Miscarriages, Fertility Troubles, and the Office

miscarriage-at-workHow do you deal with a miscarriage at work?  Reader K wonders…

I don’t think you have done a post on having fertility issues while working (please point me in the right direction if I am wrong!). I am an associate attorney and have been trying to start a family with my husband for about a year. Last month, I had an early miscarriage during a busy time at the office, which was, frankly, horrible. I have since recovered from my miscarriage and work has slowed down, but I am wondering if you (or your readers’) have any thoughts on how to deal with fertility issues while working full-time when no one at the office knows what I am going through. I have thought about sharing with a close partner/friend, but worry about putting “baby=leaving” into her head before I am even able to get pregnant.

I am so, so sorry for your loss, K.  We’ve talked about how to survive the first trimester while keeping it on the down-low, and when to tell your boss you’re pregnant, but we haven’t talked about how to deal with a miscarriage.  [Read more…]

How to Announce Your Pregnancy At Work

Model SEverine Pregnant Photo 3, originally uploaded to Flickr by MestreechCity.How (and when) do you tell your boss you’re pregnant?  What should you factor into consideration?  I’ve had three different readers write to me with a question along these lines, so now seems like a great time to discuss this.  Reader K is one of those readers:

Wondering what the readers think about the timing of telling your firm you are pregnant.  I have made it through the 1st trimester without anyone noticing my being drag-ass tired and have somehow kept up respectable billable hours in the meantime.  I planned on telling people next week, but confidentially shared the news over lunch with a female partner (I am beginning my fourth year as an associate on partner track) and her concern was my timing in terms of telling the guys/powers that be about the pregnancy. She doesn’t think I should tell them right away so that I have more time where they are continuing to give me good assignments.  Besides my desire to remain on good cases, other “concerns” discussed are: 1) the fact that bonuses happen at end of the year (and that I not draw the short stick in an otherwise profitable year); and 2) review/raise time in early spring (while I am on maternity leave).  Next year is the year I expected a big jump based on profitability, etc, and I hope this timing doesn’t derail all of that hard work.  Is it better for me to rip the band-aid off and express these concerns with the managing partner (who I think I can have an honest discussion with) or wait until I have to tell so that there is more time for me to continue to get assigned the good work (ie, before the guys subconsciously take me off the fast track).  I was planning on providing my fact-based plan of action (6 weeks short term disability, begin part time work during that time as I am able, child care taken care of, etc) at the same time.  Any suggestions on the timing of all of this and how the conversation should go down?

Congratulations!  (Pictured.) Here are some thoughts, both for K and other first-time moms:

– Wait as long as possible.  K is happily past her first trimester, which can be exhausting and always carries with it the risk of miscarriage.  But she’s still got six months to go before she’ll need maternity leave, so why would she tell the powers that be?  Here are my thoughts:  she won’t need special accommodations.  (She should be in the “sweet spot” for pregnancy — most women experience much less nausea, fatigue, and other pregnancy aches and pains in their second trimester.)  She may not start to show for another two months.  (Every woman is different, but many first-time mothers don’t start showing until week 20 or so (that was when I had to make the jump to proper maternity pants; a girlfriend who is very petite and tiny just told me she didn’t announce it until she was five months along as well).)  If she were quitting her job entirely a month would be generous notice.  So I don’t see any reason to start telling people until she starts to show — especially when a female supervisor is suggesting she wait.  I suppose there’s an argument that she could wait even longer — after all, there’s that old joke that you should never guess a woman is pregnant unless you actually see a baby coming out of her.  But I think, in general, that when you move to maternity pants is the right time to say something official to your boss. [Read more…]

A Few Thoughts on Hormones… (Or: How to Fight The Crazy)

How to Prevent Mood Swings | CorporetteThis is a bit of a ranty post, so I’ll start with the questions: do you feel that hormones affect you? What are your best tips for controlling or preventing the symptoms of PMS, pregnancy, or menopause?

I’ve already ranted about watches and cuffed pants, which kind of sets us up well for today’s rant: about hormones. You see, I’m weaning off breastfeeding, which means I’m kind of a psycho hose beast right now. And it’s gotten me thinking about how it’s really unfair for women, because throughout our lives we’re socked with major hormonal changes: [Read more…]

Guestpost: Oooh, My Oocytes! Or, My Experience With Freezing My Eggs

B0008308 Xenopus laevis oocytes, originally uploaded to Flickr from wellcome images.Ever considered freezing your eggs, either because you wanted to postpone kids for your career or because the right partner seems to be in hiding?  One of my best friends, “Auntie M.,”  just went through the procedure, and I asked her to blog about it for Corporette. (Pictured: B0008308 Xenopus laevis oocytes, originally uploaded to Flickr from wellcome images.)

