Sergeant and Pregnant!
Part 1: Pregnancy at Work
Victoria Jarvis, CPT Sergeant with Essex Police, has kindly offered to write a monthly blog for the Force on her experiences as a Police Officer and new mum, both whilst on maternity leave and also when she returns to work. With this series, we are hoping to raise issues and concerns, as well as triumphs and good news around being a working mum in a demanding role.
Please give her a warm welcome, and read her story below:
So here it goes… I’ve been asked to do a blog for my colleagues to see how it really feels to be a police officer and become a mum.
My name is Vic Jarvis, I’m 32 and have over 10 years’ service. I’m a CPT Sergeant at Rayleigh and luckily for me, I live in Rayleigh too. All my service has been in uniform working shifts and I’ve worked at Chelmsford, Southend & Basildon before coming to Rayleigh. My husband Adam is a Stansted Sergeant, my dad Pete is a Basildon Sergeant and my sister is based at HQ (yes it’s a police overload for my poor mum).
I was at Chelmsford on response until the ‘Reform’ in 2012 and I was posted to Southend AIT; my team were probably the best I’ve worked with and every cloud has a silver lining, as it gave me the kick I needed to do my Sgts exams in 2012. By the beginning of 2013 I was a Temp Sgt, and later that year I was moved to Basildon with a shift that kept me so busy with things such as ‘donut gate’ (yes this was my team & I’m sure all South LPA officers know about this!) Then at the end of 2014 I lost my T/PS post at Basildon, but the CPT Sgt job was advertised so I applied and got this job.
Following a promotion, I knew that I was in the best possible posting to consider starting a family, and like anyone married and early 30’s I had the daily question of ‘when are you having a baby?’ I’m sure people are just curious, but the frequency can become quite annoying!
In November 2015, Adam and I found out we were expecting and we were so excited! In just a few short weeks, we had the next 20 years of our lives mapped out and we couldn’t have been happier. Unfortunately, in December 2015 I miscarried. I was heartbroken, and listened to every cliché from the people who we’d told, but I just could talk about it at work. I therefore didn’t take any time off; we even went to the Christmas do and people were still asking us when we were going to expand our family! Being a cop, you learn to not allow your emotions to show, so I just put on a brave face at work but this was the complete opposite to how I was feeling inside. I was a totally different person at work to the person I was at home – it was a tough time for both Adam and I. I still wonder now why people don’t talk about miscarriage, and my only answer is because other people feel more uncomfortable about it than the person who has gone through it.
Due to my due date of September, you can work out I was fortunate to fall pregnant straight after my miscarriage. To say I was worried, anxious, nervous, and stressed every single day is an understatement! From Week 6 – 14; I had sickness that struck 24/7 and EXTREME tiredness. The following 2 weeks were brilliant, and then I was struck with constant nausea from Week 17 – 28. Apart from the nausea, I am fit and healthy.
During the first few months of pregnancy I was also managing 17 staff redundancies and redeployments which made my pregnancy harder to deal with. I told my Inspector & 2 of my team members as I needed their support, but didn’t have the heart to tell the team as they were going through redundancy which for them was the worst time of their lives. I’m sure they must have thought I was hung-over most days, as this is the only way I could describe how i felt with the sickness!! By Week 18 people had noticed I was putting on weight and I finally told people I was pregnant – I stayed in uniform until week 22-24; I just got a bigger size as I didn’t want everyone to judge me as ‘the pregnant one’. In the police, I really felt like as soon as you’re pregnant, a lot of people think you can’t do your job properly.
There are a few things I’ve learnt whilst pregnant:
- Sometimes it’s the pregnant person who has the issues with being pregnant, and coming to terms with their restrictions.
- Some colleagues will be judgemental
- People (often without children) will pass comment on a) whether you’ll return, b) what your flexi pattern ill look like, and c) how committed you’ll be to the job
- Some senior people will be brilliant; some will have left their people skills at home that day.
There have been times where I’ve felt like I’m in an episode of ‘Life on Mars’. Unfortunately, it’s easy for all pregnant women to be tarred with the same brush, and because some take more liberties than others , all can be judged the same. At Week 28 (the 7 month point), I reduced my hours by 1hr per shift to help fight the nausea. I felt so guilty doing this, but I genuinely need to do this as I was struggling to keep up with the demands on my body.
Pregnancy is so tough, especially when you feel unwell constantly. However, working hard is recognised even when you are pregnant, so don’t give up on your ambitions. I’d learn early on though that flexible childcare is impossible to find (if anyone knows different please share with me!) but the list of what the last 9 months has taught me is endless.
Other than not going out on patrol, I have fully maintained my role. I go out to meetings etc so I’m not tied to the office, I work hard, and for those of you thinking “You’re pregnant – why bother?” – I do it because it makes me feel better. I am so lucky to have a brilliant Inspector who has fully supported me throughout; he’s asked me what I wanted on my risk assessment, given me options, and regularly checked on my welfare which has made a huge difference, so thank you.
At the time of writing this I’m 38 weeks. I’m tired, it’s getting tougher, nausea has returned some days, and only now am I starting to get nervous about how I’ll cope with a baby. I know I’m already worried about returning to work, but most importantly I’m so excited & I cannot wait to meet our little girl.
So now you know about me, I can’t wait to share with you what being a new mum within the Police Force is like. I promise to share all the nitty gritty, and not write an essay each time!