I want to get pregnant … but I love my new job

A reader writes:

I recently started a new job. I’m working for a startup in London, which is an unfamiliar environment for me, and in a brand new area. I’ve previously worked for much bigger companies where management has been quite hands-off, or for very small businesses where everyone tended to know what was happening with each other.

I really, really like this new job. I have a lot of responsibility, I’ve been encouraged by my manager to think about the long-term future and potentially building out my own department, and I get to work closely with the CEO and have a level of strategic oversight that I’ve never experienced before.

Here’s the problem: I also want to have a baby. And there’s a couple of ways in which this is complicating my life and my approach to my job.

The first is that I have a medical condition that means it’s proving quite hard for me to get pregnant. This means a lot of doctor’s appointments, scans, etc. I’ve had three doctor’s appointments, one scan in hospital, and one nutritionist’s appointment in the last three months, and I have another scan and appointment with the nutritionist coming up in the next month.

I really don’t want to seem as though I’m skiving off all the time, but I also don’t feel like revealing to my manager that I’m trying to get pregnant and dealing with quite a complicated medical situation. Of course, I know that trying to get pregnant or being pregnant can’t legally affect how they treat me at work – but there are just 25 people in the office, my boss is just a couple of years older than me, none of the people here have children … and there’s no HR department. I’m concerned that while the letter of the law might be followed, the processes aren’t robust enough to actually make sure it doesn’t negatively affect me. I don’t want to be overlooked for progression and future opportunities because they think I’m about to go off and have a baby, especially since it could potentially be two or three years before I actually get pregnant. On the other hand, I feel like cumulating a bunch of doctor’s appointments / sick leave is going to make me look like I’m not taking the job seriously enough, which is very much not the case.

My instinct is to tell my manager – who is one step below the CEO – that I’ve been recently diagnosed with a medical condition (which is true, as I only got the firm diagnosis in February) which will require ongoing appointments, probably once or twice a month, for probably the next six months. If the current treatments don’t work, then the volume of appointments will probably step up with the next type of treatment, which will be more interventionist. However, I don’t want to give her the impression that I have something life-threatening and then turn around and be like, psych! I’m actually having a baby. Although obviously I would love an opportunity to say psych! in real life. Should I say “I have a condition, it’s important to treat now but it’s not actually causing me any pain or preventing me from doing my job, I’m still going to hit my targets”? I don’t want to start promising to make up the hours since obviously the point of sick leave is that you don’t have to pay back that time – but should I?

The second is the larger question of whether this is a good time to actually start a family. Honestly, this doesn’t concern me as much as it maybe ought to. I’m almost 30, I’m in a very loving and secure relationship, we’re financially stable, and I don’t think I’m ever going to be at a perfect time to have a baby. What’s more, my medical condition means that the earlier I do have a baby, the better. But is this far too blase an attitude? Am I potentially throwing a grenade into my career, just when it’s starting to look like a real prospect? I don’t want to wait, especially because it could be years until I actually get pregnant, but am I being foolish?

I’m not under any illusions about what comes next. I know that balancing children and work is hard. I’m also nervous that all the medical appointments will come to naught, and then my husband and I will have to make a decision about what to do next. But for right now, I’m stuck between creating the best possible situation for myself at work and doing what I need to do in order to have a baby. Help me!

I think your instincts here are pretty perfect.

You can tell your boss the pieces of the truth that are relevant to her and to your work right now, without telling her the parts that are personal and ultimately not her business. In other words, you can say this: “I want to let you know that I’ve recently been diagnosed with a medical condition that will require regular doctors’ appointments for a while — probably two a month for the next six months. After that, I’ll have a better idea of what else might be required, if anything. This isn’t anything you need to worry about — it’s not life-threatening or anything that will impact my work. It’s just something that I need to take care of, and I wanted to let you know so that you’re not wondering when you see me out for a bunch of doctors’ appointments.”

A good manager will respect your privacy here, but if yours presses for details, it’s fine to just say, “I’d rather not get into the details, but I promise to keep you posted if anything changes that would impact work. But please know that I’ll be fine! There’s no reason to worry.”

And no, you do not need to offer to make up the hours. The point of sick leave is that it’s there for you to use for health needs; you’re not expected to make up that time, at least not in a functional office. (Of course, if you’re taking time off on a particularly busy week, you might need to adjust your schedule in other ways to accommodate for that. But in general, sick time is yours to actually use.)

You mentioned that you’re worried that once you end up announcing a pregnancy, your manager might feel duped by this conversation. But first, she’s not necessarily going to connect your doctor appointments with the pregnancy, since people get pregnant while treating totally unrelated conditions. And second, you do have a legitimate health condition; you’re not misrepresenting that. If treating it results in a baby at the end of the process, well, mission accomplished. That’s okay — don’t feel weird about it.

And really, this isn’t information that your manager is entitled to! There’s a reason that there are laws protecting pregnant women from discrimination at work. (That’s true in both the U.S., and the U.K., although since you’re in London, your legal protection is even a bit stronger than ours is here.) And speaking of pregnancy discrimination, you’re absolutely right to wonder whether, laws aside, some bias might kick in once your office knows you’re actively trying to get pregnant. Even among well-intended people who want to be supportive of moms and would-be moms, it can be easy to fall into thinking, “Hmmm, Jane might be out a big chunk of next year, so maybe we should hold off on giving her any new big projects right now.” That thinking isn’t right — and it’s illegal! — but it’s really common, and it can be hard to guard against. That’s especially true in smaller offices like yours, where parental leave can feel like a bigger deal because there are fewer people around to cover your work for you, and where there’s no HR department watching out for this kind of bias.

In fact, you might even think of it this way: By not disclosing your childbearing plans at this point, you’re making it easier for your employer to follow the law. Bias is hard to overcome, even when people don’t want to be biased, so you might as well make it easy for them and not share information that they’re not legally allowed to act on. (It’s the same principle as not disclosing a pregnancy when you’re interviewing: Since employers aren’t legally allowed to factor in your pregnancy, do them the favor of not throwing it in the mix, at least not until you have a job offer.)

Now, what about your larger question of whether this is a good time to start a family? Obviously that’s a decision that only you and your husband can make, but for what it’s worth, it sounds like a fine time to me. I get that you’re worried about derailing your career just when you’ve gotten into a position you love … but by not doing it, you risk derailing your life. You were good enough to work your way into the job you have now, with all the opportunities that it gives you, and that means that you’ll have a pretty solid foundation for your professional life once there’s a baby in the picture too. You’re unlikely to ever stumble into the exact perfect time to do it, but everything you’ve described sounds like you’re in a good situation to make this work.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 126 comments… read them below }

    1. Banana Sandwich*

      +1 YES! At some point you gotta do what you gotta do. Its all about priorities!

      1. Banana Sandwich*

        To elaborate, I was in the exact same position as OP a year and a half ago. I had been in my new job which I loved for 6 months. Everything was going great, I was even about to be promoted after doing so well.

