Thursday, December 9, 2010

Telling the boss(es)

Thus far I have told 4 different people with the title “boss.” Four men to be specific (ah, science).

My future boss, starting in January, was actually a person I told when we started trying to conceive. And he and I have discussed the fact that we were using ART, and I had mentioned that it was looking like we’d have to start IVF pretty soon after I began working for him. I wanted to be as upfront as possible, since in a small lab any time off for a trainee can have an impact on a tenure-track scientist. But he’s a super family-friendly person, and a shoo-in for early tenure, so he has managed to be ridiculously positive about the whole thing. And in fact, he was one of the absolute first people I told when I found out I was pregnant. My husband agreed, he’s the person, after us, who probably has the most vested interest in this news : )

My current boss didn’t actually find out from me. I went into his office yesterday to tell him, but it turns out that a coworker I had told thought he already knew and spilled the beans. I thought that was fine, because that way I didn’t have to worry about his first reaction being inappropriate, but I also took pains to make sure he knew I was planning to tell him right away. I think we’re fine….

I told my two overseas supervisors in the same email message, and their reactions were completely opposite. One wrote back this morning responding to all of the logistical issues I brought up in my email (I won’t be able to fly there for my thesis defense when we had planned because it’s too late in the pregnancy, for example). I was a little surprised at this, since he’s a very family-oriented person, but I appreciated the logistical advice since he’s my main resource for that part of things.

What really surprised me was the reaction of my other overseas supervisor. He’s a great person, but we have always discussed almost exclusively science, and he has made a lot of sacrifices in his personal life for his career. He tends to be the most gruff of my advisors. And I see him less than once a year and speak to him only every 6 months or so. So I was completely shocked when he called me the moment he got the email. I wondered what he wanted to talk about so urgently (assuming it was logistics), but he launched into a description of how important the first 3-4 months of a pregnancy are, and urged me to take it easy over and over. He actually said “research will wait.” It was unexpected and really quite touching. He seemed so concerned about me. I have to say, it made me feel better about how lazy I’ve been about work in the last few weeks : ) It was just complete sweetness from the most unexpected source. And it made me feel great.

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