Often viewed as a badge of honor, morning sickness can strike even the toughest expecting mama at the most inopportune times during her pregnancy. Despite its punctual namesake, morning sickness can happen in the morning, noon and night, and maintaining one’s professional demeanor while running to the bathroom every twenty minutes can pose quite a challenge for even the most successful working woman.

I remember, very clearly, the first time I politely excused myself from a staff meeting to make a quick exit to the nearest restroom. Eating my healthy, balanced diet, sticking to blander foods, and drinking copious amounts of water, I was actually surprised to find myself sitting on the bathroom floor. Foolishly, I thought I could “outsmart” morning sickness by taking all the necessary precautions. Apparently that was not the case. While I tried to quickly pick myself back up and return to the meeting, I embarrassingly had to flee again about ten minutes later. Tackling my morning sickness proved to be slightly more difficult than I had originally anticipated. Thankfully, I had sympathetic coworkers who were more than understanding of my unfortunate condition and were quick to come to my aid with everything from holistic remedies to making arrangements for me to attend meetings via telephone.

For some women morning sickness is manageable, mild, and nothing more than an annoying inconvenience. By and large, my first pregnancy falls into that category. Additionally, many women find that, after the first trimester, when the hormones begin to level off, their morning sickness subsides. I found this to be true when pregnant with my first child. Around month four I began to feel “normal” again. My appetite came back, I had more energy, and I generally felt much better. I happily worked the remainder of my pregnancy, smugly thinking that all those horror stories I’d heard about morning sickness were wild exaggerations made up by overly dramatic women.

My smug self confidence about being able to easily manage my morning sickness was quickly dashed when I became pregnant with my second child. Having waltzed fairly unscathed through the trials of my first pregnancy, I just assumed my second pregnancy would be much of the same.

My issues with morning sickness during my first pregnancy looked like lighthearted fairy tales compared to the problems with morning sickness I faced during my second pregnancy. Forget running out of meetings to find a bathroom — I was so sick for so many months, I basically had to work from home every day. By the time I reached week 12 of my pregnancy, I had already lost 18 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. Nothing prepared me for how sick I was going to feel for such an extended period of time. As the months went by with still no relief in sight, I began to get depressed. Being so nauseous and sick that I couldn’t get out of bed for days on end was not how I expected my second pregnancy to go. And I tried everything to alleviate my symptoms from prescription medications to acupressure bands to essential oils. Nothing helped. And it made working during my pregnancy virtually impossible. Only through the grace of some very understanding coworkers was I able to keep my job during those long nine months. My morning sickness didn’t truly subside until I physically gave birth to my son.

The moral of this story is that no two cases of morning sickness are created equal, and there’s no way to prepare or predict how your body is going to respond to pregnancy. Morning sickness can be mild and manageable, like my first pregnancy, or debilitating and disastrous, like my second pregnancy. While brief bouts with morning sickness may temporarily interfere with your work schedule, more serious cases of morning sickness may require more flexible options that allow you to maintain your job.

About This Blogger: Jen Gehring

Jen-Gehring-LogoWhen she’s not managing political campaigns or teaching law classes, Jen Gehring enjoys spending time with her family, including her two young children. A fashionista and recovering-perfectionist, this busy working mom uses her precious seconds of free time to run, sip wine, and escape into reality television. She’s been a freelance writer for the last five years.