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How to tell your boss you're expecting a baby

MSNBC’s Yasmin Vossoughian became a mother of two this month and shares how she overcame her anxiety about telling her boss when she was expecting her first child.
Yasmin Vossoughian
Yasmin VossoughianVirginia Sherwood / NBCUniversal

Twenty-two weeks.

That was the length of time it took me to inform my bosses I was pregnant.

Before that day, I was visibly stuffing my growing bump into ill-fitting clothes, praying nobody noticed. Everything was a struggle leading up to that point. I ate differently, I was exhausted, I was irritable, and I felt as if I couldn’t make future work plans because in 5 months, I would be on maternity leave.

Finally, the day came when I felt both medically comfortable - and physically uncomfortable - to force myself into telling the powers that be, “I WAS PREGNANT.” In an email to my executive producers I wrote, “I am not letting myself go, I am actually pregnant.” Yes, that is what I wrote.

Of course, this email was based on my self-assessment that I was slowly turning into an elephant and everyone was wondering, “What is happening to Yasmin?”

Well, guess what? They weren’t, or at least they didn’t act like they were asking themselves that question. Instead, they gave me hefty congratulations and they were actually excited for my family, which was such a relief to me.

Then came the meeting with the head of the network — intimidating to say the least. I walked in with nerves on high alert. I sat down and held my head high and blurted out, "I AM PREGNANT." So awkward. Thankfully, he was nothing but gracious, reminded me that he had two kids and was very happy for me.

In my experience since then, it was the women in my orbit who were most supportive, knowing exactly what I was dealing with. Now that I’m pregnant with my second child, the two best pieces of advice I heard were from “Morning Joe” co-host and Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski who told me, “Your priority is to take care of your baby and yourself, your job will be here.” Another female colleague and mother said, “The news will be here – if you miss one breaking story there will be another one when you come back – enjoy this time.”

While having a baby can be an awesome experience, the uncertainties around the life change can also be emotionally taxing and nerve wracking: Will I be a good mom? Can I manage this life? Can I keep working? Will I still move ahead in my career? Will I screw my kid up? If I have a partner, will we be OK? Will I still have a life?

These same questions resurface whether it’s kid no. 1 or kid no.5.

But there’s also the question of job security if you are a woman who chooses to work outside the home. Hopefully you are lucky enough to have paid maternity leave; many women in this country are not. If you are given a maternity leave, you wonder if your employer will find someone better to replace you while you are gone. If you do not have a paid maternity leave and cannot afford to take time off, you are returning to work under incredibly difficult circumstances when your body, your mind and your baby are not necessarily ready.

According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer cannot discriminate against you if you are pregnant or have plans to become pregnant. That said, if you feel you are being treated unfairly you must report it to your Human Resources representative immediately. As we have learned in the era of #MeToo, people will eventually listen, but don’t be afraid to use your voice.

Know your rights and be confident in this next journey, as tough as it may seem. Right now, nothing should come before that new baby. There are so many times in life where you will be more focused on work than family, but now is your time for family. So, with all that, here are my to-do’s on telling your boss you are pregnant:

  1. Tell them when you are comfortable in your own time. Some people wait until after the first trimester and others hold off until their test results have come back. There is no perfect time, this is your journey and your choice. It’s when you feel is best. However, if your job responsibilities could prove harmful to you or your growing baby, inform management sooner than later so they can adjust your duties as needed. (You are already a hero, don't worry!)
  2. Be direct with your boss and accept congratulations. When speaking with your manager be direct and don’t second guess their well wishes. It IS an exciting time! But it’s important not to let the news trickle around the office before telling your boss – he or she should know first to avoid creating any trust issues. Also, think realistically about your plans after the baby comes – while nobody really knows how their life will change – if your idea is to return to work after your maternity leave ends, make that known.
  3. Be honest about your limitations. If you need a day off because you are having routine contractions, or you are just exhausted, take it. This journey only happens a few times in life, it’s OK to go easy on yourself.
  4. Don’t worry excessively about job security. While it’s a natural instinct, try hard not to get too anxious about this. We are in a new age where women can have both families and thriving careers and not be docked for it. Surround yourself with women and men who support you, who have been through this, and can lend encouragement and advice. Why go it alone when you don't have to?
  5. Don’t waste time worrying about what you might miss at work. Now is the moment to focus on your family, everything will be there when you get back. Enjoy that new baby!

Editor’s Note: Yasmin Vossoughian welcomed a healthy baby boy, Noor, earlier this month, who joins his older brother, Azur.

Yasmin Vossoughian is an MSNBC anchor. You can catch her on "Morning Joe First Look" from 5 a.m. - 6 a.m. ET, Monday through Friday, and Sundays on "Live with Yasmin Vossoughian" at 4 p.m. on MSNBC. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.