Pregnant Pause

Received Friday, July 23, 2010
perspective and opinion We just learned that our nanny of five weeks is five weeks pregnant. I want to give her some time to enjoy the thrill of being pregnant before discussing her plans, and I understand a lot will depend on her pregnancy and wants but I'm curious what I can expect and what may be expected of me. At what point will she stop working? At what point would I want her to stop working (my son is 10 months old)? How much time will she take off? Am I expected to provide any kind of compensation for her time-off (which we could not afford)? We like her very much but she's only been with us for five (5!!) weeks so are not so connected to her that we feel the need to bend over backwards to accomodate the situation. In all honesty, because she's only been with us for such a short time (and may have been pregnant when we hired her), my first instinct was to let her go, as I was concerned she would not have the energy to take care of an infant/toddler, in addition, I was very concerned about finding a good replacement during her maternity leave and that she will not be as available/flexible upon her return (which we need b/c of my unpredictable hours) or that she may not return at all. However, I could not in good conscience fire her but fear that keeping her is at my child's and family's expense (emotional and financial).


TC said...

How would you feel in her shoes? How would you want to be treated?

Keep in mind she probably didn't know she was pregnant when she got hired so she probably didn't intentionally keep that information from you.

You do have to do what's best for your family and your financial situation but a bit of kindness goes a long way too.


is it against the law to fire someone because she is pregnant?

world's best nanny said...

Talk to her. Ask her what she can realistically handle and your expectations.

pedinurse said...

I don't understand why everyone gets so riled up about pregnant nannies. Mothers get pregnant and manage to still care for their older babies. Second baby comes along and it isn't unmanageable, plus it adds a new dimension to their day with a built-in new playmate. Sounds like an ideal situation to me. Women need to stick together and help care for one another in the quest for mommyhood. Family day care providers care for their own babies and 4 or 5 others. They all do great!!

I say, keep the nanny and her upcoming new friend for your child; give her a one month unpaid maternity leave and tell her because she is now basically "nanny sharing" (even though she is sharing herself), she won't be getting a raise anytime soon.

Village said...

Can you believe she told you at five weeks? That was very honest of her. She must feel a huge sense of responsibility to you to tell you so soon.

I wouldn't talk to her at all till she is 13 weeks or so. The first trimester is no time for stress, especially if this is her first pregnancy.

Then at 14 weeks, sit down and have an adult conversation with her. How are we together going to handle this. By telling you so soon, she has soon herself to be responsible and concerned about others, just the qualities you want in a long tern nanny.

If you want a great nanny, you are going to need to be a great employer. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Village said...

correction: she has shown herself to be

Bostonnanny said...

I would have never told my employer until I was 5 months or showing for fear that they would fire me. On that note she can sue you for firing her because she is pregnant.

I know a nanny who worked with an infant until she was 9 months and managed to do everything from traveling by MBTA to sing a longs and playgroups to picking him up and going up flights of stairs. Just because your pregnant doesn't mean your not capable of doing everything you use to.

If you can't afford to pay her while she's on leave then tell her right away. If your uncomfortable with her bringing her baby with her to work then tell her right away. Maybe you can work out an agreement that after she gives birth she can bring the baby with her for a lower rate or during her last month before birth she helps to train her replacement.

It will be impossible for her to find work while pregnant and I hope you can find it in your heart to keep her as long as possible. I understand that your child will come first but keep your heart open. If she's a good nanny then try to make it work.

nycmom said...

As an employer who has gone through this, tried to do the right thing, and had it gone badly - I can see lots of potential problems.

A nanny having a baby is NOT the same as a mother having a second child. The idea that it is simply expected that the mom allow her nanny to bring her child to work is the first problem. What if the OP is planning to conceive soon? Is the nanny then going to watch all 3 dc including two young infants. Also, OP's dc will be 19mo when nanny's db is born - not playmates for at least 1-1.5 years. Second, assuming OP is fine with nanny bring her db. There are then myriad issues to address. Nanny shares are generally priced so that each parents pays 60-75% of regular rate and nanny makes a bit more. So if $15 were regular rate, in nanny share, each parent would pay $10/hr and nanny would net $20. Is OP's nanny going to be willing to take a 33% pay reduction? Not just no raise, but an actual reduction because OP's dc will certainly be getting different type of care. Not saying this is how it SHOULD happen, but it is something to consider and a potential problem.

