on being "outed" as pregnant

When I started this job back in November, I was close to 10 weeks pregnant. I didn’t say anything about it at the time, because it was my first trimester and I didn’t want to alter anyone’s perception of me as an employee.

The problem is, they hired me as a temp-to-perm employee – meaning they wanted to give me a trial run for a month or two to make sure that I could actually write before they put me on their payroll for real. Which is fine, I’m confident in my abilities as a technical writer and I don’t mind proving myself. I figured that I’d probably be transitioning over to a full-time employee around the time I was comfortable with announcing my pregnancy, so no big deal.

But then, a whole bunch of stuff happened in between (like the holidays, and other people’s vacation schedules, and one manager in particular who had absolutely nothing against me personally, but wasn’t convinced that I was right for the job because I’m “just a writer” and not a software engineer… which, um, yeah, but the job title is technical writer, dude). So, they decided to extend my contract trial run until the end of January. This is around the point where I started to get nervous because I still hadn’t told anyone that I was pregnant.

(Well, ok, let’s amend that – Dave’s manager knows, because Dave had to explain why he was leaving work in the middle of the day, when he was meeting up with me for an ultrasound appointment. Apparently his manager had no idea and just thought I was chubby. I don’t know if he’s told anyone else in the office, but I’m thinking that people must be starting to figure it out, because good grief, y’all, my expansion rate is out of control.)

Fast-forward to the past week or so: everyone is back from vacation, and I’ve apparently won over the one guy who had doubts about me, so yesterday my manager made me an offer to become a permanent employee, and I accepted. And don’t get me wrong, this is great. I love this company, my co-workers are great, I really enjoy the work that I’m doing, and the offer is for a higher pay rate than I thought I’d get. It’s all great news.

But my manager? Is based out of the Colorado office. Which means he’s never met me in person and has no idea what I look like. So… I still haven’t told him that I’m pregnant. And for those of you keeping track, I’m now 23 weeks along. Hmm.

The thing is, as a contractor, they have no obligation to me whatsoever. So even though, yes, it’s technically illegal to discriminate against me for being pregnant, they could easily say, “Well, your contract is over, thanks for your time!” and let me go with no explanation at all. And I doubt that they would do that – my manager is a really good guy, and he has kids himself, so I’m sure he’d be sympathetic. But I just didn’t want to look like I was walking in the door going, “Hey, thanks for the job and by the way, I’m gonna need some paid maternity leave in a few months…”

Also, this is terrible, but there is this stereotype of working mothers being a bit flaky. Like I’m going to collect my paid maternity leave, and then suddenly say, “Oops, sorry, I can’t possibly go back to work, I need to stay home with my new baby, thanks anyway.” I know that women who have done that probably have very valid reasons for doing so, but… well, let’s face it, they haven’t exactly done the rest of us any favors. Employers are understandably a little gun-shy about hiring someone who might quit suddenly without notice.

But this is not my first time at this particular rodeo, and I know I’m going back to work. I mean, (a) we need the money, and (b) I need to maintain my sanity. It might sound awful, but I know I’m a better mom when I get a break from being in Mommy Mode and I get to use my brain for a while. I did the stay-at-home mom thing with Catie, and while I have no regrets about it, I didn’t particularly enjoy it either, and I know that I don’t want to do it again.

So, the upshot is that I’m planning to wait until all the paperwork with Human Resources is signed, sealed, and delivered, before I tell my manager about this pregnancy. I just hope it doesn’t take too long for the paperwork to process, because I am getting awfully nervous about postponing it as long as I have.

8 thoughts on “on being "outed" as pregnant

    • @AmazingGreis, I’m surprised that no one has said anything either. I guess it’s because I mostly work with guys, and they’d rather die than offend me.

  1. Do you actually get paid maternity leave? All the places I’ve worked have required you work there for a year before you are eligible for FMLA leave, and even then only one place I worked offered any paid time off. Even short-term disability has some sort of waiting period after acquiring it and before activating it, no?

    I’m hoping you get paid time off though, because: yes! At my last job, the HR dept had one woman (who had a high profile job) sign an intent to return to work form every month that she was gone, so you could always offer something like that if you’re afraid they think you’re going to jet.

    • @Liz, Hmm. Adding that to my list of things I need to research! I’m almost positive there’s paid maternity leave, but I’m not sure what the rules are around it as far as how long you have to be an employee before it kicks in. We’ll make it work regardless. I’m fortunate that this company is very flexible about letting people telecommute, so even if I need to get back to work sooner than I’d like, it’ll still be pretty do-able since I can work from home.

  2. I was working at Starbucks when I got pregnant, and I told my manager fairly promptly. After the holidays, they “no longer needed me” even though I was one of their top sellers! I hope your experience is better than mine was 🙁

    • @Katie, Wow. That is unbelievably illegal and you absolutely could have sued them for that. I’m guessing things might be different in retail vs. corporate environments, but discriminating against someone for being pregnant is flat-out against the law. I’m really sorry that happened to you!

      • @Cindy W, Legal loophole, I was never actually fired, they just stopped scheduling me. I had to work 20 h/week to keep my health insurance, so once I lost that there was no reason to try to stick around. No hard feelings against the corporation, I’m just a little miffed by the actions of my manager.
        Katie´s last blog post ..Martha Stewart JunkieMy Profile

  3. You’re doing the right thing by waiting for the ink to dry on your permanent offer. I bet the manager does already know, but he also knows that it’s illegal to use hat information in deciding whether to hire/fire you, so he’s just not saying anything. If he really desn’t know, well, it’s not something you are in any way required to disclose because, well, it is NOT supposed to be a “deal breaker.” If I were a manager, I would not have hard feelings about you keeping it quiet until the permanent paperwork is done.
    I also wouldn’t be surprised if there was a minimum employment time required to qualify for maternity leave. Now that Liz mentioned it, I think my company has the same policy.

Comments are closed.