        Then, I had an opportunity to adopt a baby dropped in my lap. Let me tell you, I totally panicked! Work was going so great but I had wanted a baby for so long! I was trying to think of every way to make it work, and it probably would have. But I made the wrong decision and gave it up to focus on my career. I completely regret that decision.

        Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t learned from my mistake, because we are about to adopt the most adorable 9 year old boy! I had to make my need to be a mother a priority and make it happen. Granted, I have some tenure now and 2 promotions under my belt, but I want OP to remember that good bosses will generally work to keep good employees regardless of things that come up in life, even if the conditions aren’t ideal.

        Good Luck OP!

    2. LJL*

      Precisely. I wanted to wait till my career was all in place till I got pregnant.Long story short, life happened, it took a while for career to get into place, but baby didn’t. If this is something you want, learn from what I didn’t and begin to do it now. :-)

      Good luck!

    3. Artemesia*

      This. Some things are more important than other things and if you want to have children, that is more important than any other thing. You don’t, especially with medical issues, have forever to make this happen and the sooner you start the better.

      I dithered over trying for a second child. It was a bad point in my career and might have hurt my advancement to be out then, but we had had fertility issues with our first and I was 35 and so we tried. And we conceived literally on the first night we tried. My company merged and my department was let go when I was 7 months pregnant. I can’t tell you how happy I was that I had this baby on the way; imagine sacrificing what proved to be my fabulous daughter for career advancement that was doomed anyway.

      When my daughter had her first child, her company eliminated the office in her city and so she and her colleagues were out of work. Apparently it is genetic.

  1. Bend & Snap*

    Keep going on the pregnancy route. I had some of the same worries but it took me 7 years to have my daughter. If you really want to have a baby and know you’re going to have trouble, you shouldn’t put it off, IMO. I wasn’t even 30 when I started IVF and was 36 when I had my kiddo. I got pregnant 6 months into a new job, it was no issue, and my job was waiting for me after leave. I’m still here and happy 4 years later.

    I also don’t think you need to disclose what your medical condition is. Your script for telling your boss is perfect.

    There comes a time where you can’t back burner your life for fertility treatments; things like vacation, etc. But to put off having a family because of a job is something most people would regret.

    I wish you the best of luck and hope this perspective is helpful.

    1. Hills to Die on (formerly AMG)*

      I wish I could give you my ability to get pregnant in a nanosecond. It breaks my heart to hear the fertility struggles some people go through. I wish you all the best. <3

      1. Artemesia*

        Me too — we were lucky that we didn’t have to go to IVF but it took a long while and all those tests and a couple of treatments and then just having him seemed to fix everything as conceiving the second was instantaneous to our surprise. Wish I could share the magic.

        We have 3 friends who conceived long after they had given up — hope those of you struggling are among the 10% or so for whom that happens.

    2. DCompliance*

      As someone who is in the middle of IVF, I am so happy to hear your story, Bend & Snap.

    3. lfi*

      ahh so there is hope on the ivf route? slightly OT but just found out today that’s what they are recommending for us. trying not to feel like i’ve been buried under a ton of bricks but just feeling sad.

      1. DCompliance*

        It is completely okay to feel sad. I think there is hope. Every doctor recommends something different for each IVF patient. I wish you a lot of luck during yours.

  2. Ramona Flowers*

    If you want any advice on your rights at work, look up the ACAS helpline – they will give you advice for free. There’s some good info on their site too e.g. about rights at work while having IVF to pick one example.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      She’s in the UK. .. they are legally obliged to give her same or equivalent position if she returns within a year.

  3. MindoverMoneyChick*

    Oh my…there is no perfect way to deal with this, but as Allison said in her answer I think your instincts are on. I was a manager in a female dominated industry and had to deal with many, many pregnancies in my staff. Ok, to be totally honest I found it a pain to deal with. But my bosses (Type A working mom’s themselves) were incredibly supportive of pregnant employees and the idea that they were in no way obligated to work their reproductive plans around company needs.
    They were supportive up to a point of working parents. Supportive in that schedules were allowed to be very flexible, leaving in the middle of the day to take kids to a field trip or the doctor was no problem. You just made up the work at night. Which is why I say “to a point”. Workloads were high, long hours were the norm, it’s just that you could work your 60+ hours on whatever schedule worked for you. Some mom’s continued to thrive and grow within the company after having their kids. Others did not really want to keep up with the hours and over time those would up leaving of their own accord or being the first in line for lay-offs.

    1. Anonnnnnnnnn*

      Plus, if you are in the UK and are pregnant you generally end up being off for a year. Some people take less time off, but most people are off for a year. You would be best to try and build your brand as strong as possible in advance so that when people have to cover your work for a year, you have their goodwill to rely on.

  4. Weekday Warrior*

    That answer is perfect, Alison. Speaking as a manager, I’m just fine with “need to know” information from my employees and I mentor people, often women, that you don’t need to share all hopes, dreams, fears, future plans with bosses. Share what needs to be shared when it needs to be shared.

  5. Antilles*

    The second is the larger question of whether this is a good time to actually start a family.
    I’ll just toss this out: There will *never* be a perfect time to have a child. Never. No matter your age, there will always be some reason why it might not be the perfect time – because you’re starting your career (late 20’s), because you’re trying to move up the ladder (30’s), because you’re senior enough to have lots of responsibility (40’s), or because it’s medically difficult (50’s), etc.

    1. Kreacher the Teacher*

      +1! I’m a teacher dealing with health conditions that also make it hard to have children. There is a good time to have a baby when you’re a teacher: early June, so you don’t have to take any time off. But I will take my healthy pregnancy when I can get it, even if it means being gone at an “inconvenient” time. While my career is important, having a family is also important to me, and people (or at least men) are generally not expected to plan their personal lives around their career.

      1. businessfish*

        I thought a lot about the perfect timing for a pregnancy – and then needed IVF. Planning to get pregnant in a given month is a crapshoot the old fashioned way, and with medical intervention, you just take what you can get! And there will always be reasons why it’s not the right time to have a baby – until it isn’t your choice anymore. If you feel ready, pursue! You don’t know how long it will take and your career will definitely survive a pregnancy and related leave (actual parenting may be another story, but it certainly CAN and you can cross that bridge when you get to it!)

        best of luck!

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Sorry for what may be a stupid question but why does June mean you don’t need time off?

            1. Kreacher the Teacher*

              Do you get a long break in the UK for school? Generally our school year starts in August/early September and gets out in late May/early June. Unless you’re at an ill-conceived year round school, with four blocks of 9 weeks on and 3 weeks off. Terrible.

              My knowledge of UK schooling is limited to what I have read in the Harry Potter books! ;)

              1. Akcipitrokulo*

                England 5ish weeks, Scotland 7 weeks for summer.

                Both get 1 week in October, 2 for Christmas, 2 for easter. England gets 1 week in feb and 1 in may.

                Both total 12 weeks.

