Tag Archives: working mothers

When to tell work you are pregnant…?

The start of my last menstrual period was Oct 30, 2017, which makes me 4 weeks, 5 days pregnant. Other than the cold and bloating and occasional bought of nausea (no vomiting yet, luckily), I don’t feel pregnant yet. Well, I feel different, not necessarily pregnant.

Assuming my first trimester is successful (no miscarriages), I have less than eight months until I’m sitting at home with a tiny little fragile baby on disability from work. It seems rather unfair that I can’t even warn work of the impending time off for two more months. In planning 2018, now all I can think about is how I can’t commit to projects in the fall — but I can’t actually say that or plan around this likely absence. It doesn’t help that another woman on the team is currently on maternity leave — and while everyone seems quite supportive of this — it’s clear the team is hurting without her. We don’t have redundancies and our roles are specialized, so when we leave, even for a short while, the impact is definitely felt.

Had I been with this employer for years– or even one full year — before going to on maternity leave, I’d feel a bit better about how this is going to progress. As it happened, I got pregnant the cycle that started the same week I began my new job. That means I’m giving birth at 9 months into the new gig AND not eligible for FLMA. FLMA is the federal law that requires employers (with 50 or more employees) to give you 12 weeks off (unpaid) and guarantee your job will be there when you come back. Now, I don’t foresee my boss deciding to replace me for a 12 week period of being out, especially since I have a fairly good relationship with him – but stranger things have happened in the world. At the moment, I just feel like I’m lying to him. Trying to get pregnant and the possibility of being pregnant while planning was one thing – actually being pregnant is another.

I’m not sure how to approach this. I wish my company had a very clear “this is our maternity policy page” on our intranet, but it doesn’t. There is a portal to ask questions to a rep, but that rep is likely based in India and hasn’t been able to answer any of my questions appropriately. So the next step is to actually talk to HR. Do I tell HR I’m pregnant? Do I ask in the hypothetical and let them assume? Do I wait until I’m 3 months and then deal with announcing and figuring out what the policies are?

I know we do have short-term disability coverage, paid for by the employer, which is hugely helpful as it covers 66% of pay when you’re on disability, for a few weeks. I believe I’m eligible for this regardless of my start date (and I have proof I wasn’t pregnant AT my start date, in case that’s an issue.) Then there’s the California disability coverage, which is 55% of your paycheck, up to a certain amount that is not 55% of my paycheck, but it’s still something. I’m unclear if I can have both of these at the same time (or if I should.) Then, I believe my company offers 4 weeks paid for leave… but I may be making that up. I can’t find where I saw that in writing.

The other concerning thing about my company (and many companies these days) is that we have “unlimited vacation.” That sounds great and all, but what it really means is that I have no ability to save up / accrue PTO to take off in addition to any paid leave I get. I’m planning on taking minimal – if any – time off before having my kid (unless I have to) and hoping my one trip to a family wedding (now in my third trimester, yikes) will be a week I can work remote. But – how do I make the case that I haven’t taken any time off to date so I should be eligible for X days/weeks. I always assumed I’d just accrue the time and take it as needed once I give birth. But that doesn’t work with this unlimited vacation concept. I really don’t understand how with unlimited vacation as a policy a company is allowed to cap your paid time off anyway, since it’s “unlimited,” but when it comes to maternity leave they have a law that lets them work around it. Nothing against my company in particular — this is just an issue with the “unlimited vacation” that’s so popular these days, that I loathe.

I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. My boss knows I’m 34 and he even brought up how great this company is when it comes to having a family in the interview process, in an effort to recruit me. Maybe he didn’t mean “get pregnant immediately” but that’s the way it happened. At this age, I really can’t afford to wait for the right time, especially with my infertility issues. Even now, there’s a high risk of miscarriage and there’s nothing I can do about it. We may be back to the drawing board – or we may be buying a drawing board… for a toddler in two years.

I don’t do well with unknowns.

When to Start Planning for Baby and… How to Handle at Work?

