Long term planning
October 31, 2011 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Ideally, this time next year, my husband and I will have a newborn in our lives! How to deal with people who want me to make plans and committments in the medium term future that will be affected by this goal?

My husband and I are planning on getting pregnant very soon; I have an appointment later this month to get my IUD taken out, and then oh boy! It's baby time!

However, I've realized lately that I've had a couple of times recently where people have been asking me to make plans for things in the future that will likely be derailed by our baby plans. Two examples:
1) At my job recently, a project that we've been talking about for awhile is finally starting to come together. At a meeting, someone recommended me as a point person for one element of it. Yay, except the project will culminate in early 2013, when I am hoping to be out on maternity leave/working part time.
2) My mother-in-law and sister-in-law do a two day recreational bike ride every summer. Last two years, I did it with them and had a great time. Registration for the 2012 event is closing at the end of this week, and my MIL is preminding me to sign up again for it. I know it means a lot to her that I did it these past two years. I'd love to, but I'm planning on benig pregnant next summer. It's also an expensive registration fee, and nonrefundable, so I'd rather not pay it if I'm planning on not doing it.

I don't want to tell people my baby plans, first, because I know it might take me longer than expected to get pregnant, and second, because I'm just a private kind of person who doesn't like to reveal that kind of personal information about myself.

I'm wondering how to deal with people who are asking me to make these medium-range plans, when I have long term plans of my own. This isn't something I really thought about until recently!

(Advice with the bike ride event especially wanted, since registration for it ends soon!)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Go on with your life as if you're not planning to get pregnant. It could take years. If it happens sooner, it's a nice surprise.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:41 PM on October 31, 2011 [48 favorites]

Respond to these requests as you would if you were not contemplating this change. You're over-thinking this.
posted by Wilder at 1:42 PM on October 31, 2011 [6 favorites]

roomthreeseventeen is right. Biology has a way of not following our plans. What if you're not pregnant next summer or on maternity leave in early 2013? Do you want to miss these experiences and opportunities?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:45 PM on October 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

sorry, I didn't mean to be so abrupt with my reply, I thought I was needed upstairs.

Sooo, the excitment you're feeling about this important new phase in your life is causing you to do a lot of "What if....." and in a sense you want people to realise that your life is changing in this way so really it's almost an excuse to tell them.

Resist this very natural urge, seriously because so many, many things can turn out differently than you expect.
posted by Wilder at 1:46 PM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]

I want to nth the don't factor future pregnancy plans into your planning for the time being. If you do get pregnant right away, it's not that much work to make adjustments. If you don't get pregnant right away, you miss out of opportunities.
posted by Zophi at 1:47 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

You're counting on chickens, hon. Until it happens, your eggs havent hatched, so to speak. It's not just committing to social and professional events - don't start sitting back from your own life just because you want to get pregnant.

Also we have no idea what you ultimately want out of your life, but I found this statement from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk really powerful -

"Women almost never make one decision to leave the workforce. It doesn’t happen that way. They make small little decisions along the way that eventually lead them there. Maybe it’s the last year of med school when they say, I’ll take a slightly less interesting specialty because I’m going to want more balance one day. Maybe it’s the fifth year in a law firm when they say, I’m not even sure I should go for partner, because I know I’m going to want kids eventually. . . . And from that moment, they start quietly leaning back. The problem is, often they don’t even realize it. Everyone I know who has voluntarily left a child at home and come back to the workforce—and let’s face it, it’s not an option for most people. But for people in this audience, many of you are going to have this choice. Everyone who makes that choice will tell you the exact same thing: You’re only going to do it if your job is compelling.

If several years ago you stopped challenging yourself, you’re going to be bored. If you work for some guy who you used to sit next to, and really, he should be working for you, you’re going to feel undervalued, and you won’t come back. So, my heartfelt message to all of you is, and start thinking about this now, do not leave before you leave. Do not lean back; lean in. Put your foot on that gas pedal and keep it there until the day you have to make a decision, and then make a decision. That’s the only way, when that day comes, you’ll even have a decision to make."
In everything you do: Don't leave before you leave.
posted by sestaaak at 1:48 PM on October 31, 2011 [128 favorites]

Yeah, you'll be all kinds of bummed if you're not pregnant when you're thinking you will be, AND you haven't made these planned. Double bummer. OR, you could go ahead with life as you'd normally live it, hooray get pregnant, and then cancelling on the biking or whatever will likely be less bad than you think. I think if I planned something with a friend and then found out they had to cancel because they were pregnant, I would hardly think they were inconveniencing me or something. That's a great excuse.
posted by sweetkid at 1:49 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

The OP is not saying she will absolutely be pregnant, she is asking how to plan for the increased possibility of her being pregnant.