              2. MsSolo*

                Our school year starts early September and ends mid-to-late July, so the summer holiday is 6 weeks. Easter and Christmas are around two weeks (depending on bank holidays) and you get a week off every term (‘half term holidays’). Essentially the year is six blocks of six weeks learning broken up by 1-2 week holidays and one block of six weeks holiday. June would be an awkward time to go on maternity leave because if you took the full year, as a lot of people do, you’d be coming back close to the end of the school year.

                1. Kreacher the Teacher*

                  Oh, right! I forget that most places are not stingy with their maternity leave and you get a full year. Here you get the side-eye if you take your full 12 weeks instead of the short-term disability “definition” of 6 or 8 weeks (even though our district doesn’t even offer short term disability insurance plans!).
                  Here we get 10-ish weeks in the summer, 1-2 days in October, a week and a half over Christmas, and 3 days-1 week for “spring break” which may or may not line up with Easter.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          The school year ends in June, so they have the summer to be home with the baby without needing to take leave.

          Interestingly enough, my husband’s families are teachers, and there are all kinds of March birthdays, from the teachers conceiving when school lets out, not having the babies. LOL

          1. blackcat*

            Ah, see I’ve had teacher friends aim for march because then they use their leave up until the summer and stay home for almost 6 months.

            1. Sal*

              The norm in my area, per my teacher husband, is for teacher moms-to-be to take a semester off (it ends up being a mix of paid/unpaid), so most aim for early January and get almost nine months.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              This is the norm for my teacher friends, also. In many places, teachers are back on the job semi-full-time by August, so they’re really only out for 6ish weeks over summer (assuming that they’re not teaching summer school, lesson planning, or dealing with other accreditation or district/professional business).

          2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

            I was born in April to a teacher mom…because my mom ran a summer exchange program in Germany for nearly a month after school let out in the US! She then conceived on coming back.

    2. Tuckerman*

      I’m finding this is so true. If I stay at my current job, I would be able to piece together quite a bit of paid leave (because I’ve been here so long) but after the leave we wouldn’t be able to afford living in our city. So, trying to find a new job in a new city, where cost of living is much lower. But I’d potentially be pregnant while starting a new job (and would not be eligible for FMLA so I may lose the job and almost certainly have no paid leave). But with the second option, we could manage on my husband’s income.
      And yet, I’m glad I didn’t get pregnant in grad school because I was already sleep deprived, and because whiskey helped my writing so much…

    3. AnotherAlison*

      Seconding. I had my first kid at age 19 and the second at 26. I really never even planned to have kids, or gave any thought to how that was going to someday fit with my career (I was an engineering student in a fellowship program at the time, lol).

      It has all worked out just fine. There were some opportunities I didn’t take when I was young because of my kids that I wished I could have, but reality is I still could have done those things, but it would have been harder for me than my peers. I think the more important thing than timing is having your support system figured out. One of my age-group peers at my company has a high travel job, and her husband has a pretty fancy job in the same industry, but their kids are still small. They lean on grandma and live in a neighborhood where they have a lot of same-age kids to carpool with. Whether you’re 25 or 45, there will be juggling, so figure out how to do that, and get on with having the babies.

    4. swingbattabatta*

      I am incredibly type A, and planned our pregnancy to the month… we “needed” (wanted) it to happen within a 5 month window or so, and I got pregnant nearly immediately, so it fit the schedule perfectly. And then… my daughter was born 6 weeks early, smack in the middle of the absolute worst time possible. Best laid plans out the window, and we made it work. There’s only so much planning you can do, so don’t worry too much about when the “best time” is (easier said than done, I know).

      1. Artemesia*

        Same here — we started a month early for our window because we had taken two years to conceive the first and thought we might have fertility issues again. And she was conceived on first try and then was a couple weeks early, so she arrived awkwardly before that window. I actually lead a meeting the Wednesday after her Sunday birth (and then took a couple of months off. But I didn’t really have anyone who would do that important wrap up that Wednesday.

      2. CoveredInBees*

        Yup. Although it was that we discovered, despite coming from a family of hyperfertile women, I have fertility issues. While getting a diagnosis was helpful, all that ridiculously careful planning was already out the window.

    5. Tin Cormorant*

      I wasn’t emotionally OR financially ready in my 20s, and when I was 30, I’d just quit my toxic job to go back to school and my husband’s career was pretty shaky. When I was 31, I still didn’t feel like I was “ready” to be a parent but my husband’s job was much more stable with amazing health insurance, so we figured we’d never be ready and just went for it. It’s a good thing we didn’t wait another year, because my husband’s company was bought out and now he’s getting laid off at the end of the month. We’ve got the kid now so we’ll make it work, but if we didn’t, it might be another year or two before things would have been stable enough to try again. Enough repetitions of that and we might never have had kids.

  6. Government Worker*

    OP, one really important thing to keep in mind is that you’re likely to have a kind of skewed perspective on all of this. Trying to get pregnant, especially with medical assistance, can really take over your emotional life, and it’s easy to feel like your sick time or what you’re eating or whatever is super conspicuous, because it’s taking over so much of your mental energy. But none of this is as big a deal to everyone else as it is to you. Most people won’t really notice a coworker out for a couple of appointments a month, and if you just refer to “oh, I’m dealing with a medical thing, nothing to worry about!” they’ll shrug it off.

    It’s certainly possible that down the line you’ll tell your boss you’re pregnant and she’ll wonder whether some of your medical stuff was related to getting pregnant. Even among those who would wonder, though, the vast majority of bosses will simply not care, and will totally understand why you didn’t tell everyone the details at the time. Anyone who feels duped by that is not a good boss.

    I was also working somewhere with a bunch of younger staff and few people with kids when I needed some medical appointments to get pregnant, and it can feel almost like lying to have something so huge going on in your life that you’re not sharing with people you see every day, especially in a small or close-knit office. But it’s actually better in this situation to keep good boundaries in place.

    1. KellyK*

      This is a really good point. It feels huge to you because it’s occupying a giant space at the center of your life. But you probably barely notice if your coworker has three dentist appointments because their crown is screwed up, or they have to duck out early for bloodwork every couple weeks because they’re still getting some condition under control.

    2. LQ*

      This is a really good point about the conspicuousness. I have a coworker right now who is having 2-3 medical appointments a week and it’s only noticeable because she is always apologizing for it. (And yes, I’ve told her to stop but it’s obviously very conspicuous to her.) A couple times a month wouldn’t be noticeable at all in most places I think.

    3. a Gen X manager*

      These are great points, Government Worker.

      I know I could get some heat for asking about this, but I don’t understand why OP was job searching when she has this huge initiative underway.

      1. a Gen X manager*

        I don’t mean that she doesn’t have a right to do both things (obviously) – I just mean that it is difficult to give two significant things (baby-making with medical complications and a high level fabulous new job) the energy they both need to be done in an optimal way. OP sounds very capable and can probably handle both things, but it just seems like a lot to intentionally take on. New jobs are so much more difficult for not having well defined “auto-pilot” functions.

        Best to OP –

        1. businessfish*

          at some point you have to live your life and not just fixate on achieving an outcome that may never come. I held off on pursuing promotions while trying to get pregnant. I finally decided I couldn’t anymore and interviewed for a much higher level job in the middle of IVF treatments. I got the job and got pregnant one month later. everything turned out okay and I’m thriving with a baby and a great position almost 2 years later.

