Thursday, April 5, 2012

Telling (part 1)



On Tuesday, I told my boss that I am pregnant.

I didn't really want to tell her so early, at 10.5 weeks. It feels weird...and dangerous (this is my 7th pregnancy after all....and I have no children). But we are in the process at work of hiring a post-doc, and my boss was vaguely considering trying to hire two, but leaning towards only one. She really should hire two, in general, I think. And especially if I am going to be out for a few months next fall/winter.

I also am strongly suspecting I will not go to California for my two talks. I needed to let her know that as well. The Rochester talk must go on - there is a contract, and there is no one else to give it.

I had previously told one person on my team, who is in a senior position to me, and who knows my boss very well, that I am pregnant. She is a good friend and knows that we have had a long road with many losses. She has been advising me to tell my boss for some time. Has said that my boss will be very supportive and protective. That my boss is smart enough to know that I have been married five years, am on the older side, probably want a family, and obviously don't have kids. That she probably knows we've had some troubles, and that she would be a big advocate, but only if I tell her. I was scared, though. One, I think it is weird, and too personal, to tell too early unless someone is a good friend. Two, I wasn't sure she would be super supportive. She's a tough woman, and a single mom, and I honestly thought she might go either way. She's not the most sympathetic in general. She's internationally known, a big player in a male-dominated academic medicine clinical research area, and has the savvy and the thick body armor to prove it. Also, although we work on a larger team of clinician-researchers, the three of us (my boss, my friend, and me) make up the core of the team. I didn't think my boss would be very excited about me maybe not being at my best and then taking a bunch of time off.

So, yeah.

But because of the hiring and presentation issues, I felt I had to take the risk and speak up.

So I met her in her office alone after another meeting, told her a few other things of importance, and then slid this in at the end. Saying I knew it was early, but for planning purposes, and because I trusted and respected her, I thought she had to know. That anything could happen and I very well may not have a baby, but that just in case, I needed to tell her.

And damn if she wasn't just wonderful.

Her response was so genuine that I almost teared up (the pregnancy hormones make this easier, but still...). She was thrilled for me, for my husband Will. She said she wanted to do anything possible to make things easier on me. When I told her I might not want to go to the California conference, she said no problem. I told her I started to miscarry in 2010 at another work-related conference and that I associated the travel with miscarriage, even though it was likely not causal. She said that I shouldn't go to California. That I "don't have to do exposure therapy during my pregnancy" by traveling to a conference if that makes me nervous. That she would try to travel in my place (!) and that if not, we'd have someone else give my talks. That if I didn't want to fly to Rochester, I could drive or take the train and take more time off. That if I still felt that was too stressful, I could just cancel it, contract be damned.

She did ask me pointedly if I would be returning to work after I have the baby ("after I have the baby" - ha! ha! egads!). I looked her in the eye and said yes.

She asked if I was 100% sure.

I said I've never done this before, so I can't be 100% sure (she started looking upset at this), but that I spent many years training to enter this field (8, including my post-doctoral fellowship), and that I loved my work. That seemed to mollify her a bit.

She said I'm entitled to three months off, and that she assumed I would take all of it. Then she said that given how long we have struggled for this baby, I might want to take additional time off, another month or two, and that she would strongly support that. This shocked me, and moved me. I told her that was wonderful, but that right now I really can't imagine that I'm even going to have a baby, so I can't really envision the time off aspect yet. That much further along, should I be so lucky to get that far, I would look into that, if that was ok. She seemed to understand. But WOW. That she would suggest I could take extra time off...that's pretty amazing.

She also asked when I planned to tell our larger team. I said I hadn't really thought too much about it yet, but I thought it wouldn't be for a long while. Maybe 20 weeks? 25 weeks? She said she would keep things to herself no problem and she understood that emotionally that would feel a lot safer for me to wait a long time, but she cautioned me I might not be able to wait that long. She said people started asking her when she was about 12 weeks pregnant (the audacity!) and she ended up telling sooner than she planned because of that. So hmmm....may need to get clothes that are roomier to try to buy myself more time...some of my regular clothes are a bit snug already.

It was really scary to take the risk and tell my boss. I hope I didn't tempt fate by telling.

Symptomwise, things are a bit strange. I  was feeling a little better, but then I actually threw up on Tuesday night and was feeling very nauseated last night as well. Fatigue had seemed to be lifting too but then yesterday I felt like I was hit by a truck. And headaches! I'm not a headache person, but blinding headaches almost every day for at least part of the day. That was a bit of a surprise. Not sure what's causing it. So, symptoms are still coming and going. All of which is fine. More than fine. Bring them on! I am just so, so grateful to be this far along. I still really can't believe this is happening, one day at a time, pregnant as far as I know. I had really given up on the idea that this could happen for me.

Mo


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41 comments:

Marianne said...

