my intern asked if my pregnancy was planned

A reader writes:

I’m pregnant with my first child. I’m just finishing my first trimester and have been sharing the news with colleagues.

I’m wondering what, if anything, I should do in response to my intern’s reaction. Like everyone else I manage, I told her one-on-one behind closed doors. Her response was really odd — she asked if the pregnancy was planned. (For the record, I am in my late 30s.) I was so taken aback in the moment that I didn’t even know how to respond. I think I may have just laughed it off. The more I think about it, though, I’m wondering if I should talk to her about her response and explain how inappropriate that question (or really any question related to a pregnancy!) is. She comes from a pretty sheltered background, so this might just be her genuinely not understanding that this isn’t an appropriate response. Do you think I should say something, or just let it go?

I answer this question — and two others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My company’s branded clothing doesn’t fit everyone
  • My business travel is full of exhausting cost-cutting

{ 261 comments… read them below }

  1. Liz*

    Ha, I remember that weird life transition where the appropriate response to “I’m pregnant” shifts from “oh no, do you need me to take you somewhere” to “yay congratulations!” It can be a difficult mental transition to make. The intern would probably have benefited from having this explained to her, but I understand why someone presumably in their late teens or early 20s would have that reaction, off-base as it was.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m in my 30s and I’m still taking this person by person lol. I think I probably say “Oh!” most of the time and gauge their demeanor.

        1. stratospherica*

          I was trained in giving very basic counselling, and part of that involved responding to someone announcing that they’re pregnant (granted, we’re talking about people mostly in their early 20s), so my go-to has always been “Wow! How do we feel about that?”

        2. Tired and confused*

          That’s a great answer that allows you to course correct depending on their reaction and it has the advantage to be true in any case which pleases my neurodiverse brain

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Same. Something like 50% of pregnancies are unplanned and I’m not going to assume that someone is happy about it until they explicitly say so.

          1. New Mom (of 1 1/9)*

            And, weirdly enough, you can be unhappy about a planned pregnancy. With my first I was very depressed in the first trimester! I suddenly had this sense that we had ruined our lives. (Our lives are very different, and I had crushing PPD for a month or two, but “ruined” they are not [after the PPD].)

            1. NOT The BEES!*

              Hell, I’m in my 40s and stable and just had my 4th. . but she was a complete surprise, and ultrasound techs and receptionists at the OB’s office saying congratulations was really uncomfortable for me because I didn’t want to be pregnant and still hadn’t processed it. I knew I’d come around and be okay eventually but it made me sad for others who might be in not-so-great circumstances and had to be congratulated on news they weren’t happy for

                1. Despachito*

                  I think that to scrutinize their patients to this extent is above their paygrade.

                  I would not read in it anything more than just a conventional reply, just as you wish “have a nice day” to a stranger without thinking whether their day is REALLY going to be nice.

                  To ask about the “planned” thing was inappropriate in OP’s case. I don’t know whether I’d say something about its inappropriateness other than my visible embarassment at the moment. I think I would not if it was an isolated case (and the intern may be already beating herself for her foot-in-mouth moment).

              1. SpaceySteph*

                My third was unplanned and I had a similar experience. I was not pleased about it at first, considered all my options, chose to remain pregnant, and eventually wrapped my head around it. But, yeah, there’s no way to know if it is “congratulations” or not, even for someone who is “old enough” or “stable enough” or already has kids, etc.

            2. Ann*

              Seems to be normal for some of us… once I had a taste of being a working mom, my instant response to every (planned) pregnancy after that was horror, guilt and the sense that I’ve ruined everyone’s life. I’d spend a couple of weeks fighting the desire to run away before I could even get myself to tell anyone. And I’d seize on some thing that we could no longer do now, and obsess about it. It was so weird because I knew hormones are messing with my head, so I’d be absolutely miserable but I also knew it’s not my real feelings about the situation.

          2. Quill*

            Yeah, many people are in the having kids camp of “if it happens now, it happens now” when they are at a point where they can afford to have kids.

        1. Boof*

          if someone is telling me about it, I like to default to “Congrats!” (if they are someone they don’t know well, I think it’s safe to assume they are telling me because they are happy about it) or at least “congrats?” to indicate I am ready to be happy for them / accept whatever is going on. I suppose “Wow!” is more neutral, but if someone is telling me terrifying news, I don’t want to make them think I am reacting badly / upset at them.

      2. THE PANCREAS*

        Same! If someone other than the impregnated is telling me the news, I point blank ask “And are we happy about this, or…?”

      3. RabbitRabbit*

        “Wow, how are you feeling?” is pretty good. It’s not an outright congrats/yikes and it expresses concern for various types of health.

        1. Distracted Librarian*

          Yes, I like this response! It shows care for the person and gives them an opening to expand if they wish or say, “Fine,” if they don’t.

        2. Harper the Other One*

          This is my go to response as well – both because it’s open about whether this is exciting or devastating, and because so many women need a chance to talk about how rotten they are (physically) feeling!

      4. LG*

        Yeah, my first friend to tell me she was pregnant (we were not long out of college) said it in such a serious tone, and over the phone, that I said, “…and are you feeling happy about that?” and I think it offended her. Because from her perspective, of course she was! But I couldn’t tell! Now I would never say that, I also say “Wow, that’s such big news.” and maybe ask how they are feeling if they seem to want to talk about it in general.

        1. Despachito*

          This is the reason why I think “Congratulations” is the default go-to answer.

          If it is in a WORK setting, it is none of my business to delve into this person’s private life, it is just a standardized formula just as you say “I am sorry” if a coworker tells you their relative died, and do not think about “what if she hated his guts”. You generally assume that if a person dies, people around them are sad, and when a child is going to be born, they are happy.

          And if it is a friend, they can always clarify that “actually, I am not as happy about it” and you can react accordingly.

          1. WFH lady*

            I agree with this. In a work setting I wouldn’t be telling people about my pregnancy if I weren’t happy about it, unless it was significantly affecting my ability to do my job.

      5. The Coolest Clown Around*

        I think this is different because it’s at work. Generally if you’re at the point where you’re telling people in a professional setting, it’s safe to just go with “Congratulations!” As Alison has pointed out before, a lot of people are worried about discrimination, and more neutral responses can feel kind of ominous. If they’re at the point of telling you at work, it’s safe to presume they’re keeping it/pleased.

        1. Quinalla*

          Agreed on this. Congratulations to someone announcing pregnancy at work is very normal and expected.

          But yes, outside of work, I always advise pregnant folks to make it clear in their announcement that it is happy or shocking or whatever mix of emotions to the audience and not except the audience to guess :)

          Either way, DO NOT ask if it was planned. Maybe if you are really, really close to the person it might be ok depending on your relationship, otherwise, just don’t ask the question. Also on the list, asking if twins were naturally conceived – again very personal question that I got from a lot of non-medical professionals (it actually matters to them so they ask for a reason) when I was pregnant with twins! Asking gay/lesbian couples anything about how the process went for them – again very personal. Sometimes with pregnancy being so visible after a certain point, I think folks don’t realize they are asking people about sex when they ask some of these questions and just how personal that is!!

          1. They're IVF twins, actually*

            Even asking whether twins run in the family can be tricky if they’re not naturally conceived.

      6. Anonys*

        I am still in a phase in my life (and so are a lot of my friends, but it’s more 50/50 now) where a pregnancy would be a “shit what do I do now” situation.

        Yet, when anyone has actually told me about their pregnancy, I have never once been confused about whether it’s a “congratulations, you are going to be a great parent” or a “I am so sorry and how this wont be too physically and mentally painful” situation. I feel like it’s usually very clear from the wording and the demeanor?

        In any case, when someone you aren’t close to or someone at work tells you about a pregnancy, my response is always “Congratulations (- how far along are you)?”. someone who is thinking about abortion isn’t going to tell you about the pregnancy at all unless you are very close and someone who is having the baby but may be ambivalent/anxious/unsure about the whole thing doesnt need to hear anything apart from congrats from a colleague or acquaintance either.

        1. Stormfly*

          I still remember the time that it REALLY wasn’t clear. One of my friends, who I’d somewhat grown apart from, messaged me to let me know that she had ‘bad news’. Then she followed up to say she was pregnant.
          I did not know how to respond to that. We weren’t close by that point, so I didn’t really feel in a good position to comfort her
          I thought quickly and went with the neutral as possible “Is that really bad news?”
          And then she told me it wasn’t, she’d meant to type ‘big news’.
          Christ, I felt so relieved I hadn’t jumped to start counselling her on abortion options or something. I could easily have said something really unfortunate.

        2. Sara*

          All of this. While in a personal setting it can be more complicated, it is almost certainly never going to be the case that a boss would be telling an intern about a pregnancy because they, like, want the intern to drive them to Planned Parenthood. (Indeed, I feel like that would be a MAJOR boundary overstep.) Similarly if the pregnant person is having complicated or negative feelings about the pregnancy, an intern is definitely not the right person to process that with! So a light positive response is correct.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      That’s exactly what I thought of. To someone in their early 20s, a pregnancy is very likely to be unwelcome, and they haven’t quite mentally grasped that 1. it’s not necessarily the case, and 2. they shouldn’t ask!

      1. I'm just here for the cats!!*

        Or if they see the OP as much older they might think that it was unplanned because she is “old” even though upper 30’s is not old.

        1. Anon just in case*

          Yeah, I recently had a conversation with a friend in which I realized that I think of late 30s as a time when you’re probably supposed to assume that a pregnancy (especially if the person is in a stable relationship) was planned while she thinks of it as being awfully late to be doing that on purpose. And we’re both childfree and at the same age so I’m assuming this probably has more to do with the ages at which people in our immediate families had kids than anything else.

