During a job interview, I was asked about my family plans - was I planning on getting pregnant any time soon? I replied with the truth. I wasn't planning children, end of story.
The people interviewing me proceeded to ramble on in detail about how they had wasted their time training two women in the past year and a half. Apparently they had both fallen pregnant and gone on maternity leave, and ultimately cost the company a lot of money. Clearly they were unimpressed and didn't want this to happen again.
Let me be clear - this was a data entry job.
Anyway, I got the job and immediately found out that I was pregnant.
I felt awful about it. All the excitement and endorphins I'm sure I would have usually felt were shattered by the thought of having to tell my new bosses. I felt ashamed.
Months passed, and as I attempted to hide my ever-expanding stomach, I became more and more anxious.
Pregnancy-related mumblings and jokes filled the smoko room and they were all directed my way.
One day a co-worker shoved the back of my chair, pushing my stomach into my desk. I held back the tears and wondered how someone could be so nasty. It was blatant harassment.
I decided not to tell anyone until I legally had to, but at one stage another co-worker asked me "on the quiet" if I was having a baby.
When I answered "yes", his response was: "you need to tell them, there are some awful rumours going around".
Ten mins later my phone rang, I was summoned to the boardroom for a meeting.
When I walked into the room I was confronted by the same two people who had interviewed me. They looked terribly annoyed. The woman launched right in. "We have heard that you are pregnant".
"Yes", I answered. "How far?" I told them. "So you knew when you took this job and lied?"
"No" I said and explained when I found out. They didn't listen. This back and forth interrogation carried on for about 20 minutes.
They also explained how legally, they weren't allowed to come out and ask me if I was pregnant. Evidently, the "on the quiet" guy was told to get the answer out of me.
Anyway, after all of that my application for maternity leave went "missing" twice.
The same woman who had called me in for the meeting was supposed to be completing my paperwork and forwarding it on to HR. Clearly this wasn't happening, so I contacted HR myself.
It turned out HR knew nothing about it until I got in touch. They asked me to send it directly to them and within a few hours it was all done, complete with a very sincere message of congratulations and a note: "If you ever have trouble with that woman again, let me know, please".
Clearly this wasn't the first time she had caused an issue.
When it came time to find someone to take my job, replacement after replacement arrived... not one of them stayed. Four younger women came, stayed a day or two, and never returned. My training module was exceptional by the end.
I was asked if I could stay longer as they couldn't find a replacement - "is your due date correct on your form?" they wondered.
Somewhat stupidly, I gave in and worked another week - 42.5 extra hours.
I gave birth a week after I finished at work. I didn't have time to sort myself out and do all the things I wanted to do before baby arrived.
I put my job first, something that I have never done again.
I have also not had any more children. I didn't enjoy being pregnant, having something to hide, and feeling guilty. Being thought of as a liar is the most horrible thing.