With an embarrassing number of HPTs (home pregnancy tests) scattered about my bathroom, all with faint or not-so-faint double lines, this whole “I’m actually pregnant” thing is starting to feel more and more real. I’m still super early… which means miscarriage is quite possible, but the double lines now 16 days after my trigger shot means either I have a ridiculously slow metabolism or I’m at least somewhat pregnant.

For better or worse, my husband and I haven’t seriously considered life after having kids — because, with infertility and all the unknowns of if we could have kids, we didn’t want to get our hopes up. I mean, we discussed it a bit —

  • Can we manage to raise a child in our 1 bedroom rent controlled apartment until the kid is 2? Yes. Um. We think so. 
  • Will we raise our children with any specific religion? No. I’m Jewish and he’s Christian (both super non religious) but we love our holidays so we’ll each focus on the cultural traditions and not much else.  Father has agreed that kids will be “Jew-ish” by the nature of Jewish law (mom is Jewish, so are the kids.) But hubby isn’t giving up Christmas or Easter – I’ll just have to amp up the excitement I felt as a kid around Purim. 🙂

  • Will we send our kid to daycare? Well, we haven’t discussed this too much yet… his father lives nearby and we think he’ll be quite helpful in babysitting when asked as he’s retired and basically sits around all day (and he does like little kids, luckily.) Husband’s mother lives in a horrible mess of a house with cat droppings everywhere — while she can put together a super fun and creative holiday game for kids, we’ve agreed our future children will not be stepping foot in that house and that grandma is not allowed to watch them without us around / in the other room. My parents live far away, and my mom has made it clear that she thinks it’s so horrible how all of these parents these days are having so much help from their parents… so I’m not asking her for anything other than family pictures when we visit.

Ok, so… that leaves a zillion other things to figure out in eight months. I’m admittedly terrified. I’ll be almost 35 when I have my first kid now (assuming this bean sticks) and that’s as good of a time as any. But, really, how the fuck are we going to make this work?

Husband won’t discuss until my blood tests come back positive. I get it. He doesn’t want to get his hopes up either. But I’m freaking out here. In a good way. And also in a not so good way.

I just started my new job a month ago… which, yes, means I got pregnant (theoretically) basically the week I started working. This means I won’t be eligible for FLMA (unpaid 12 weeks off with guarantee to return to work) and who knows if my company will offer me their minimal maternity benefits given I’ll have to take leave so soon after starting. I’m mildly concerned, to say the least.

My company, from what I’ve read in the very limited literature on maternity benefits, says that they offer 4 weeks of paid time off. I’d love to save up vacation time to use but since the company offers “Unlimited Vacation Time” (my favorite bullshit new-age benefits policy that screws over employees), there is no way to save up time… other than not taking ANY vacation before I give birth (or, only a week before I am due?) and try to make the case that I am using vacation days. But how many can I take as part of this “unlimited” vacation policy? I’m planning to estimate based on the informal conversation I had with my boss before joining… ~15 days are acceptable to take off per year as part of this policy… so if I don’t take any for 9 months, that’s a little over 7 days of PTO I’m entitled to (yes, a whopping extra week of maternity leave, if they’ll agree to this.)

Now, the good thing about my job is that I could potentially do it from home at that point. There are people on my team who work remotely, and it seems to be an acceptable work setup for the company. It’s part of the reason I took the job. The actual work I’m responsible for can also mostly be done remotely (although I prefer face time with the team.) So, my current vision for how this plays out is that I have a very health to-term pregnancy, work until a few days before my due date, give birth on my due date or earlier, and then after the 4 weeks off (if my company gives that to me) I start working full time again but remotely.

That’s all nice and dandy in thought… but, is it really doable? I’m not a young mother at this point… since I’ll be nearly 35 while giving birth… and at this point with my infertility treatments I’m not ruling out a multiple birth. So many things could make this so much more complicated and what do I do?

I believe I do have disability benefits (short term) for 66% of my salary after the 4 weeks, for a few more weeks – maybe that covers some more time off. I’m not sure if I’m eligible for them after 9 months at the company… (at least I can prove I got pregnant AFTER starting and after my benefits would have kicked in.) I’d like to ask someone about this but… it’s not ideal to announce anything or ask HR anything until you’re 12 weeks along, so, perhaps I’ll wait.