Next, how are sick kids handled. If nanny's db is sick, what happens? Does nanny have a backup childcare plan, does she stay home with her sick db, or does she bring her sick db to work? Same questions if OP's dc is sick. What about outings, esp as the kids get a bit older. If they go to the zoo or out for a meal, does OP pay for both dc (obviously she pays for nanny and her dc; but not paying for the nanny's dc would feel awkward and petty - yet all these costs add up).

These are just a few issues. There are so many more. In our case, we went to great lengths to accomodate a pregnany nanny and have her back after a maternity leave. Her reportedly guaranteed childcare fell thru and she started needing to bring her db to work or she couldn't come (and neither dh nor I have jobs you can do from home last minute). When she was here, I would say 80% of her attention was focused on her own infant. I can't blame her - she's a mom. But I wasn't just paying to have my kids fed and safe. I was paying a good salary for them to go on outings, be actively engaged, and have flexibility - those things were suddenly gone.

No, pregnancy laws do not apply to all employers. I think federal laws apply to those with 15 employees or more. State laws vary, but I think it's usually a minimum of 5 employees (though definitely do not know laws for each state of the top of my head).

Anyway, I agree with Village that her telling you is a positive sign of good character. She's only been with you 5 weeks, but if you really love her, I do think it's worth at least hearing about her plans and her thoughts. It doesn't sound like she's even said firmly she WANTS to continue working after having her baby. For this to work, she needs to have a well thought out plan. I'd at least give her a chance to tell you her thoughts and see if it works for your family.

nycmom said...

I apologize for the repeat posts. Hasn't happened to me before. I have no idea what I did differently this time to cause this! Sorry!

former pregnant nanny said...

To the mom: you can fire her for being pregnant if you want to. That is your choice. But I think it would be a crummy thing to do. Just because someone is pregnant does not mean she cannot be a nanny. Do you owe her time for when she is on maternity leave? Of course not. I think this is a decision you will not only have to make but will have to live with.

I was once a nanny and I got pregnant shortly after I took the job, about a month or so after I started working. I, like your nanny, told my bosses immediately. I told them I would like to work until my 8th month. They agreed, then proceeded to treat me like crap for the remainder of my stay there. They had written in my contract that I would get four sick days (I worked 10 hours per day) and then refused to let me used them for my OB appointments.

I ended up sticking it out until my 8th month because me and my husband really needed the money, but looking back I wish I would have quit when they started treating me badly with their passive aggressive behavior.

vm said...

OP - I just wanted to point out that unless your nanny is further along in her pregnancy than she claims, that she told you as soon as she found out. You wonder if she was possibly pregnant upon hire (or interview), but that can't really be the case.
If she's 5 weeks pregnant and has been working for you for 5 weeks, then on her 1st day she either would not have been pregnant yet or would've only been a couple of days along (and therefore wouldn't have known).

In your post, you briefly questioned this issue and so I just wanted to let you know that it can't be true. So regardless of whatever you choose to do, please keep in mind that she honestly did tell you as soon as she found out. I wish you the best of luck - this definately would be a difficult decision for me to make!

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

First, congratulate her if you haven't already done so. Then, sit down with her and discuss what she would like to do during her pregnancy and post-partum. She may not even want to return to work, which means you will then have the choice of firing her now, or letting her go gracefully at 8/9 months when you have found her replacement.

Then discuss your wants and needs and see if you can meet in the midddle. Compromise is key to all aspects of the nanny/parent relationship. Discuss the points nycmom made with nanny and figure out how you will work together to avaoid issues. Set up specific rules and boundaries, write up a new contract reflecting the changes, and then work together to make things work for everyone.

If you hired her, you must have felt she would do a good job with your child. Give her the chance to prove her worth.

not worth the trouble said...