          1. aebhel*

            I’m in my late 30s now and both of my kids are school-aged, so I have to admit I do a double-take when I hear about people my age or older getting pregnant, but I also grew up in a very poor rural town where probably 75% of my classmates had a couple of kids by the time they were 25–several of them before we graduated high school. It really does come down to cultural assumptions to a great degree.

    3. Double A*

      When I was in my early 20s, I totally reacted like this to my boss’s pregnancy for exactly this reason. She was the first person who I’d really known who’d gotten intentionally pregnant. It is one of my most mortifying memories (and no one ever talked to me about it, I figured it out myself).

      I honestly think the boss should let it go but that is definitely colored by my own embarrassment about my past self and the fact that you kind of age out of this reaction.

    4. Frickityfrack*

      Yeah there were definitely a few years of my life where that would’ve been the question I asked, too. Not of a boss, but for sure if any of my friends had gotten pregnant. I feel like telling people one on one in a closed office probably also contributed to thinking maybe it was an accident. I’d wonder why the announcement was so secretive and if that meant maybe it wasn’t a happy thing.

      1. Kesnit*

        I had the same thoughts about the one-on-one meeting. Going around the office, telling everyone and making a big deal of it is a signal that this is a happy event. Pulling people into private and making the announcement sounds like “this should be kept secret.”

        1. Seashell*

          I disagree. I was happy that I was pregnant. I told my managers that I was pregnant and when I was due, and that’s about it. I don’t remember if the door was closed, but it was in an office. Everyone else could figure it out when my belly got giant.

          I would find it very uncomfortable to run around and tell co-workers who I rarely deal with or talk to that I’m pregnant just so they think I (a married woman in her 30’s at the time) was happy about it.

          1. UKDancer*

            My staff who had babies tended to tell me as their manager and key people in private to start and then mention it in a team meeting a short while later. But I’ve had colleagues who just told the key people individually and didn’t want to be the centre of attention in a team meeting. People are different in what they want to say.

          2. Liv*

            I had a weird thing where I was pregnant during COVID when we were WFH. I told my boss in a Teams meeting, told my team over an email, and everyone else I had a really awkward thing where I couldn’t work out how to tell people and couldn’t rely on them just seeing me get visibly pregnant.

            There ended up being people I worked with (but not super regularly) who found out I was pregnant when I was sending my handover notes in my last week before maternity leave.

        2. So Tired*

          I think it’s actually a kindness. How many letters have we seen from people who’ve struggled with fertility or lost pregnancies who’ve struggled with office wide announcements of others’ pregnancies?

          This method of telling people one on one doesn’t force anyone who may have pregnancy-related trauma to react and process in front of the rest of the office. They do still have to process and react in front of the boss of course, but one person is different from multiple!

          1. Anna*

            I think the reverse– as someone who did struggle with infertility, reacting one on one would be harder. In a group, if someone announces their pregnancy, I could easily just blend into the crowd and not have to say anything or make any particular facial expression.

        3. She of Many Hats*

          The private meetings could also be regular one-on-ones and it was an added item on the agenda.

          And it probably slowed the news getting to the office Pregnancy Karen who corners the pregnant women and shares All The Horror Stories.

    5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I can really see the her coming from that place in youth where you don’t know how to react and chose what she thought was the mature way to reply to this news you are telling her “in secret” (one on one meeting).
      Ironic and unfortunate.

    6. Lady Danbury*

      My go to response is, “How are you feeling?” That allows them to interpret it as physical and/or mental and to respond as surface level or intimately as they choose.

      1. Clare*

        Mine’s almost exactly the same: “Big news, how are you feeling?”
        Most of the time the answer is about morning sickness and excitement, but the one time it resulted in a flood of tears was from the person I would have least expected it. I’m really, really glad I didn’t go with “Congratulations!!!”.

      2. wendelenn*

        I can just imagine Lady Danbury’s response, say, to an unexpected later-in-life pregnancy for Violet!

    7. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      And then after a while it shifts back to “Oh no!”. I remember when I was a senior in high school, my best friend’s mom got pregnant at 45. I told my mom who was also 45 at the time, and the look of horror on her face was hilarious.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Ah yes, the change of life or “caboose” baby. A few of my family friends have caboose babies. As in, 15 year age gaps between their next-youngest child and the new baby.

        Hormones are wild, ya’ll.

        1. allathian*

          One of my close friends had her first baby when she was a very recent college graduate and her second in her mid-40s. Once the kid was born and she started going out in public with the baby, many acquaintances who knew she had a young adult daughter wondered if the baby was my friend’s grandkid, and when the older daughter visited her parents and went to the playground with her toddler sister, a lot of people seemed to take it for granted that the toddler was her daughter. The older daughter was about 21 at the time, so she appeared to be a fairly young parent by current standards but by no means a teenage mom.

          My friend was mostly amused by the assumption that the baby was her grandkid. But when she told acquaintances that she was the kid’s mom, the most common follow-up question annoyed her immensely. Many people assumed that she had a new man in her life when the kids had the same father. This annoyed her mainly because she’s inordinately, if not unreasonably, proud of the fact that she met her husband at a summer camp when both of them were 15 and she’s never even looked at another man in that way. The kids also take after their father in looks, and when I look at pictures of both kids taken at the same age, they’re almost impossible to tell apart unless you look at their clothes.

        2. aebhel*

          Ha, yeah. One of my cousins has a a kid in her late teens and a toddler. On the other hand, she had her first kid when she was really young, so the toddler was much more comfortably in the ‘I can safely congratulate you on this’ age range when she announced her pregnancy.

    8. Be Gneiss*

      Yeah, I’m sure this intern will be internally cringing about this moment at 2am 10 years from now.
      Source: have said dumb things in my younger years.

    9. Exhausted Electricity*

      if it’s privately told to me I can’t stop myself from doing like… “congratulations (?)” especially if it’s in a text and i can’t gauge tone since I’ve known people who go either way no matter their age.

    10. LovelyTresses*

      Same here! I remember when a co-worker announced she was pregnant and my (internal) first reaction was “oh no, poor thing!” and then everyone else started cheering and clapping and it was very disorienting. A quick convo would be super kind for this intern.

    11. TeenieBopper*

      I’m almost 40 and even now my reaction to pregnancy announcements is “Con… Gratulations…?”

    12. Yellow*

      I’m 42 with a very much wanted child. And my immidiate reaction is STILL “Oh No! Do you need me to take you somewhere?!” lol. Though I have that reaction silently in my head.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Apparently that was my subconscious’s reaction when I got (very deliberately, even expensively) pregnant. At about 5 weeks I had a dream that was like, “oh god my parents are going to kill me — my TEACHERS are going to kill me — what a out my exams — where will we live — WHAT AM I GOING TO DO”. As I gradually came awake my brain systematically ticked off, “we’re not at school — we’re a grown up — we have a degree — two in fact — and a job — and a house — and we’re gay-married— I THINK IT’S OK.”

    13. bamcheeks*

      I remember this letter for the first time around and it still strikes me as something the intern blurted out and will wake up feeling “oh NO!” about at 3am for the next 30 years.

    14. Ally McBeal*

      Oh yeah, this is absolutely a thing and can come from all perspectives. I was raised in a conservative religious environment where EVERY pregnancy was a gift from God even if one or both of the parents didn’t see it that way, so the appropriate reaction to a pregnancy announcement was ALWAYS “Congratulations!!” Then I got out into the wider world for college and had to tamp down on my ingrained reaction & read the vibe before responding (having a couple scares of my own really worked to help retrain my brain, although I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else!).

      Even still, though, my next-door neighbor, roughly the same age as me (mid/late 30s), recently told me she was moving out because she was pregnant and wanted to be closer to family. My reaction was “Congratula … *quickly restarts brain* …tions? I hope?” Whoops. At least it was indeed good news for her.

    15. TootsNYC*

      But it’s SO different when it’s someone you don’t know well.

      With personal questions, it’s important to ask yourself, What will I do with this information?
      And, Am I entitled to know that about this person?

      What is an intern going to do with tha tpersonal info about their boss? They’re not part of her support system.

      Your close cousin or a good friend? You might need to provide emotional support, or ask if they need help finding whatever medical care they’re thinking of.

      But not an internship supervisor.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. I mean my response at work is always “congratulations, how lovely.” I don’t know most of my colleagues well enough to ask if they’re happy or what they want to discuss about it so I stick to conventional responses.

        For my friends I’d want to know their genuine feelings so I can support them but the relationship at work is different.

        1. CLC*

          To be fair there really is no good response when a colleague tells you they are pregnant. “Congratulations” has always felt weird to me if you don’t know how they feel about it (even with a filled planned pregnancy the person could have weird/nuanced feelings and you don’t want to upset them). “Congratulations” is also weird because it’s not a baby it’s just a pregnancy. I know I struggled with this when I was pregnant—I really felt strongly about not counting any of my chickens and I had to just accept that this is what people say when you are pregnant even though it made me anxious. I will often say something like “oh exciting” and quickly move on to like “so when are you expecting to be out?”

          1. Never Boring*

            Yeah, I am not remotely religious now but was raised Jewish. In Judaism there are often no congratulations until the baby is born because you never know, to the extent that some people will not even prepare a nursery ahead of time, there are no baby showers, etc. I sometimes tell people “it’s a kind of superstitious thing, but my brain isn’t wired to congratulate you until the baby is born.”

      2. WeGetToDoWhat?*

        When I hear “intern from a sheltered background”, it reads as someone who might legitimately not understand how planning a family intersects with a professional career.
        Slight chance, I know, but more than zero; so a maybe a major reset of her own expectations.

    16. CLC*

      Ha! Right I remember in my early 30s a friend announcing a positive pregnancy test as a good thing and feeling like wow this is definitely how I know I’m old now. She seriously might have just blurted it out as it her age being pregnant might seem alarming. It also could have been how the LW presented it to her like if she looked or sounded grave and serious or something. Still not ok but easy enough to understand why she might have said it.