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          She was only diagnosed in February. It may well be that she was having symptoms and it was only in finding out why that the doctor diagnosed her with something that also impacts her fertility. She isn’t actively trying to get pregnant even now- she is only treating her medical condition.

        3. Sal*

          I always figure that when someone is job searching, it’s because they need to in some way (current job is bad/going away/boss is untenable/spouse got a new job and they need to move/life change means they need more money). It’s not a great way to spend your leisure time, in my experience.

          /oversensitive because I got a new job after nine months of looking due to moving out of state and got pregnant two months in.

        4. gladfe*

          I avoided taking on some new projects because I knew I was about to get pregnant. Two years later, I’m still childless, seeing a fertility specialist, and starting a new job in the fall. It’s just not possible for most people to put their career advancement on hold indefinitely — especially when you know there’s inevitably going to be more distraction from your career if you do manage to have a baby.

      2. CoveredInBees*

        I don’t know what the standard is in the UK, but in the US you usually can’t access fertility treatments until you’ve been trying for a year (under 35) or 6 months (35+). So, the timing on this is pretty murky. As she noted, it might be a few years before she actually gets pregnant. Depending on her diagnosis (and her partner’s) a fertility specialist would likely try multiple rounds of lower level interventions before moving to IVF. IVF is time-intensive, expensive, and very hard on a woman’s body, so doing multiple rounds takes a while.

    4. J.B.*

      I guessed both times a coworker was pregnant, but never ever said a word because DUH! Also, I only guessed because I was considering the same myself and tuned in to all things baby.

  7. Sparkly Librarian*

    I wish OP luck with the babymaking. The multiple doctor’s appointments don’t sound like something to worry about, especially as they’re scheduled in advance.

    As for how parenthood will affect her career… well, there’s no perfect choice that will let you do all the things — career, family, hobbies, travel — at the same time. The choices you make, and the way things turn out, will rule out some paths for now, or for good. The thing is, the way your path will go is so hard to predict! Or it has been for me, specifically with trying to grow my family. If you (OP or whoever) feel like you are in a good place to start a family now, don’t wait. But don’t lean out at work either. It could be a longer journey than you hope or expect.

    Personal example: If our first adoptive prospect had gone through (more than a year ago), I’d’ve been back from parental leave now and maybe have been able to put my hat in the ring for the transfer I’m about to take (if I felt like that was something I could take on with a toddler at home). If the second one had worked out in our favor, I’d be nearing the end of my leave right now. If last week’s emergency placement had come to us, my wife would be home right now, instead of being at the union bargaining table this morning, and I would’ve had to postpone the long list of training and possibly the entire transfer. But now I am on schedule for this career move that I’m very excited about, which might still be interrupted by motherhood… and I’m able to hold both goals at the same time and see what comes of it.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I am a big proponent of things happen when and how they are supposed to- and letting go and allowing things to work out however they work out, dealing with whatever that is.

      I wish both you and the OP much luck.

  8. Adam*

    I am continually learning that there never really is a perfect time to do anything. So it’s really matter of deciding when the time and effort required to achieve something you want is worth it. Your current health situation as you described it to me sounds like actually getting pregnant is more difficult, but that going through a pregnancy poses no more significant risk to your health than usual. So that doesn’t sound like a concern.

    There’s no telling how long it will take you and your husband to conceive, so if this is something you want I don’t think there’s any real reason to wait.

  9. Britt*

    OP, jobs will come and go. Anything can happen and the timing will never be perfect. Have a baby and live your life as full as you envision it.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      The problem is that for women who take time in their early 30s to start families, jobs don’t come and go at all. They go. They don’t come. It doesn’t do anything to assuage her worries by denying the documented difficulties mothers face when trying to stay active in the workforce.

      1. Britt*

        I’m not denying anything considering i’m 2+ years into being a SAHM with my daughter. I don’t deny at all that it will be difficult to get back in when the time comes. But the reality is that a job is a job. It’s not your family and ultimately if the OP wants a baby, that should be the priority because the timing will never be perfect or ideal.

        1. Reader*

          My mother had to give up her career involuntarily after having me. I would definitely choose a career over having a child. Jobs may come and go, but you can’t speak for us all in saying that a woman should prioritize having children over her career (and this isn’t just to you, but I see this advice given to women a lot more than I see it being given to men. I don’t think people ever tell men to prioritize having a baby over having a career, even if they may never work in their dream field again.)

          1. Gadfly*

            Of course that is usually because men can have a dozen+ kids and it isn’t perceived to be a conflict. Their mom(s) will take care of them, he just needs to make money…

          2. Britt*

            I’m not speaking for “all of us”, I am speaking from what the OP has told us. Everyone loves to preach the work/family balance but the reality is that there is no perfect balance. One thing suffers no matter what. Men don’t get told these things because they don’t have to deal with 9+ months of growing a human and then the recovery of having said human. This entire topic is a double edged sword and there is no winner. That’s why my advice is to prioritize the things you want for your life (in OP’s case, this is a baby) over a job. Especially considering that a majority of the people who feel this strongly about their jobs would likely never get that kind of loyalty in return from their company.

      2. Nichole*

        And for women who wait until their late 30s to start families, they may not be able to have children, especially if there’s already a medical condition at play. Sometimes it feels like there’s no winning.

      3. Jerry Vandesic*

        Claudia Goldin at Harvard published a nice study a few years ago looking at factors that influence the pay differential between men and women. Two of the top factors were number of years in current job and number of years not employed. Any time taken off to have a baby and raise a child has a direct impact on these factors, which can follow a woman throughout her career.

        Goldin C. “A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter.” American Economic Review. 2014;104 (4) :1091-1119.

      4. AcademiaNut*

        The advice I would give – if you had to pick only one (a child or your ideal career), which would you pick?

        If the answer is child, start trying to get pregnant. If the answer is job, wait, but accept that you might not have a child at all.

    2. La Revancha del Tango*

      Totally agree with this. Work is work, your life is more important.

  10. KellyK*

    Lots of good thoughts to you! Infertility is a really hard thing to deal with, both at work and in general. I really like Alison’s suggestion of giving enough info that your boss understands how it will affect work and doesn’t worry that you have something life-threatening.

    There is no perfect time to have a baby. But, the upside is, you know for 8-9 months that they’re on their way, and you have lots of time to plan out the work implications. If you feel ready, or as ready as you’re going to get, I say go for it.

  11. anon for now*

    Chiming in to endorse the “limited but relevant information” to the supervisor.

    I had weekly/biweekly therapist appointments for several months (mental health) that meant I had to leave work early on those days. I told my manager that I was dealing with a health issue that required weekly followup visits for a while, and that the frequency would taper off as things went on, and that of course I’d use sick time when I left early. (Even preventive visits are ok to use sick time for at my company, so using sick time for therapists is totally fine). The only detail I gave about the health issue is that it wasn’t a big scary thing, and I wasn’t pregnant, but that it was something I needed to address.

