I found out I was pregnant with my first baby in April 2014. I waited until July to tell my boss because I wanted to get past my performance evaluation (where I had always achieve above average ratings). At first, he was very supportive. Then throughout the pregnancy things slowly changed. I often worked through lunch so that I could leave a little earlier for appointments, etc. I was told that I absolutely had to take a lunch, which caused me to have to work earlier/later throughout the week to make up for any time I took for doctors appointments. My work performance was criticized more and more to the point where my intelligence was questioned in front of a group in a meeting. He also kept verifying how much time I was going to take for maternity leave, and asking if I planned to come back. I would always confirm – 10 weeks, and yes.
I intended to breastfeed, and I spoke with my boss about this. I had a private office, so I suggested that I could use this space to pump when needed. In order to do that, I would need to have the interior windows covered. Using my own office would have saved the company from having to create a space, and would have allowed me to work during each pumping session if I used hands free accessories. Initially, he agreed and said this wouldn’t be an issue. However, about a month before I was to come back from maternity leave, he began contacting me to ask questions about how long I planned to breastfeed, how many times a day would I need to pump, and how long would it take to pump each time. He then told me that I couldn’t use my office, and that I would have to use a storage closet, which meant I would have to track down someone to get a key each time.
I started looking for a new job after this. I found one that was supportive of working mothers, and had no problem with me needing to pump. When I put in my notice, my boss said, “well, I’m not surprised your’re leaving. I expected that you would quit to be a stay-at-home mom, though, so I’m surprised you’re leaving for a new job.”
I gathered from his comment that he began giving me a hard time about my work performance, and later breastfeeding, because he assumed I had one foot out the door anyway.
I’m fortunate that my experience isn’t nearly as bad as some, since I wasn’t fired outright. But the ever-increasing harassment I received throughout my pregnancy and after maternity leave made it very clear how challenging it is to be a working mother in our society.
Thank you for letting me share my story.