I had a boss years ago who was pleasant to me until I became pregnant.
I was working in Respiratory Therapy when I became pregnant with my first child. We worked 10 hour shifts, 40 hours a week.
I enjoyed my schedule because it gave me one extra day off per week, which was a nice reprieve from 8 hours per day, 5 days a week.
Even though we were scheduled to work 40 hours per week, hardly a week went by that I wasn’t called and asked if I could come in an extra shift to fill in for someone. I usually said yes- that is, until I became pregnant.
I had extreme morning sickness and it would last all day long. I’m not sure why it’s termed morning sickness when most women are sick for a vast majority of the day. It took everything I had deep within me just to get to work each day and full fill my 40 hour per week schedule.
It never failed, when I had a day off after I became pregnant it seemed the calls were coming in on a regular basis, “Lisa, can you come in today, we need an extra person.” I would feel guilty when she called on my day off and make up excuses… “Uh, sorry I can’t, I have plans today.” Why did I feel I had to make excuses when I was legitimately sick and legitimately off for the day?!!
My boss continued to call me more frequently on my days off than she did prior to me getting pregnant. I was miffed and confused; why now… why now…?
One day I walked into work and my boss cornered me. She said, “I went to administration today and found out that you are required to work 50% of all over time or I CAN write you up.” I remember feeling speechless and completely pissed at the same time.
I walked around the corner where a few co-workers were standing and they noticed an odd look on my face, maybe I looked like I was going to explode? One girl asked if I was okay and I said, “NO!” I had 3 co-workers standing with me and they all asked what happened? I told them about the demands my boss put on my and then I remember saying, “I’m so pissed my ass is on fire.” Someone asked if needed an ice bucket to cool it off? That was an ‘ice breaker,’ and I told them, I thought it was usually your face and ears that became red and felt like they were on fire when we get extremely ticked off, so why is my ass on fire? Laughter erupted, and I heard a few repeating, have to love those pregnancy hormones.
I wasn’t able to let her comment go and I called administration the next day, they told me that pregnancy is considered a medical condition and she can’t require me to work over time if I am not up to it.
I decided when I had my next OB appointment to ask for a reduction in my hours. Well the last joke was on me, I was put back on 8 hour work days 5 days per week, that is until my blood pressure continued to rise and I was then told in my 7th month of pregnancy that I needed to go on a Medical leave of absence. My blood pressure began to normalize after I went on leave.
I was also granted a 3 month leave of absence from work (prior to my son being born). Well, that didn’t last… when my son was 5 weeks old I received a call from my lovely boss who told me if I didn’t come back when he was 6 weeks old I may lose my job. So, I had one week to find a sitter, yea for me?!!
I loved my job, hated the politics and pettiness, I couldn’t understand how someone could be so cruel, that’s how it felt.
My boss was 6 years older than me and I found out after I returned to work that she and her husband had been trying to have a baby for 5 years with no success. Yes, I had a light bulb moment and realized that possibly she was acting very passive aggressive with me because she was jealous and in a lot of emotional pain because she wasn’t able to get pregnant.
When my son was close to a year old my boss found out she was pregnant. Her entire demeanor changed. She suddenly became my best buddy and had a lot of questions. I could sense that she felt bad about the way she had treated me because she must have felt so out of control when I became pregnant. She also found out she was carrying twins. I was excited for her. Yes, I am the type of person who can put the past behind me and try to walk in another’s shoes. I was excited for her.
Her pregnancy went quite well until her 8th month. My boss went into premature labor and ended up being life flighted to University Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. They were not able to stop her contractions and she delivered 2 baby boys later that night. One of the twins lived, the other died. The little guy that lived was only 3 lbs and in critical condition. I remember saying a lot of prayers for her and the baby.
She was back to work before her little baby boy was out of Intensive Care at University Hospital. I remember people wondering how she could leave him and come back but I would remind my co-workers, we all differ when it comes to how we manage during a crisis, I think work helped her to keep it together.
Her little boy was discharged about 4 months after she gave birth and had 24 hour nursing care because he came home with a multitude of medical problems. My heart broke for her but she was managing better than I think I would have.
As the year progressed her son began to thrive and she found out a year later she was pregnant again. She confided in me about her second pregnancy and went out of her way to be extra kind. She even helped me move into another position within our department because I wanted to be on day shift. I had worked 2nd shift for years and I wanted to be home with my little guy in the evenings. I ended up transferring to our Cardiac Lab which was new to our hospital at the time and over seen by Respiratory Therapy.
I became good friends with my boss. She never apologized for the way she treated me when I was pregnant but she made up for with her actions. I could tell by the little things she shared with me that she had remorse.
It’s easier said than done when you have a boss who treats you with what feels like disdain but try hard to remember they have their own life story too… we all do, and even if you don’t know what that story is, try to remind yourself they may be experiencing a long and difficult time in their own life. Remind yourself that if you haven’t done anything wrong, they may be suffering more than you feel you are.
After a year or so we became good friends. My boss actually leaned on me for advice and she became so much more light hearted, she became the person I met not long after I was hired. Actually, she became much more humble and empathetic. It’s sad that life can be such a harsh teacher. If we can remember that everyone handles life differently and may be crying on the inside well, maybe we can find a different approach when it comes to dealing with real human issues.
I’m glad I never blew up on her even though I felt like it. In the end, her life at the time was much more difficult and I’m thankful we both learned from each others.
Life is full of lessons, if we can just be silent long enough to listen to the cues without judging, the world would sure be a much better place.