic email to Mel, inquiring as to why she felt the need to seek other employees when I was qualified for the job opening. Reluctantly, Mel admitted that she didn’t want to hire someone who needed to take maternity leave in the middle of the semester. Apparently, she had made the mistake of hiring a pregnant professor before and it turned out badly. The woman decided that six weeks wasn’t long enough and abandoned her class. Mel was left to find someone to fill in until the end of the semester or teach the class herself. She thought it best not to put her or the students through such uncertainty and instability.
I sent an email back, trying to convince Mel that I would not quit half way through the semester. If I didn’t work, I didn’t eat. I needed the money. Bearing any unforeseen physical complications, I would return to teach as soon as possible. She didn’t buy it and I was left to look for work elsewhere.
In talking with friends and family about my situation, many felt I should have sued. It was unfair to dismiss me due to pregnancy. I agreed it was unfair, but didn’t feel like pursuing legal action. It would have been costly and time consuming. I just wanted to work and have my baby without all the drama. If I had sued, I doubted I would have been hired back anyway. Who wants to work some place where the boss and other staff members resent you for forcing your way in? Nope. I didn’t want to be there if they didn’t want me there.
Luckily, I spotted another ad the following week. It advertised an open position for an English Instructor at another community college. This college was a forty-minute drive away, but it was worth a shot. I called and the department chair, Vanessa, and she was ready to hire me over the phone. I stopped her and asked if it mattered if I needed to take maternity leave during the semester. She paused and said she’d run it by her boss, but she didn’t think it would be a big deal. Vanessa ran it by her boss and called me back the next day. As long as I could provide subs for myself, it was okay. I told her that shouldn’t be a problem. I had two friends from Grad school in mind. One of them should be able to cover I thought.
The interesting thing about the position I was filling, was that it was open because another professor had had a baby. She had returned to work, but was decreasing her normal class load so she could be home with her daughter. Not was a pregnant professor filling in for her, but my sub, Paula, was also pregnant. Paula was due three months later than I was. How often does that sort of thing happen? Not often, I’d imagine. It felt like a positive sign though.
Mid-summer my twentieth week passed by. My husband and I went to the doctor’s office together for the traditional ultrasound. We definitely wanted to know the sex of the baby. My cousin let it be a surprise, but I knew I couldn’t wonder the rest of my pregnancy. I had to know out of curiosity and because I wanted to know what types of clothes to buy. I wanted to know rather we were expecting little Anastasia or little Sebastian. The ultrasound tech checked the head size and over all length, as well as its heart and spine before getting to the genitals.
She asked if we wanted to know. We said yes, definitely.
She smiled and pointed at the screen, “It’s a girl.”
Jason squeezed my hand and we smiled at each other. We were both pleased to hear the news because we both wanted a girl. Nice to meet you Anastasia, I thought as I watched the monitor. The tech printed out some pictures and tore them off. She handed them to me and stepped out long enough for me to dress.
It would have been nice to go out and decorate our spare room just for our little girl, but we didn’t have the money to buy much of anything. My in-laws bought a crib at a yard sale and brought it down to us along with a box of garage sale clothes. I bought a pink bouncy seat at a church rummage sale and my neighbor gave me a baby bathtub.
Jason and went out to Babies R Us and put a car seat and stroller on lay-away. We picked out a nice blue Graco car seat since Graco was rated high for safety. My husband insisted on buy a Jeep brand stroller since he recently had traded one of our cars for an eight-eight Jeep Cherokee. We didn’t cheap out on the important stuff, but we didn’t go for high-end stuff either. I didn’t see the point in spending so much even if we could have. Eight hundred dollars for a stroller seems like an over-kill.