Telling my work peeps

Bear with me for one more post, ye who could care less about pregnancy-related matters.  One more post for now.

This one is about how to tell people at work. I should start by saying I am rather famously transparent at work.  With everyone.  Because I am inherently a confrontational chicken, I keep myself from sniveling out of uncomfortable things by basically saying what comes to mind – with some tact, of course, but I don’t let things simmer, and I don’t leave them unsaid.

You should have heard my stream-of-consciousness spiel on the awesomeness of having 27 online training classes (the kind where they read the stupid text out loud to you because someone made the (obviously not well understood) point that some people are visual learners while others are auditory*.  Shoot me.

Surprisingly, I remain quite profitably employed.  I share this because in my perfect world, right about, oh, now, I’d take each of my employees aside (all women, as luck would have it) and tell them one by one.  And they would be happy for me and excuse my periodic running out of the office and sudden failure to get a danged thing accomplished from the end of one day to the beginning of the next. (Yea, I know this means at night.  I used to do *some* work then.)

And I’d never tell my (very nice, very devoted family-oriented, but very male) boss.  It’s just awkward.  And I work with all men — at my level in this organization (hi, I work in software engineering**) — so while they’re all good dads, they’re still… men.  Techie men.  Well-meaning men many of whom are just a few years from their first crack at parenthood, but men nonetheless.

To complicate matters, we are going through our annual review cycle now.  Like: NOW.  January for our staff, then February for ourselves.  This means the good advice not to give your company a chance to discriminate accidentally because you’re pregnant is, well, awkward.

I don’t doubt any sort of anything would be based in good intentions, not for one minute.  But, “Well, she’ll be really busy with, you know, the new baby and all next year, so let’s not make things harder on her by expanding her team/ giving her a bigger role/ keeping her gainfully employed” is still a bad thing for me.  Plus we just went through layoff’s and everyone’s feeling a little unstable, including me.

Definitely a post forthcoming on reconciling my Work Me with Pregnant Me… but not now.

So, let’s role play.  You’re my (very nice, very techie, very male) boss and I’m me.  Pregnant and no one the wiser because I work from home.  Probably wearing yoga pants and eating crackers while counting the ounces of water left in her rations.

Side note: boss made a joke the other day about how I needed to plan a trip there so people wouldn’t forget what I looked like.  I said, “I could be blonde and you wouldn’t know it!” while thinking, “I am totally gaining weight in strange places and muting my phone to run to pee/ puke/ eat crackers and you don’t know it!”

Back to role-playing: do I wait for one of our super-speed one-on-one’s? (Is this corporate-speak?  We have weekly one-on-one meetings with our employees at my company.  We even have shorthand for them.  It looks like this:

1:1, Marisa & Person

Do normal people do this/ say this?)

How do I bring it up? “So, uh, <awkward pause> I’M PREGNANT DUE IN AUGUST TAKING THE MINIMUM TIME OFF BACK IN NOVEMBER NOT THAT LONG I SWEAR HAVE A COVERAGE PLAN ANY QUESTIONS?”

Because that blurting is totally me.  However, since I will soon have a child looking to me for guidance and (dare I say it) grace, perhaps I should start now?

And yes, I’m well aware this discomfort is totally rooted in my concerns about reconciling Work Me with Pregnant Me, and not wanting to be Pregnant Manager at work.  I’m “one of these things is not like the other” enough already, given I work from home, am not an engineer, and like words and people.  Somehow I am convinced my (very male) coworkers will somehow be (even more) uncomfortable around me when they find out.

Or maybe I’ll be more uncomfortable.

Seriously, you’d think by now I’d stop equating baby with S#X, but I totally do, like telling my coworkers I’m “with child” (gawd, I hate that phrase – “With child doing what? Where?”) is like declaring that I have s#x.  And then I jump to considering that they have s#x and nothing good comes of that.

~~~

*Nodakademic, that one’s for you, just because I know you’ll love it/ bang your head against your desk.

**I can never recall whether “Engineering” should be capitalized or not, sorry.  At least here I can say “because I’m pregnant!”  At work, I’m stuck with “still fighting the flu” and “<silence>” when words elude me.

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8 thoughts on “Telling my work peeps

  1. wow, this is something I hadn’t ever thought about. In Canada, with a full year of paid (though not all of it is 100% of your salary) maternity leave, it’s kind of a given that you tell your employer and coworkers that you’ll be leaving as soon as you are out of the first trimester, or as soon as you are comfortable sharing that news publicly.

    After all, you’re leaving for a full year…they need to get that replacement ball rolling!

    So wow. But congratulations!

  2. I’m afraid I’ll have the same issues. My bosses are great but like you said, well meaning decisions that hurt my career are not ok with me. I am a Civil engineer* and so I have not only my bosses but my clients (also all male) to work with so I don’t know the most eloquent solution. My plan of action is probably going tell them as soon as I’m out of my first trimester and *hope* they don’t make bad choices for me. Although I work in the office daily so hiding it probably won’t be possible because having the ‘flu’ for weeks on end and gaining weight will give me away.

    *I don’t ever capitalize it.

  3. Yes! This is one of those conundrums that I haven’t yet figured out and one of the reasons why I’m not yet pregnant. I think that you do not have any obligation to tell your staff or bosses until you’re comfortable doing so- the fact that your review is coming up doesn’t mean you have to tell them earlier than you otherwise would. Obviously I would feel differently if you were planning to quit once you had a baby- but where you’re planning to continue doing your same job, the fact that you’re having a baby (or buying a house, or adopting, or getting married or [insert other life change]) doesn’t mean your employer should treat you differently… and not telling them until you’re comfortable might help you be more aware of what exactly you want to say, which could help them better understand how you want to be treated… Maybe?

  4. My job is split between three locations, so I sort of have three bosses…it was WAAAY easier and more fun to tell the one female boss. With the others, I spent about 30 minutes on work-related jabbering and then just said, “On a personal note, David and I are expecting a baby in July.” I figured that way it was UBER clear that I was married (conservative workplace) and I didn’t have to say pregnant or got knocked up or anything that would have been uncomfortable.
    I told at about 13 weeks…I wanted to do it before I was showing, but more so because I wanted to tell my work friends and didn’t feel right doing that before the bosses knew.
    My job’s safe and fine–and there’s even talk about me being available from home 2 hours a day and then extending in-office maternity leave, which is awesome.

  5. I think confidence is critical here. Darcie had a nice phrasing bringing her husband into makes it seem less…medical and more like “we’re getting married!” But whatever you say, be confident. Be confident that this is awesome news but that you are also awesomely confident that you want to keep on trucking up the ladder as you have been doing. Be confident that you can make it happen and that they’ll be able to rely on you next year. This is what an co-worker of my husband did and no one has had that question– “do you think she’ll come back full-time?” about her since she’s been on her maternity leave.

  6. Hah! Before I read your note I read that paragraph and was all “OH NO DON’T READ THEM SLIDEZ! VISUAL learner does NOT mean TYPE THE SCRIPT! Hahah, your company looking to hire a better training developer? I would be PRO at working from home in sweatpants. PRO, I tells you.

  7. I am terrified of this. My office is a bit like the TV show “The Office” WE have very lovable and strange characters and are very enmeshed in each others business. It’s going to be weird and complicated when I am PG. I’m not looking forward to it. I think it’s also because I work in a small department full of women I love and I don’t want my maternity leave to affect them adversely. I have Maternity leave guilt.

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