I am kind of going to go against the grain and say I think you should get rid of her. You aren't attached to her yet and neither is your child. Your child is very young and you run the risk of her missing a lot of work (morning sickness, doctors visits (once a week that last month), possible bed rest etc). Plus you could hang through all of that only to find out she doesn't want to work after the baby or will want to bring her baby to work with her (and then you have all the issues NYCmom brought up). This isn't a nanny you have a long term relationship with. I would let her know you don't think a pregnancy and newborn are going to work out since your child is still so young himself and give her 2 months to find another job. Just my 2 cents.

Nanny Sarah said...

I agree with not worth the trouble. Honestly if someone was w/me for only 5 wks, and I found out they were would be a different situation for me. Meaning I would have a nanny who would have more trips to the doc., morning sickness/nausea, and the inability to carry my child or horse around after the second trimester. She will have her limitations...less energy + you have to "train" your child to NEVER hit or kick her close to her stomach. If she finds out she is having twins and/or a difficult pregnancy and has to go on bed rest then you are screwed.
But I know what I feel is not what is necessarily the right thing to do...and the right thing to do would be to keep her (since you already hired her) and try to accommodate. Give her a chance to be a good nanny, but if she starts to miss too much work and/or is less energetic...then kindly let her go. Just tell her a toddler under 2 needs more energy from a caregiver and that you need someone more reliable as well.
So bottom line,keep her for now..have a wait and see attitude, but do not rule out that you may have to find a new nanny after 6 mos.

CrankyBk said...

I don't really understand why you're worried about this. Early pregnancy should in no way impact her ability to care for a ten-month old, and, frankly, as a working mother, I'd think you'd understand. How can you not?

She probably told you because she was excited. I did the same thing, frankly, with my own boss at my own job. Fortunately, because I was protected by labor laws, they didn't fire me. You could probably get away with firing a domestic, but how would you live with yourself?

And, ultimately, what message are you trying to impart to your kid? That the caregivers you hire for them are disposable? That working women only matter if they're of your class?

LovingNanny said...

That is a difficult decision you have to make.
From my point of view (I'm a Nanny, married, no kids yet) it looks like that.
Decision 1: You keep her, support her through her pregnancy and have a clear conscience.
Decision 2: You let her go now. What would be probably the best for your kid. Your kid will be very attached to her, when she has to leave for maternity leave. Who knows when and if she is ever going to come back to work for you? Who knows if she can be the nanny your child needs and you hired her for? Will she be able to run after a toddler, sit on the floor get up the next second to chase your kid, carry him/her, lift him up, spin around.........
Maybe she will be able to do all of that and way more, maybe not.

Are you taking the risk?

cali mom said...

Jumping ahjead, sorry to do so but will have to catch up later.

OP, first make sure of what the laws are in your state so you don't inadvertently break any and leave yourself open to lawsuits.

Pregnancy is unpredictable. She could be fine and operating at 100% until her water sudden;y breaks at 8 montns and 29 days, or she could be on full bedrest or in the hospital for any number of complications at 5 months. And who knows how she will feel about returning to work after her baby is born.

I agree that you should wait until she is past her first trimester and THEN discuss it. At that point, it may be a good idea for both of you to work out a contract based on the plan at that point, so that IF either of your plans change, it won't be a nasty case of she said vs. she said. In other words, if she takes 3 months off with 50% pay and then decides not to return, you do NOT owe her any severance pay, etc. Or if her plan is to have childcare for herself but that fall through and she wants to bring her own baby to work, how will the pay be handled?

These are no brainer examples but you see what I mean.

It was quite nice of her to tell you so soon. She didn't have to tell you at all, unless she ran into a health problem that impacted her work.

cali mom said...

And I'll add, that even IF you are legally allowed to fire her because of pregnancy and IF you decide to do so because you think it's in the best interests of your child, the right thing to do would be to give her at least 2 weeks of severance pay. She was under no obligation to tell you of her pregnancy so if you take advantage opf her honesty and kick her to the curb, you owe her that just out of decency. In other words, if you don't even give her that, you'll have to live with knowing that you totally screwed her over.

Gracefire said...

I suppose I am in the unique position of actually being a nanny who has been in this situation. I had two jobs at the time. One was with a 17-month-old and the other was with two Deaf children, one of which had severe developmental and physical disabilities. I can honestly say it did not have an impact on my work - I was given extremely glowing letters of recommendation by both families in my search for a new job. I started with the first family just before I became pregnant. Actually, I think I was about 5 weeks along in my employment with them when I found out I was pregnant (and I found out I was pregnant at about 5 weeks along). I started with the second family when I was about 5 months along and worked until about 5 days before I gave birth. Sure, there were days when I felt crappy, but everyone feels crappy every now and then.