I don't think you should sign up for something that is "an expensive registration fee, and nonrefundable" if there is a 50-50 chance you won't be able to do it.At the same time, I don't think you should forgo work stuff because you might be out on leave. They should have a back-up plan for your involvement regardless of your personal plans, so trust in that, and if they don't, hopefully you can suggest it without being obvious about your plans.
posted by soelo at 1:52 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

N'thing what everyone else said. There's really nothing you can do but make the plans, and then cancel if you do get pregnant.

I myself am finally actually pregnant, but not quite telling people yet -- *that* is tricky! Some stuff I've just said 'no' to without offering a reason. But I did just agree to organize a conference that will take place when I'm on maternity leave (knock wood). Luckily I'm really just chairing the committee, and fully intend to fob off the last-minute stuff to other people.
posted by kestrel251 at 1:54 PM on October 31, 2011

Would you feel worse about missing the bike ride and losing the expensive registration fee because you're home pregnant, or would you feel worse if the time comes and you are home and NOT pregnant, and, in fact, could have gone?

For me, I'd rather have to cancel for a good reason (pregnancy), than risk finding myself at home, NOT pregnant and possibly bummed out about that, AND missing the ride to boot.

N'thing that you should plan for business as usual.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 1:57 PM on October 31, 2011 [15 favorites]

This time next year, you may have a newborn, be newly pregnant or going through a fertility workup. You have absolutely no way of knowing. Even for people with no issues, it can take a year. Make your plans as usual. Consider the race registration the cost of privacy. Lead the committee.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:01 PM on October 31, 2011 [6 favorites]

I would decline on the bike ride and tell you MIL that you guys are trying to get pregnant, but ask her not to share this because you don't know how long it will take. She will probably be thrilled - both at the prospect of a grandchild and that you confided in her. Unless she's not the type to keep things you tell her private.

Don't change anything for work though - wait until you are actually pregnant.
posted by DoubleLune at 2:06 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

We had to make this same decision when we were waiting to adopt a baby, and knew that we might have very little notice about it (in the event, we learned about the baby the day before she was born. So, yeah, that was sudden). We made the choice to make plans and live our lives as if we weren't waiting for a baby, for the same reasons people said up-thread: it could have been months or years, and we could have wasted a lot of time and missed a lot of opportunities if we put things off while we waited. In your shoes, I'd plan for the ride and proceed with business as usual at work.
posted by not that girl at 2:17 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was once offered an opportunity to be a C-suite exec for a year of a company that was very interesting -- a huge stretch for my career. I turned it down because I was trying to get pregnant, and pregnant in the middle of a year-long contract? Bad and a total girl thing to do. Talking to a coworker of mine who works on diversity issues, "Do you think a guy would have turned that down even if he knew he was going to have to have knee surgery in the middle of that? No."

You know what's worse? Not getting pregnant that whole year so that the lack of baby plus career stagnation was a double sting.

I'm also convinced that babies don't happen until it's at least slightly inconvenient.

If you're not enthused about the bike ride, come up with another excuse. If you'd be really sad to miss it unless you're pregnant, register. It'll be worth the cost.
posted by Gucky at 2:22 PM on October 31, 2011 [12 favorites]

I'm also convinced that babies don't happen until it's at least slightly inconvenient.

Ha. This. Make lots of plans that would be really inconvenient to change if you want to get knocked up right away.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:25 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

tell you MIL that you guys are trying to get pregnant, but ask her not to share this because you don't know how long it will take.

posted by DarlingBri at 2:34 PM on October 31, 2011 [27 favorites]

I've been juggling with these kinds of plan for the last... three years. Yes, I didn't realise it'd take that long, or that we'd probably need IVF. I'm female, by the way.

Things I have done: accepted medium- to long-term invitations and opportunities, knowing that I might have to cancel. I have to go on with my life. I have taken a step back from some aspects of work, which I kind of regret, but I was probably subconsciously looking for a way out of those things anyway.

Things I have not done: tell my mother-in-law we've been trying for a baby.
posted by altolinguistic at 2:54 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Do not share the information about you attempts to conceive. If folks are not already hounding you about "are you pregnant yet?" and "when will I have grandbabies?" the interrogation will begin in earnest as soon as you even hint that you might think babies are kind of cute.

Do, however, consider ways to still include yourself in the biking event, and others.

Could you volunteer as a support person for the ride? Is there a fundraising aspect that you could go all out for? Is there any way you can put yourself out there to be involved and busy, whether you are pregnant or not?

As for the work stuff, accept seize the opportunities. Create new opportunities. Learn everything you can about your job, and the tasks and skills of everyone around you.
posted by bilabial at 2:58 PM on October 31, 2011

tell you MIL that you guys are trying to get pregnant, but ask her not to share this because you don't know how long it will take.

The pirates have it right: three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead. Don't share things like this you're not prepared to have discussed. This goes 100 fold for the workplace.

Not only do you get way too much chatter but you also have an uncomfortable period where you know you're pregnant but you're early enough into it that you don't want to be telling other people yet - the first 10 weeks, for example. So now you're having to dodge questions or lie. People manage it, obviously, but if you're inclined towards being private then don't tell any more than you really have to.

