cat baby is out of the proverbial bag. My Facebook “friends” list of 1000+ and 60k+ followers is aware, if they’ve been paying any attention, that I’m pregnant. I sent out an email to my coworkers recently informing them that I’m not just getting fat, I’m also pregnant. My boss replied all and added the head of the company, so now he knows too. They all know.
I guess it’s a bit of a relief. I felt weird announcing it in a meeting, or one-off to my peers so the word spread unevenly. It’s not like I participate in small talk as the norm, so bringing this up out of nowhere would be odd — “hey, so and so coworker, I know we don’t talk much, but I’m pregnant.”
I’m still worried and massively confused about maternity leave, allowed vacation days, et al. It seems like I should be able to take vacation days outside of maternity leave, I feel guilty for even asking about it. The whole unlimited vacation policy doesn’t help at all. But it seems strange, even to me, to take a week off in June when I’m going to be on leave for 2-4 months starting in July. But my vacation time is fully paid while my leave isn’t… it also seems equally messed up to think I can’t take vacation, and I’m only allowed to take maternity leave which is a fraction of my salary.
Now that the word is out, at least I might be able to ask a few other women in the organization how they navigated all of this. I won’t necessarily get the best advice from them (since they were in the same situation) but I’ll have some idea. Right now, I feel really alone in all of this. The Facebook threads on leave and policies in my state help, but this stuff is just as much industry-specific, and company-specific, as it is federal and state policy specific. Maybe you can take a certain time off, but how that will look and impact your career is a whole other story. It was not-so-great that I had to explain the leave I plan to take in an email to my whole team… I wanted to explain this to my boss but I wasn’t able to explain this to him properly when I told him that I was pregnant… so, if he read this email he may be concerned that I didn’t tell him… but I did, sort of… I just couldn’t because there was no opportunity to.
I know the company must not like when women get pregnant. I mean, it’s really shitty for them. Even if they don’t have to pay for leave, they still have to hold the job for the woman for 12+ weeks, and the company loses that productivity. If it’s a role where it’s a shift worker and it’s easy to fill in for those hours, it’s not a big deal. For instance, I’m sure a nurse could take leave and while it would suck to lose the resource, that specific nurse won’t be missed – and when she came back, she can jump right in and do the same job she did before leave. For my type of corp business role, no one else does my job. So I have to find someone to fill in for me, train them, figure out how to budget for them, and then leave them to be managed by no one hoping they can do the job (with the context it took me a good three months to onboard so I could do the job, chances are it’s not going to be possible to find a short-term temp to replace me.)
Even though there are other men on my team who have pregnant partners, their leave isn’t a big deal. They’ll take a few weeks off, protected, but no one is emailing the head of the company about their news. But, because I’m going to be gone for 2-4+ months, everyone has to know. I feel guilty and bad about it, but I’m trying not to. Of course, everyone says congrats and all, but I’m sure they’re also going to be extra critical of everything I do, and judge me for not pulling my weight, or think how unfair it is that I get to keep my job if I’m not giving 150%.
The other challenge is that although my job is protected while I am on official leave – and semi-protected when I’m pregnant (they can lay me off or fire me for poor performance), after I am done with disability leave, even though I’m eligible for protected bonding leave, I still am at risk in between periods I take bonding leave. So, I have the choice to take it all at once, in a 6-12 week chunk, or – what I’d prefer at this point – take it over the year in smaller chunks (which can be done, but I worry about how easy that makes it to fire me in between that.) Would my company do that? I don’t know. It’s certainly in their legal right to do so – if they want someone who won’t be taking that time off.
I’d love to talk to a lawyer about all of this, but of course, talking to a lawyer would cost more than my paid maternity leave!
I guess I’ll just have to figure it out like everyone else does. At this point, my #1 goal is to remain gainfully employed through childbirth and disability leave. At least then I’ll be covered by good insurance for the delivery. After that, who knows. I’m going to try my hardest to keep my job… for as long as possible, but if it’s not in the cards, it will suck but so be it, I guess.