    This worked well, and I didn’t get any nosy questions or side-eye about it.

    I used the same approach when I had my tubes tied – I didn’t want to share that detail, but I told him that I needed to be out for a minor surgery (not for anything life threatening but something that I needed to have done), how much time out of the office and recovery time I would need, and we worked out a date for it that wouldn’t impact my colleagues and work flow too much.

    1. Lucy Honeychurch*

      Yesss this is what I am planning to do for therapy as well.

      Although I am going to ask for a schedule flex, because if I just use sick leave, I’ll be burning sick leave faster than I earn it, and I definitely want leave saved in case I get the flu or whatever.

      But co-sign to just saying “medical condition, nothing to worry about, just need to get it dealt with.”

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      Yes, agreed. I have pretty severe endometriosis which can leave me unable to get out of bed for a few days each month. I’ve always told my managers that I have a health issue, it’s not life threatening, I can provide a doctor’s note if needed, but I might need to take some time off unexpectedly or WFH more than normal because of it. I’m lucky I’ve worked in fairly flexible places because I would have burned through sick time in the first month or two alone.

      None of them have ever asked for details and I think it helped that I made a plan on how to not have it impact my colleagues or work too much.

  12. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I feel the same pressure to have a baby as soon as possible; I’m not getting pregnant, but my wife will be, and she is now 29. But we’re queer, so we have to try as soon as possible to maximize her fertility vis a vis assisted reproduction; otherwise it could be much more expensive and less successful for the cost.

    On the one hand, I want to make more money first, since this is our first year with mostly-consistent extra money and getting ahead financially, but OTOH, I know we already can and do pay for many things a kid would need (extra bedroom, second car, extra home space), so it could be done in a year or two, I just worry about daycare costs. And not being a good parent due to my anxiety and introversion. I mean, a kid never much lets you be alone, but I want to do a good job without ruining myself.

    1. a Gen X manager*

      Your self-awareness about your anxiety and introversion is a big first step to parenting well with these qualities! The introversion shouldn’t be an issue at all. If your child is more extroverted, they will learn how to understand and appreciate introverts and if your child is more introverted, they will have the deepest love ever from someone who understand their modus operandi!

      1. a Gen X manager*

        And the anxiety part, well that requires a lot more effort to prevent it from adversely impacting the child, but it is definitely do-able.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      For what it’s worth, I think you’ll be a great parent. Admittedly, I’m a stranger on the internet, basing this entirely on what I’ve seen in this comments section, BUT: you are consistently thoughtful, ethical, and compassionate. Combine that with keeping any future kiddos fed and watered at regular intervals, and you’re at least at B+ parenting (and frankly, most kids thrive on B+ parenting). Good luck!

    3. CoveredInBees*

      Yes, daycare costs are a big concern. In fact, they are why I’ll be staying home after the little one currently kicking my ribs is born. Still, if that is what is holding you back, I’d suggest start looking at different options and move forward with the baby making.

      While I can’t speak to anxiety, I have some reassurances about introversion.
      1) You are not alone in this and you two (and maybe a larger support network) outnumber the kiddo, so you can figure out how to have the time/space you need.

      2) Infants take up a very different type of space and energy than older kids, especially older kids who aren’t yours. You’ll have time to figure out how to care for both yourself and the child as the child grows and their needs change.

  13. GingerHR*

    I’m not going to comment on the pregnancy side of this, but the medical, from a UK perspective – I suspect the OP knows this, having worked for corporates, but there is a difference in approach between the UK and US. Ramona is right to point you to ACAS. The government employment rights website is also excellent.

    First off, sick leave – Alison says “the point of sick leave is that it’s there for you to use for health needs”. There is a definite cultural difference here. For a lot for UK employers, sick leave is treated differently to hospital / GP appointments. Appointments are often specifically unpaid leave or make time up, not sick leave – sick leave is for when you are actually ill / injured etc, not for going to the GP / dentist. Realistically, nowhere I’ve worked has enforced the unpaid element, but that doesn’t mean they won’t, so you shouldn’t assume it. Sick time definitely isn’t yours to use – it’s a safety net, but absolutely expect to be asked questions if you have a lot of sickness absence or a lot of appointments. I don’t know if this is because UK workplaces often (not always) have paid sick leave, but it’s definitely often monitored much more than Alison encourages in a workplace.

    Leading on from the questions point, it’s also possible that your manager will want to refer you to Occupational Health (less likely in a start up, but still possible). This doesn’t mean that your manager wants (or would get) to know all the medical ins and outs, but it’s about ensuring that your manager understands if there is any impact on the workplace – or if the workplace impacts your condition.

    It’s not unreasonable not to want to share details of your condition with your manager, but if you share too little, it’s not the fact that you are trying to get pregnant that would negatively affect you, it’s the fact that you are having a lot of appointments and they don’t understand why. High absence without a reason is something that is often perceived poorly. If your condition is long-term, it’s possible that this would be classed as a disability under the Equalities Act, but (bizarrely) the only people who can decide that from an employment perspective are Employment Tribunals. This would offer you protection, but to be honest, if you get there it’s too late. Think about, as someone else has said, how much you are willing to share, as a little bit of information may be a small price to pay for better understanding.

    Best of luck with your condition and your pregnancy plans!

    1. misspiggy*

      Yes, absolutely. The best thing is for OP to tell the manager about the appointments as per Alison’s advice, and then say, ‘I’d be happy to make up the time, but let me know if you think I should be using sick leave for these.’

    2. Marzipan*

      Yes, this is worth noting. The concept of ‘sick leave’ as a pool of days you can use for anything vaguely health-related is not one I’ve ever come across in the UK. Actual sick leave is often much more generous (mine is good for six months at full pay and six months half pay) but it’s there for times you’re too unwell to work, and isn’t something you can, as it were, choose to take. You usually have to get a sick note (or self-certify your illness, if it’s shorter) and at my work you also have a quick return-to work meeting with your manager, too.

      If I have a medical appointment I usually just try to rearrange my hours around it, it maybe take a half day out of my annual leave if it’s going to be a faff to get to/from. (Again, leave allowances are often much more generous so I don’t begrudge this.)

  14. Khal E Eeesi*

    God I really needed to hear this advice. Especially this: ” I get that you’re worried about derailing your career just when you’ve gotten into a position you love … but by not doing it, you risk derailing your life.” I could have written this if it wasn’t for the fact it’s a start-up job in London!

