Interviewing for a new job while pregnant isn’t what I would call an ideal scenario. Depending on how far along you are questions arise such as “will they notice my bump during my interview”, or “when do I tell my new boss?”. I don’t have the answer to any of these questions, but I started a new job at 27 weeks pregnant and here is my experience.
I started looking for jobs around January. In part because my department was going through some major changes and funding was going to become an issue. By the time I had my first two on-site interviews in March, one in Richmond the other in Maryland, I knew I was pregnant. While Aaron and I were pretty sure we wanted to have a second child, we weren’t prepared for it to happen as quickly as it did (aka while I was job hunting!). However, it was still early enough that I wasn’t showing and therefore didn’t feel the need to disclose my situation. I received an offer from the position in Maryland, but unfortunately not from the one in Richmond.
Knowing I was pregnant, changed the way Aaron and I considered the Maryland offer. Initially when I applied, we figured we could temporarily do a split living situation until he found a position. With Max being so much easier, this felt like a feasible option. That all changed with a second one on the way. Now everything seemed a little more complicated. Logically I knew that we could make it work if it was my dream job, but it wasn’t so I turned down the offer.
Now I was back to square one. Anyone who has spent time looking for jobs knows that square one is the worst place to be. I knew I didn’t want to stay in academia but I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for either. I say this casually, but it was a pretty overwhelming feeling to be in my thirties and not know what I want to be when I grow up. Admittedly I freaked out for a little bit, lost a few nights of sleep, then refocused. I reached out to everyone I knew who was in a field I could be remotely interested in and picked their brains about their respective positions. And I mean everyone. This was probably one of the best things I did and it really helped me narrow my job search.
A few weeks later when I got an interview for a position in Richmond, I was thrilled. It was exactly what I was looking for and I really liked the team I would be potentially working with. I crossed my fingers and a few weeks later got an offer. By the time we were done negotiating my contract it had been over 2 months since I submitted my application. Two months isn’t a long time, but when you are pregnant it is the difference between barely being out of your first trimester and being very close to your third. We decided on my start date, and I quickly calculated that I would be 27 weeks pregnant on my first day. Cue the freak out.
Upon the advice of my friend in HR, I asked about the company’s maternity leave policy before accepting the offer. I asked in an “I’m just curious” way, rather than an “I’m currently pregnant and I am dying to know how much time I can get off” kind of way. Once I officially accepted the offer, I immediately contacted HR to disclose my pregnancy. Technically you don’t have to disclose, but I wanted to be upfront and let my future employer know as soon as possible. Anyways, I thought it would be awkward for everyone if I showed up on day one with a huge belly. Talk about an elephant in the room.
This is what I found out about the maternity leave situation, and of course this is only my experience at one specific company and by no means represents what anyone else’s experience might be. First, I found out that you don’t qualify for FMLA until you have been at your job for 1 year (major bummer!). However, my company offers short term disability to all employees and that benefit starts on day one. It feels insulting to categorize having a baby as “short term disability” but if it is going to give some semblance of maternity leave then I’m not going to complain. Short term disability is the best option since I won’t accrue enough paid time off for a decent maternity leave. Short term benefits depend on the plan your company offers, for a vaginal birth mine offers 80% of your salary for 6 weeks and for a C-section they offer 80% of your salary for 6 weeks and 60% of your salary for another two weeks.
I recommend calling your short term disability provider to get the fine print on the plan. Specifically, most plans include an “elimination period” before the benefit payments can start. An elimination period is the time it takes to establish a condition. This is less applicable to pregnancy, since there is not much room for interpretation when you have a baby. Regardless, I found out my plan has a seven day elimination period, which means seven days after the baby is born I will start receiving benefit checks. During those days, I will use my paid time off or take those days unpaid. Unfortunately the 7 day waiting period is included in the 6 weeks coverage, meaning I will only be compensated for 5 weeks. Right now I’m planning on working my butt off for the next couple months to prove myself to my new boss and hopefully asking for an extra 2 weeks off, but that could be wishful thinking.
Other than that, the new job has been going really well and I can already tell I like the people I work with (although I really miss my co-workers from my previous position). The biggest difference is that Aaron and I no longer walk/drive into work together. After computing to and from work/school everyday for the last 7 or so years, it feels weird to be traveling solo. But this was the right career move and I’m really happy about the new position.
Has anyone else started a job while pregnant? I’d love to know about your experiences.
(Photo by Death to Stock Photo)