I’m also concerned about first trimester “morning” sickness. I’ve already been nauseous on and off and it’s supposed to be too early to feel this way (though some boards say with multiples you can feel this earlier – uh oh.) I’m fairly sensitive to just about everything, so I’m unclear how I am going to keep this a secret even through my first trimester anyway.

The other good news, however, is that I’ve worked for my boss before, and he basically told me when I interviewed that if I want to have a family it would be good to think about joining this company (vs a smaller company like ones I typically end up in.) And he’s right — even though the benefits for maternity leave aren’t Google/Apple/Facebook/Netflix-level awesome, they’re better than the nonexistent maternity policies of most startups. They at least exist. Someone on my team is actually on maternity leave right now, so when she comes back I can ask her how she managed it.

I’m mostly worried about the first year of my kid’s life. I like working, but I’m so concerned I’ll just be too exhausted to think straight. We can’t afford to live on one income (especially not my husband’s income… his is about $65k and mine is $165k (plus potential of $50k-$100k bonus, etc. annually) so, I have to work. It’s the only way we have a shot of ever being able to afford to live in more than a 1 bedroom apartment. Assuming I can get half of my bonus each year ($215k), and he starts working as a teacher for ~$50k, then as a couple we’re making $265k and… that’s enough to live in a two bedroom condo in a reasonably nice area here, plus save for the kid’s college and such. I think I want to work, but I don’t like not having a choice… in case there are complications.

…I know plenty of women DO work shortly after having a kid… but it happens that my close friends who are married with young kids are either stay at home moms or work but work from home for themselves. I don’t want to miss my child’s first moments… I know it will all go by so fast.

Meanwhile, where on earth are we going to put a crib in this apartment? We have the space — our living room is rather large and so is our bedroom for a 1br… but, either we put a crib right next to our bed in between it and my husband’s desk / office… or, we put it in the living room. The living room doesn’t have air conditioning so that’s probably a horrible idea. Especially since the baby will be due in August.

Fortunately, I’ve hit that random goal of saving over $500k before getting pregnant – so I know there’s a cushion. But I don’t want to drain that unless I really have to. My goal is still to work full time and not take much time off to have my kid(s). But who knows what the future holds. I’d like to have a path to renting or owning a home with at least two bedrooms. I’d like to have a husband who is willing to talk about this stuff before I am officially pregnant… but as he’s going back to school this spring for teaching, and will be still taking classes and working when the baby is born… I don’t know how we’re going to do this. We’ll figure it out. But I’m really looking forward to when this blood test confirms that I’m indeed pregnant so perhaps we can start planning our future together.

Before You Get Pregnant: How to Plan For Maybe Baby

Some people get pregnant in a heartbeat. My friend was one of those people. She’s thrilled to have a child (at 35, she wanted kids, and time was no longer on her side) but she just found out her company offers 0 days paid maternity leave. The state provides some time off at 55% of her pay, at least, but she’s very concerned as having a child isn’t cheap. It’s horrible to have that surprise — a full-time job and no maternity leave.

I’m unsure yet how much to worry about my own potential pregnancy. Potential, because I’m spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on infertility treatments – and still have absolutely no idea if any of them will work. Not that anyone knows when they’re going to get pregnant – but it’s certainly hard to plan anything when it’s quite possible I’m entirely barren. Or, maybe I got pregnant last night.

Unless you work for a company that is filled with (and likely run by) women, chances are, you aren’t going to have a clear understanding of your company’s maternity leave policies until you need them. I know that I work for a company that (I think) provides four weeks of paid maternity leave — far more than most women get in this country (like my friend, who will get nothing.) If I get pregnant in the next three months, I won’t be eligible for state and federal protections in terms of keeping my job if I need to take unpaid time off. I believe I have short term disability which covers some of my income, but certainly not enough of it to provide much of an option after I have a kid – if I have a kid – I will be going back to work after four weeks… and hopefully negotiating work-frome-home with my boss. But given my current boss is hiring someone under him to be my manager at some point, I have no idea who that person will be, or if they will care to be flexible with my schedule should I need that flexibility.