I recently completed the process of freezing my eggs. The process was surprising in many ways, and although I was sure I wanted to do it, I could have used a primer, or even some advice from a friend who had gone through it (none of mine had). Here’s my story.

I turned 34 this year. Early in the year, I had made the decision to freeze my eggs, probably sometime in the next year. I hadn’t decided on when. Then, in late September, I pretty much woke up one morning and it came to me: “Yep, AUNTIE M. Now’s the time to do that.”

I was lucky, because it all happened very quickly. Timing is very important – you’ll start the process on the second day of your period, and by coincidence I was getting my period the week I called the doctor. So I was pretty much off and running. This meant I didn’t have too much time to second-guess myself (a good thing), but it also meant the process was a little overwhelming at times. I think I would have found the following information the most helpful: [Read more…]

It’s Raining Gifts: Wedding and Baby Showers at the Office

Baby shower balloon, originally uploaded to Flickr by Maddy's MusingsReader H wrote in with this question…

I have a question about celebrating life events in the office – specifically throwing coworkers wedding showers and baby showers during work time. Should these events be limited to eating cake, or is it appropriate to play games? What kind of gift should you get your coworker? Should you throw baby showers for men whose wives are pregnant? Is being involved with the planning and decorating for these things a major NGDGTCO no-no? I don’t know if you’ve ever addressed this on your blog – I couldn’t find a post that dealt with it – and I would love to get your $.02.

I have to say, my knee jerked as a reaction to this question far more than it normally does. Decorations? Games?  Are you kidding me?  Maybe I’m overreacting, but the more I’ve thought about it the more it just seems wildly inappropriate on every possible level. (Update: And numerous commenters disagree with me, with lots having celebrated baby showers with coworkers, at least during lunchtime or at the end of the day. Which I guess just goes to show you — know your office!) As I begin this post, let’s remember that the purpose of a wedding shower or baby shower is to “shower” the recipient with gifts. For a wedding shower, only those invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower; as far as I know anyone can be invited to the baby shower.  So right off the bat, let’s knock wedding showers off the list unless literally everyone in the entire office is invited to the wedding.  (And in case you are having a wedding shower in the office:  please, no games — leave the toilet paper dresses for family and friends only, not coworkers!) (Pictured: Baby shower balloon, originally uploaded to Flickr by Maddy’s Musings.) [Read more…]

Open Thread: When is the Best Time to Get Pregnant?

Pregnant, originally uploaded to Flickr by Phil Of Photos.One of the interesting topics that readers wondered about when I announced my pregnancy was WHEN to get pregnant. So let’s talk about it today.  This is kind of a long post, so I’ll start with the questions:  When is the best time to get pregnant?  What considerations should you factor into the mix?

(Pictured: Pregnant, originally uploaded to Flickr by Phil Of Photos.)

Job Considerations:

  • You need to build a bank of credibility before you get pregnant. I recently attended a panel discussion at the New York City Bar on when women should get pregnant, and I loved one of the phrases I heard:  “the bank of credibility.”  Realistically, when you start a new job, you need to build up a bank of credibility so that people know who you are and what you’re capable of.  I think this is key — as I mentioned earlier, the first trimester can be very trying (particularly on your energy) and you may not want to tell your superiors or coworkers that you’re pregnant until you’re into the second trimester.  Furthermore, your bosses will want to know what they can expect both when they send you into a maternity leave (will you get all of your projects off your desk that you need to?  will you be responsive to occasional emails or questions during your maternity leave, or will you completely disappear for 12+ weeks?), as well as how responsive you’ll be when you come back from maternity leave.  The nightmare (if you haven’t built up enough credibility) is that your job will basically be gone entirely by the time you come back because your bosses didn’t think they could rely on you to juggle your job and your new role as a parent.  On the flip side, the dream would be for your boss to say “Oh, I had this great project and I knew you were coming back to work so I held it for you.”  Personally, I think you need at least 2 years on a job to build up a bank of credibility. [Read more…]