    17. nnn*

      Oof, been there!

      In my case, it was exacerbated by the fact that I’m vocally childfree (having grown up in a place where that’s unusual) and left the conservative religion I was raised in to go live as a single woman in a major city, so there was a period of life where people who wouldn’t normally be close enough to be confidants actually were reaching out to me in their time of need.

      It took some time to realize that people who are in a comparable place in life as I am have access to comparable resources and wouldn’t be asking me for help.

    18. KateM*

      Unless it was a private heart-to-heart with my BFF, my response would be “yay congratulations”, because generally speaking, people (whom I know) who don’t intend to keep the pregnancy just don’t announce it.

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, that would be my view as well. I mean, if you’re at the point where you’re letting people at work know about it, “Congrats!” is probably fine! I wouldn’t start gushing about how great that is and how happy they must be, etc., but they are presumably at this point OK with and committed to the pregnancy.

      2. aebhel*

        Yeah, exactly. I think this is one of those times where the default social script is the best one, and if people have mixed or complicated feelings about their pregnancy they probably don’t want to process those with their work colleagues.

    19. Clara*

      Oh my god, yes. At intern age I definitely would have reacted similarly. I know it’s inappropriate, but I really didn’t have another point of reference!

    20. Ann*

      Oh yikes please don’t ask anyone you don’t know well if you need to take them somewhere! It’s just as presumptuous as unwanted congratulations. I’ve been on the receiving end of that a few times, and I’m surprised how much it upset me. I thought I could just shrug and tell myself the person didn’t know any better, but it bothered me so much on some gut level anyway.

      Something like “are you excited?” is more neutral, maybe…

  2. soontoberetired*

    A co-worker of mine just had her first child at 38. She’s also unmarried. She didn’t really announce her pregnancy to her work group because she had some weird reaction early on – especially for the unmarried part. and it is very much a wanted baby for her and her partner. Even long time employees sometimes need to know when to shut up and just say congrats. Her boss was great about the whole thing, which helped with the idiots. Most of us were just thrilled for her.

    1. Clisby*

      Yeah, I was 42 when I got pregnant with my first child (also unmarried and planned). I didn’t announce it at work until I was 5 months pregnant, and the fingers of both hands would probably cover the number of people who immediately said, “Congratulations!” One woman I worked with occasionally said something like, “I hear you’re happy about it, so … congratulations?” I said, “If I weren’t happy about it, it wouldn’t be happening.”

    2. JP*

      For some reason, this calls to mind an awkward interaction a few years ago. At our holiday party, we do a slideshow from the year of big projects and life events, and usually include congrats to employees’ and their partners who welcomed babies. One employee that year was a single mother, father not in the picture for whatever reason, she didn’t give a lot of details, which I totally get. But whoever was running the slideshow was having a hard time with the concept of only congratulating one parent, and started asking who the father was. He didn’t ask more than a couple people before he was informed that the question was wildly inappropriate.

    3. Phryne*

      Wait, what? When you said unmarried I assumed single mom, which should deffo not lead to weird reactions in itself, but some people are weirdly inappropriate like that I guess. But she was in a relationship/had a stable partner but was just not married to them? Are people aware that this is the 21st century? I know more people with kids (and mortgages) that are not married than that are. (And most of these have been together as a couple for decades and have made sure that their financial and legal business etc has been taken care of. Marriage is just one way to do that).
      In my country there illegitimacy is not even a legal thing anymore, is it in the US?

      1. Project Maniac-ger*

        If the mother and father sign the paperwork, it’s legitimate, even if they aren’t married to each other. However it is still very taboo in many parts of America to have a baby when unmarried and so much of the process of childrearing is built around a married heterosexual couple that to not be is A Big Deal and creates a lot of extra hoops to jump through.

        There’s still doctors who will not perform procedures on a woman without her husband’s consent, and if there is no husband, then she’s not getting the procedure.

      2. Frankie Mermaids*

        When I was pregnant, I had a coworker enthusiastically tell me how “great” it was that I did it the “right way” (married, stable income, owned a home) and didn’t seem to understand what was wrong with saying that…. His tune changed when he realized I would not be quitting my job when the baby was born to stay home. So… Unfortunately there are still a lot of people with archaic views of family dynamics. This person was my age with young children.

    4. Ann*

      I wasn’t married when I got pregnant with my first. Our HR lady came up to me and quietly asked if she can mention the pregnancy to others with a “is that OK? you’re not embarrassed?”

      Oookay, no, I was a grown adult already and it hadn’t occurred to me to be embarrassed about my very much wanted child whose dad is the love of my life… thanks for putting it in my head that I should be embarrassed. I wish I’d said so right there, but I was so floored I didn’t even know how to respond?

  3. CatLady*

    Let me offer another opinion. Not every pregnancy is welcome and while I will agree that this use case where someone is announcing at work is a decent clue that it is, the intern might be trying (and ultimately failing) to be tactful. My personal response, especially since it was in private, might be: “I’m assuming that since you are sharing here at work that congratulations are in order?” And then a quick “congratulations” when she responded in the affirmative.

    1. Tio*

      I get that idea, but I feel like if you’re announcing it to your office mates, without further explanation, it’s generally implied you are keeping the child. Adn if they are, then it doesn’t matter to anyone whether it’s planned or not. Maybe it would be different if it was something I overheard someone saying – but then my instinct would be to not say anything since I wasn’t specifically told.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        Oh, not necessarily. If they’re dealing with really awful morning sickness (like HG) they might feel forced to disclose because it’s disrupting her and others’ workdays. (I once had a boss who felt she needed to disclose to me before I think she wanted to, because she really REALLY needed a water but couldn’t leave her desk for fear of puking, so she had to ask me to run out and grab her one from the drug store across the street.) Or they don’t believe in abortion but are feeling conflicted about keeping the baby after it’s born.

        1. Tio*

          Ok, that’s possible, but… how would asking if it was planned change anything about the response? What is the point of asking someone if their pregnancy is planned when they are not an intimate friend? If they’re conflicted about keeping it – you shouldn’t invite your boss/superior to dump that sort of thing on you – and if they were doing it without asking, that’s a red flag. You can go with “congratulations” or “How are you feeling” which was suggested above and I think is really good… but I don’t think there’s ever a reason to ask someone at work “Was it planned?”

    2. Nesprin*

      If someone you have a close relationship with lets you know they’re pregnant and winces through the announcement, sure.

      For a coworker or a boss or an “acquaintance” instead of a “friend” announces, you’re not going to be the friend who takes them “camping” and congrats are the way to go.

    3. Critical Rolls*

      In a work setting I would argue that it’s “Congratulations” unless you have been given direct, unambiguous reason to say otherwise. This is simply the safer choice than feeling out the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy. (Or if you really want something neutral, EmF’s “Wow, that’s big news!” is excellent.)

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes I’d agree. If someone is telling me this at work I’d assume that they want to be congratulated, unless it’s really obvious they’re unhappy about it.

      2. Petty_Boop*

        I 100% agree. Unless someone is sobbing, “I can’t believe this is happening to me NOW” or something similar, I ALWAYS say “Congratulations!” If they indicate after THAT they’re not happy I will say, “Congradolences, perhaps?” or something to lighten it up. But, a baby should be PRESUMED to wanted (planned or not) unless there is a STRONG reason to think otherwise!

    4. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I was just told by a co-worker of a third pregnancy when they had said they were a “two and through” family. My response was neutral until they expressed their happiness with the little surprise.

    5. LawBee*

      Well there is also the fact that it isn’t any of the intern’s business whether the pregnancy was planned or unplanned. I’m sure it was one of those “mouth meet foot” moments, and I’m not going to bag on the intern, but also—don’t ask that question.

    6. TootsNYC*

      if congratulations weren’t in order, it wouldn’t be revealed.
      Once someone has made their pregnancy public, the presumption is that they’re willingly going through it.

      That reality of that might change as abortion is harder to get, but it’s still the polite presumption.

      And unless you are CLOSE CONFIDANTS, any regrets someone might be feeling is none of your business.

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        Yes, this. While I generally do the “Oh wow! How are you feeling?” it is entirely normal to say congratulations in a work setting.

        It’s a wonderful thing to respect that there may be conflicting or complicated feelings about the situation, but it is very much not the responsibility of a casual co-worker to perfectly parse and acknowledge each one.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Putting yourself in the intern’s shoes for a second, do you really think it’s a reasonable assumption that your boss would choose to confide in you about an unwelcome pregnancy?


      Context clues.

      1. Dahlia*

        I could picture an easy situation. Fetus that’s got health issues. Boss needs to take time off to deal with health issues, but is going to be obviously pregnant first. Maybe doesn’t want congratulations.

        Being cautious in what you say isn’t a bad thing. The intern just did it incredibly poorly.

    8. umami*

      It’s a bit odd for an intern to assume their supervisor is sharing private and unwelcome news specifically with them, though. I would hope the intern would learn that a) that was probably not the apprpriate response, and b) if your supervisor actually is sharing private and unwelcome news, that is inappropriate for them to do!

  4. witch*

    If I’m off-base ignore me but is it common to announce your pregnancy 1:1 behind closed doors? Maybe the setting vibe made the intern think it was a secret?

    I mean, it likely still is sort of a secret (doubt you’d announce it to the company at the same time as your team) but delivering news to a group tends to clue everyone in on how best to respond to something.

    1. msd*

      That’s a good point. I would think a cheerful announcement at the end of a staff meeting or something similar would have made more sense. The closed door meeting sounds odd. Did the LW have back to back meetings? After the first couple the news would have spread through the team.

      1. So Tired*

        I’d gently push you to consider that a public announcement at the end of a team/group meeting could force someone who’s struggled with fertility/infant loss to have to process and react on the spot. A closed door meeting takes some of that pressure off of the people receiving the news.