Given I’ve never been pregnant before, I have no idea what I’ll want or need. I certainly imagine it would be hard to leave my tiny hypothetical baby when they are so young. And I also would assume I’ll be absolutely exhausted at that point. But – I may not have kids after all, so should all of that challenge come my way, I should be grateful.

What’s harder now is negotiating my role with my boss, as there are opportunities which require travel and I know it would hurt the company to commit to them and immediately get pregnant. Yet, I don’t want to limit my career growth just because “I may get pregnant at some point possibly but who knows if it will happen.” But one cannot have this conversation with her boss. I can’t say, well, I’d like to take on this responsibility which requires travel but my husband and I are trying to get pregnant via an infertility specialist and there is a chance that at some point in the next year I will get pregnant, but there is also a pretty big chance that I won’t.

One cannot be open like that at work. My boss has to, then, assume that I want to have kids, given I’m a married 33 year old who hasn’t had any yet – and to be fair to him, he has to plan his whole organization based on who is able to do certain tasks now and for the foreseeable future. Then again, anyone – any man – could get sick at any moment — and no one is limiting their job opportunities because they may get too sick to travel.

But that isn’t bothering me much — I’m ok at the moment to pretend like I’m going to get pregnant and play life out as such. So I likely won’t take on the responsibilities which require monthly travel — that’s probably for the better anyway since I need to be home for all of my fertility treatments (though, I could probably time them around my travel schedule as long as it wasn’t too intense.) I’m trying to get in the groove at work and really just accept and be happy with NOT seeking a promotion or career growth. My #1 objective right now, other than starting a family, is to have a role that will provide me flexibility when I have kids. That means just doing a good job with my tasks that can be completed remotely one day — proving my worth enough that I can remain gainfully employed through the first years of my child’s life, as long as there are no unexpected layoffs.

I’m trying really hard to tell myself that it’s OK to not “lean in” —  I don’t NEED to be VP soon or ever. It’s fine that former colleagues my age are already in executive roles. I don’t need to be an executive and I don’t even need to be a manger. I can be a workhorse. A producer. Someone who gets shit done and fast. Someone who people trust to create great work. Hopefully, I can actually do that – and continue to do that as a mother with a newborn.

All of this is hypothetical, obviously, since I have no idea if I can have kids. Literally, at this moment, I could be pregnant… with a singleton or even with twins (I had two mature follicles from the Femera before the trigger shot.) We’ll know in two weeks if this cycle was successful…

I just wish my husband would talk to me about the what if we are successful part of this journey. I know it’s hard for him – to want kids and to be healthy and to have a wife that is medically broken. He is super supportive of this process and is ok if we can’t have kids, although I know he’ll be very disappointed about it. But – I want to be able to talk about planning for what if we do. I know he doesn’t want to get his hopes up… and probably figures we’ll have nine months to plan once I get a BFP. I just am so worried about it all. Even if we didn’t have all of this crazy and costly infertility stuff to deal with, having a kid is clearly no joke. I want to give my kid(s) a reasonably good life. I want to plan for the future. I want to feel like we are working as a team towards a common goal.

DH is going back to school to become a teacher this year. That’s great and all, and I’m supportive of that, but still worried. His income will drop to about $50k a year, which will definitely not be enough to support a family of three. I don’t expect him to support the entire family – and his potential teaching career will allow him more flexibility to stay at home with the “kids” while I’m at the office. It’s probably a very good plan. I need to keep my job – this job – and stay as long as possible. With my bonus and RSUs I can make up for his lost wages changing to a public service-style profession. I don’t think we can buy a house – ever – but do we really need that to be happy? I just don’t know how much a kid(s) will cost, other than – a lot. It will be a while before we go broke (I do have $500k in stocks, minus taxes) – but, that doesn’t make me feel much better about the future.

It really isn’t worth worrying yet since I still may be entire infertile. But, if I am, I want to focus more on my career now because then my career IS my baby. In any case, the next few years are going to be rough, with or without kids. I’d prefer with, and I’m hoping I have to figure this all out vs not.