  15. Stellaaaaa*

    I think it’s smart to have a serious thought process about these things instead of clinging to the law and notions of perfect idealism. I see a little bit of worry in the letter that hasn’t been addressed: she likes her specific position at the company. Even the best companies are unable to hold specific jobs open during maternity leaves and no harm will have been done if OP is encouraged to return to an equivalent role at the same pay…but it might not be the job that she loves so much right now, and in the US a company that size wouldn’t have to offer her an equivalent position at all. It’s a startup with no HR and no one else in the office has kids. This particular angle warrants discussion. They’re talking about building a whole department around her role during the time that OP anticipates being pregnant and taking her leave.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      She’s in the UK. .. they are legally obliged to give her same or equivalent position if she returns within a year.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Most companies will hire someone on a year long maternity leave contract… not all, but I’m thinking a small company might not have many alternative jobs at that level and pay, so she’s probably going to get same position back.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          It’s still worth considering whether OP wants to be the one to build her team/department or if she wants timing to dictate that her replacement do that part of the job and having OP return to manage a department she had no hand in creating, if they don’t in fact decide to keep the replacement in that role (since she/he was the one who did that work) and give OP an equivalent but different role. This is why she’s asking. It’s not actually giving her an answer to tell her to just expect things to work out. She likes her role and she wants to be part of the department building.

  16. Nisie*

    I’ve had two medically complicated pregnancies, which required once a fortnight to once a week to twice a week lengthy appointments. Literally I went from wedding planning, to learning I was diabetic, to honeymoon, to bringing home a present. My experience was that it’s best to be honest from the start as I had a lot of educating to do- this is what it means to be pregnant with diabetes was a honest answer.

    There is no perfect time to get pregnant- I got married when I was 36, learned I was pregnant the week I turned 37, gave birth to my second when I was 40. I don’t regret waiting to build my career and meeting the right person and the difference between kids and no kids is like black and white and color tvs. You don’t know what you are missing until you see the difference.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      That is a pretty tone deaf response. The people who have pregnancies that interfere with their production at work in the most serious ways had no choice in the matter. You can’t just decide to have a healthy or easy pregnancy and it is so.

      1. Justme*

        Agree. I definitely didn’t want pre-eclampsia, but I wasn’t exactly consulted beforehand.

        1. swingbattabatta*

          Ha, yup. I had to call my office on the way to the hospital to let them know I was going to miss that 11 am meeting…

        2. BananaPants*

          +1. Been there, done that – right down to the email and phone call to the office of, “Well, it’s definitely pre-eclampsia, so I’ll be seeing everyone in a couple of months…”

          But with the second baby I puked 2-3 times during my work day, EVERY DAY, throughout my first and most of my second trimesters, and no one realized I was pregnant until I told them, so…does that count as “not affecting my productivity”?

      2. Stellaaaaa*

        It also assumes that one woman’s right to have a baby overrides 24 other people’s right to have a functioning workplace and to earn their livelihoods. Maternity leave laws and norms aren’t about what’s fair in a black-and-white world with no nuance. Sometimes you have to accept that certain positions might be ill-suited for someone who physically cannot be in the office over the next two years of team creation or whatever. It’s not about whether OP is finishing her individual tasks. There are other boxes to check off when aiming to be a valuable employee and coworker. OP’s superior might very well feel that, for OP’s role, the absences really are a problem for productivity, which is why OP is writing in.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          There are all kinds of discriminatory “preferences” that a manager or coworkers might hold, and for valid work reasons. They generally aren’t supported in this space. The OP’s reproduction is no more disruptive than if she suddenly were to get cancer or be hit by a bus. That is the cost of doing business, and these laws are put in place to protect employees- there are many others in place that protect the employer.

          But you have certainly illustrated why Alison’s advice is correct to not tell her boss, to prevent her from being tempted into breaking the law.

          1. Stellaaaaa*

            Not really – I’d say the same thing of any man or woman who had any mental or physical ailment that meant they could not be in the office for the time required by the specific position in question. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that some jobs are not the best or most realistic fit for everyone, regardless of what we’d want in a perfect world. OP is going to be taking a prolonged leave of absence at a time when it is crucial that someone be there to perform certain tasks. Other people’s jobs depend on knowing who will be there and doing the supervisory work. I’m not the type to hold onto my rose colored glasses and insist on people being granted job that they, on a very literal level, are not able to do. She will be giving birth and healing while much of this work is being done. WHICH IS WHY THE OP WROTE HER LETTER. She knows this too. Her company and the 24 other people working there cannot afford to put their own goals and lives on hold while OP goes to the doctor and eventually takes leave. This is why laws allow roles to be reassigned as long as equivalent positions are offered up to mothers when they return. I don’t think it makes sense to advise OP to do whatever she wants and insist that nothing else in her life change, especially where other people’s livelihoods are concerned. Her priorities don’t override everyone else’s just because she’s a woman who’s trying to become pregnant.

            1. Jessie the First (or second)*

              I think the gross part of your comment is where you say “It also assumes that one woman’s right to have a baby overrides 24 other people’s right to have a functioning workplace and to earn their livelihoods.” It just sounds hostile – like women are running around having babies right AT their coworkers; that she is trying to tap into some Extra Special Privilege and purposefully messing with everyone around her.

              It is disruptive to employers when employees go on leave, whatever the reason for the leave, and if that is what you are trying to say, I agree – though decent employers understand that this is how life works and they are not caught off guard that people get sick, or pregnant, or hit by a bus, etc. And I also agree that no matter what the laws provide (in the UK or in the US), those laws do not guarantee that we will continue on the exact same path or the exact same job we had wanted or that we had prior to leave. But there are definitely less… hostile ways to talk about that. And I do not see people claiming that nothing in her life will change or that her job will always be exactly what she wants. But the fact is that she cannot be actively punished for having a baby, and that in general, good employers work with their employees.

            2. Kate*

              I seem to remember a LW who had a medical condition that meant they couldn’t work a full-time job, and they wanted to know if, because of their medical condition, their employer could be forced to change the job to a part-time one. Does anyone else remember that one?

              I think Stellaaaaa’s point is that there is a line, unfortunately between reasonable and unreasonable accommodations, and after a certain point, it isn’t fair to the employer or the other employees, and that those accommodations might even interfere with the successful running of the business.

              It is an important point to acknowledge that maternity leave laws actually hurt women to a certain extent. In France, for example, there are more women at all levels of the workforce than in America, but many times fewer women in higher level roles. Women in France who do take advantage of maternity leave also get “frozen out” when they return, until they quit. In one article I read, a woman had had three children and had only spent two out of 5 years actually working!

              1. Starbuck*

                Your last point is why we need mandatory paid parental leave, not just maternity leave, and why all new parents should be allowed and encouraged to take time off. The concept of time off for women – and women only – in the event of a new child is absolutely a double-edged sword, because it does reinforce attitudes that having kids is a burden, and a burden for women only. But of course new mothers do still need time off! If our society expected men/fathers/all parents to be more directly and equally involved in raising children we’d all be better off.

              2. CoveredInBees*

                Yet another reason to support paternity leave. The biological impact of pregnancy means that women will likely always be behind to a degree, but when the leave is only taken by the mother and not her partner that gap will be much bigger.

                There’s a country (if think Scandanavian) that gives parents a certain amount of leave to split between the two of them. However, if the father does not take any leave (or more than a specified, minimal amount) only half of that leave amount is available.

      3. Sal*

        I’d have more kids if I had easier pregnancies. Alas, alack, wishing does not make it so.