        1. FrivYeti*

          That is the opposite of what I would expect; a public announcement lets someone who has struggled fade into the background, whereas in a one-on-one meeting it would be substantially harder to deal with.

          1. b-reezy*

            Agreed. As someone who struggled with infertility, I’d rather have gotten news in a work setting in a group meeting where I wasn’t the direct focus of the person announcing. Thankfully we’re all remote and that’s not an issue. People closer to me told me privately via text, which was so much more preferred to give me space to deal with my emotions before responding. When we announced our pregnancy (finally), I extended the same courtesy because you never know what people are dealing with.

        2. SoloKid*

          A 1:1 closed door meeting where my reaction is the only one being seen is the furthest from “pressure off” I could imagine.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!!*

      I think it depends. Like maybe if the intern wasn’t part of the group meeting. Or it sounds to me like the OP is the intern’s boss so the OP may have wanted to tell her privately in case there was any concerns about how it might impact her.

    3. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      Absolutely not common and I’d go a step further to say LW set themselves up for this question. I feel bad for the intern, who was likely as bewildered as LW felt at receiving the question.

      1. Marv*

        I think this is somewhat industry dependent. I work at a law firm and it’s common to tell the partners supervising your cases and work friends one-on-one and relatively early on, but to delay making a broader announcement (for example, during a team meeting) until closer to the date of actual leave. It seems to me that LW handled her announcement to the intern consistent with how she announced to everyone else she manages, so I can understand her confusion about the intern’s response (though I also totally understand the intern’s reaction! I might have done the same at that age).

        1. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

          I can see this – I wonder if the relationships forged are different for supervising partners and those that work under them. I’m trying to keep in mind the intern’s status, age, their relationship, their idea of what is normal, and the setting and who initiated the meeting, etc.

          I’m just a little disheartened at people jumping on this intern when the setting here seems ripe for a panicked intern response, complete with foot-in-mouth syndrome.

        2. RA*

          I work at a law firm too, and, to be honest, I can’t really picture making a group announcement that I’m pregnant several months before going on leave!

          I wonder if this is an industry norms thing. Maybe law tends (on the whole) to be more pragmatic and circumspect about personal matters? Perhaps the fact that legal practice has historically been so male-dominated (and still is, to varying extents) makes women less likely to publicly announce much about their pregnancies?

          I work at a pretty family-friendly firm, where both men and women routinely mention (and make decisions based on) their partners/children/caregiving responsibilities. However, in my (admittedly limited) experience of the legal profession, I haven’t witnessed anyone publicly announce their pregnancy several months out from when they are due to go on leave. Rather, pregnancy seems to be treated as something that you might decide to discuss with whomever you want/need to tell. It’s by no means a secret, but it’s essentially up to you how you handle it: There’s no automatic need for a group pregnancy announcement, because – until you are about to go on maternity leave – it generally doesn’t affect the whole group!

          I certainly wouldn’t begrudge anyone *else* doing a group pregnancy announcement , nor do I think that it would necessarily come off as unusual. That said, I truly don’t think I’d be willing to do it myself! I think I would feel like it puts too much emphasis on my gender, my body, and my role as a mother-to-be. At work, I want to be viewed first and foremost as a productive, hardworking, and approachable lawyer.*

          * These are 100% my personal feelings and I don’t purport to touch on the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approach here.

      2. Jennifer Strange*

        Absolutely not common and I’d go a step further to say LW set themselves up for this question.

        No, they didn’t. Just because a one-on-one isn’t how you would choose to share that news doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid way to do so, and it doesn’t mean the LW opened herself up to a question that should not have been asked.

        1. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

          This is so completely ungenerous to the fact that certain situations are perceived differently based on background and context. It’s fine if you would know exactly how someone would want you to react and how you would react when thrown into an unfamiliar situation, but not everyone is like this.

          Neither of these people are at fault, but LW is suggesting to teach their intern manners of sometimes. This is a suggestion that LW should have considered who they were speaking to and how they announced it, too, before it’s just a “intern has no sense of right/wrong.” If LW didn’t want anything other than a “ok, congrats,” this should have been through a more impersonal channel. Pregnancy is highly personal — an official email with the declaration and what that means for work would have been the most impersonal way of doing it and spared everyone the awkwardness.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            I was responding specifically to you stating that the OP set themselves up for the question, which is completely ungenerous.

            This is a suggestion that LW should have considered who they were speaking to and how they announced it, too, before it’s just a “intern has no sense of right/wrong.”

            Who said the intern has no sense of right/wrong? I certainly didn’t, nor did the OP.

            If LW didn’t want anything other than a “ok, congrats,” this should have been through a more impersonal channel. Pregnancy is highly personal — an official email with the declaration and what that means for work would have been the most impersonal way of doing it and spared everyone the awkwardness.

            Just because that’s how you would want to announce it doesn’t mean the OP doesn’t get to do it her way. She may have wanted it in a one-on-one to talk through any specific tasks that may go to the intern while she’s on maternity leave. My supervisor informed me of her pregnancy during a one-on-one, and I didn’t find it awkward at all.

            The intern asked a personal question, point blank. To be clear, I don’t think this makes her a bad person or means she should be ostracized, but I think it’s okay to help someone understand why that’s a personal question. The backbends some folks or doing to attach the LW is just astounding!

    4. Lady Danbury*

      Not at all common, which probably didn’t help the intern. It’s normal to have a one on one convo with your boss, for planning purposes, but coworkers are normally informed in a group or via email.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!!*

        But OP wasnt the interns coworker, she was the manager. And we don’t know the complexities. Perhaps this was their normal 1:1 and the OP already told everyone else and so she wanted to tell the intern in case their was any concern about how it would impact the intern if someone else had to start managing her.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. I mean when one of my previous bosses was pregnant she told me and her team earlier than she told other people so we could check in about timings and maternity leave plans. I don’t think it’s unusual to tell someone you supervise privately so they can ask any questions about what the cover arrangements / work oversight plans would be.

    5. CheeryO*

      This was my first thought as someone who is currently pregnant and still contemplating how and when to announce to my reports. A big group announcement would have let the intern off the hook in terms of having the right reaction, and nothing of value would really be lost since LW could still follow up with any actionable items in their next 1-on-1.

      And I could absolutely see my youngest report saying something like that. She thinks anyone over 30 is Really Old and cannot accept that I’m in my mid-30s since I am not made of literal dust.

    6. This Old House*

      Eh, every person and every pregnancy is different. One-on-one convos were definitely how I was most comfortable telling people. I’m 2/3 of the way through a very much wanted and planned pregnancy and I didn’t “make an announcement” because earlier on I was wracked with anxiety that something would go wrong. I told a few people at work because it came up or was necessary, mostly behind closed doors, though I told them it wasn’t a secret and really tried not to let my anxiety color the tone of the news – I was actually kind of hoping word would get out so I didn’t have to tell as many people (turns out my coworkers are too discreet for that, as they probably should be). Every time I told someone new, at work or in my personal life, I didn’t sleep that night, counting how many people I’d have to tell now if something went wrong. I also hate being the center of attention, my least favorite part of pregnancy is how unavoidably public it is (and the indigestion. the indigestion is definitely up there), and I’ve never been good at making announcements unrelated to the topic of conversation. Even in prior pregnancies when I had less anxiety, I found myself waiting longer than intended because I never quite knew how to bring it up and kept waiting for an opening that never came.

      1. Gemstones*

        Yes, I remember a supervisor (who I was also pretty close to) telling me privately in her office. I get not everyone will do that, but it didn’t feel weird…probably given that she and I had known each other for awhile. I guess everyone is different.

    7. Elle by the sea*

      It might be just me, but I would proceed like this: only after the first 3-4 months (to make sure the pregnancy stays), but probably earlier to some closer office friends. Then to your manager behind closed doors. And no need to go further – you can tell people who you are close with but wouldn’t do a public announcement. That’s what most people (including me) did in our office. But it’s up to everyone- I don’t think there is a specific norm around it.

    8. lyd*

      My thought exactly, I really wonder if the employee read the one on one situation as a more personal one which warranted a more personal, curious response. I’m on good terms with my boss, if she pulled just me into the office to tell me about a health condition we likely would have a more personal talk about it. In the past when she was going out on a medical leave, we had a meeting with myself and the two other managers so conversation clearly wouldn’t go into the personal route and it was all business. I would think that a small meeting would be perfectly appropriate to announce a pregnancy.

      I also think it’s a generational thing. I’m closer in age to the LW but I definitely think the idea of an oopsie baby being a bad thing is very outdated. I would say the majority of people I know have had pregnancies that weren’t planned but more of a happy surprise that is openly talked about. That’s was the feeling I got when I read the letter, that it was more of just genuine curiosity and a question to gauge further response than any sort of judgement but obviously that depends on things not known to the readers.

  5. BellyButton*

    I hate to admit it, but I laughed. I can imagine as an intern they are pretty young and I remember at that age if someone was pregnant it was not planned and we would have all been freaking out. Yes, coach her on it, but I can totally see how that might have come flying out of her mouth.

    1. fool on a hill*

      I do think it’s a really easy mistake to make- the kind of silly thing that falls out of your mouth when confronted with surprising news.

      I’d let it pass unless similar things keep happening; it’s the kind of thing you kick yourself for, so don’t kick her while she’s down.

    2. Certaintroublemaker*

      And as long as you’re coaching, add that things like asking people who don’t have kids about their plans, commenting on people’s size, and other seemingly innocent chit chat aren’t appropriate in the workplace.

  6. I'm just here for the cats!!*

    Reading this I am kind of kicking myself because I had a coworker who was pregnant a few years ago and I asked “Were you planning to get pregnant?”
    To be fair we had just been talking how the pregnancy lined up really well with the schedule (work in academia) so that she had the baby about a month before the end of the spring semester. She only worked August – May so she would normally be out June and July. I meant it as were you planning it this way so you didn’t have to take unpaid leave after the baby was born. But I could see how this might have been taken differently. I don’t remember her exact response but she didn’t say or act weird, so I hope she understood what I was trying to say!

