By Deborah O’Rell What to do if you think your pregnancy will get you fired.
“Last week, I told my employer I was pregnant and now I think they’re trying to get rid of me. What am I going to do?”
Sadly, we hear this daily. The woman on the phone is scared. She may also be feeling angry, ashamed or is terrified about losing her income and/or her health insurance. She doesn’t know what to do. What makes this particularly painful is, just days earlier, she was to-the-moon-excited about her pregnancy, thinking only about eating healthy and potential baby names. Now, she’s got to deal with this situation.
As a progressive women’s-rights-in-the-workplace law firm we take a holistic view. We pride ourselves on practicing law in the service of human needs. We believe that you–the client–are more than the sum of your workplace concerns and problems. Our mission is to make a difference in the lives of working women, adding value to working women in general and you, in particular.
I’ve never been in a situation like this.
Almost everyone who calls our office for help with workplace discrimination issues says the same thing: ‘I’ve never been in a situation like this. I don’t know what to do’. We assure them they are not alone and we will offer support and information regarding what she needs to do to protect her self.
Maintaining a sense of calm and inner peace through the process is important. You can make better decisions when those decisions aren’t being filtered through fear. Staying focused and present allows you to keep your perspective and helps you to not get caught up in the emotions.
3 Steps to follow.
I recommend trying these three simple steps.
1) First, give yourself a pat on the back. Acknowledge yourself for your bravery and for taking action to take care of yourself and your unborn child. You are demonstrating courage and self esteem by signaling to yourself and your place of employment you will not allow this behavior to go unchallenged. This acknowledgement builds your emotional muscles. And it is the first step in reclaiming your power.
2) Don’t quit. Stay in your job! I can’t emphasize the importance of this step. Often, when one is being treated badly, the impulsive reaction is to quit. It’s understandable and it sometimes even feels good in the moment. Except, by quitting, you’re giving up your power. You may be giving up your right to collect unemployment benefits and you may be giving up important leverage. By staying in your current position and working through the process of separation, you communicate your power. You are there. Quitting takes you ‘out of sight, out of mind’. QUIT is a four letter word. It bears repeating: DON’T QUIT. For more on this, click here.
3) Lastly, quiet or calm your mind. Do your best to take it one moment at a time. Pay attention to THIS moment. It’s easy to get caught up in the worries, the ‘what ifs’, the anger or the fear. One worrying thought leads to another and another and momentum builds. You begin to lose control over your mind and it manifests in your body. Your heart may start racing a little faster, you may start crying or your stomach turns to knots. Women have said they experience sleeplessness, hair loss and anxiety. All from worry and stress.
To quiet those runaway thoughts, start by taking a few deep, slow, cleansing breathes. Then simply turn your attention to where your feet touch the floor. Focus all your attention to that one place. Feel the weight of your feet on the floor or the coolness of the floor.
If you find your mind drifting off, gently bring your focus back to your feet and rest there. Sense the stillness. By doing this for just one minute, you begin to settle your mind. It’s like a reset button. By coming present, you are not lost in rehashing events of the past nor are you worrying about the future that you can’t control anyway. Stilling the mind allows you access to more of yourself and to make better decisions.
A successful person is someone who knows when to ask for help and support. By making the first call to an attorney to learn about your rights, you are demonstrating you are just that. And remember; take it one moment at a time.