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An anonymous letter to my boss

29 June 2022

A civil engineer has something to reveal, but is worried about the effect of the news.

An anonymous letter to my boss
Navigating pregnancy and work is rarely easy. Image credit: Pixabay

To my boss, I'd like to apologise.

I'd like to apologise for last week when I nearly cried about a standard drawing detail, (luckily I was at home so you didn't know, it was my partner that picked up those pieces).

I'd also like to apologise for somewhat raising my voice in our last team meeting for seemingly no reason.

(Although potentially you didn't notice this as you weren't one of the two people who privately reached out to ask if everything was OK.)

You see, the thing is, I'm seven weeks pregnant.

A very new experience for me, which results in extreme tiredness and the need for a nap most days.

Luckily, I haven't experienced any sickness, let alone needing additional health appointments, but the fatigue is enough to throw me off my game.

Apparently growing a placenta, as I’m currently doing, is the equivalent of running a marathon, something I've never been capable of!

I don't want to tell you

I'd like to tell you.

I’d like to explain why I'm a little distracted and occasionally struggling to get the "oh my goodness, am I really ready to be a parent, should I be bringing a child in to the world on the brink of climate and ecological collapse" out of my head, and think about carriageway construction.

But also, I don't want to tell you.

Partly because it’s nice having part of my life still plodding along as normal. It’s nice when every conversation doesn't have an undertone of 'everything will be different soon'.

But mainly I don't want to tell you because I'm worried you'll start treating me differently.

I only plan to have six months off (my partner taking the other six) but this will be a new concept to you and you’re a bit forgetful, so I’ll probably need to tell you that a few times before you remember the plan.

I'm worried you'll start treating me differently

Until then, (and probably after!) you'll be thinking 'don't give her long-term projects, or anything that might involve going to site, or anything too complicated'.

Which is annoying, because I’d like the opportunities, and by law I shouldn't be denied them.

I also don't want to tell you because there’s a 20% chance I'll lose this baby.

And if that happens, I'd really want to tell you why I'd need time off work, and be even more emotional.

But then you'll have the 'don't give her long-term projects' thoughts until such time as I'm lucky enough to get pregnant again, which could be a long time.

The chances of my boss reading this are low, but for any bosses of women in the early stages of pregnancy, please take this as a sorry.

(And a not sorry, because pregnancy is natural and the inconvenience it brings is out of my control).

I don't want the boss of every woman between 20 and 50 to constantly be thinking they may be pregnant or soon be and thus treat them differently.

In 2014, it was shown 40% of hiring managers avoid hiring women of ‘childbearing age’.

Hopefully this figure has changed in the last eight years, but I worry it won’t be much better.

Don't always expect 100% from us

But actually, men who've just found out they’re becoming a dad could be equally distracted, similarly people with an ill family member, or affected by the cost of living crisis.

So not just for expectant mums, but for everyone, please don't always expect 100% from us and forgive us the odd down day.

Because if we’re going to address the climate emergency and maintain a decent world for the next generation to grown up in, we need to start by addressing the skills shortage.

This means maintaining healthy and happy working environments for everyone, and retaining skilled staff.

  • Anonymous, civil engineer