update: should I care about my employer when figuring out when to have a baby?

Remember the letter-writer last year who was wondering whether she was over-thinking how the timing of her future pregnancy might impact her employer? Here’s the update.

I was indeed over-thinking it, and I was being way too accommodating to my employer in my planning.

In hindsight, my question really came down to two issues: first, being transparent about my plans for leaving in the midst of some staffing changes/professional development plans and second, being concerned about my reputation if the timing ended up working out so that I had a baby during our busy season and/or at the end of my time there (and was out of the office on FMLA right before quitting).

I’m happy to say that it has all worked out quite well! I ended up getting pregnant within a couple of months of writing my letter, but unfortunately had a miscarriage and told my boss when I unexpectedly needed a few days out of the office. This didn’t really change anything about my day-to-day, but it made it a lot easier later on when I needed time out of the office for fertility treatments because she was already in the loop.

Then a few months later, my boss, my boss’s boss, and I had a discussion about the next steps in my career development and what positions/skills I wanted to grow into based on some organizational realignment. It was the perfect opportunity to bring up my potential plans to leave (which weren’t completely set in stone yet), and begin to plan at least one scenario that involved me leaving.

I ended up finalizing plans to go back to school and gave my boss almost 8 months’ notice. We gave the rest of the team 6 months’ notice. Again, I was fortunate to have a fantastic manager and we each really appreciated being able to have a long notice period, which hasn’t been common at my organization. I was able to move into a different, less unique position, hire and replace my former position, and then resign a few months later to enroll in a family-friendly grad program that’s a career requirement in my new field. I’m also pregnant with a baby due later this fall, so again, happy news all around.

Like several people said in the comments, I realized through this process my employer just considers FMLA part of doing business. I work for a large company that’s 80% young women and we have a lot of pregnancies. In fact, since writing my letter we had several women come back to work full-time after maternity leave, but one woman in my department was planning to quit at the end of her leave for family reasons. She took her 12 weeks of FMLA at the recommendation/encouragement of her supervisor and then put in her notice. Our department management felt like FMLA is each employee’s legal right, is easier to plan for than an unexpected injury/illness, was what worked for this particular employee’s family/benefit situations and this employee had developed a reputation as a diligent, respectful employee who wasn’t trying to take advantage of anyone. No bridges burned there.

Finally, I just wanted to put in a plug for vetting potential employers from a culture perspective, especially as a newish or entry-level employee. The last time I was job searching, I was really impressed with how this company talked about caring for employees, providing professional development opportunities, etc. I ended up being a highly satisfied employee, and I think a big part of that was evaluating fit during my job search as thoroughly as the potential day-to-day of the job description.

Thanks, Alison, for all your help – working through this was a huge personal relief and growing opportunity for me!

{ 27 comments… read them below }

  1. LBK*

    Hooray! This is a great update, and I’m glad to hear that everything worked out so well. Congrats OP!

  2. Joseph*

    I’ve noted Fridays seem to have lots of positive updates in the past couple of months. I don’t know if this is intentional or a pure coincidence, but it’s pretty awesome way.

  3. MissDisplaced*

    Wow! You must’ve had a really great employer and boss, which is something we don’t always see here.

  4. AMG*


    I wish OP could tell the name of the company without revealing her identity. Instead of ‘name and shame’ there should be a ‘name and praise’ for the best company you ever worked for and why.

    1. Ruffingit*

      YES! I would love that because honestly, IME, so few companies actually care about their employees well being. I would love to know the ones that do so I can put them on potential job hunting lists.

  5. Jo*

    Love this from all angles. Congrats on the bub OP, I’m due myself soon so I’ll empathise with the family happiness bit :) x

  6. Chickaletta*

    Wow, great employer!

    “Our department management felt like FMLA is each employee’s legal right, is easier to plan for than an unexpected injury/illness, was what worked for this particular employee’s family/benefit situations”, I wish more of them thought like this.

  7. GeoZee*

    Great update!
    I started a new job 4 weeks ago and am 13 weeks pregnant. I have not told my boss yet. Part of the delay is waiting till all was clear with the 12 week scan and also my age (37).

    Any thoughts on when to tell a new employer? I’m VERY nervous about this.

    1. fremo*

      I would say sooner than later. Our newest staff member told us as soon as she knew. The timing is actually pretty bad for us, but since we now, we can start planning and preparing for her leave. I can’t imagine the stress we would go through had we found out later. We’re much happier being able to be supportive, without being driven mad. :-)

    2. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      Talk to your OB about risks… she/he can probably do a lot to put your mind at ease especially if everything looks fine on the 12 week scan. After that, you’ll probably feel comfortable telling. I’ve heard of folks keeping it under wraps until 20 weeks though; that’s not outside the norm. Especially if you’re new to a job and still in the “proving yourself” stage. Ultimately your call.

      1. Anonhippopotamus*

        Keeping it secret until 20 weeks when you are physically seen by your employer and co-worker would be very difficult for most women (with normal builds). You definitely want your employer to find out from you telling them before they find out because you have any obvious baby bump.

  8. ChristmasCarol*

    Semi-off topic, and it isn’t going to change anybody’s timing now, but from OP’s original post: “…….another complicating factor is that my marriage isn’t recognized by my state and my state doesn’t allow second parent adoption. That means my spouse won’t have a legal connection to the little nugget and………… ” Haven’t the Supremes (finally) corrected this?

    1. LBK*

      Ha, I enjoy you referring to them as the Supremes. Does that make Diana Ross the Chief Justice?

  9. PlumBlossom*

    >I just wanted to put in a plug for vetting potential employers from a culture perspective, especially as a newish or entry-level employee.

    Agreed, but how many employers are going to tell you straight-up that they aren’t supportive of these things? Everyone talks up their companies about caring for employees, etc. so I don’t know how much you can trust that. /once-twice-thrice-bitten-so-shy

      1. Honeybee*

        Just want to put the plug in – I think this article came out right before I started interviewing last year when I was job-hunting, and these questions were 1) anticipated by the good companies that actually think about culture and 2) were really telling even when a company doesn’t want to say flat out “we’re workaholics with no work-life balance”. You could sort of read between the lines to hear what they were really saying, and in one instance the interviewers repeated the same phrase so many times that it was clear that this was their canned and not-entirely-truthful response about work-life balance.

  10. Jes*

    Congratulations on the arrival of your little! I also had a miscarriage and had to go through fertility treatments to conceive, so I understand the heartache. I hope everything goes great with delivery.

    1. davey1983*

      Let me extend my sympathies to you. I hope things work out for you. I know this is unsolicited, but there are support groups for those going through what you are going through– I was reluctant at first to go, but I found them very helpful once I finally did. Ask your doctor, they usually keep contact information for these groups.

      1. Anonhippopotamus*

        Here to join the miscarriage club. Mine was just 2 weeks ago. The biggest thing that has helped me has been reading or hearing stories of other women that I know who have been through the same thing. It’s a lot more comforting than just reading statistics that say 1/5 pregnancies end in miscarriage when you actually know women who carried those 1/5. It’s so damn common and even if most women don’t talk about, I can guarantee that there are several women that you know who have been through the same thing. I wish people talked about it more openly.

        1. HDL*

          Yes. I have two children and had a miscarriage in between. My officemate at the time also had a miscarriage about the same time as me and neither of us knew about the other’s conditions until months later when she announced that she was pregnant. It just made me think of how secretive we are about such a common occurrence. For those ladies who are suffering through this – you are not alone.

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