By Guest Blogger Emily Gregg
I don’t think many people enjoy the process of job searching. It can be shameless and exhausting – factors exaggerated by the weight of life’s responsibilities. But what if you’re staring down the barrel of an impending birth as a first-time mom?
This is the situation I found myself in when I was 14 weeks pregnant.
When my husband and I were ready to start a family, we were happily surprised when we got pregnant after only a few months. We had a stable home in Wilmington, jobs, and the desire to be parents. My job at the time required me to move around heavy computer equipment so I informed my boss earlier than normal, at about 8 weeks, to make him aware I would need some slight accommodations. His response was less warm than I would’ve liked and that should have been a red flag. As time went by, he began to treat me differently; a general overall rudeness and need to disrespect me and my work hung over my head like a giant rain cloud. I couldn’t help but wonder, was this because I told him I was pregnant? I had no clue my first act as a mom would be leaving my once-believed stable job, to venture into the new territory of pure unemployment, in order to protect my body from a stressful and toxic work environment. At 14 weeks, I turned over my letter of resignation; his reply? “Okay.”
What was I doing! We had a house payment and student loans, living off state employee salaries! How do I get an individual insurance plan for prenatal appointments? Do we qualify for WIC? What can I cut; what can I sell? Where my former supervisor’s toxicity ate a hole in my soul, it was quickly replaced with the crushing reality of adulthood. I had to find another job, quickly.
I spent every day searching job websites and applying. Weeks turned into months. I started to panic as my growing baby bump began to make it impossible to hide. I also knew when I accepted a position, I would have to disclose to them my pregnancy which would mean a maternity leave after only a few months on the job. By 26 weeks, I felt hopeless. I spent hours Googling ‘how to get a job pregnant’. I had to up my game: I bought a perfectly tailored dress to camouflage my belly and put it on the credit card; I made a completely new resume; most importantly, I realized I couldn’t limit myself to Wilmington. It was a tough pill to swallow. My parents lived in the Triad and after many discussions, it was decided I would move back home while my husband stayed in Wilmington to sell our house and find himself a new job. Behind that simple sentence are endless tears and restless nights.
Then all of a sudden, the clouds broke. When I started fishing in the Triad pool, I got the bites I was looking for. An opportunity fell into my lap promising even greater things than my previous job so I suggested a Skype interview. I knew if I showed them my personality, my expertise, my gumption to invite them to Skype I could win. It also meant they couldn’t see my bump.
That did it. I received an offer through e-mail from HR a couple weeks later, upon which I immediately disclosed my situation. It was nail-biting waiting for their response but so worth it when I read her reply: an astounding “Congratulations!” At 30 weeks pregnant, I walked into my new office.
My story has a happy ending but I realize some are not so lucky. If you are in a toxic work environment and pregnant? Leave, using reasonable judgement. Bigger things may be on your horizon and nothing is worth your health. If you are seeking employment and expecting? Stay strong, stay diligent, but also stay humble and welcome ideas that may seem crazy, like completely uprooting your family and moving 3 hours away. Be confident, be brazen. Most importantly take the time to appreciate your pregnancy within the chaos, because this too shall pass.