[Today marks the one-year anniversary of my pregnancy saga, so for the next few days I'm going to take some time to reflect on what happened last year and how it's affected me since. Thank you for indulging me!]
One year ago, I left my office for the last time. A few weeks earlier I’d been told that due to budget problems, my position at the health charity I’d worked at for just 16 months was being eliminated. Out of a four-office staff of about 25, my position was the only one to be cut. Despite rave reviews about my abilities and work from both colleagues and supervisors, I was being laid off.
I was laid off when I was seven months pregnant.
To give credit where credit’s due, my friend and colleague fought the decision with every bit of middle management authority she had; my supervisor, Sally, hugged me and made nice sounds about being sorry; and the executive director promised a reasonable severance package while joking about me suing the company. And I smiled and reassured everyone that I understood. That I’d be fine. That no, I would not sue the organization.
And then I got in my car and yelled. I went to dinner with my husband that weekend and cried. I questioned why this would happen to me, what I ever did to deserve such treatment. I asked God when I was ever going to get what I deserved – a good job where I was appreciated as a person and respected as an employee. I crunched numbers and made plans and applied for jobs that I wouldn’t be able to start until my maternity leave was finished.
This is what happened when I got laid off when I was seven months pregnant.
I began preparing my co-workers for a more permanent absence than a two-month maternity leave – lists of projects in progress, procedures to follow, programs to maintain, and people to contact. I listened to my boss tell me she’d write me a recommendation letter and my manager describe being laid off as a rite of passage for young professionals. I watched my friend cry about the unfair and unwise decision, and reassured my colleagues that they’d be fine without me. Without my position.
Then I contacted everyone I know to start networking for a new job. Again. And I regretted our decision to buy new couches with some extra “found” money over the summer, knowing that money would have come in handy as I tried to make ends meet, feeding and caring for our newly expanded family with half the income needed to pay our monthly bills.
One year ago, at 32 weeks pregnant, I went to the doctor for a routine appointment. That morning, I deleted my personal e-mail, made a final list of projects to be finished and packed up most of my personal belongings. Though I’d had a healthy and fairly easy pregnancy, lately I’d been feeling bad – puffy, tired, achy – and suspected my doctor might suggest bed rest. It turns out I was half right. My doctor didn’t so much “suggest” bed rest as she did demand that I go straight home without passing go or returning to my office.
So one year ago, I left my office for the last time. Because I’d been laid off.
It still hurts today. I went through the stages of grieving; I believe they’re the same no matter if the loss is your grandpa, your cat or your job. For me, it was a job that I’d wanted and worked toward for years, a job that I’d done well and enjoyed, a job that I resisted becoming attached to but did anyway, a job that I believed was respected as a necessary component of our organization.
Since then, I’ve worked hard to resist bitterness about the decision my boss and the board of directors made. Most days I succeed, but occasionally resentment sneaks up on me. Days when I dislike my current job, days when my husband expresses frustration about the state of my career, days when my former co-workers send me donation requests for upcoming events, days when I learn that while I was at home with a newborn wondering if we’d ever be able to pay our bills again, my co-workers were receiving a Christmas bonus. Those days still hurt.
But overall, I can say that God has taught me so much about remaining faithful and confident in His power and His plan, that my husband and I are closer than ever thanks to weathering this situation, and that I am thankful I was laid off when I was seven months pregnant.
Have you ever been laid off?