Excited, nervous, worried, happy, scared…. These are just a few of the emotions most women, especially first time moms like myself, feel when they find out they are expecting. Am I ready? Am I capable? Am I financially stable? Am I healthy?… These are again just a few of the many questions that go through a women’s head. The one question that should never have to go through a newly pregnant woman’s mind is, “Am I going to lose my job?”
I began working at a small business, a fine dining restaurant, as a server in 2007. The place was owned by a husband (the Chef) and wife and they quickly took a liking to me, as they did most of their employees. The place only had about 12 employees total (kitchen and service included) so it was very much like a little family. Making friends is always easy in the restaurant business but making friends with your bosses, that’s not as common. After-shift drinks, house parties, birthdays and holidays together…it was a great relationship.
After two years of working for this restaurant, they decided to open a new place of business, a marketplace where customers could buy fresh homemade items, order catering and sit down for lunch. Only three of the current restaurant employees were chosen to help them open and then work at both sites. I was one of those employees. Shortly following, the owners decided to shut down their fine dining place and focus on the marketplace and catering only. They laid off all but three employees; Myself, another server/market employee and their main cook. As a team, we all built and expanded this catering business. I was proud to work for this company and soon became the marketplace and catering manager. As the business grew and the owners had their first child, I became the secretary and wedding coordinator on top of managing the store and the catering jobs that I also served and bartended.
At this point, I had co-worked with the same boss everyday from the age of 19 to 27. Family events, birthdays, holidays…all were spent together. My life during those ages, as most people’s are, was incredibly hard with college, a sick father, divorcing parents, a cheating boyfriend and eventually the loss of my father. I will say that he worked very well with me through all these things, so, after 2 years of a new healthy relationship and a baby on the way, the first thing I thought about my boss, was how well he was going to support me through this next chapter. Nope, wrong.
Just days before I told him the news, he was telling me all the new opportunities he had for me in the business (he was moving into a local country club). The same day I sat him down to tell him the news (by the way, I told him when I was less than 6 weeks pregnant!), he called in an old employee to come in for a meeting to come back to work. Red flag? Within the next two weeks things drastically changed. I was getting yelled at for things I had never been yelled at before, I was suddenly not the one he wanted to speak to about future events or even that day’s To Do list. He began writing the schedule (which I had been doing for 3 years now and he had never done) instead of me, he stopped scheduling me for events because I “couldn’t lift things”, and all around just started treating me like dirt. I was no longer answering emails which I did thirty times a day for years, no longer taking orders for people on the phone, which was my main job as catering manager. At one point I sat down with him and he said to me “I cannot have you forgetting things here (and this was not after I forgot something). You’re going to be stupid, just like [my wife] was. But it’s not your fault”, he said, “all the blood is going to your uterus and not your brain…this just happens to pregnant people”. Whaaaaat? OK, I will admit I further learned pregnancy brain is real but c’mon!
I was also told that I “could not bartend if I was showing” and when I asked if I was still able to coordinate the weddings in spring (I would have been 5-6 months pregnant) I got the response, “I don’t know I haven’t thought that far ahead”. (He created that position for me). He told me, “Just go have the baby, (like I was 9 months pregnant, not 1) take your time and when you’re ready to come back we will see where you fit in here.” That is when I knew, in his mind, I was done working there. See where I fit in? I knew it was time to go, I was being pushed out of my job. I had no responsibilities left, no future events, nothing. I basically went from getting a promotion to a huge demotion. He was just waiting for me to quit. (I also only lost my father two months before getting pregnant so this was hitting even harder than normal.)
As I was being treated like dirt everyday, I would go home and cry to my fiancé. I cried every time I left that place. I cried because of the way I was being treated, because of my boss’s comments and because I knew this job was coming to an end. This job I put so much effort and loyalty into for nearly 8 years and this is how it’s going down. My fiancé kept telling me to quit, that I didn’t need to work and I especially didn’t need this stress. So, I did it. I eventualy told him I would like to phase out through the holidays (Nov/Dec) and I would help train someone else in my position, then I was done. His response, “You don’t have to work through the holidays, just finish out the week.” Clearly, he was prepared and waiting for me to say these words. How I didn’t lose my cool and leave right then is beyond me.
My next shift, I went in only to get sent home in the middle. I apparently gave him an attitude (now if you know the restaurant business, attitude is our language…and if you knew me and him, well we fought like a married couple all the time!) and in front of my fellow co-workers and customers I was told to “Go home. Leave your key on the desk.” That is it. That is how he wanted to end this employment, friendship? I gathered all my things and left. I have not heard from him since (or his wife) but if he were to read this blog I would like to tell him that I learned a lot in those years, I made memories and friends, I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy and I am doing well, I have a beautiful baby daughter who I LOVE being a stay at home mom to (thanks!), and most of all, I would really like to tell him to, “Bacio mi culo“.
Have you ever been fired or demoted due to pregnancy? Tell us your story and how you overcame such a degrading experience!
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