    2. Justme*

      But sometimes it’s inevitable, like with complications. It’s not like you’re magically going to “not let” that interfere. You’re focused on her work production and nothing else.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Good thing morning sickness and actual pregnancy complications are so easy to control! ;)

    4. Jessie the First (or second)*

      Yes, I “let” my pregnancy interfere with my production at work when I suddenly started having trouble breathing and had to go to the emergency room, and was admitted and kept there for several weeks because a problem with the pregnancy cropped up and led to some serious complications.

      Sure, a standard and healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy, with no severe morning sickness, no serious complications – don’t let yourself get preoccupied by the pregnancy so that your work suffers, and you won’t have an issue, generally. I’m hoping that’s what you meant. But even so, the problem is that you can’t plan for a pregnancy to be smooth – you do actually take on some risk. That’s an important thing to acknowledge – there is no guarantee, and to some extent you have to be willing to take on the uncertainty.

  17. lfi*

    i just started a new job in march at a very family friendly company and it’s the least stressed i’ve ever been in my life. we’re also trying to start a family (and have been) for the past year, but with no luck. so i say go for it. i still don’t have any idea how long it’s going to take us to get pregnant, but in the meantime i’m learning and doing as much as i can here to keep growing. i fully intend to work after we have a child, and my company supports that too.

  18. Mary Dempster*

    As someone who has no technical medical or fertility issues, it STILL took us almost two years to get pregnant with a viable pregnancy. I always thought I’d have no issue and it would happen right away. It rarely does. For anyone. Start now. Don’t wait on your life for your career.

    Plus depending on your boss…. mine knew what I had been through and cried when I told her I had a viable pregnancy (in a good way).

  19. blackcat*

    I have, twice in my life, dealt with medical conditions that were not serious but required significant follow up. No one ever batted an eye. For one issue, I told everyone (it was orthopedic, I needed oodles of physical therapy, and I complained about it). For another issue, I told very, very few people–though that was partly because I’m a scientist and it’s a rare condition that sparks other scientists to ask tons of questions (anyone I told engaged me in a 1/2 hr conversation about it! And I don’t want that all the time! So I stopped telling anyone).

    This is my script that has always worked well when someone asks why I’m always at the doctor: “I’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition that requires a lot of treatment and follow up. It’s not serious, and I’ll be fine as long as I get my tests & treatments. That means I’m away a lot. It’s nice to get a break from thinking about it when I’m at work! So I’d rather not talk about it.” One person took this to mean I was pregnant, but figured out it was something else after like 4 months (she admitted as much to me–she is nosy and seemed a bit miffed that I didn’t tell her what was wrong, but she was only one person).

    A good friend of mine with a condition sort of like mine (not medically like mine, but like mine in the sense of people ask A MILLION QUESTIONS!) uses a similar script and hasn’t had a problem.

    If I heard someone else say that, I would immediately think that they have some weird medical condition, and I’d sympathize. I wouldn’t assume they were pregnant/trying to get pregnant.

  20. Writelhd*

    There are a zillion reasons to need regular medical appointments for a while without it meaning you’re dying or in immediate risk of performance drops, also, so that alone may not be something for employer to think twice about. For example I have a back and neck injury that is not obvious to the casual observer and go to physical therapy twice a week over a three month period.

  21. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    Also, OP, keep in mind that the office and coworkers you have now aren’t going to stay that way. If it’s going to take you two or three years, or more, to get pregnant, it’s entirely possible that some of your coworkers will get pregnant and have children in that time, and you’ll be able to see how they and your employer work it out. Nothing is ever in stasis. You also don’t know everything about your coworkers — some of them may be in a similar place as you , and you haven’t noticed their appointments or time out of the office at all, because you’re so focused on you (which is s good thing, not faulting you there). I think you can probably roll with a lot of this much more easily than it seems right now.

    1. Friday*

      +1, I was coming here to say just this. It’s quite possible that a lot of your young coworkers have family planning on the brain. Maybe some are already discussing this over with their husband/wife/partner, maybe some are already trying. And maybe someone’s already pregnant and hiding it because it’s early, or has a spouse who is hiding it at a different place of employment. Wanting kids is a pretty normal thing in society after all, given how many people end up having them.

      Best of luck to you in your life planning and your job!

  22. JokeyJules*

    I’ve had staff with difficulty getting pregnant who were so nervous to tell me they were going to need time for doctor appointments sometimes a few times a week.
    And let me tell you, I’d rather make up the time for them to be able to go to their appointments than to lose an employee over a completely normal thing such as having children.

    1. Nonprofit manager*

      Seconding this. The people I manage have stuff going on in their lives (baby-making, beloved dogs passing away, spouses changing jobs, whatever). They are human beings with rich lives both in and out of work – As it should be! The way I see it, offering them as much flexibility as possible within the confines of their position both recognizes that “Hey, you have a life,” and it also contributes to their happiness in their position and their loyalty to the organization. Win-win.

  23. Akcipitrokulo*

    Heya… also in UK here :)

    Couple of things… first, if you get pregnant (good luck!) you are entitled to paid time off for ante-natal appointments… doctor, midwife, scans, classes, whatever… so when you feel comfortable, telling earlier can ensure you get this.

    I’m assuming you know about maternity pay :) you don’t have to tell them when you intend to return when you go on leave… I went back a couple of weeks when SMP stopped being paid at 9 months.

    (Also it’s a while away but if you are breastfeeding when you go back you’re entitled to a place to lie down ;) as well as fridge etc).

    Joining a union, if you haven’t already, id on of best things you can do for protection at the moment. Probably all will be fine… but having someone who will pay the £1200 to file with tribunal and all of your legal fees up to and including a QC if you need one is awesome!

    I let membership lapse when on maternity leave (not realising it went down to about a quid a month… ) … what could go wrong? Getting made redundant with no resources to fight the discrimination, that’s what!

    Got much better job :) but never being without protection again!

  24. Anon Erin*

    Sharing my similar story in hopes it will help you:

    I was trying to get pregnant while at my last job and had to go through fertility treatments. What I told my boss is, “Everything is fine, but I’m going to be having a lot of doctors appointments coming up. I won’t be able to give as much notice for them as I’d like and I don’t have a lot of flexibility in terms of rescheduling them.” That worked fine. Then I got a dream job offer.

    I received the job offer I want to say on April 5th. On April 20th I had an insemination. On April 25th I started my new job. On May 3rd I found out I was pregnant.

    I was absolutely terrified to tell my brand new boss at my dream job that I was pregnant. But long story short, it all worked out and I am back to work now.

    You can start a family and have your career take off at the same time. You are at the perfect age. It’s all good. The world is your oyster, or whatever that expression is. Good luck!

  25. Marzipan*

    My go-to IVF script has been “I’ll have a lot of medical appointments coming up, some at short notice, but don’t worry, I’m not deathly ill or anything.” It’s worked fine thus far!
    And I second not overthinking the timing – I’ve been undergoing fertility treatment on and off​ for a couple of years now, and still haven’t got there. If I’d put everything on hold in the meantime, I’d have gone round the twist!
    Best of luck.

