I’m a bit worried people might get the wrong idea about that headline. I am not pregnant. Not even thinking about that at the moment.
What I have been thinking about lately is the way I handled telling my previous boss about my pregnancy, and what has changed between now and then. What’s prompted this thought? I think it’s conversations I’ve had with soon-to-be first-time-mums and my desire to help them look into that crystal ball – I wish I had of had one. Oh, I would handle things so differently next time! And maybe my sharing that will help a pregnant reader feel a bit more unapologetic – that is assuming readers feel as I did.
First off, it’s important to note that before I had missy my career was up there as one of my top priorities, second behind my wonderful hubby. So, the idea of taking time out to be a mother was somewhat petrifying to me. I wanted to do it, but I was a bit nervous on how it would impact my career. When I announced my pregnancy I was determined to enforce how dedicated to the job I was, how my career was important to me, and how I was going to try and have it all. Oh, naive little mumma.
I worked up until the week I had missy. By choice. I was still sending story ideas to my replacement while I was breastfeeding missy at 2am. I was seriously considering attractive job offers when missy was just eight weeks old. Then, one day, it all just disappeared in this cloud of milky, powdery wonderfulness.
Don’t get me wrong, my career is still important to me. I work hard, I undertake professional development and I still lie awake thinking about work on occasion. But there’s no denying that things are very different now. It’s hard to explain without sounding like I no longer care about my career – and I do. It’s just not number two anymore.
Here’s how I’d handle things differently this time.
I’d tell my boss sooner
First time around I told my boss 14 weeks into my pregnancy. I had been vomiting for 10 of those weeks. Next time around I’m going to put my hand up sooner. I’m not going to be a hero. And, if things go wrong? I’d like my employer to know that too, so getting told earlier isn’t going to change anything. No more worrying they’ll replace me if I’m pregnant.
I’d take sick days
I still smugly gloat about my only taking one sick day while pregnant. Meanwhile I spent half my life hugging the toilet bowl of the office. You know what? I no longer work for that company. And all those sick days I didn’t take? I never got paid for them. Silly, silly girl!
I’d put myself first
I was working on a massive tender project when I was pregnant. Great experience. Good for my career. Now, when it comes down to it, I realised I pushed myself too far, and I put work before myself. I remember reading tender documents while having my glucose test at the hospital. It was ridiculous!
I’d finish work sooner
I toyed with this idea for a while. After all, the benefits to finishing work when I did was that I got a full year with missy. However, I was also next to useless in the last two weeks of work and dead tired. Next time around (if there is one) I think 37 weeks might be a more magic number for me. Also, it might help me wind down. As it was, I was still thinking about work while grappling with a newborn.
I wouldn’t worry so much
The law states your employer has to hold your job for you – or a comparable one – while you are on maternity leave. Worrying about them replacing you is ridiculous. I also spent a lot of time worrying my replacement would be better than me and I would be made redundant. It’s ridiculous. And you know what? If a company I worked for did find a way to get away with something like that, I’m not sure they’re a company I’d want to be working for anyway.
In saying that, there was so much I got right (I think). I was clear about what I wanted to do when I came back from day dot. I was clear that I wasn’t coming back until we had childcare arrangements in place, and I guess it was also clear that I was dedicated to the company, which I was. It’s just that hindsight, and having time to realise what really matters, is a wonderful thing to share with others.
Read next: Working from home with a two-year-old