For Hire: Pregnant & Unemployed

You know what’s fun? Experiencing the highest of highs and one of the lowest of lows all within a 24-hour period. Then, in between those two events, sandwich in a 14-hour international flight and an additional two hours sitting alone in an airport immigration office and you have an itinerary for one memorable day.

That was me on June 5th – the day my husband and I learned we were expecting our first child. It was also the day I was lost my job.

If you know me, you know that work is very important to me. I am an extremely driven person, usually tackling multiple major life things at once (hello owning a business and doing my master’s degree at the same time, or the time I took a full-time job while in my third year of undergrad). I derive a lot of positivity and self-worth from my career so not working – in the few times I have been in that situation in my life – tends to be a very difficult experience for me.

Long before taking this particular job, Jeremy and I were trying to conceive and I remember thinking to myself, “I am either going to get a job or I am going to get pregnant.” Not that it had to be one or the other, that was just the way I was feeling at that time. When I did get the job, I figured that was the right path for me – that we would wait a little longer for our baby. So as I rode the subway home from the airport on June 5th and got the news about my job, I couldn’t help but see the irony in the whole situation. The universe can do wonders with timing, can’t it?

But, let’s back this story up a bit so I can give some context.

For the first time ever, I decided to take a job as a contract employee. The reason I did this is because the company it was with was extremely reputable and one of the top brands in the world so I figured this was my way in. The role was okay – not exactly my passion, but again, I figured it would be a good way to get in, gain experience, meet people, and then determine my next move. I wanted to take my time to try on this company just as I am sure they wanted to try me on, so the contract thing seemed appropriate. It wasn’t a short contract. It was to last into 2018, so I felt comfortable going in knowing I would be on board for a good amount of time.

About a month into my time there, I went on a vacation. It was pre-planned and they knew about it when I was hired. As a contractor, you don’t get paid time off, so a vacation really meant no contact with work. While that may sound glorious, it’s a little nerve-wracking to be so new in a job and completely out of touch for 10 days. Anyway, as vacation came to an end and we prepared to head back home, I got a text from my staffing firm saying they needed to talk to me urgently. I was confused and suddenly extremely nervous. My husband tried to reassure me that nothing was wrong, but I knew in my gut something wasn’t right. Because we were traveling, I had to sit with that ominous text for the entire 14-hour flight home. They wouldn’t say anything over text, but wanted to connect on the phone when I landed.

So, after I sat through an additional two hours in immigration once I landed (always a joyful experience entering this country as a working non-citizen), I called my staffing firm and they dropped the bomb: I was being let go and was told not to return to the office at all. I was shocked. I literally had been there a month, which is barely enough time to get your footing in a new job, but I felt I had put in a lot of energy in the time I was there and had started to make real progress in my role. I had received the most positive feedback from my boss – a feedback loop which is mandatory and weekly when you start out in a contract role – so I just didn’t understand where this was coming from. On top of that, I was told not to contact my boss or anyone else at the company and to direct any questions through my staffing firm – questions they answered vaguely and without compassion.

No one from the company itself sent me a message or called, not even my boss. No “I’m really sorry about this …” or “I wish you the best of luck”. Nothing. Silence. I even had to orchestrate the most awkward returning of my desk items, because I literally was let go with a desk full of my personal things and instructions to not return.

So there I sat, on the subway, my head swirling in shock – in shock because I was let go (which has never happened to me before), the shock of how disrespected I felt, and the shock of knowing through this whole thing, I was expecting a child with now no idea what I was going to do for work. I mean, who would hire a pregnant woman?

To be honest with you, I’ve waited a long time to write this. I’ve thought about it every single day since then and have gone through a series of emotions: anger (still am), disappointment, disbelief, joy (I mean, a baby!) and I never wanted to write something that would come off as resentful (though, I admit I am) or privileged (because, people lose their jobs all the time). But, this is an extremely difficult situation for me because at this particular time in my life I am craving some degree of stability in my professional life while I navigate this entirely new experience taking place in my personal life. Someone can only take so much, right?

So, here we are. I started applying for jobs a few days later and have been on this weird journey of trying to figure out if/when I should tell potential employers I am pregnant. I received one offer and sincere interest from two separate companies that just were not the right fit for someone expecting a child in six months. The one that offered me the role, I never told them about the pregnancy and the second, they said it wouldn’t be a deterrent for them, so I am not saying they discriminated against me. I am just saying the roles and locations of the companies just didn’t make sense for me at this phase of my life. I had one interview for a freelance contract role (which sounded flexible and great as an option) and the second I told her I was expecting, I immediately felt a shift in her tone and she couldn’t wait to get off the phone.

It’s been two months now and I am still feeling heartbroken about the whole situation. I want to work, I know I am more than capable of it and do not – and would never – see pregnancy as a handicap. I want to work until the birth of my child and then return a little while after the baby is born. I hate that I have to navigate the politics of disclosing it in interviews and fear that discrimination does truly exist, especially in such a competitive market like the Bay Area.

But, nevertheless, I continue forward with another interview in 30 minutes – one I am really hopeful and excited about. The only thing I can do is put myself forward as the best possible candidate and then navigate each situation as best as I can while staying true to myself as someone who is open and honest and worthy of a great opportunity.

-Caitlyn

 

4 thoughts on “For Hire: Pregnant & Unemployed

  1. Kathryn Mader says:

    Hi Caitlyn, I heard about your blog through Lauren, An Organized Life (she is so wonderful). I can’t believe how this company treated you. It’s nothing short of disgraceful and there should be some recourse for you. I completely understand your range of frustration and emotions. You hang in there. You are a beautiful writer and obviously an extremely capable person. You may very well land the job of your dreams before the birth of your child (so exciting, in my book there is NOTHING like having a baby). Stay strong and positive, rooting here for you!

    Like

    • bunintheevans says:

      Hi Kathryn,
      You are so sweet. Thank you for your positive words. The world definitely works in mysterious ways, but at least I have had the time to enjoy my pregnancy. Thanks for reading!
      -Caitlyn

      Like

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