As these stories reveal, you can't predict the way supervisors are going to react.
Until maternity leave is a right for all, and companies don't stress about what to do when a new mom goes out, telling your superior that you're with child can be nerve-wracking. Even the most laid-back of bosses can respond to your exciting news in a way you wouldn't expect—and that may not befit a human. That's why we asked working moms around the country to tell us how, when and why they made their managers aware of their expanding families, and if they could share, what happened next.
"I was 16 weeks with my first and was waiting and waiting to tell my boss at the time because I was nervous (but not sure why). We were at a staff charity event and there was one of those auctions where you put tickets in a bucket for specific items. I put all of my tickets into a large basket of baby items. When I won it I was like, 'Good thing, because I'm pregnant and going to need it!' They were all very happy and supportive. (And the fact that they were slightly inebriated didn't hurt either!)"
—Stacy Acker, Morganville, NJ, physician assistant
"I had just hit my second trimester, and I came right out and told my manager. We both cried! (Maybe for different reasons.)"
—Ellie Martin Cliffe, Milwaukee, editor
"I had three tiers of bosses when I was doing media relations for an elected official. I told my first boss when I was about three or four weeks pregnant when the tiredness hit me so hard. I didn't want to seem like I was just lazing about. I waited till 12ish weeks with the others. My immediate one was happy for me, the middle one was cranky, and the highest one was also cool."
—Paige Gunther, Staten Island, NY, nonprofit development and management
"I was about 12 weeks along, working in a maternity leave fill-in position teaching kindergarten (my first full-time teaching position). I went to the principal to tell her, and she was very excited for me. She told me not to worry and that it would all work out. About a month later they told me I'd be losing my insurance when I go out to have the baby and that my position probably wouldn't be there when I'd be ready to come back."
—Lindsay Kalmus, Wake Forest, NC, former teacher
"She told me not to worry and that it would all work out. About a month later they told me I'd be losing my insurance when I go out to have the baby and that my position probably won't be there when I'd be ready to come back." Photo: iStock
"I was director of marketing and outreach at a nonprofit. I was 14 weeks pregnant when I told my boss. I waited that long because we had a huge event—the inaugural year of a now-annual resource day/conference he had dreamed up and I had executed to perfection. I didn't want anyone judging me on conference day ('oh, she's sitting down at the registration desk because she's pregnant'). I wanted everyone to watch the conference succeed and then find out I was pregnant the whole time I was planning it. Finally, after the conference I scheduled a breakfast meeting with my boss, so we could be out of the office—talked about the conference, my accomplishments and what opportunities I wanted to be part of for the future Then, I went to the bathroom and came back and told him! He was shocked, but supportive and happy."
—Samantha Walsh, Denver, development specialist
"I was eight weeks pregnant and thought I had miscarried while at work. I told my supervisor through tears so I could leave and head to the doctor. Thankfully the baby was OK, but I was put on bedrest for six weeks. I then had to call my boss who was the owner of the company. She was not thrilled."
—Janine Tuero, Valley Cottage, NY, travel agent
“My mom was in grad school and told her adviser. The adviser's response? ‘Are you going to keep it?’”
—Marie Baca, Albuquerque, NM, writer
"I was eight or nine weeks along and nearing the end of my six-month stint as interim director of a small public library. We had hired a permanent director, and on what I think was her second day, I let her know that I'd be starting maternity leave in about six months. A few days later, I told the Board of Trustees at their monthly meeting. They were all extremely happy for me (and it provided a good explanation for why I hadn't wanted to take the permanent director job myself). And then I told the rest of the library staff at a staff meeting a few days after that. I remember everyone being so happy and excited for me—it was an extremely positive, supportive environment in which to work while pregnant—I'm very grateful for that."
Becky Rowlands, Lowell, MA, manager at a library
"With my first pregnancy, my boss was a very groovy, artsy, spiritual woman, whose immediate reaction when I told her at 12 weeks was, ‘Oh no. Who will I get to fill in for you?’ And with my second pregnancy (with twins so I apparently showed pretty early), at about 10 weeks, my boss asked me if I was pregnant. I had to fight the impulse to say, ‘No, I've just gained weight. Thanks a LOT!’"
—Andrea Messina, Montclair, NJ, editor
"I was 10 weeks pregnant and was so sick that I was pulling over two to three times on my way to work, making me late most days. I had to tell my principal and assistant principal because I didn't want to be written up for being late all the time!"
—Gemanique Viall, Medway, MA, teacher
"My manager told me one day that she'd had a dream I was pregnant. I laughed ... because I was ... but I wasn't telling yet. So six or so weeks later I asked to speak with her and the medical director and I said, 'I just wanted to let you know that Suzan is clairvoyant'—she gasped in surprise—'and I am having a baby.' They were both appropriately excited but I'm sure also thinking, 'Great, now we're going to need a relief vet.' She told me later she wouldn't have said anything to me if she actually thought I was pregnant."
—Allison Maroulis, Edison, NJ, veterinarian
And here's my story!
"I had gotten an offer at a competitor with a significant raise. I was so nervous and physically ill, but I headed down to my manager's floor, and told her that I'd stay if she could bump up my salary, and also, full disclosure, I'm 10 weeks pregnant. She teared up over the news, and I got the raise."
Written by Meredith Bodgas for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.