So glad she was understanding!!!!

Dora said...

I LOVE HER! This is wonderful. I know it's too soon for you to wrap your head around, but you should definitely take an extra month or two. Three months is right about when they become less blobby, eating and sleeping things and start to show their personalities.

Seriously, if you want company for the Rochester trip, I can see if my mom can take Sunshine for a couple of days. I have lots of vacation time.

Re the headaches, tylenol is likely useless. Try ice packs. Do you have pollen allergies? The headaches could be from all the blooming trees.

Re "I hope I didn't tempt fate by telling." STOP THAT! What would you tell a client who said that to you?

Much love!

Miss Megan said...

Whew! It's always scary to tell your boss! I am thrilled for you that she was so responsive and supportive! I had to tell my boss at 8 weeks (EEK!) that I was expecting twins, and he too asked me straight out if I intended to return to work after they were born. Of course I intended to (and did return in fact), but it is so hard when you are at that early pregnancy point (after multiple losses none the less) to make such assumptions! You're right, you can't even fathom a take home baby yet!
Okay, and I am laughing at you not telling people until 20-25 weeks. While it's a great plan, there's no way you will be able to hide it that long! Maybe 16 weeks? 18 max? It depends on your body type of course, both times I really started to "show" by 16-18 weeks, and had I not said something, people definitely would have started asking (I know, because strangers had started asking by 18 weeks!). The audacity, I know! But "normal" people who can get pregnant easily just don't get it....why wouldn't you want to tell people? Are you kidding? My baby could die at any time, and then I'd have to go backwards and tell everyone I'd miscarried again - ICK! But they don't get that...
So thrilled you are feeling relativly lousy still! I think I felt the worst between 9-12 weeks...so much is changing hormonally...and you get to pay the price. It's wonderful!
So thrilled you are where you are woman! =)

andreaz said...

And the there's the telling the clients... that's an interesting one (as a clinical psychologist myself). I told myself I would tell at 14 weeks, then kept pushing it out. I finally started telling them around 18-20 weeks, when it was getting noticeable. Then you get to prepare yourself for their varied reactions! I dreaded it, and at the same time, was so grateful to have that opportunity to do it.

Kudos to your boss. I know the field, generally, and know they can be tough ones, you academic/researchers. Good for her for remembering what matters. :)

Anonymous said...

Yay! Yay! YAY! I'm so glad you are going with regret management here, and skipping (or strongly considering skipping) the California conference! Whew! One in your state, sure. That's do-able. I love that she said that about "exposure therapy". Yay!

And yay for support for time off!

And yay for a growing baby!

Yay! Yay! YAY!

TeeJay said...

I got all warm and fuzzy inside reading how your boss reacted. I also got chills and tears in my eyes. Isn't it wonderful how people can surprise us in good ways? You so deserve a great boss like that. Just like you deserve this pregnancy to yield a happy, healthy baby. I'm so glad she is being super supportive. It will help your stress level along the way for sure. Things are looking up!

Brid said...

Glad to hear from you today and congrats on the great boss! Alleviate some stress, no doubt! Keep on keeping on! xo

nurslouisa said...

Sounds like you have a good boss, phew! That must be a load off your mind. Good for you not saying you are 100% sure you will return because you are right you won't know how you feel till you have that baby.

Courtney said...

I'm so glad that your boss was understanding and supportive. When I was hired I told my boss that I was TTC. He was very supportive and has been ever since. We only have a few other people who work with us and they have all been great. I chose to just "put it all out there" in the beginning. I'm not much of a private person so it was easy for me.

And that's amazing that she offered more time off after the pregnancy and lessened your travelling responsibilities. Sometimes our bosses surprise us!

jenicini said...

I'm so glad this went so well! She obviously appreciates the work you do and wants to support you. :D <3

Jen said...

That is great that she was so understanding Mo - must have made things a lot easier.

tireegal68 said...

This is so cool of your boss. I'm so glad you told her. I hope you take more time off when you get to that point and consider returning to work slowly - part time and then full time. I'm sure if she knows you are going to be there for the long haul, with maybe some extra time off to get ready, she will be understanding.
It's great that you love your work. It's hard to go back if you don't. But I know I'm getting ahead of you.
I'm sending lots of hope your way for all to continue to be well.:)

path2parenthood said...

Oh how wonderful! I'm so happy for you. Having your boss as your ally helps so much - my boss was equally as wonderful during (and after) my pregnancy. This is one less stressor on your plate. YAY!

path2parenthood said...

Oh how wonderful! I'm so happy for you. Having your boss as your ally helps so much - my boss was equally as wonderful during (and after) my pregnancy. This is one less stressor on your plate. YAY!

Nichole said...

what a great response, so happy she is supportive :)

gwinne said...

