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I told my boss I was pregnant at 4 months, but not my other coworkers until about 6.5 - 7 months. In my country, it's customary to wait past the 3 month stage.

I now have a few issues to deal with:

My Boss
My boss isn't in the office everyday, so I sent him the news over email. He was upset that I told him over email, and was also upset that he didn't know I was married (my husband I eloped). He was shocked and didn't even congratulate me at all.

My Coworkers

My reasons for telling them were not malicious. It was not affecting my work, I felt fine, and was not showing. I simply didn't want to have to deal with stereotypes about pregnant employees such as them not being committed or productive.

While I was away on leave, they became more friendly with each other and started to go for lunch. Of course, I was away and did not observe the bonds forming and were not a part of these bonds.

When I came back from my leave I found out that my colleagues were upset that I didn't make a big fuss, kept quiet about it, and was withdrawn. They even questioned if it was planned or not because I waited so long to tell them.

I felt that this was out of line and I'm not sure why someone you hardly know would hold this against you. They were very disappointed in me, but I don't feel like there is any explanation owed or any wrongdoing.

Work Environment

It wasn't a very collaborative environment and we mostly worked independently from each other. They were practically strangers to me. It was a very withdrawn environment socially with little interaction - no one ever ate lunch together for an entire year! Also, the environment was kind of toxic at times, e.g. shouting at me for needing help. Mistrust and division dominated the workplace.

I kind of felt like the job wasn't exactly a good fit for me and I was uncomfortable in the role. I had thought about leaving a couple of times but I had some life plans.

The Question
How can I handle these issues?

  • 6
    What country are you in? Local expectations will vary a lot with respect to how much of your personal life you are expected to share. – Myles Apr 18 '16 at 20:23
  • When you say you were on leave, did you mean that you had the baby and were on maternity leave, or was it other leave and you're still expecting? – skrrgwasme Apr 18 '16 at 22:34
  • I had the baby on leave and I did send them a photo. – Zara Fowler Apr 19 '16 at 0:07
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    "How can I handle these issues?" Don't explain and don't justify yourself. Don't try to control what they think of you. The more you try to seek their approval, the more difficult they will try to make your life. Also, I don't understand the reaction of your boss. Did he have secret crush on you? It sounds to me like he would have found a reason to be disappointed even if you had told him in person. – Stephan Branczyk Apr 19 '16 at 3:24
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    Either you have a some social issues understanding people or you really need to find a new job. – Thorst Apr 19 '16 at 8:31
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Legally and ethically - you did absolutely nothing wrong. Your private life is yours and you can keep it as private as you like.

It sounds like you haven't particularly liked your working environment, or your coworkers and that the issues surrounding the publicity of your private life are just one part of the story. You don't like the shouting. You felt disconnected from your coworkers and not inclined to share with them. So - the alienation actually started before they found out that you keep your private life very private - it doesn't sound to me like you caused substantially MORE alienation with keeping quiet.

Going forward you have a choice:

You can keep private and accept that you'll always be a bit disconnected. You can certainly say to them that you just prefer to keep your personal life separate from work, and that you don't feel comfortable sharing much about it. Consequentially, they probably won't share their lives with you, and you may get left out of lunches and other friendly work bonding, as they probably won't see you as friendly. After a while, they probably won't comment much on your life, either, since they will figure you have little interest in hearing what they say.

Or -- you can decide to share more. It does mean some intrusiveness into your personal business. You may end up explaining more than you want. But sharing personal details is a factor that builds friendships. It's hard to be a friend to someone who won't tell you anything about herself. You don't need to share the gory details of your life - but bring in baby pictures. Talk about good stuff the baby does (it's hard to disagree that babies are cute). Share about plans for the future.

It'll get you invited to more lunches, and more friendly bonding. It may also get you involved in a host of unsolicited and intrusive comments - some people feel that they must give friends advice and tell them what they are doing wrong. It could very well be annoying - particularly if you are a private person.


I can't say which is better... I've seen people play this either way. I will say that those who don't share are often seen as disengaged, and treated with some degree of emotional distance. For some, that's awesome, for others, they feel left out.

Personally, there are things in my life I choose NOT to share with my coworkers, and things that I consider "public domain" - I usually have a fun story or two I'm willing to share to be friendly, but I preserve stuff that I want to keep private. That lets me connect with people socially without feeling like I'm being scrutinized harshly.

Pregnancy and marriage are particularly difficult, because they are big and profound things that do impact work life balance. Husbands and kids DO take time, and they take a careful balance with work obligations. They are also (hopefully!) great joys in life and many people can feel hurt if they don't hear about this good stuff - just because it's such a big deal and hopefully such a great blessing.

That said, it's not your obligation to make them happy just because they think you should! It's your life and your choice.

  • I like the "public vs private answers" idea. I also wonder why more extroverted people seem to want to pry in to more introverted people's lives, whereas introverted people are not causing any similar problem. Why can't they get the hint? Also, work-life balance is easier if you only do one or the other. It is indeed "particularly difficult", generally speaking. – user37746 Jul 25 '16 at 18:16
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    I'd avoid the use of "extroverted" vs. "introverted" on that one. Some extroverts will babble on about themselves forever and never even ask you a basic question. The term extrovert/introvert describes as how one gets energy - often extroverts need to talk to think and introverts need some peace to think. Many times, a person who likes thinking out loud will feel that asking prying questions (personal or professional) is being fair letting the other person share and think out loud. And they don't understand why the private person is so private. – bethlakshmi Jul 27 '16 at 21:50
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I think you are correct - this is none of their business. The "planned or not" question was entirely inappropriate as well.

I believe your best move now would be to ride out the tensions, but starting now, every time it comes up, make it known that you don't appreciate the comments that are directed at you. Simply say, "I decided to keep it to myself for personal reasons, and I would prefer not to discuss it further." This may seem a bit cold, but it doesn't sound like your workplace has many friendly bonds anyway - I don't think it would put you in a worse position than you already are.

Regarding your boss, if he complains about you not telling him in person, it may be sufficient to point out that he's not often in the office. It sounds like you would have been fine with telling him in person, but he wasn't around to do so. Tell him this if he continues to bring it up.

Overall, it sounds like this might be a good time to look for new work. You mentioned that you've considering looking for a new job, but that life plans seemed to get in the way. Consider starting the job search anyway - if you don't share your intent to leave until you have a start date at a new company, you could make the transition without it having to interfere with your home life.

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