I'm Afraid to Tell My Male Bosses I'm Pregnant

“Would you like to know the gender?” the woman who had announced the results of a first-trimester blood test asked over the phone. She had just told me my near-geriatric pregnancy looked fine so far. Gripping onto the steering wheel of my car, on my way back from an interview for a news story, I fiddled with the air conditioning, waiting for this stranger, whose name I don’t know, to give me news about my 13-week fetus.

“Congrats,” she said, clearly bored after relaying the news yet again to someone that day.

Then, she hung up.

We’re having a girl. I’m terrified. I’m 34, freelance (AKA unemployed), and facing an uphill battle as I think about how I’ll claw my way back into the workforce full-time once I deliver. But in that moment, I was so excited that I pulled over to call my husband.

I’m six months pregnant now and none of my editors know. Most of them are male. Many of them have kids. I know because they talk about them all the time in the doting, loving way only a father can. One mentions his children while working from home when I submit a 6,000-word feature; it’s a tough handoff day between him and his wife. Another apologizes when he’s delayed in responding to my edits because he has been taking care of two sick children since his return from an international vacation.

Each time I speak to one of them on the phone, I hang up in awe with the ease they speak about being fathers. I’m so envious.

I haven’t told any of them I’m pregnant. When I go on assignment with a colleague, I wear a massive button down, lifting the camera gear with my knees and hoping I can hide the burgeoning bump. The only other professional colleague I’ve told is another female freelance journalist. Over chicken wings in rural Appalachia, she told me she has worked with other female freelance journalists who’ve decided to wait to have children until after the 2020 election or until they are hired full-time somewhere. That night, after another 14-hour reporting day, I think about what she said. It terrifies me, but it also makes me feel more sane. I know I have to withhold this information. The more I reveal, the greater the risk to my career.

And about my career. Here’s what it’s like: I spent the majority of six months after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, investigating claims that the Puerto Rican government made in the aftermath of the crisis. When I asked for a single day off to see my Irish husband become an Irish-American citizen, my then boss waited until the day before to ask if I really had to go. I assured him, no, not at all, it was fine. When protests broke out in Charlotte, North Carolina, after a white police officer shot and killed an African-American resident, I drove with a cameraman overnight to sleep in a pay-by-the hour motel to be the first team there to cover the riots. When I worked in Afghanistan, I spent two years traveling alone across the country for work and research, dodging questions about whether I was qualified to run a team of Afghan men.

Each time I had family or friends visit during a quiet period, I’ve been called away, without fail. Once, my parents came to town, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I lived in the United States. Mom had plans to make samosas the next day and take us to Costco so I could stock up on books and food samples. Of course, at 3 a.m., my phone rang, asking me to go cover a protest somewhere. I jumped out of bed and made it onto the 5 a.m. flight. I love what I do, and this is the fealty it demands.

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