I would give her a chance. Maybe sit down and have a chat with her and very clearly outline that her duties and responsibilities are not going to change just because of her pregnancy. Give her a chance - she might surprise you.

TC said...

you have to "train" your child to NEVER hit or kick her close to her stomach

Umm Nanny Sarah you should teach your child not to hit or kick any person regardless if they are pregnant or not

Former Nanny said...

Looks like the law varies from state to state:

Quite frankly, firing her just because she's pregnant is a horrible thing to do. We none of us have crystal balls to know what the outcome of her pregnancy will be!

This is a difficult decision, but as most of us know, every pregnancy is different. I would suggest, like Village, that you wait until the first trimester is over. She may have had a couple of OB appointments by then and things will have settled down for her emotionally as well. At that point, you should establish a plan for pregnancy and leave, including contingencies: what if she suddenly has to go on bed rest? Or at some point is deemed high-risk? What happens if she suddenly goes into labor at work, what happens to your child?

Good luck with this decision! I have to tell my own boss next week that I'm expecting, but although I'm not a nanny anymore all the same I hope he takes the news well!

PregoTheWonderNanny said...

Instead of listening to a few mom's worst case scenarios, or even a few women's best case scenarios, remember that all women (and nannies) are different. The only way you are going to truly decide what is best for your family is by talking to your nanny. All of your worry and unanswered questions can be answered (by HER) with one simple conversation! When does she plan on going on maternity leave? How long does she plan on taking for that leave? What is her commitment to your family (i.e.: will she be coming back and staying for a set amount of time (think contract here) after her child is born? Is it okay for her to bring her child to work? Will she be finding outside care for her child either daily, or when he or she is sick; dependent upon your decision as to whether or not your nanny can bring her child to work with her. Let her know that you (unfortunately) can not financially afford to offer her maternity leave pay, and discuss a planned time when she will go on leave. The key to any good relationship is communication. Write down a list of all of your concerns and questions and don't be afraid to address every single one of them. With that being said, as another poster mentioned, no need to jump the gun (there is plenty of time to get these issues squared away) so please wait to have any potentially stressful conversations with your nanny until she is a bit further along. The risk of miscarriage is SO high during the beginning of pregnancy, and she's right at the begining.

Now for some honest insight, I am a pregnant nanny. I'm currently 26 weeks pregnant (6.5 months) and nearing my 3rd trimester, but I am going to easily be able to continue working until the end of my 8th month (my boss and I have both decided I will take month 9 off as the start of my maternity leave). My pregnancy has not affected my work performance in any way. I have not missed any days due to morning sickness or for any other reason, and have successfully scheduled Dr.'s appointments around my work schedule (as any other working mom-to-be would do). With that being said, Dr.'s appointments in the 1st and 2nd trimester (all the way up to around 7 months) are typically only once a month, so it's really not that difficult to find a way to make it work. Your nanny has over 20 weeks (over 5 months) to go before she's as far along as I am, and I can still play with my charge, carry my charge and do everything in my job description! (My dr. did not tell me to stop carrying my charge because he is only 1.5 years old and quite light. If he were older (3+) and thus heavier, I would have restrictions on carrying in my third trimester). I am 100% dedicated to my job, and the little guy I care for, and it shows. I'm also thrilled that my boss and I set down and figured everything out together (it gave us both comfort to have a "plan", and truly set our minds at ease to not be left wondering).

Lastly, it's highly unlikely that your nanny knew she was pregnant prior to telling you, especially when you first hired her (because she either would not have been pregnant, or at such a begining stage of pregnancy that even a sensitive test would not have picked it up). I didn't find out I was pregnant until I was going on 6 weeks and was only about 6 - 7 days late for my period! My guess is that your nanny tested when her period was only about 4 - 6 days late (that's pretty quick, and normal for most women who aren't actively trying to conceive and assume they are just late due to stress, job change etc).