So glad that conversation worked out! And lemme just say as someone who took her 14 weeks of leave...damn, another couple months would have been really nice (due to the way semesters worked out, I went back to work at 6.5 mo with LG and that was GREAT). At 4.5 mo postpartum, I'm not really thinking straight yet.... and with that, need to get back to the work.

I'm so happy for you, Mo!

It Is What It Is said...

It was probably a great relief to tell her for works sake even if it concerned you to do so. Glad you felt supported.

I remember the sometimes weeks and months without a post from you and how carefully you weighed all your options and how you didn't hold out much hope for using your embryos and I was WILLING you to put them back.

It is so hard sometimes, having had success, and rooting and pulling for others who have to find their way with whatever process makes sense for them. I am so glad you took the leap.

ThirtiesGirl said...

Your boss sounds amazing and you're lucky to have that support both before and after the baby. I'm glad you told her--it kind of feels good to tell doesn't it (even if surreal). You may be able to wait until 20 weeks. My stomach really just pushed up and was noticeable only to me and dh. Now, at 22 weeks, it's starting to push out.

Claire said...

I do like that you have some really good things happening in this pregnancy, to balance the stressful bits. X

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Mo!!!! That's awesome.

For what it's worth, once I told my boss I felt much free-er (?) and could relax just a bit. Of course he was sworn to secrecy til I made the big announcement at 12 weeks :)

Are you starting to relax, just a tiny bit?

Nepsi said...

I am so jealous... my boss was an a$$ about the whole thing. I was lucky enough to have a friend help me out so when my ER landed on the day I was supposed to be at a conference he helped me make up an alibi and went in my place :)

Hang in there. I am so happy your boss was so understanding and that you may get extra time with your baby. It is cruel to only get 3 months.

Danielle said...

Awesome! I had to tell my boss, who had been witness to our prior losses, earlier than I wanted to because of all the high-risk medical appointments we were having. I walked into his office, opened my mouth, and nothing came out. Literally nothing. I just sat there shaking my head until he said it for me.

As for telling the larger world, I sort of hoped that people would figure it out on their own, and probably waited too long. Every time I thought I was ready to tell, I was worried about jinxing it. People see what they want to see. I told some patients at 16 weeks and they swore they had known for ages, and some at 26 weeks and they were shocked. You can probably get to 20 and past the anatomy scan and still leave time for a respectful termination with your clients and coverage arrangements with your colleagues. Buttonless cardigans. They are amazing for camouflage.

Anonymous said...

I got teary eyed just reading this!.
Continued love and support to you and I long for the day that I read that you have all the discomforts of being 9 months pregnant!!.

Kristin said...

I am so glad your boss was completely fabulous about it all.

As for the headaches, hormones can make them worse. Talk to your doc. I;m a migraine sufferer and was able to take vicodin for the pain. Evidently, it doesn't cross the placental barrier and affect the baby.

CeCe said...

Wow, that is so great. You deserve to be surrounded by support- I am so glad and relieved for you in the way that your boss responded.

As for the extra month or two of maternity leave-- take it!! :)

Jen said...

Yeah that things went so well and that she is so amazingly supportive. Following you helps me see what might be happening to me shortly and helps me realize that I am not the only one terrified and thrilled about being pregnant. I hope that telling my bosses goes as well (scary as I am at will employee). My mom thought I should wait until I was 6 months - with twins! I had to laugh, I have already grown out of some of my clothes at not even 10 weeks. Thinking of you and your precious little one!

Emily Erin said...

So, so relieved that your conversation with your boss went so well, especially given your feeling that it could go either way. So very happy that you can gracefully back out of the California travel! I waited until 18 weeks to tell work with my first, and just wore jumpers, but the morning of my big 'reveal', someone cornered me at the water fountain and flat out asked, so clearly the jumpers weren't cutting it. Also consider getting a few maternity things now and start mixing them in with the typical rotation. I'm a huge fan of the Secret Fit Belly stuff from Motherhood because the waistline is kind of like tights and so will stay up even on a not very pregnant body (as well as managing to stay up on a VERY pregnant body). So very happy that you had such a wonderful conversation with such a happy outcome!

irrationalexuberance said...

AM so pleased to hear that it went well -- it is so scary to actually tell people that you are pregnant. And kudos to your boss for being super awesome about it. Really -- that's wonderful. And also good for you for admitting that you really didn't want to go to CA (or Rochester) -- that was probably not easy to do, but you deserve to be as relaxed as possible. Yay!!

newbie said...

That's so great that your boss is being so cool about this! I think we are often surprised on the upside by these things. My work was shockingly fantastic about giving me a paid leave-of-absence when I wanted to pursue IVF, and even after I didn't end up going back, I received support/money far beyond what I expected. So congrats, clearly you are a valued employee, otherwise she wouldn't be so accommodating. You are wise to tell her you don't know 100% if you will be back - how could you? And you should take that extra month she offered!!