As far as the bike ride, if it's something that's both important to family and that you enjoy doing then take a minute to think about where in your pregnancy you would need to be for you to not do it.

Obviously you can't know now how energetic you'll feel for sure but you have some idea of how athletic you are in general. I know several women who jogged a long time into their pregnancy and they all stopped because of their comfort level, not because their physicians said they should.

If the price of registration is something you'll regret losing more than you'll regret not going but being able to then perhaps suggest an alternate but somewhat similar activity? Hey MIL, I've really loved doing that but now that we've done it twice I was thinking I'd like something less structured/in a different location/only one day long etc.
posted by phearlez at 3:00 PM on October 31, 2011

As far as I know, none of my female colleagues have declined leadership opportunities for something that might culminate at a time when they might be on maternity leave (when they're not even pregnant yet). Take the role. The handoff, if there needs to be one, can happen when it's closer to the time when you go on leave.
posted by rtha at 3:01 PM on October 31, 2011

I know this bike fee is unrefundable, but my SIL was able to get back even her Paris Marathon Registration fee after becoming pregnant.
posted by raccoon409 at 3:09 PM on October 31, 2011

Nine years ago, I turned down an excellent short-term teaching opportunity in a foreign country because I *was* actually pregnant and far enough along to think that I had it in the bag. After a late 2nd trimester loss and then many, many years of infertility, further losses, infertility treatments -- I know better. Good thing I didn't turn down this current fabulous job that I've currently got, even when I had, at the time I accepted it, what I thought was a fairly good shot at another baby-related conflict of interest. It's been awfully nice to be distracted with my new, interesting, demanding, highly competitive position while I'm waiting to be matched with a birthmother.

Also, although you will really, really want to spill the beans on your baby hopes: trust me, it's better to wait until you've passed a few significant milestones in your pregnancy. I have been in the position of telling a boss I was pregnant and therefore unable to teach such-and-such in the subsequent semester, and then having to say, actually, just kidding about that -- hope you haven't filled that position with someone else just yet. With work-related things, I'm in favor of mum's the word until your kid is practically crowning.
posted by mmmcmmm at 5:48 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, my God. Do not tell your in laws anything about your baby making plans. There is no conceivable benefit to you and a world of regret waiting behind that door.

Sign up for the bike ride. IF you wind up pregnant and IF you are so far along that you don't want to do the ride, the cost of the registration will be a drop in the bucket of baby expenses.

Bonus: the less prepared you are, the more likely baby will come immediately :)
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:58 PM on October 31, 2011

Agreeing with fingersandtoes regarding NOT telling your in-laws and YES in regards to registering.

I am not concerned that your in-laws would spill the beans, rather that it would add extra pressure if you do not become pregnant in the next few months.

Can you call the bike ride coordinators and ask what would happen in the event of a medical condition that made it unsafe to ride? (I am not saying pregnancy in and of itself is a "medical condition" but if you are far along or it is a complicated pregnancy than it could be, and perhaps a refund would be allowed in this case.)

You mention it is a recreational bike ride. Is it something you could partially participate in while pregnant? I have a friend who is an avid cyclist and she continued to ride through most of her pregnancy.

Also, I feel you. When my husband and I decided to forego any form of birth control (one+ years ago) and then a few months ago decided to actively try to become pregnant I, as a business owner and perpetual planner in general, would calculate potential due dates and what that would mean for my scheduled activities/meetings/trips, etc. But I regret having that mind frame as now, after many months of trying, I am not pregnant and who knows when it will happen. And that is OK! And I think it is healthiest for my head (and your head) to not PLAN anything and just let it happen. And this means not canceling or altering things because I may become pregnant.
posted by click at 7:34 PM on October 31, 2011

I concur with the hive mind. I did a 30 mile recreation ride at 15 weeks. Your event sounds bigger and more expensive than that but you may be able to participate in some fashion. I didn't tell anyone anything until 12 weeks. No one knew we were even thinking about having kids.
posted by amanda at 7:59 PM on October 31, 2011

I really understand the excitement that comes with making the decision to start trying, and some people I know got pregnant the minute they stopped birth control. Many, many more took longer - some substantially longer. You cannot put your life on hold "just in case." You'll stop being the interesting, exciting person that you and your partner love, you'll put WAY too much pressure on the baby-making, and if it doesn't work right away then every period and every missed due date will be full of sadness and grief. Fill your life with all the wonderful things you love, and give your future baby some time and space to come into it. If you have to cancel plans because of your GREAT NEWS, I'm sure you won't mind at the time.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:34 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you've gotten good advice in this thread, but I wanted to emphasize that pregnancy is no guarantee that you can't do the bike ride. It really depends what stage of pregnancy you are in and how you're feeling. I registered for an expensive athletic event and then couldn't do it after I was injured in an accident shortly before the race...it sucked, but in the end it's just money. Do you want to do the bike ride if you can? If so, I would sign up.
posted by medusa at 8:33 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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