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Awful timing: new job (on SLT) from September and just found out I'm pregnant...

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by woody9, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. woody9

    woody9 New commenter

    Hello, I'm wondering if anyone can give me any advice on how to deal with a very difficult situation. I was offered a new job in April and will be starting on SLT in a new school in September; I was so excited about my promotion and looking forward to getting stuck in to what I knew would be a very challenging year with a steep learning curve. In my head, I was completely focused on my new role and doing my very best at this next year.

    However, I've just found out that I am a few week's pregnant - it has come as a massive shock and I am still reeling from it. The pregnancy was unplanned (and we were actively trying to avoid it - it is a complete fluke that it has happened); my husband and I were considering having another child at some point (we already have a wonderful daughter who is nearly three), but were obviously going to put off considering this until I had settled properly into my new job. My husband is really pleased, and my daughter will be over the moon, but I feel devastated! However, ending the pregnancy is not an option for me - I just could not live with myself.

    I feel so incredibly guilty about the inconvenience this will place on the school - and how bad and unprofessional this will look to the staff - and I was wondering if anyone could give me any advice on how to approach the situation with my new Head (something I am having sleepless nights about)? I estimate the baby will be due in February, which will mean I will only have one full term at my new school before going off on maternity leave. To minimise the impact on the school, I am planning to take a very short maternity leave (between 12 and 16 weeks) and then return full time before the end of the school year. My husband will then take over being at home with the children, which he is excited about. I am the main wage earner and he was planning to go part-time in September anyway, to be the main carer for our little girl and take her to nursery school and back on the days she will be going.

    Do you think that this short maternity leave plan would appease my new school in any way? I am dreading their reaction as I realise it looks incredibly unprofessional to have allowed this to happen. I feel totally out of control of the situation and I only hope they believe me when I say how sorry I am that I have allowed this situation to arise. I want to show my commitment to the school and try and manage the situation as best as I can, under the circumstances.

    Any advice would be very gratefully received, as I am currently feeling incredibly low and anxious about the situation and am losing sleep over it. I would love to be able to relax and enjoy my pregnancy (I loved being pregnant the first time round) but this terrible timing in terms of work is over-shadowing everything. I also had a fairly traumatic birth/aftermath the first time round and this is adding to my feelings of stress and panic - I'm fearful of going through it all again.

    I'm sorry for the incredibly long message - just needed to get it all off my chest - now feeling teary. I know that it's entirely our fault we're in this situation and I feel really stupid - before people suggest it, we have already decided that my husband will get sterilised after this one! I also realise that there are lots of people dealing with far worse situations than mine, and that lots of people struggle to get pregnant, so I know I should be grateful and stop complaining. I suffer from terrible anxiety anyway, so not dealing with this very well!

    I would be very grateful for any advice or similar stories (that hopefully worked out okay in the end!!)


  2. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    First things first....CONGRATULATIONS!!! What wonderful news!

    Now, I'm no professional and my advice is purely based on opinion but...

    This is NOT a disaster! Schools have systems and ways of coping when staff have children. I don't think you should feel at all guilty about the timing - it was clearly meant to be. You don't need to offer to take shortened maternity leave or make any other sacrifice in order to 'minimise impact on the school'. The school will survive without you, your baby cannot.

    Call the school and arrange a meeting. Tell them the news, accept their congratulations and allow them to put plans in place to cover your maternity leave. I'm sure there will be an internal candidate who would LOVE to cover your SLT role for two terms to gain experience and aid their own career progression. This is not the end of the world.

    Now make the phone, get it out of the way and then RELAX and enjoy your happy news. xxx
  3. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    p.s. I should also add that being SLT doesn't lessen your entitlement to take time of with your baby. I also know at least 3 women that I can think off who've found out they were pregnant shortly after accepting a new job.

    I doubt it's something the school hasn't experienced before.
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Great news - congratulations!

    And don't worry - it happens all the time. Schools are used to it. I actually had someone who told us after appointment that she was beginning maternity leave on 1 September.


    So just think of the good times ahead - and don't cut short that maternity leave for the sake of the school - it's supposed to be for the sake of you and your family!


    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  5. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    "Unprofessional"? Give over, it's NOT! These things happen, they're part of life's rich tapestry and this former headteacher would have congratulated you and talked about how you must be sure to keep me informed about how you're feeling once you start in September - because I'd want you to make the best possible start to your SLT career, but also to take good care of yourself and have a healthy, pleasant pregnancy.

