The minute you find out you’re pregnant, most women smile, get excited, share the news with their partners and then think about when to tell people and who to tell first. Some women wait until eight weeks or 12 or 18 and usually close family members and friends are the first to hear the news. Women usually want to wait for a few reasons. Some are superstitious and others want to make sure they have a healthy pregnancy.
However for working women, one of the main topics of conversation after the initial excitement is when to tell those at work. Many wonder about the impact of this news on their job and role. For me, I knew that this news would have a big impact as a member of the management team of a smaller company.
When I found out I was pregnant, my husband and I celebrated and smiled and stared at my non-existent belly as many do. The next week, we started thinking about how to tell our family after we hit the thirteen week mark, as we were very superstitious.
It then dawned on me: how am I going to get through the next eight weeks without people from work finding out and then how am I going to tell those at work. Regardless of how great my company or team, which they were, it was still a scary thought. There had been comments made previously, many times, such as "hopefully, you won't have kids soon" or "you're not pregnant right?" and when I said no, the next comment was "Oh good." Nothing was really meant by it of course and if I wanted to take it the right way, it could be seen as really very flattering.
However, once I actually was pregnant, it made telling everyone very scary. When you care about your job, career and company, you don’t want to potentially let anyone down or have any relationships, projects or responsibilities change because of your upcoming leave.
I didn’t want to wait too long because I needed to make sure that others had time to prepare and I wanted to share the news before rumors started. One non-alcoholic drink at one of the many work gatherings, a few extra pounds or many quick trips to the bathroom during important meetings may be (and were) noticed, and then, there go the rumors. As a result, I found myself telling my boss a close second after the nearest of family. What did this mean: my boss was one of the first to hear the news.
I walked into my boss's office, and after an hour-long meeting said (after working up the courage), "I have some news, I'm expecting." After telling him, others on the management team and my employees, I got a lot of smiles and congratulations with a few people actually speaking what their facial expressions said. "Are you taking a maternity leave and for how long? Are you coming back? Who is going to replace you while you are out? Is it going to be the same when you are out?"
The problem is that change is tough regardless, and it’s too bad that there are no crystal balls and we can’t select the month, day and time that we give birth based on everyone’s schedules (yet), although companies would like that. So until that point, women unfortunately have to expect some awkwardness, added stress and tiring days when discussing this topic with work and then preparing for maternity leave. Hopefully, this will change over time, but not quickly enough for our generation.
Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Daniela Vladimirova.