In short, it can be done (pregnant women every where, do it every day, in all different types of jobs, from nurses who spend 10 to 12 hr. shifts on their feet, to teachers who mold the minds of their pupils). Address your concerns, respect each other and all should be fine.

alex said...

I don't think she would have known she was pregnant when you hired her as she has worked for 5 weeks and is 5 weeks pregnant and I am sure you interviewed her before then. Wouldn't it be illegal to fire her?

Now you do have to do what is best for your family so I would talk to her. She may be thinking along the same wavelengths as you are. Since your son is 10 mo old he could become good friends with her son.

Mothers care for their other children while they are pregnant and I am sure she could handle it as well.

Nanny Sarah said...

TC...when I said "train" those words may not have been the best terms. What I meant is that I have seen some children play/horse around and/or flail their arms/legs when throwing temper tantrums, the child must be extra careful not to do this around a pregnant nanny.

DenverNanny said...

I'm with Village on this one!
I personally wouldn't tell my own mother until I was at least 10 week, so be grateful she gave yo MONTHS to plan... talk it out like the adults you are, and make sure to plan for "emergencies" (i.e. can she take your child with her to the doctor if necessary, etc)

cali mom said...

PregotheWonderNanny, you have great advice except for this little bit: "and have successfully scheduled Dr.'s appointments around my work schedule (as any other working mom-to-be would do)."

My doctor did not see patients after 6:30 pm or before 8am or on weekends, and as I worked FT with frequent OT and spent on average of an hour commuting in each direction, that was not even remotely possible, and many if not most working women will have a similar situation.

Also, it's great that you are having a totally unproblematic pregnancy but as I said before, pregnancy is unpredictable and you just never know what complications may arise, even if you've had smooth pregnancies before.

pedinurse said...

For all of you who are against a pregnant nanny, make sure you add abstinence and/or a clear birth control plan to your contract. Better yet, only hire sterile women. Of course, hiring only men would solve the problem all-together. Unless it is a man who used to be a woman, then the body parts are still there and you could potentially have a problem. LOL.

Happy Working Mom said...

Just thought I would let you know that we just went through this. Our nanny told us upfront in the interview that after her upcoming wedding, she and her husband wanted to have kids, and wondered if it would be OK if she brought a baby to work with her. We were fine with it, and about 6 months later she told us she was pregnant. The entire time she always talked about how she couldn't afford to not work and how they were so strapped for money. She was a fabulous nanny and the kids got really attached to her.

She worked until about 38 weeks and I paid her for 1 week maternity leave (that's all we could afford). I talked to her throughout her leave and realized she had changed into a germaphobe! She hadn't taken her daughter out of the house at 1 1/2 months yet! Two weeks before she was supposed to come back she sent me an e-mail telling me she decided to stay home with her baby for good.

She left us in such a horrible position, and this was from someone we were so close to! I guess my point is you never know what can happen. No matter how well you think you know someone, things can happen that will surprise you. And like I said, she completely changed when it came to exposing her own daughter to germs and dirt (whereas when she was with my kids she viewed germs and dirt like I did...a normal part of life).

Seriously! said...

This is for Nanny Sarah. I read posts on this site all the time and I have to say your tone is that of a jerk. You are very cold and kurt and quick to judge someone with little or no thought. Good job. Way to lift people spirits and give an objective perspective.

This is for PediNurse. You are awesome! Right on and your final post on this topic was not only hilarious but so true! I mean why is it okay for the family's life to change whenever they see fit, but a nanny needs some flexiblity, compassion or fairness its a ridiculous request? Afterall a nanny is a person too! A human! Humans get sick, have families of their own, and deserve to have vacation time, sick days and holidays off! I don't care if it's the law or not, but the moral thing to do is to treat the nanny's ligistics like that of everyone else who works in an office! I mean really if you want someone to work for dirt cheap and never take time off try hunting down a scientist that can build you a robot like on Small Wonder.

Nom de Plume said...

I'm reminded why so many of the career nannies do not have children, it's so unsupported. Having been a nanny for over 20 years and married just as long, I've never felt encouraged to be a nanny AND a parent by any of my employers. I could also never imagine having a child and putting them in daycare either, so for me and thankfully my very agreeable husband, we didn't have children.