    1. 3hubcaps*

      I had my oldest in April and every other woman in my birth classes were teachers to add summer break onto their maternity leave. It’s definitely a thing.

        1. allathian*

          My son’s a May baby, too, and the same thing happened to me, even though I’m in an area with long maternity leave and most teachers would be out for at least one school year regardless of when the baby’s born.

  7. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

    If someone took me into a one-on-one to announce their pregnancy, I would be confused & worried. Definitely a let it go thing – I’ve never had a pregnancy announce at work like this (it’s always an email or an internal blog posting or a newsletter things), so it all just strikes me as a casual misunderstanding considering the other person is an intern, too.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!!*

      ” so it all just strikes me as a casual misunderstanding considering the other person is an intern, too.”

      I don’t quite understand what you are saying here? Do you mean that the OP is an intern because they are the manager.

      1. Be Gneiss*

        I think the comment means it’s a casual misunderstanding because (1) the one-on-one announcement and (2, too, also) the other person is an intern.

      2. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

        Sorry for the lack of clarity, the comment below is right and I was thinking along the lines of a boss telling their intern something that can be perceived as highly personal in a private setting might make the intern think this is some kind of situation beyond just “hey, I’m pregnant. I’ll be out in X month. Do you have any work-related things you’d like to plan for?”

    2. Seashell*

      I’ve never gotten an e-mail at work about someone’s pregnancy, unless it was about a baby shower. Either I got word through the grapevine, noticed their changing belly, or someone mentioned in a meeting that Jane is expected to go on maternity leave in August or something like that.

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      I didn’t read it as the LW bringing them into a one-on-one specifically to announce the pregnancy, just that it came up as part of a one-on-one, which doesn’t seem odd to me. A former supervisor did the same thing.

      1. Dona Florinda*

        Same here: we already had a one-on-one scheduled and my boss took the opportunity to share the news, so we could start planning for her leave.

        But in this case, even if OP did pull the intern aside specifically to tell them, I don’t think it’s strange, since they could also use the meeting to discuss what would change with the pregnancy.

      2. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

        Ohh, then this context would change it a lot in my view. If it was just tacked onto a regular 1:1 meeting as a “hey, btw, fyi” and they asked this then it’s really bizarre to say anything beyond “oh! thanks for letting me know! Should I be looking out for a shift in my workload or priorities?” (which is very neutral).

  8. Hiring Mgr*

    The third letter on the business travel is messed up. Does the boss or anyone else at the company have to do this, or are they only asking you? Either way it’s extremely unreasonable and counterproductive

    1. Foxy Hedgehog*

      Oof, that’s awful.

      Any reasonable company that has employees travel to a different continent for work should have a “travel policy” that addresses this question…and I have never heard of a reasonable travel policy that demands employees take connecting flights on 11+ hour trips when a direct flight is available (and the manager gets to take the direct flight and buy an upgrade as well).

      Hopefully LW3 has requested a company-wide Travel Policy, and hopefully it is close to industry standard, whatever the industry might be.

      1. Misty*

        I grew up in a rural area in a VERY conservative Evenglical Christian area. A pregnancy was considered a gift from God. So, it me when I was a very young and an intern I would have rejoiced for my boss. Background and context is everything.

    2. Wow, really?*

      I was shocked by that too. Nothing like telling your employees to their face that you don’t value them or their time.

    3. Artemesia*

      the fact that the boss gets direct flights highlights how appalling this is. Push back hard and be looking for a new job because a company that would do something this ridiculous is not going to get much better. You don’t have to jump before you find the right thing, but stop putting up with this by finding a better job elsewhere and tell them that is why you left when you secure the new place.

      1. Anonys*

        The next time the business class flying boss suggests a ridiculously long layover route plus train combination, OP should say: “Great idea! why don’t you take the same route with me, we will save several hundred more plus I’ll have a whole 26 hours to really pick your brain about our new llama grooming cost cutting initiative before we present it to the whole llama division! Exiting!”

    4. Anonys*

      Instead of just pointing out how fatigued and not peak productive they are after the longer flights and asking for the direct version, OP could also say: “If I am taking these long multi layover flights, I am extremely jetlagged and tired and cannot start to productively work and be present in meetings right away. I will either need an extra half day/day to recuperate or we can book me on the direct flights and I can get started with work in City B right away”.

  9. Kel*

    Response to LW3: wait, you have to take an extra 5 hours and a stopover but your boss flies business class direct????? And now they want you to cut back even more!!??

    Absolutely not.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      If nothing else, I’d ask to leave a day earlier before that ordeal so that I had time to get my act together before the big meetings.

      1. Artemesia*

        good idea. ‘It is impossible for me to be effective after a 26 hour flight and train with multiple connections — if we must do this, I need to go in the day before so I can get a night’s rest before meeting the clients.’

        The boss is a moral monster.

        1. Quinalla*

          Agreed, this was going to be my one additional suggestion so that the added cost of an extra hotel night (or maybe more than one!!) to recover can be factored in. I understand not booking ridiculously overpriced flights and being reasonable on business travel expenses, but this is just silly. You don’t add hours and hours to someone’s business travel to save a few hundred bucks. Their time is definitely worth more than that even if you don’t care about them as a person!

    2. pally*

      I’m kind of wondering how the boss expected the LW to react at the additional 5 hours -and a train ride to boot.

      You first, boss. Show us how you are going to arrive, rested and refreshed, ready to work.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Right? “Hey, I’m about to get in trouble for exceeding the total budget for this trip because I chose business class, so would you mind cutting your costs a bit more “

    4. Project Maniac-ger*

      It’s real easy to work on cost cutting measures and crunch those numbers while seated in business class on a direct flight, isn’t it?

      I bet OP’s boss is the kind of person that leaves shopping carts in open parking spaces and think they’re helping.

    5. Daisy-dog*

      I just heard a story elsewhere of another company who went to extreme lengths to cut costs. The storyteller had to sleep on what was essentially a padded bench for 3 months in a NYC apartment. She later discovered that someone else in the company came to stay for a couple weeks and got a 3-bedroom apartment to himself. (She has since learned to stand up for herself.)

  10. Richard Hershberger*

    LW2: I guess we can assume that the LW wants the branded items, or she wouldn’t be writing this. But were it me, I would keep a discreet silence. I do not wear either polos or hoodies by choice, and I even more do not wear branded clothing by choice. None of it being wearable would be perfect.

    That being said, I am kind of flummoxed that there are providers for this stuff that don’t offer extended sizes. It’s not as if the problem were uncommon. There are all sorts of weirdnesses about sizing in the clothing industry that seem to me very odd business decisions.

    1. mreasy*

      In my experience ordering branded clothing, the range of vendors who have sizes beyond XL is extremely limited.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        You definitely need a better supplier. A lot of the blank goods suppliers we work with carry to 3XL or 4XL standard on everything, and to 5XL or 6XL on a selection of popular items. I’ve seen sizing up to 8XL, though I only remember that for polos. (I work in branded clothing.)

        1. bighairnoheart*

          I just had to order fleece jackets for our organization (about 600 people, yikes!), and yeah there were a reasonable amount of options that went up to 3XL and 4XL in men’s and women’s. That being said, there were only 2 options in our price range that went up to 5 and 6 XL (and only in men’s no women’s there). Even then, we still had a small handful of employees who requested 7 and 8XL so we had to do a special order for them–a jacket made of some other material, I actually liked the look of that one better, personally. So it’s possible to find more inclusive sizing, but I’ll admit, the higher you want to go, the tougher it is.

          I will say though, if I wanted to order something particularly “stylish,” (and therefore, more expensive, which meant we weren’t strongly considering those options), it was almost impossible for us to find anything that offered above 4XL. So, it depends a lot on the exact item you’re buying too.

          1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

            The vendor my old company worked with was able to do a one-off for the person outside of their size range; we specified a plain garment that would work and they were able to get one and embroider it along with the other items.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!!*

      That’s great that this situation you would be okay with this. Although the LW didn’t say this I could see them feeling left out or “othered” if they do not wear branded clothing, especially being that most people do wear branded clothing for the trade shows. They might feel like they aren’t part of the team or worry that their coworkers think oddly of them because they aren’t wearing the branded merchandise.

      I know its an old letter, but if extended sizes are a problem, perhaps they could order things like hats with the company logo, or patches that people could sew or iron on to clothing they have that does fit.

      1. Imtheone*

        Even hats don’t fit everyone. I’m short, average weight, but because of my head shape, I can only wear the very largest of a few men’s hats. (The widest part of my head is where the hatband sits.)

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Do they think that people chose not to wear the clothing? And nobody noticed a key factor in this group?

    4. Mitford*

      My company uses Lands End, which does come in a wide variety of sizes. They just gave us all $75 to spend on it, and I was able to get a nice fleece jacket and beanie to match.

    5. Esmae*

      There’s a big difference between not wanting to wear the branded items and not being able to because the company bought from a vendor that doesn’t carry your size. Even if I hated the clothing and never wanted to wear it, I would be really uncomfortable with essentially being told I’m “too fat” for it.

  11. That one time...*

    Early in my career I made a similar faux pas during a social lunch with coworkers. All of us women were discussing pregnancies and attempts to become pregnant. It was a pretty candid talk with many people saying they were “trying” for a baby. One of my coworkers said she’d love to start a family and I casually asked “Oh, are you trying for a baby as well?” Well, she SNAPPED. She felt it was much too personal a question as it implied she was having regular intercourse with her husband (the audacity!). I laugh a little when I think of it now, because I understand that she was very conservative, but at the time it seemed like “oh, everyone else is sharing, this is fine for me to ask.” I’ve been very leery of asking anything pregnancy related in the 25 years since! I guess it truly is a touchy subject.

