This Thursday was my last day of work and what a weird experience it has been. Not a bad experience, or even a good one, but a bit of a weird one! I have been meaning to write a blog post about getting a job whilst being pregnant pretty much since my interview but I have had other things on my mind more blog-worthy (well, I thought so anyway!) And here we are, 2 days after my last day and I finally get around to writing it all down! Haha, typical me… leave it until the last minute and all that!
Since Eilys died I knew that I needed to get a job but by the time that I was emotionally ready to get a job I was newly pregnant. Then with all the complications with the early part of this pregnancy (waiting to get the CVS test, waiting for the results…) again I wasn’t emotionally ready or able to even think about it. Once we had the test results I felt like I needed to do something with my time but what?
Before having Dylan, I worked in a Secondary School as a Teaching Assistant and it was a job that I had done for several years and before that I worked doing basically the same thing but in a college. I loved working at the College. My work buds were awesome, the job was rewarding and enjoyable, the students were (for the most part) lovely and I loved it. Working at the Secondary School, not so much. I changed jobs as we relocated “up north” and I started work at the school. I loved my colleagues and made some really good friends, the students were lovely and the job itself was really rewarding and I did enjoy it but the school was a bad fit for me. I didn’t particularly like working with the younger students and I was put in a lot of language lessons some of which I did enjoy but I think at one point out of my 70 lessons over a 2 week timetable I was in 47 French lessons, aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! The long and the short of it was that I didn’t really want to go back to being a TA. Another thing was that I didn’t want to be confronted by anything similar to what Eilys had as I didn’t think I would handle it very well and I would probably adopt quite a “fuck it, let’s go and do something fun instead of maths” kind of attitude.
In February I was trawling thought the job listings online and this one jumped out at me. Exams Officer. At the college around the corner from my house. Fixed term contract. Hmm, tell me more! I read the job spec and I fit the description, bonus! I started on the application form and submitted it a few days later and then forgot all about it. I decided that I would write about Eilys in the “Additonal Information” section of the application form. I am not sure that was the correct thing to do but it felt a bit too exposing to put it in the covering letter, I don’t know why but it did. I wrote about her illness and her death in the hope that my gap in employment wouldn’t come up at interview, as if I’d get a bloody interview.
A couple of weeks later I had an email, I had been selected to have an interview. I was totally shocked. I didn’t consider for a moment that I would actually get an interview. And then I started to panic. Firstly, this was the first interview I’d had in years, since getting the job at the Secondary School in 2011. And secondly, at what point do I tell them that I was pregnant!? Hmmm…
The day of my job interview came and it went ok, not brilliantly I didn’t think but it went ok. I have a tendency to waffle when I am nervous so interview nerves aren’t really my friend. But I answered all the questions and I thought I had done okish. And the job itself sounded perfect. It was something that would be really full on and I would have to hit the ground running with it, which would be great. I really felt it would be something I could do too. But I didn’t want to get my hopes up. But also I was worried as the job was a bit more intense than I thought it would be. The hours would be 8:30 until 5, so Dylan would have to be in breakfast club and after school club on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday which would mean a 9hr day for him for 3 days a week. The job would require quite a few early starts and late finishes some days and on my way home from the interview I tried to change Dylan’s preschool hours but they couldn’t extend his day on Tuesday and they had no spaces on Friday, agh. My Mum couldn’t do it either, so I guess that was the end of that… so I put it to the back of my mind and went about my day.
The HR manager called me at about 5pm that day. They wanted to offer me the job. Ah. Bugger. So I said thank you and that I was really sorry, that I couldn’t accept the job as I couldn’t commit to the hours with the earlies and lates and that I was unable to get daycare for Mr Dyl on Friday. I apologised and the call ended. Plus, I hadn’t told them that I was pregnant anyway so that was probably a deal breaker. I really meant to tell them during the interview but there wasn’t a place to put it in.
They called back again the next day with a renewed offer. No early starts, no late finishes, my hours would be 9am to 4pm and no Fridays. Ok. They were really fighting for me to take the job. She explained that this was the second time they had advertised this job and I was the only person suitable that they had found and that they would “make it work” to get me. It was nearly impossible to say no. I got a bit swept away in it all. And I said Yes to the job. She said to talk it over with Joe and then call again in the morning with a final answer.
When she called back I again said yes, but that I needed to say something. I said that I was pregnant but that it wouldn’t be an issue. Both of my other pregnancies had been complication free, my midwife appointments could be scheduled for my Friday’s off etc etc. She was a little taken aback but she said that it wouldn’t be a problem for them! Yipeee!
I started a week later. My first day was really good. Everyone was very nice but the office I worked in was a bit cliquey. It was a very intense to start with, loads of stuff to pick up and lots of systems to learn. There was a lot of running around to do too but for the most part I really enjoyed it.
Being pregnant wasn’t really an issue. The college was a lovely place, really open and the students were nice too. There was always a lot going on and it kept me very busy. The college was going through a merger with another college whilst I worked there so there was a huge cloud of redundancies and change looming over everyone in the office. This made the working environment really tricky, increasingly so in fact and by my last week it was pretty much unbearable. It was so hard to keep distance from it as it was all everyone could talk about, which is totally understandable but still, it did make me hate working there at times.
The job was really hectic and busy most of the time and most days I ran out of time to do things and not often did I run out of things to do with my time. As the job was an exams officer and I was working through the busiest time of year for exams. On the days when there was GCSE Maths and English exams we had over 650 students taking or retaking the exam. 650 students! This meant that the Sports Hall was rammed full of students, the biggest classrooms were rammed full of students, there were over 20 separate rooms where students with additional needs were taking exams on laptops, with readers, or with scribes etc etc. They were insanely manic days of just none stop running around and I loved it! As I got more settled in the job I basically took over the booking and organisation of all the online exams taken at the college. It was a lot of admin and organising which I weirdly enjoy. I had to rearrange the exams cupboard, which was so much fun! I love organising other people’s mess (not my own though, haha!)
The job was really good for me, I think. It kept my mind occupied over the months of the year that would have been really tough to get through otherwise. I was so exhausted most days that I started to sleep a lot better. I felt like I was achieving something and it really helped with my confidence levels. I felt like less of a loser, which sounds daft or a bit drama queeny but I was starting to feel like a failure, like I didn’t have a purpose anymore since Eilys died and I didn’t really know how to stop myself spiraling. Getting a job really helped, it is a shame that there were a few aspects of office life that I really didn’t like but that’s life, I guess.
I am really glad that I took a chance on myself and that I did it, which again sounds hugely dramatic but it was putting myself “out there”. I put myself in a situation where questions might arise about me and therefore, questions about Eilys. And you know what it was fine. I kept very much to myself, which isn’t exactly like me but that was what worked for me. My boss was lovely and we got on really well. She was very gentle about Eilys but was interested . There were a few people in the office that I talked to about Eilys but for the most part I didn’t feel like sharing her so I didn’t.
Thursday was my last day and I was quite sad that it was over but also very glad. The atmosphere in the office had got so bad that it was making each day a total struggle but I really did enjoy the job itself. My boss told me that the door was always open when I wanted to return and that she would have me back in a heartbeat, which was lovely to hear.
Thanks for reading