update: I had a secret relationship with a coworker and now I’m pregnant

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who had a secret relationship with a coworker and got pregnant? Here’s the update.

The advice from your readers and yourself was so helpful and me and my partner agreed that just being matter of fact but positive when telling the news was the best way to go. We did think it best that I just share the news with the team, rather than doing it together as we felt (and a few of your readers commented the same) that it was too ‘coupley’ for work and might make it more awkward.

My manager was on holiday the week you published my letter, however our team’s grand-boss was in the office a couple of days afterwards. Both my partner and I have a good relationship with her at work and agreed that I should tell her while she was in the office (as she often works from a different location).

I asked to see her in one of our meeting rooms, usually we just have casual chats at our desks about work etc. so her immediate reaction was that I must be handing in my notice and the first thing she said was a panicked ‘please don’t leave us!’ which was reassuring to hear considering the news I was about to give her.

I used a mash-up of your script and one that one of your readers commented with which was along the lines of ‘I’ve got two pieces of happy news to share with you, as you might know I have been in a relationship with someone for a while now and that’s actually Xavier. We haven’t mentioned anything before as we wanted to keep it professional and outside of work while it was early days. However it’s got quite serious and we’re having a baby!’.

She was shocked but happy shocked, she said that Xavier is great and she’s happy for us both that we are together. She even gave me a hug! She has always been the kind of grand-boss who cares about you first and work second, I know it probably wasn’t the most professional reaction from her but after worrying about sharing this with work for so long it was just the reaction I needed.

I did discuss my concerns with telling our manager, HR and any possible worries the rest of the team might have in regards to working together. She said there was no conflict of interest for her as Xavier doesn’t manage me and we had been working together for the last couple of months with no issues. She trusts us both that we can remain professional and if manager or HR had any problems then they could discuss with her (she part owns the company, so has a bit of a say in these things I guess). She reassured me not to worry what people will think and that it’s happy news – people will talk but so what? There are lots of couples in the company with children so this is not unusual.

It was hard keeping the news in from the rest of the team after having such a positive reaction from grand-boss but when my manager returned I just did exactly the same – asked to see her in one of our meeting rooms and used exactly the same script. She was happy for us, but a bit more professional than grand-boss. She completely understood why we hadn’t told her beforehand. Her main concern was that it meant I would be going on maternity leave and we’d have to sort out my files (even though this wouldn’t be until after the summer!). She also did not have any concerns with us working in the same team and as grand-boss was okay with it then HR would be too. She said she would leave it up to me to tell the rest of the team as and when we were ready and would be happy to talk to anyone who had any worries about work.

The rest of the team were great, I told them individually but on the same day as I knew it would quickly spread otherwise. I told a few others in the office that I am close with but just left it to naturally spread as this kind of news does.

It was about two weeks after I had told everyone when the coronavirus hit, I started working from home earlier than everyone else because of the pregnancy. Our offices then closed and we all had to work from home. My maternity leave started in August and so a lot of people didn’t even know I was pregnant or that I was with Xavier until the notice went round the firm that our baby boy was born!

Thank you to you and your readers for all of the advice, I found it so helpful and reassuring during what I thought was going to be a very worrying and difficult situation. Hoping you all stay safe and well!

{ 21 comments… read them below }

  1. Lucette Kensack*

    This is such a nice update!

    Your script is great — much more natural than the very matter-of-fact script that Alison suggested. I like how you said up front that it was happy news (which, if she weren’t already going to be pleased for you, gives her a nudge that that is how you expect her to respond) and explained why you hadn’t told anyone about the relationship (and why you were now — it’s become serious and, yay, we’re having a baby!).

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – most people when they get in a new relationship may give a few details, but not all of them until you know that things are going to be long term, which is exactly what happened here.

      Congrats on a healthy baby!

  2. CollegeSupervisor*

    Congratulations! That’s such a sweet update :) Hope all three of you are doing well and staying healthy!

  3. avocadotacos*

    Congrats on your baby! And it’s nice that the happy birth announcement got to be what broke the news to many in your company.

  4. Virs*

    Congratulations OP! I’ve had a couple of coworkers announce their maternity leave starting when I had no idea they were pregnant since we started working from home. It’s a bit surreal, but always nice to have happy news (and baby pictures)

  5. Super Admin*

    I met my now-husband at work, and while it was weird telling our manager and the team (one of whom was convinced we were joking for at least a week) it very quickly settled into just normal. I think as long as the people in the relationship are professional at work (and no one’s reporting to or managing the other), and your coworkers are good people, these things can go well.

    Congrats on it all working out, and on the birth of your son! Really glad how supportive your grandboss and boss have been. I like happy updates :)

  6. MCMonkeyBean*

    Sounds like you all handled it well, and congratulations! I hope you are all doing well in this crazy time; I can’t imagine the stress of being pregnant and having a baby during a global pandemic though I know of course many people are going through that every day now. Thanks for writing in with your update :)

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