    1. 1849 Wisconsin*

      Reminds me of a sci-fi book I just finished where asking someone if they had children was considered just as inappropriate as asking intimate details about their sex lives. Several characters blushed and stuttered just trying to say the word “children”.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I think that was a bait and switch.
      She brought up wanting to have children.
      You followed up with a general statement asking if she meant now.
      She got offended.
      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
      So it should have gone like this??
      “One of my coworkers said she’d love to start a family and I casually asked,
      Oh, do you and your husband belong to a bowling league?”

  12. kiki*

    I feel like I could go either way on this– if it seems like she has needed help with general interpersonal stuff in other realms, I think it makes sense to carry that training through with this situation. But if she were generally good with people, I could see her question as one of those awkward, “I didn’t know how to react!” things and she realized that wasn’t quite the right question based on your response.

  13. LarsTheRealGirl*

    Oy. A Painfully mortifying moment. I was 22(f) and played on a rec soccer league with people of all ages. At a brunch with the league a woman (30?) told me she was expecting and I went “oh… who’s the dad?” and she looked at me funny and said “…my husband.” IMMEDIATE facepalm. I was in such a different place in my life, and usually surrounded by my peers, that the concept that she was married and was having a child on purpose was so foreign to me. I’m not dense, I swear, just in a very bubbled mental state at the time.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      And I’ve been on the receiving end of this! I was chatting with a young woman who worked at the gym (maybe a few years younger than I was). For reference: I got married in my early 20s and I belong to a culture where extramarital sex is outside the norm.
      Me: We got married six months ago.
      Her: Do you have any kids?
      Me: No…we’ve only been married for six months…

      1. amoeba*

        Well, to be fair, if she was not a member of the same culture/didn’t know about that, that would be a pretty normal question! Maybe a bit personal, but no more than if you’d been married for years, in my world.

  14. Jade*

    Was there ever an update on the cost cutting letter? Boss should have to fly that route and see how they like it.

    1. Antilles*

      There was (link to follow).
      Short version is that OP went several months without needing to travel and was going to bring it up in the moment when the next trip arose. Then the next time they traveled, it was only a short flight so there wasn’t even an option for a layover.
      Except that said trip got canceled ahead of time and OP only found out when she mentioned it the day before and Boss was like “oh yeah, forgot to tell you, that entire meeting’s not happening, go ahead and cancel your flight”. So the cost-cutting company was basically one random Teams message away from paying for a round-trip ticket for no reason whatsoever.
      OP realized the cost-cutting was the tip of the iceberg-of-crazy and left for greener pastures.

  15. Snooks*

    Interns are there to learn and should be kindly clued in as needed. Explain to her that questions and comments about pregnancy, medical issues, people’s bodies, their racial, religious, ethnicity or politics are unsuitable in a professional setting.

    1. Anna*

      Yeah I agree that part of your role in managing an intern is giving this kind of guidance.
      I also agree that the closed door one on one setting is unusual in my experience, and that in itself might have given the intern the idea that something was wrong/concerning. It would be typical to announce to your own manager in a private conversation if they need to start planning coverage for your work before you are ready to announce to other coworkers. But I think announcing in a group meeting or over email is much more typical and then not everyone has to come up with a response. I think people often are uninterested in other people’s pregnancies and don’t really want to come up with a response. I just told 3 clients I’m expecting and going to be on maternity leave for Dec-Apr, and not one of them said anything about it, good or bad. I tried to tell them over the phone but they didn’t answer, so I told them by email, and they emailed back about other topics, but nobody said “congrats” or anything.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Exactly! This is the sort of professional expectation that you can definitely coach the intern on, and help them avoid making the same mistake in the future.

    3. Tesuji*

      So… your advice is that when someone pulls you aside in a professional setting and has a one-to-one conversation behind closed doors about a topic, you should then also lecture them that any questions or comments about that topic are unsuitable in a professional setting?

      I mean, that clearly wasn’t the best way for the intern to handle it, but your preferred course of action seems even goofier. Personally, I don’t think either one of them gave that conversation enough thought before having it, but at least the intern has the excuse of being caught by surprise.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        So… your advice is that when someone pulls you aside in a professional setting and has a one-to-one conversation behind closed doors about a topic, you should then also lecture them that any questions or comments about that topic are unsuitable in a professional setting?

        There is nothing to indicate that the one-on-one was solely to discuss the pregnancy, but rather that it happened during a one-on-one meeting.

  16. Problem!*

    For the bananas travel cost savings LW, have you read the actual wording of your company’s travel policies? For flights most *normal* companies want you to pick the cheapest option but have wording about “reasonable itineraries” that allow you to spend more to avoid a crazy layover situation or flights at odd hours. The one I work for allows for a business class upgrade for any leg over a certain number of hours, the cynical part of me wonders if your company has the same policy and your boss is forcing you onto a billion short legs to avoid paying the business class upgrade.

    1. Hazelthyme*

      This. My job/company require a lot of business travel. We’re expected to book flights that are within $150 of the lowest available fare. Over 4 hours, you can book 1 level up from economy (even if that’s just premium economy/comfort plus); international, you can book business class. I occasionally opt for overnight flights or super-long layovers of my own volition, if that’s the least bad option (I don’t live near a major airport, so my cross-country flight options tend to be limited), but I’ve also declined “cheap” flights because they’re redeyes, have too many stops/long layovers, or even because the layover is too short, and it’s never been an issue.

  17. AnonyNurse*

    I’ve worked in both prenatal clinics and abortion clinics, so I’ve seen a very wide variety of responses to a person finding they are pregnant. And, of course, my friends reach out to me whenever they are newly pregnant (or might be), no matter what they plan to do about it.

    My standard reply is, “how are you feeling?” Their reaction to that question informs my response. If the answer is “so excited!” I celebrate with them. If it is “looking forward to baby but I can’t stop puking and I feel awful,” I commiserate and offer support and more gentle congrats. And if they wish to no longer be pregnant, I can provide as much affirmation and requested information, etc. as they want.

    1. Fluffy Initiative*

      This is an excellent response. I like that it centers the expectant parent’s feelings (both physical and emotional) and doesn’t make any assumptions

  18. Sue*

    I’m good at a neutral reaction to pregnancy news because I work in healthcare – but, I *really really* appreciate it when I don’t have to toe that line and people give you a hint when they share the news. “I’m excited to let you know that…” or “the timing could have been better, but…”
    Lack of clues doesn’t excuse rudeness, but just throwing this out there for any potential announcers of this sort of news!

    1. Rainy*

      Yeah, I think that it’s a kindness to the people you’re telling to indicate what kind of response you want. Someone saying “We just found out we’re pregnant!” or “I have been DYING to share this with you and I finally can–I’m pregnant!” gives me an immediate clue that I can say “Congratulations! That’s great!” or whatever.

  19. Greg*

    Any question about pregnancy is immediately met with, “That’s a very personal question,” regardless of who asks it. And my wife and I don’t say a thing after that.

    1. Thistle Pie*

      I mean, that’s great that you guys have a plan for that, but LW didn’t, and is now seeking advice on what to say to the intern, if anything at all.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      This woman opened the door.
      I’m feeling you and your wife do not open the door, with “we are planning to start a family.” I think that your reply is to people who follow up, “and this is my wife/husband” or “we bought a house in Duckworth,” or with “when are you having kids”?

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        This woman opened the door.

        How? She said she was pregnant. That doesn’t open the door for people to ask if it was planned or not.

        1. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

          Then don’t announce it. I am quite confused on what reaction would be okay. Communication is a two way street.

          “Thanks for letting me know” is neutral but someone could write in a letter that they felt dismissed and that it was a cold reaction to their joyous announcement. They could have said nothing and been called “weird.” As a rule of thumb, if you give someone personal information, particularly news that can be both joyous and traumatic in equal measures, you should help them interpret it at the same time and also give them a hint on why you’re even telling them in the first place. “I’m pregnant, and while I’m thrilled, that also means that we’re going to need to rearrange some priorities before I go on leave.”

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            I mean, she presumably has to announce it at some point? It’s going to be odd when she’s suddenly out for multiple weeks?

            I am quite confused on what reaction would be okay.

            I mean, if you’re not positive if the person giving the news is happy about it, you can say “Oh wow! How are you feeling?” or, your suggestion of “Thanks for letting me know”

            As a rule of thumb, if you give someone personal information, particularly news that can be both joyous and traumatic in equal measures, you should help them interpret it at the same time and also give them a hint on why you’re even telling them in the first place. “I’m pregnant, and while I’m thrilled, that also means that we’re going to need to rearrange some priorities before I go on leave.”

            Sure, it would be great if the LW did that. But that doesn’t mean the intern didn’t ask a question that was out of bounds. Two things can be true at the same time.

            1. amoeba*

              Ha, yeah, especially for her direct report. I’d be pretty upset if my boss became visibly pregnant over time without ever letting me know officially, without any planning for her maternity leave, etc…

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            You said, “…don’t announce it. I am quite confused on what reaction would be okay. Communication is a two way street.”

            You do realize, she told her employee right?
            She can’t responsibly ignore something that could affect the internship. I like someone else’s suggestion of “How are you feeling?” as politely open-ended.

            The conversation itself is going to be about business plans for interns continued educational project(s).

          3. Coverage Associate*

            I was taught from a very young age to say nothing and do nothing about someone else’s suspected pregnancy until the pregnant person told me. For the most recent pregnancy in my office, it was phrased as telling me before it was obvious, and even if it were obvious, I would not have done or said anything about the pregnancy unless asked to. So, yeah, I am totally fine with pregnancy being treated as a medical issue at work and the diagnosis kept secret. “I have a medical condition, so I will have extra doctor’s appointments, and you’ll need to cover while I am out.” “I will be taking leave around x date. We should start on a plan for coverage.”

