OK, yes this is a blog about and for Seniors. . . and most of us are beyond the bearing years or have paid the price of parenthood. It appears the state of impending motherhood though has not changed in the 60 years I have been on this earth. The recent headlines have shown that pregnancy is still a problem raging between employers and employees.
The first headline: The Chipotle Worker was fired soon after she told her boss she was pregnant. It seems that she had to make more frequent bathroom breaks and also had to modify her work schedule to accommodate her doctor visits—factors that did not suit the manager. She sued and she won.
The second headline: A woman in the Defense Intelligence Agency was given a promotion that required a 14 week course that would be completed by the end of her pregnancy. She offered to split the classesand complete when she returned from maternity leave. When she returned and went to class, she discovered that she was not enrolled. In the report, it was noted that they did not think she could walk up steps --among other things. The results are still pending.
So it made me think back on my pregnancy days.
On pregnancy Number 1, I was excited. I did not hide the fact that I was having a baby. As a self-employed marketing firm, I made plans to have coverage for when I was in the hospital, but thanks to computers, work would still continue. I did not think anything would change. I would have a baby. I would make sure he/she was taken care of. I would have my business and I would make sure my clients received attention.
Then came the day, closer to the time of delivery, that my biggest client (a male) invited me to lunch at the country club. “How nice,” I thought. “A special lunch, before I go off for a little.” So imagine my surprise when during dessert, my biggest and favorite client, told me he would be pulling his account because, “You will neglect your baby, you will neglect your clients, you will neglect your own health.”
No, I did not pour my beverage down his lap. I was actually in shock. I took it. And walked away from the lunch and the client. “After all,” told myself, “business ebbs and flows.” I had my baby, a girl, after 28 hours of induced labor, that culminated in a c-section. When I arrived home, the doctor said I could do steps once a day. Since this was before the invention of the laptop, my husband placed my desktop computer on the kitchen table and business continued uninterrupted.
Pregnancy #2, I decided I would not let any client know I was pregnant. That meant bigger and looser clothes, wearing a jacket or heavy coat, and keeping an oversized briefcase in front of my stomach. I did that religiously. I did not follow this rule though, when I went on a sales call. One day, I made a sales call that I had planned for many weeks, to accommodate the potential client-- a woman-owned business that catered to women. When I entered her business establishment, she took one look and said, “You’re pregnant. I do not want to talk to you.” I turned and left. Crestfallen. How could one BUSINESS WOMAN do that to another BUSINESS WOMAN? Pregnancy #2, was another girl. I hired someone this time to cover the clients giving me time to recoup. We held daily morning meetings to review needs and clients. All –baby, sister, and clients—were cared for.
Pregnancy #3, This time, I was going to hide my condition from everyone. The oversized wardrobeand attache case returned. Meetings were teleconferenced, or items, as this was the new technology—were emailed to clients for approvals. No one, no client was the wiser. It was quite a surprise to a media rep who called for the details on a buy that I was doing, was told by the nurse who could reach the phone on the other side of the room, told him, “Mrs. Kauffman will return your call when she completed breastfeeding her baby.” Luckily the sales rep was a new father himself, and understood completely. We laughed when I returned his call. And guess what, Babies, 2 sisters, clients, and a husband, thrived!
Let us look at history. Women in the days of Laura Ingalls, author of Little House on the Prairie books, were pretty much limited to being teachers—that is until they married. Then they had to resign their jobs and remain in the home. Soon, school boards loosened the restrictions, and allowed a woman to teach until she became pregnant, then she had to resign. Lucy Ricardo could not even say the word pregnant when she let Ricky know she was in a motherly way.
In 1908, the US Supreme Court upheld a decision limiting women’s work because of “maternal functions.” It was not until 70 years later that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed.
Pregnancy. Employers. Employees. Without getting into the economic levels (a Chipotle worker and a Defense Intelligence Employee are not in the same pay-grade I am sure), what surprises me is pregnancy is still a problem. What I would like to know from these two news stories that I read about and outlined a little, was a woman in charge of any of these women? Because, for now as far as I can see, it will be the woman who will give birth. And what surprises me even more is that, women, like my potential client who missed out on an even better marketing plan, do no help each other. And that alone would make this pregnancy problem disappear.