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New Job, Surprise Pregnancy

New Job, Surprise Pregnancy

By Amalah

Dear Amy,

Your column was a fantastic resource for me as a new mom 6 years ago. Now I find myself pregnant again. And freaking out.

Not about the pregnancy itself. That’s the thing–other factors are dampening what would otherwise be joy at having a second kid. But I just started a new job, one that’s seemed challenging since the beginning. Challenging in the sense that it’s a big departure from my last job and both mentally and physically demanding. It involves extensive regional travel by car, including overnight sometimes.

I was scared but game when I accepted the position. I knew it would be very rewarding if I put in the time & effort it needed. But it was never my *dream* job, and soon after my start date came the surprise pregnancy. And now it all feels like too. damn. MUCH. Also, I don’t see this going well for raising and nursing a newborn (my preferred way, at least)–being hours away multiple times a week. I’m in my first trimester and already feeling drained (and carsick) by all the travel. Also I had a very minor accident that in retrospect I’m pretty sure was the result of pregnancy brain & lightheadedness.

Between my spouse and in-laws, I do have some help if I decide to keep going with the job. So I wonder if I’m just being whiny or letting the nerves of life changes get the best of me. My spouse has been receptive but also hands-off about any actual decisions. And my friends think I’m just having new-job jitters. I’ve thought and stressed about this so much and can’t tell what end is up anymore. Any advice [smackdown] you have would be most appreciated.


So on the one hand, I think it’s important to fully acknowledge and not downplay your very immediate concerns: You’re drained and exhausted, you’re carsick, you’re lightheaded to the point you’re making mistakes behind the wheel. Of course that’s going to color your view of this job, because that all legitimately sucks. And it’s natural to spend a big chunk of your pregnancy thinking (and yes, even worrying) about how you’ll handle the addition of a newborn to your current job/number of children/house/apartment/life in general.

On the other hand, it’s also important to not let what’s happening now to become “this is how it will be forever” and to let it feed into a destructive cycle of anxiety-related, negative thinking. I know it’s probably impossible to NOT let your brain go to, “oh God this is how it is now how the hell can I do this in my third trimester or while nursing a newborn oh God oh no.” But! You are (I assume) still just a few weeks into this job, and a few weeks into your pregnancy. This is not necessarily how things will be forever.

You might NOT want to continue with this job when you’re too big to fit comfortably behind the wheel, or when it involves leaving a newborn at home while you travel every week. Or you might find that your pregnancy gets much easier once you cross the 13 week mark, you get the general hang of your duties and responsibilities and it isn’t as mentally challenging as it was when you were brand new. You might get a huge burst of energy in your third trimester, and maybe you’ll become such a rock star for the company they’ll be more than willing to make all kinds of tweaks to your travel duties and accommodations so they can keep you.

Or none of those things happen, and you make the decision to step down and find a job that’s better suited for your new life situation. That’s totally okay. It happens. But for right now, I’d personally try to stay super focused on the fact that how you feel now IS likely to be temporary — both physically and with that new-job mental state of “am I going to be good at this or did I make a huge mistake and should I just quit because it’s a bit scary” that lots of people go through.

Is there anything you can try NOW to combat the carsickness and lightheadedness? Keep a small cooler and lunch bag of non-greasy, driving-friendly snacks handy so your blood sugar stays happy? Crack the window, focus on the far horizon, suck on a ginger candy or pregnancy lollipop? Maybe try an acupressure band/bracelet? Acupuncture/prenatal massage on your days off? Anything that can help you make it to the second trimester, when you might 1) start to feel better, or 2) if you DON’T feel better, you’re far enough along to have a discussion with your boss about what’s happening and whether there’s anything that could be changed for you, even just temporarily. (And of course, please mention the lightheadedness and other symptoms to your OB/GYN, just to make sure there’s nothing abnormal going on with your blood sugar or anything like that!)

Since you’re new and it sounds like the travel load was clearly and correctly communicated to you, they might not be super flexible. Are there other mothers in similar positions at the company you could talk to and get a read on how the company treats pregnant women and maternity leave, or parents in general with babies and very young children? That would be pretty valuable, concrete info to have — and more likely to help you make the stick with it versus cut my losses now decision better than your internal dialogue of  “I don’t see this going well when I get to Point Z, based on how I feel up here at Point A.”

From a super-practical career (and non-pregnancy) standpoint: If you leave this job sooner rather than later, you can probably just omit it from your resume and not look like a job-hopper or have to worry about burning bridges or references. And you can start interviewing before you look visibly pregnant. (I know, I know, it’s a protected state but let’s not pretend the hiring world is perfect.) Or you might be able to return your old job! But if you stay, there IS obviously the chance for everything you were hoping to get out of it pre-pregnancy to still happen! Because how it is right now is not necessarily how it will be in six or nine or 12 months. 

But if, in the end, you can honestly take stock of the situation and say, “There is absolutely, 100% no way in hell I would have taken this job knowing (or even planning/debating) another pregnancy would happen,” and nothing about the next few weeks changes that opinion (from either a physical or new-job jitters perspective), then it’s probably fair to say you gave it your best shot but your life/work-balance plans are just too different now to make it work.

Photo source: Depositphotos/Maridav


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About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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