            I know technically parental leave and pregnancy accommodations are covered under different statutes, but I don’t see why anyone outside HR needs to know that it’s a pregnancy and not any other medical issue.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              Because a pregnancy ends with something that is going to continue in that person’s life (and continue to affect things beyond the pregnancy). It would be pretty odd to tell someone “I’m going to be out for medical leave for a few months” and then come back and suddenly start talking about a child you never had previously. Also, what if someone adopted? Surely they wouldn’t refer to it as medical leave, but would still take the time just the same.

      2. aebhel*

        Announcing a pregnancy is not an invitation for people to ask any intrusive questions about it that might come to mind, FFS. If you want to make a comparison, this would be like responding to ‘we bought a house’ with ‘oh, how are you planning to afford that?’

        Some kinds of questions you just don’t ask people unless you have a close personal relationship.

  20. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

    I discovered I was pregnant something like two weeks after starting a new job. My husband and I very much wanted that child, had been actively trying (with fertility help!) for more than two years, and were over-the-moon excited about it.

    I was exceptionally high-risk; advanced maternal age, plus a previous miscarriage, plus a previous full-term pregnancy with pre-eclampsia, and that pregnancy also went 10 days overdue and ended in induction. We were cautious about everything until I was WELL into my second trimester and the pregnancy was considered viable and all the scans and tests had indicated everything was normal/progressing normally.

    When I told my then-boss, he said, ‘Oh….? Was it planned? Do you want to keep it?’

    I looked him square in the eye and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean by that. Could you explain?” He backpedaled so fast I could feel the wind on my face.

    He ended up rage-quitting less than a month later and no one misses him.

      1. metadata minion*

        I think they are more likely to occur in younger generations just because younger people have less experience, but there’s nothing about this current youngest adult generation that makes them any more clueless than Millennials or Boomers were at 18-25.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          FWIW, I used to manage a very mixed-age team (18-70) and some of the boomers were just as clueless about stuff like this as they could be.

          Age is not a factor in cluelessness. If you have tons of experience but have been wearing blinders the entire time, you will be clueless.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I truly wish.
      But older people feel they have the right to ask any and everything.
      Young people lack the experience to know what should and should not be asked.
      There’s a happy period in the middle when you are appropriately civil because you’ve been in your relationships/workplace/neighborhood just the right amount of time to know how to act.
      Before that, you’re a dope.
      After that, you’re an ass.
      Can it be said about every person?
      Can it be said about every generation?

  21. Janey*

    Could the intern have been thinking ahead to future work/life balance issues? The letter writer didn’t mention what industry she works in, but perhaps it’s a profession where the timing of a pregnancy would be easier for work / taking leave… (Think of all the teachers who try to plan their pregnancies around summer break.) Perhaps there’s a a “busy season” in the letter writer’s line of work and the intern is wondering how company will handle mom-to-be being out during that time or if the mom-to-be is worried about how maternity leave would affect career advancement if she’s missing a major work moment because of it…

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      I mean, that’s still not the intern’s business? Especially since she’s an intern, and not the LW’s boss.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yes, exactly.

        Sometimes I see too many comments that are “Yeah, but…” when the the “but” part is not the point of the letter.

        And even she were LW’s boss–well, still not her business.

    2. Antilles*

      I feel like it’s quite unlikely that a 20-something intern was thinking through the long-term career implications of maternity leave on OP’s career, future work/life balance, pregnancy timing, or etc. All valid questions, of course, just not ones that are likely to come naturally to someone in their early 20’s who’s still brand new to the workforce.
      To me, it seems *far* more likely to me that the intern was just reacting tactlessly because she doesn’t have the professionalism and life experience to know that’s not a question you ask and definitely not a question you ask at work.
      Of course, even if that was the case, Jennifer and Peanut are right here that it’s absolutely none of the intern’s business.

  22. Bubble*

    If you are her supervisor you absolutely need to tell her! She probably doesn’t know this is not an ok question for workplaces. Definitely let her know.

  23. RidiculousPenguin*

    I’m 50 and recently a friend (51) announced she was pregnant. Before my brain could catch up with my mouth I blurted out “on PURPOSE?”

    I was mortified and of course apologized – I think she understood (she has two kids in college) – but boy do I feel like a jerk. Will definitely be making amends for that one for a while.

    1. AnonyNurse*

      I worked on a team for a while where a woman was vocal in her judgeyness about unplanned pregnancies. She was in her late 40s, had teenagers, was done having kids, and did a lot of “do people not understand where babies come from?”

      One day she called in sick to work. Let our boss know she was pregnant, that she recognized the irony, asked boss to tell everyone so that we could all get the chuckles out of our systems. She handled it well, and got quite the lesson on being judgemental.

    2. Ali + Nino*

      50+ pregnancy reminds me of the SNL Bronx Beat episode where Maya Rudolph’s character blurts out (sobbing) that she’s pregnant and after they drop their daughter off at college they’re going to buy a crib at Babies ‘R’ Us. :’)

  24. ticktick*

    Could be worse responses to a pregnancy announcement – I knew someone who had a friend who liked to sleep around casually, and when she announced, “I’m pregnant!”, he said, “Congratulations! Do you know who the father is?” without thinking about how that sounded. She responded “Yeah!” very happily though, so he was grateful that she’d taken it the way he’d meant, as a non-judgmental curious enquiry.

  25. Salsa Your Face*

    LW2: I recently found myself in a similar situation. I thought that the largest size *might* fit me, but it would have been a gamble. I awkwardly put off placing my order (by which I mean telling the guy handling the ordering what size and color I wanted) until he reached out to me directly and I confided in him about the issue. He totally understood, and even though it was too late to switch vendors, he asked me to order two polo shirts in any of the approved colors from whatever store I wanted, expense the cost, and have them shipped to him so he have the logo added on. It all worked out in the end and now I’m able to match my team at events.

  26. Manders*

    My colleague didn’t say anything to anyone, and at some point it was extremely obvious that she was pregnant. All of the men in my lab wanted me to invite her out for sushi and wine (which obviously I did not do). And around her seventh month she said something about it, and she was kinda annoyed that nobody had asked her if she was pregnant. Ah, people. They never cease to surprise me.

  27. HBJ*

    Just a PSA that regardless of the age of the pregnant person, don’t assume it’s unwanted or unplanned (which are NOT the same thing). There are PLENTY of women who have planned and wanted pregnancies in their early, mid and late twenties.

    And a second PSA that even if a pregnancy is initially both unplanned and unwanted, a person could still be choosing to keep the baby and may not want to say that it’s unplanned/unwanted because they don’t want to put those words out into the world or have it get back to the child someday.

    1. allathian*

      Sometimes even younger. Not all teenage pregnancies are unplanned or unwanted, either. One of my cousins had her first baby when she was 19 (technically a teenager even though a legal adult). Her husband was a few months older and they got married as soon as they legally could, on her 18th birthday. After middle school she went to a trade school rather than an academic high school, and at 18 she was already earning a living wage as a hairdresser.

    2. amoeba*

      Yeah, sure, I believe it’s honestly more about your own frame of mind, as others have said here before! I think most people know that the intern’s response wasn’t actually appropriate – but, when in your world a pregnancy is something life-ruining to be avoided at all costs, it’s easy to blurt out something inappropriate if caught by surprise! And in your early twenties, you probably haven’t had many happy, on-purpose pregnancy announcements in your social circle, but on the other hand very probably a few pregnancy scares etc..

  28. Skytext*

    I understand that asking if it was planned was an inappropriate question, but I think the LW is unfair to go on to say how inappropriate ANY pregnancy related question is. You’ve brought them into a closed-door, one-on-one meeting to announce your pregnancy, made it the purpose of the meeting and sole topic of conversation, then clutch your pearls and act offended that she actually, you know, asked a question about your pregnancy! I’m sure she just felt awkward and put on the spot, and asked the first thing that came into her head, so that she knew whether congratulations or commiseration was in order. If you just want people to congratulate you and not ask awkward questions, maybe just stick to an email announcement in the future. That way people can congratulate you or stay silent, whatever they are feeling.

    1. metadata minion*

      I would assume the meeting was intended to invite questions like “when are you planning to go on leave?” and “who will be supervising me while you’re out?”. Given that it’s an intern, I think “how does this company handle work/life balance for new parents?” or similar would also be a very reasonable topic of conversation. There are questions surrounding pregnancy that are actually work-related.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      You’ve brought them into a closed-door, one-on-one meeting to announce your pregnancy, made it the purpose of the meeting and sole topic of conversation

      Where on earth are you getting that the meeting was only about the pregnancy, rather than the pregnancy being part of it?

    3. umami*

      To be fair, there is no indication that this was the sole topic of conversation for the meeting, just that it was announced during a one-on-one meeting as she did with all her staff.

    4. Seashell*

      No co-worker who was not involved in the conception needs to know if it was planned. That was a silly question regardless of the location of the discussion.

  29. Jamboree*

    My “kid” is 25 now and I didn’t realize it until today but the only person whose reaction I specifically remember is the one young male intern (or possibly in his first job out of college) who asked me if it was planned. I remember thinking I should say something but I didn’t and often wonder if he remembers it with appropriate mortification.

  30. Punk*

    The intern is only there for a short time, and her degree might depend on the internship. She didn’t say it in an awesome way but she’s right to do the math on the length of her internship and put it together that the LW might have committed to the mentorship with the knowledge that someone else would be signing the final paperwork. You can’t always expect that someone else will take on your intern.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Where on earth are you getting that a) the LW isn’t going to finish out the person’s internship and b) if she isn’t, there isn’t a plan in place for someone else in the organization to do so? Women are allowed to choose to start a family, even if it means someone has to end their internship with someone different than who they started it with.