BTW, don't know if this has anything to do with it, but I am finding that my additional nausea may have been related to not eating enough. Even though I feel like I've been eating all the time, I started to eat even more substantial meals and it has really helped. And yes, now I'm super super fat. You are working hard so it's easy not to eat enough - maybe try to eat some more and see if that helps? I'm reading this book that says that the weight gained in the first & second trimester are far more important to the baby's health and ultimate weight than the weight gained in the third trimester. So make sure you're getting enough nutrition for you and the little one!

Missy F said...

WOW! How awesome ; ) So so glad she was so receptive & supportive...you deserve it! As far as trying to "hide" the belly at work, you are hospital based no? Can you sport a good ole' white 3/4 length lab coat in a size bigger, buttoned? I did and no one could tell at all (i'm petite and showed rather early like 12wks...) but with that on you couldn't even see it at 6months! Or if you are in regular work attire I highly recommend the open/button less cardigans that have the xtra length/fabric in the front (crappy description lol!) you can keep it closed with a funky pin or pile on some long necklaces to help keep them from paying too much attention ; ) THis being said I hope you get some awesome maternity duds to rock @ home & on weekends b/c you deserve to show off this pregnancy as much as you would like too!!!

Malia said...

I have the exact same due date that you do. I found your blog around week 5 and throughout our pregnancies I've been astonished at how our symptoms ebb and flow in identical ways on a daily basis I've been feeling really good in the last 4-5 days, in fact yesterday morning woke up thinking I was back to my old self I was getting so much done! Then yesterday afternoon, same as you-- I was hit by the same headache, fatigue truck! Totally pooped today. I am daily thankful for the reassurance from your descriptions of your experience and just wanted to say thanks. :)

Kristen said...

So glad your boss was so great! That's huge.
And glad you are thinking of not traveling. I used to travel a lot for work (mostly spending a week or two or three at a time in Boston), and during my pregnancy I was tempted, but ultimately decided not to do. It was hard to back off on work, but I kept telling myself "health and family first" and feel like I made the right decision.

Kristen said...

So glad your boss was so great! That's huge.
And glad you are thinking of not traveling. I used to travel a lot for work (mostly spending a week or two or three at a time in Boston), and during my pregnancy I was tempted, but ultimately decided not to do. It was hard to back off on work, but I kept telling myself "health and family first" and feel like I made the right decision.

Kristina said...

So happy that she was super supportive! I would imagine it feels great to let go of CA conference and even have option to let go or take more time for Rochester. Yay!

Nadine said...

I'm so glad you told and that she was so supportive. When I finally told our executive team one of the most supportive was the head of psych, such a kind understanding man, as opposed to those other ahole docs.

One day at a time lady!

Anonymous said...

Good to hear!
P.S. I so think you will be staying home with the baby for much longer. I did not the issues you guys had and could not imagine going back to work and have either of my babies with a stranger, friend or even family member. Just not being there for all the snuggles, smiles and poopy diapers.
Alex

Alexicographer said...

Super ... I understand the tension of telling a boss, and doing so early (whatever early means to you, of course). I found myself similarly situated when my boss was proposing hosting a conference on the day of ... my due date, which of course I had memorized very early (for the record, he arrived 5 days after that).

I'll chime in with those saying that flexibility in returning could be great; I stretched my 3 months out over 4 by returning at something like (I forget the exact math, and it's late) 40% time in month 3 and 60% in month 4 (i.e. I went back after 2 months, but only part-time at first and ramped up). And I absolutely think you should do whatever works for you but in all honesty and despite the long wait to motherhood (though not the losses you've endured), I personally have been very happy about notbeing a SAHM, even (and perhaps especially) early on. But, you can think about that when the baby's arrival draws near.

Jacky said...

I'm so glad she was supportive! And extra time off. There can never be too much of that with a little baby. Any chance of going back part time for a while after? I did that and it was awesome.

So glad all is going well. You know you can't bring on a mc by telling, right? I know you know.

Hugs, and more hugs,
Jacky

Serenity said...

The telling part is so hard. As is wrapping your brain around the fact that there might be a baby in 29 more weeks. Just tough all around - I TOTALLY get it.

But man, your boss was awesome.

I second the idea of taking more time off as well. I took 6 months off when Lucky was born, and it was about right. By 5 months I was READY to go back. I wasn't at 3 months.

xoxo

Let There Be Sims said...

Phew! What a relief. So happy u made it this far!

Libby said...

I love your boss' reaction. That in itself has to be a weight lifted. My boss is male but very chatty, so I tell him as little as possible and then have to remind him that I am super private, etc. Also glad to hear you can skip the trips. In the interest of no regrets, I think I'd have to play it safe.

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