Sometimes life changes. Sometimes you have to make changes that you didn’t plan on. In some cases, FAST!
That was my story. Two weeks into our marriage, we found out we were pregnant. We wanted to start having a family fast, so this isn’t a story about that. This is a story about the decisions we make after we find out we are pregnant.
We lived on the other side of the county from our families.
We both hated our jobs. Perhaps hate is an overstatement, but we weren’t happy with where we were.
We needed change. Determined to do what was best for our growing family. We needed to figure it all out fast!
So here we were, pregnant and making a move across the county to be closer to family. But, we couldn’t do this without having a job in our new hometown. This is where the story gets interesting.
Job hunting while pregnant. Not easy, but doable. And, this story has a happy ending!
I hit the job boards, sent my resume to anybody and everybody. I hit the ground running. For now, I was not showing, and I had an advantage: I was far away, so all networking was happening over the phone. No one could see my belly!
As my process moved forward, though, I had to fly to Texas. I had to meet with folks. I had to put a face to my resume. At this point, I was in my second trimester and barely showing, but on my petite frame, it was harder to blame it on a burrito.
I scoured my closet, tried on every work outfit I could to determine which one hid the bump the best. I was afraid that my bump would make me unhireable. That despite my experience, my demonstrated work ethic, that my bump would matter more than all of that.
Now think of this, my husband was doing all the same things. Applying for a job, trying to network, to land that dream job. But, and this is a big but, he never once had to worry about how his clothes would hide his growing family. He never had to worry about what a future employer might think about his becoming a parent. He didn’t have to develop his speech on how he would tell his future employer that he was expecting.
We were both becoming parents. Both looking for new jobs at the same time for the same reasons, but I had the added pressures of being pregnant.
I worried about every stare I got. Were they questioning my expanding waistline? Were they worried about how much time off I would ask for?
I chose not to disclose my pregnancy during the interview process. Not an option for all, but I was able to get away with it and after weighing my options, I wanted to be sure that nothing clouded my future employers desire to hire me. However, I felt guilty not disclosing my pregnancy during the interview process. I felt like I was lying to my prospective employers in some way.
Would they understand? Are they going to worry about my ability to perform the job while pregnant? Would they be flexible? Will they give me the adequate time off to bond with my little one? Would they hire me once they found out?
I know legally no employer can deny you work solely on the fact of you being pregnant. However, it is so hard to prove that is the reason they didn’t hire you. They can easily just say they found a better candidate and leave it at that, leaving you to wonder what if?
So here I was. After all the interviewing, I got the offer I was waiting for. I was lying in bed as I read their offer letter. Everything looked good, perfect even! But, they didn’t know yet. I had to gather my thoughts, break out that speech I had prepared and tell them. I typed it up and panic set it…I held the cursor over the send button for several agonizing minutes. Sweaty palms and thoughts racing. I hit send.
The next day I got her response, she had been in my shoes before. She knew what it was like to be discriminated against, to have to prove your worth. She understood.
I am lucky, not all job hunting mommas to be are, though. If you find yourself hating your current job, needing a change for whatever reason, know that it can be done. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are looking to ensure that your new job is good for you AND your family.
- Make sure they have adequate insurance. And, make sure you will be covered in time for your birth. Some companies have a waiting period before your coverage kicks in and now more than ever you will need coverage to help cover the expenses of prenatal care and child birth and all those well child visits, not to mention anything else that might come up. Babies get sick!
- Check about flexible work hours. Having the ability to work from home or set your own hours can be so helpful, especially as a new mom. When your kid gets sick and can’t go to daycare, it’s super helpful to have some flexibility so that you can take the necessary time off without being penalized.
- If you don’t feel comfortable asking these questions of the interviewer or your future boss, do some research online. Check out glassdoor.com and other sites to see what others are saying. Talk to current employees by connecting with them on LinkedIn to hear about their experiences.
- Once you have the offer and you dropped the pregnancy bombshell, and you are in the negotiating stage, don’t be afraid to talk about maternity leave. So many companies don’t offer any leave policy and when you start a new job, you might have to wait to accrue any sick and leave time. Review their benefits and ask the questions. Make sure you are eligible for any leave you hope to get and that you can use it when you want to.
- Most of all, do not view your pregnancy or any desired time off as a negative. The leave is temporary and none of it impacts who are or what you can do.
Oh, and because I am sure you all want to know. I got a job before my husband did. Pregnant belly and all!