      1. Punk*

        We’ve been through this before. Women can plan their families however they want, but they should probably say no to taking on new mentorship responsibilities if they know they won’t be there for the end date, especially if it’s a field where it’s known that the intern might have made a different decision if she knew that she wouldn’t be getting the full time with the LW.

        And I’m not saying that this is definitely the case, just adding some possible context for what might have made an intern ask that question. But I doubt the LW would have pulled the intern into a one-on-one meeting if the intern was going to be gone before the LW’s maternity leave started.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Women can plan their families however they want, but they should probably say no to taking on new mentorship responsibilities if they know they won’t be there for the end date

          No, women should NOT pass up on opportunities just because someone else might be slightly inconvenienced by it. Life happens, people deal. Stop advocating for women to choose between career advancement and their family wants.

          And I’m not saying that this is definitely the case, just adding some possible context for what might have made an intern ask that question.

          Okay, but when there is nothing to indicate that in the letter then it’s just fanfic. I could say “The intern probably asked because she had a pregnancy she didn’t want once” and it would be as likely a scenario as yours.

          But I doubt the LW would have pulled the intern into a one-on-one meeting if the intern was going to be gone before the LW’s maternity leave started.

          There is nothing to indicate that the LW only pulled the intern into a one-on-one to announce this. It reads more like it was part of an existing one-on-one. And it still makes sense to let someone know you’re pregnant, even if they’ll be gone by the time you are out.

          1. Anna*

            Yeah, for many people, getting pregnant takes years. You’re not going to put your entire work life on hold during that time. You figure out reasonable ways to cover for leave.

            1. Punk*

              If you know you’re already pregnant, you don’t torpedo someone else’s education by taking them on as an intern if you know you won’t finish the program. Pregnancy isn’t an excuse to throw your hands up and let other people pick up the pieces.

              And it’s not a career opportunity for the LW. It’s a brief mentorship that she’s not even finishing.

              1. Jennifer Strange*

                If you know you’re already pregnant, you don’t torpedo someone else’s education by taking them on as an intern if you know you won’t finish the program.

                There is nothing to indicate the LW took this intern on after she knew she was pregnant. You’re again writing fanfic to suit your own narrative.

                Pregnancy isn’t an excuse to throw your hands up and let other people pick up the pieces.

                No one said it was, but there is no indication that it’s happening here (or has ever happened) so there’s no point in even stating that.

                And it’s not a career opportunity for the LW. It’s a brief mentorship that she’s not even finishing.

                Mentoring is an opportunity to expand ones skills. And (once again) there is no indication that the LW isn’t finishing the mentorship. You wanting to believe it doesn’t make it so.

              2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Username is chosen well.

                A pregnancy takes longer than many internships. And a business worth interning at will have a backup plan in case there is a work disruption.

              3. Ali + Nino*

                Torpedo??? Well that escalated quickly. If someone got hit by a bus or won the lotto, everyone would figure out what to do, and I’m sure they’ll be able to figure it out in relation to pregnancy and parental leave.

              4. amoeba*

                What? I mean, there’s absolutely nothing in the letter to indicate that the LW won’t be there until the end of the internship – most internships are for a few weeks or months, so assuming the LW was not super far along when the discussion took place, she very probably will!
                And if not – well, if the internship is that long (a year or more?), then changing bosses during that time should be no big deal.
                Also, if the intern has been there for a while, there’s also no reason to assume the LW already knew she was pregnant when hiring her!

                I mean, I agree that taking on a new intern, like, two weeks before your due date is probably not the best idea. But everything else is not just fanfic, but pretty unlikely as well.

  31. Fitzie's chew toy*

    This pregnancy announcement post brought back so many happy memories. I was 41 and pregnant with my 3rd. My other kids were 22 and 16–same father. I didn’t tell anyone until I was four or five months. I was a teacher with the summer off, and I ran into some coworkers while shopping at Nordstrom. The man said, I heard a rumor that you were pregnant. ” I said, ” It isnt a rumor, it’s true. ” My good friend (female) was so surprised she fainted into a clothing rack and had to be helped up. All of my coworkers were lovely to me and gave me a wonderful baby shower where three male teachers showed up dressed as women because they didn’t want to be excluded. (This was exactly 34 years ago.) No one asked if it was planned. (They wouldn’t dare.) I’m sure some people thought I was crazy, but they kept it to themselves. All of my friends were happy for me and my son was a truly loved child.
    I remember it as one of the happiest times of my life. I had a beautiful baby and great friends.

  32. Iris*

    I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and make it clear that this meeting is required. How you say that is up to you. You can say “this is a thing I do annually with all staff, even if you don’t think it is necessary I do.”

    While I agree with some of the wild speculation in the comments it could just be that this guy believes his job is to do his one thing. So if he’s responsible for accounts receivable he may believe that as long as he’s staying up to date on that he’s doing his job perfectly. Someone may need to explain to him that there’s a certain amount of “job overhead” that’s expected, especially of managers. This overhead includes things like chatting with your grandboss, attending retreats and strategy sessions, etc. I’m guessing he thinks he’s doing a good thing by “not wasting your time” and “not wasting his team’s time on things unrelated to our day-to-day task list.”

    When I talk to newer leads on my team I represent this work as “making and a better place to work and successful in the future.” I make it clear this is expected work that is taken into account at performance review time. And I usually give them some concrete examples of the types of things I believe fit in this category.

  33. RedinSC*

    For the traveling LW, maybe reminding the boss that there’s an hourly wage tied on to your work as well. I don’t know if you’re qualified for over time or comp time, but if you are, then that’s a real cost that these longer trips will also accrue, so it’s not really saving any money.

  34. Yellow Springs*

    I’m still a bit embarrassed for my reaction to my coworker’s pregnancy announcement to me, but honestly I don’t blame myself too much given the circumstances.

    My coworker, for reference, was a 47-year-old single mother of a 10-year-old. She and I would confide in each other about personal matters every so often.

    She walks into my office and closes the door.

    “So, I have some news…” she said. Her voice was calm and even, but sounded like she was about to reveal a secret.
    (I wonder what it could be, I thought — is she quitting her job?)
    “I’m pregnant,” she said. No smile.
    “Con…gratulations? Is it ‘congratulations’?” I asked, totally confused.
    “Yes, yes it is.”

    So. One on one pregnancy announcements can be very weird interactions.

  35. Overit*

    When I happily announced my pregnancy to my boss, then coworkers, I got at best a tepid response. And at worst, many negstive, demeaning, and intrusive comments. Such as: asking if it was planned, asking if I was going to have an abortion, asking the identity of the father (ummm….my husband who you all know and who wears a matching wedding band), comments about the size of my boobs, and unending complaints about how my pregnancy and eventual motherhood would be negative for the workplace.

    It made a difficult pregnancy far far worse.

    People. Do NOT do this. Any of this. The bare minimum we owe to coworkers is respect and kindness.

  36. EtTuBananas*

    LW #3 can also bolster their argument by reminding their boss that they are worth MUCH more to the company well-rested. 26 hours is essentially 2 days of lost time for the company – because working while traveling is never a straightforward process, and significant time zone changes only compound the time loss.

    And not just salary of taking up their productive time! It also results in a loss in their capacity if she’s constantly exhausted from ridiculously long trips and causes their contributions to suffer.

  37. Co in KC*

    As a former promotional sales rep, there is no reason for an employer to not offer extended sizes to their employees. There are so many vendors who offer stylish business wear in sizes up to 6x. Unfortunately some famous name brand vendors quit at 2xl. (If they extend above xl). And polos are not all that flattering to women. Find a good prom0 company who is willing to look outside the box for your branded apparel and your employees will be happy to represent your brand!

  38. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    For LW #2, I don’t understand the worry about being embarrassed or hurting someone’s feelings. When the non-profit that my husband works for starting ordering branded shirts and jackets, he went to both the person ordering and the CEO and said, “I’m a 4X, so none of these will fit me.” Both apologized and started ordering from a different company that offered larger sizes, no weirdness. It’s pretty much the same s reminding people, when they order lunch for the office, that you’re vegetarian. Lots of people are bigger than 2X, lots of people are vegetarian, there are plenty of businesses that can accommodate.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m glad it’s that simple for your husband but feelings about weight and body size/image lcan be difficult for many people and, dare I say it, women in particular. When a company then makes it so one has to point out they need sizes not originally offered, it can be tricky.

  39. Florp*

    I’d vote in favor of saying something–not necessarily to tell her she was rude, but to offer some guidance to a young woman about how to handle pregnancy at work. It’s a great opportunity to share about things like what you do and don’t have to disclose about your medical conditions, whether you need to tell a hiring manager that you’re pregnant during a job search, how maternity leave works–all information that would help young women identify good employers and benefits as they enter the workforce. You can couch the “it’s none of your business” message in some really useful information.

  40. FunkyNote*

    Sadly this question is not limited to interns. My former boss asked me this when I, a married mid thirties woman, told him of my pregnancy. He’s only 2 years older than me and has 2 kids of his own. This is a big part of why he’s a former boss. I found a way better job with amazing maternity benefits that hired me at 25 weeks pregnant.

  41. SnappyGirl*

    Years back, I had a wonderful boss – great guy, great manager. I worked for him indirectly when I had my first son and after coming back from maternity leave, I worked for him full time. TWO FULL YEARS after I had my 1st son, I was pregnant again. Because of a history of losses, I told no one about my pregnancy until I was three months along. So, when I told my boss I was pregnant, it was over two years since my other son was born. The FIRST words out of his mouth were “Was it planned?” I was so taken aback! I was expecting “Congratulations” or “Wonderful news!” I just kind of looked at him askance and said, “Well, as much as you can plan these things… ” (a true answer!).

    I guess he realized he put his foot squarely in his mouth and then quickly changed tack saying, “Oh, congratulations! Your family must be so excited” and so on… It was so strange because this was a guy who normally had wonderful savior faire and this was so out of character for him…

    Pregnancy does bring out the weird in people!

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