Practical Jokes on a Pregnant Engineer

In this previous post I related how I passed the professional engineering exam while also five months pregnant. Working as the first pregnant engineer in the plant had its advantages and disadvantages.

Everyone for the most part was a lot nicer to me. I was offered rides to other plant locations, which I declined for the most part until later in my pregnancy. I always got a seat at any meetings. And everyone at the plant was so happy for me, treating me like their own child having their grandchild.

I never worried about working around chemicals while I was pregnant. It just wasn’t a concern. The plant manufactured silicon wafers for electronics manufacturers from which they sliced the wafers into chips. Intel and Motorola were our largest customers at the time. As a project engineer, I rarely was exposed to any chemicals directly. I worked on renovations or new capital projects, piping and equipment that were dry until after my job was done.  The chemical engineers had the honors of introducing chemicals into the new systems.

I felt great during my first pregnancy. I took jazz dance lessons through my seventh month and the walking I had to do during work hours helped also. I always felt my mood was good during work hours. I never felt the surge of hormones to alter my mood. Good thing for my co-workers.

Practical jokes happened a lot around the plant. One of the basic jokes involved disconnecting a phone cord out just enough to be unnoticed until the phone rung, the receiver pulled up to the ear and the cord dangled away from the phone base.  Novices always tried this one first. For some reason I thought I would be immune to these jokes since I was in a delicate state with child.

One day I returned to the engineering building that housed my office after a long morning of meetings. I walked down the hallway and turned the corner to head to my office when this came into view:


The light was going off like an emergency beacon, which it was, positioned on a chair right outside the doorway to my office. Just by coincidence, or not, it sat next to a fire extinguisher. I didn’t cry. I didn’t think it was funny at the time. What were these guys thinking? Why did they think I would go along with this one with my hormones raging? Then I found out they took pictures. As you can tell, I impounded the photos.

I took a lot of deep breaths and then I laughed. I mocked anger at them, but it didn’t last long. As people have told me often, if they didn’t love you, they’d leave you alone. Even to this day I am rarely left alone. And I think that’s a good thing.


About stemzandroses

I'm an engineer and writer with a built-in need to share my nearly 40 years of experience working in a male-dominated field with the rest of the world.
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5 Responses to Practical Jokes on a Pregnant Engineer

  1. science says:

    Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  2. I got here as a result of looking for “engineer” jokes where “contraptions” and “contractions” appeared together.

    I see, though, that as a chipmaker, your domain is one where “dope the silicon, not the personnel” might once have made sense. I say that with no idea if, these days, making chips is anything like the VLSI I read about 1980.

    • You are correct about the doping of the silicon. I had forgotten about that, but it was used in the process of pulling the silicon rods. It’s been awhile since I’ve thought of that. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for reading!

  3. Melanie says:

    I see this is an old post but I am in the same boat and have been searching the internet for anyone in a similar boat. I’m an engineer at a paper mill currently 3 months pregnant. Im wondering how you handled caring for your baby and still having a career after it was born. I really don’t want to do daycare but don’t want to stay home and waste my degree.

    • Hi Melanie, Times have certainly changed since I was a pregnant engineer running around a chemical plant. First of all, enjoy your pregnancy! I hope your co-workers shower you with love and affection for the remaining term. After the birth of my first child, I returned to work after taking 3 months off. We found a home daycare for him and while it turned out to not be a great sitter, I did like the smaller environment, fewer children, for him. When I returned to work, my job changed, which I didn’t like, but that the company is allowed to do. You can keep your job, but the position may change. I’ve found having a home environment is great for infants. I would suggest you spread your net wide. I found an excellent sitter for my 4 year old by asking my Mary Kay consultant, for example. With Facebook and other social media, you can advertise to your friends and maybe find someone acceptable. Working and having a baby to care for is hard to balance. When baby is ill, he has to stay home, so you might ask your manager about working virtual in those instances, or have a back up, like grandparents, trade days home with your spouse, etc. You might talk to other parents at work, including your manager, for suggestions on how they balance their lives. Taking a break from your career can still have some negative impacts, unfortunately. You can expect your salary to be the same when you reenter the workforce as when you left. It’s not terminal, just a little bit of a hill to climb once you return to the workforce. When my kids were in elementary school, I put them in daycare and they thrived and grew to be great adults. I wish you luck with your pregnancy and your career. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Conni

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