  26. anon in ny*

    Oooo, Allison your comment of “Even among well-intended people who want to be supportive of moms and would-be moms, it can be easy to fall into thinking, “Hmmm, Jane might be out a big chunk of next year, so maybe we should hold off on giving her any new big projects right now.” ” made me stop in my tracks. Maybe slightly OT but I have an employee who is pregnant and handles a certain group of clients. We are transitioning her off those accounts as she makes her way through pregnancy and not giving her additional accounts because it doesn’t make sense to transition them to someone else after she works with them for such a short time. Am I doing something illegal? Her job is protected and she can have clients when she returns, but it doesn’t make sense to get her ramped up on new ones if we know we have to transition her off (which can take weeks/months) anyway.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Planning for a leave that someone has announced is totally fine! The problem is when people start taking someone off projects because they think she might be trying to have a baby at some point soon.

      1. Midwest Manager*

        I came here to ask the same thing. I hired an independent contractor for a full time management position while she was very, very pregnant. We have delayed several project starts, or rerouted things to other people, so we can work around her schedule until she is back from baby time. Glad to know I wasn’t doing anything illegal. These days it isn’t always easy to tell.

      2. anon in ny*

        Phew, I was worried! Thanks for your reassurance.

        Half of my team is female, in child-bearing years, and in committed relationships so it would be painfully obvious if I tried to purposefully give them less work, on top of being grossly unfair to the men and unattached ladies. Plus I know my manager would never treat me that way (I am also a child-bearing aged married female) even though I have made it clear I don’t want kids.

  27. Nervous Accountant*

    I’m in a similar situation except I *don’t* have sick leave, we just have PTO and if we are late or leave early by a few hours, try to make those hours up. I don’t mind that. My direct supervisor was the only one I told about my most recent issue (chemical pregnancy) bc we’ve talked informally about this stuff (having kids and my struggles etc) but I feel like maybe I need to have a more “official” conversation to talk about my future absences.

  28. Akcipitrokulo*

    Oh… OP… if you do have baby remember you can claim tax credits while on maternity leave. They are usually calculated based on last tax year but can be changed to be based on estimated income…. and SMP does *NOT* count towards that. You can also apply for council tax benefit and housing benefit if you rent so that’s another 2 bills you don’t need to worry about!

  29. Rosamond*

    “Even among well-intended people who want to be supportive of moms and would-be moms, it can be easy to fall into thinking, “Hmmm, Jane might be out a big chunk of next year, so maybe we should hold off on giving her any new big projects right now.” — Fortunately I was spared this while I was pregnant, but I was taken aback by how much of it I came back to. I’m convinced it was well-meaning, but it did get to the point where I had to put in writing to someone that I didn’t want decisions mad based on what someone else thought I could handle while parenting an infant.

  30. TootsNYC*

    Although obviously I would love an opportunity to say psych! in real life. S

    Me too!

  31. Cambridge Comma*

    Do it now! Fertility treatment may not be available on the NHS in a year. Waiting lists may increase.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Hadn’t thought of that :( Yes, it is a risk depending on what happens in June.

  32. Christina*

    I started a wonderful new job exactly one month before having my second baby. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think it wasn’t going to challenge me but as with most jobs, I didn’t know how I’d feel about it until I was working in it. Well, I love it. And my supervisor – and the rest of leadership – has been wonderfully supportive. I clearly communicated with my supervisor when she offered me the job about my due date, plans for leave, & return plans. Once I started the job, we set a plan in place for my maternity leave & return to work. Since it was my second baby, I also knew what to expect after having the baby – time off doesn’t stop when you return to work, as babies will have regular doctor’s visits & there’s always a strong potential for young ones to be sick. So I also worked with my husband to have a plan in place for our family to balance my need to be at work while also be present with the family. We’re blessed with my retired parents that can help out at a moment’s notice. Early on, it was especially helpful to be able to have my mom watch my baby when he got sick & I could still be at work, knowing my baby was receiving great care & I didn’t miss work. Some of it is my own personal pressure to be at work, as I didn’t want to appear that I was constantly out with sick kids (or sick myself). As I’ve become more comfortable in my job & have been able to accomplish some duties (showing my supervisor my commitment), I’ve been able to back off a little & stay home with sick kids & not felt as guilty.
    Your career won’t derail. In fact, you’re in a good position. You’re establishing yourself well with the company & your supervisor. Do be honest & realistic with yourself – that’s where having plans in place can help. It can be stressful, being a new mom & still trying to make headway in your career. But it’s not impossible. Build a support system – it can help significantly. There’s no perfect time, so make it the time when it’s right for you & your partner. I don’t know the ins & outs but if you’re based in London, you’re leaps & bounds ahead of the US in regards to government support for starting a family (time off, medical care, etc).

  33. AnonKC*

    I have a very similar story!

    We struggled with infertility for 3 years and went through treatments for about a year. I had the conversation with my then boss that several other comments mention. “I’m being treated for a medical condition, there isn’t anything to worry about, but I’ll have lots of appointments on short notice and need a fair amount of flexibility in my schedule to attend them all.” It worked well, my boss was understanding and accommodating.

    In my case, I was in a bad work environment and made the decision to put off making a change while we were undergoing those fertility treatments. Having continuity in care was important. But the treatments didn’t work.

    In April of last year I decided it was time to make that change, my mental health and well being demanded it.

    In May I was interviewing for and accepted a great new job (promotion, significant raise, good benefits, etc).

    The week before starting my new/current job, I learned I was pregnant. Given our struggles to get pregnant and that it was so early in the pregnancy, I chose not to disclose that information to my brand new boss until we’d entered the second trimester. I was a nervous wreck leading up to that conversation only two months into the new job.

    Had a beautiful baby girl in January and am now back to work and eager to make up for lost time.

    Turns out, I got pregnant naturally the week I decided to get out of my toxic old job.

    It’s crazy to think that something like a toxic work environment can play such a huge role in your health. Thinking back, I have no idea how I could have gracefully handled being pregnant and caring for a child with that amount of stress in my life.

    Anyway, my point to OP is that life has a way of working out. It’s often hard to trust the universe or know when the timing is right. But putting anything you truly want on hold only holds you back from happiness.

  34. Miaw*

    To OP:

    It is a decision for you to make, but just throwing my 2 cents here:

    Please think long and hard about what is truly important for you. Think about the bigger picture and not just within the narrow scope of your present situation. Answer this question from within your heart:

    – will my current job stay with me for the rest of my life?
    – will my children stay with me for the rest of my life?
    – what will I regret most for not doing once I am 70 years old and look back?

  35. Cam*

    I told my manager that I had a minor medical issue and I might need to miss work for Dr appts (I had a bulging disc in my neck). About a year after that conversation, I told my manager I was pregnant and she said, “I knew those appts were for getting pregnant!” Yeah, no. They were completely unrelated. Also, that was a year ago.

    But my point is, that your manager might assume your appts are for getting pregnant regardless of what you tell them or not. Either way, I have a hard time believing they’ll be mad about it.

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