    Don't mention the short maternity leave plan at this point - you don't know what might be ahead and how you might feel. But assure the head that you fully intend to come back and hit the ground sprinting if that makes you feel better about it.
  6. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    I wouldn't be mentioning anything if yet if you are only a few weeks pregnant. Echo the other advice.
  7. woody9

    woody9 New commenter

    Thank you so much to Eva, Theo and Middlemarch for your lovely reassurance and advice (and congratulations and flowers!) - I feel a whole lot better already, especially hearing from people who are/were Heads. I really appreciate you taking the time to reply and it also helps to hear that you have dealt with these kinds of situations before. Middlemarch - wish you were my new Head!! Although, I'm sure my new one will be lovely, and hopefully understanding, too...

    I certainly intend to inform the school asap, but I would prefer to do this in person rather than on the phone - what do you think? Is it okay to wait until I have made an appointment with the Head (I will make sure it is before the end of term)? I just feel that I could explain the situation better face to face...
  8. woody9

    woody9 New commenter

    Crowbob - I agree it is very early days to be thinking about saying something, and under normal circumstances I'd wait until after the 12-week scan to be telling people - but in this situation I can't help feeling that it would be better for me to pre-warn the Head so she can think about the implications over the summer - I also don't think I can cope with the anxiety of waiting to tell her/not being sure what the reaction is going to be....think it would cloud my entire summer holiday! Do you think this is a really bad idea? Is it better to wait until I start in September?
  9. rachelpaula008

    rachelpaula008 Star commenter

    Woody9 - congratulations. I was employed as a maternity cover in FE. The woman became pregnant very early in her post and was fully supported by the college - as you would expect. And - it gave me a much-needed job!

    I do understand why you are worrying but you and your growing family are more important than anything else in my opinion. Why not take a few weeks to consider whether you should 'pre-warn' your head? As posters have said, schools are used to these sorts of things.

    Best wishes and I hope you catch up with your sleep : )
  10. woody9

    woody9 New commenter

    Thank you, rachelpaula - much appreciated :)
  11. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Congratulation! It's not your fault, it is nature, don't let negative thoughts and fears spoil your pregnancy. Also don't feel pressured into a shortened maternity. I know 2 people who did this and it was very hard both physically and emotionally and they regretted it. A few more months is a drop in the ocean in terms of your whole career.
  12. ValentinoRossi

    ValentinoRossi Star commenter

    Congratulations, woody9!

    Just wanted to add my reassurances to those already posted. Do exactly as Theo and Middlemarch advise. I've worked in three schools where this has happened and, trust me, we have simply got on with the situation and looked forward to the new member of staff joining us as and when appropriate. Schools are about people; good leadership will take this in their stride. They appointed you because they wanted you.
  13. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    At the risk of being controversial, if this was your 5th child then yes it would look a tad unprofessional. But its your 2nd, you are of child bearing age and Nature has taken its course. And a smaller age gap between your new child and the existing one is better than a massive one.

    Just call the Head with the news. Unless they are of the chauvinistic male variety (in which case they would do well to remember where their 'clientele' are coming from in 11 years time) they will send you their congratulations along with TESSERS and myself.
  14. woody9

    woody9 New commenter

    Thank you marymoocow and ValentinoRossi for you reassuring responses - everyone has made me feel a lot better about the whole thing! I am starting to relax a bit...hopefully everything will work out okay and I'll be able to enjoy my exciting new job AND my pregnancy. When you look at it that way, I'm very lucky indeed. I just hope my new Head is as understanding and supportive as you all are!

    Does anyone have an opinion on the best time to tell her? ASAP (i.e. before the end of term) or leave it until I start in September (when I'll have presumably have had my 12-week scan)?
  15. ValentinoRossi

    ValentinoRossi Star commenter

    Wait until your twelve week scan, woody9.
  16. ValentinoRossi

    ValentinoRossi Star commenter


    You're being daft now, scienceteachasghost.

    It's only 7p.m! Tek more water with it [​IMG]
  17. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    Firstly, congratulations-the best news!!

    Secondly, think about it.A school causing a fuss about a baby? Why? Any school would be pretty bleak if no one had babies!!!
  18. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I think wait until September, too.
  19. woody9

    woody9 New commenter

    Thank you all again for the comments and advice :) I will wait until September and will (hopefully) be feeling all excited and positive about everything by then!
  20. JTL

    JTL Occasional commenter

    Even Head Teachers have found themselves in your situation. A few years ago a school in my area appointed its first Head Mistress to coincide with going co-ed. She was divorced with teen aged children. The appointment was made quite early on in the academic year.

    By the time she started her new job, having moved into the local area, she had remarried and was pregnant. She returned after Maternity leave for a while and then took a second Maternity leave. I think she then resigned.

    The school coped, in fact they employed a retired former Head of another school who was fantastic.

    I hope you feel reassured by everyone's positive comments here and can then look forward to both your new job and forthcoming baby. Thinking positively, you will get to know what the new job entails and then have a period of time to think things through before you return. Also, precious time with your first child before Dad steps in. Enjoy your pregnancy and do not feel guilty.

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