It was one of those nights when my husband rolled over to my side of the bed. Usually this is the first step toward the grand maintenance of our fairly normal marriage. But this night was different. On this night I said, “I can’t. It’ll ruin my career.”
“Huh?” He was baffled and not quite stopped in his tracks.
“What about me hosting that TV show?” I said. “I can’t be pregnant.”
And herein lies the reason that every girl should bring her career to bed with her: Pregnancy is not good for a career. A large belly is limiting; a kid even more so. But society’s own perception of a mom vs. a career girl are the most limiting constraints of all.
I know because I planned my first pregnancy around my high-powered career. Everyone told me, “Don’t rush. You have plenty of time.” So I didn’t rush. I waited until I had made my way through two of my own companies, working long very parent-unfriendly hours. I waited until I could relocate my career across country to be in the same city as my husband. And then, just as my perfect plan reached its apex, the World Trade Center fell two blocks from my company, putting me out of a job. And all the work I did to build an impressive resume was undone when I showed up pregnant for job interviews.
I would like to tell you that employers don’t care about pregnancy, but I would be lying. And I can’t fault them for having a negative viewpoint of pregnant job applicants: If two people are equally qualified for the same opening – a common occurrence in this market –the best hire is the one who isn’t five months pregnant- at least in the short term. It’s easy to be philosophical about the long term – how corporate America will only benefit from the systematic accommodation of pregnant women. But the long term is a hard sell to a hiring manager whose bonus isn’t tied to revolutionizing the workplace.
So back to the TV show. Officials with a production company had called to say they like my column and ask me whether I wanted to host a TV show about finance. Of course I was thrilled.
My husband, who’s always skeptical when skepticism isn’t warranted, said, “How can you host a TV show on finance when a company you started went bankrupt?”
“People learn from their mistakes,” I said. Then I said, “Shut up.”
The TV people wanted to interview me so I flew to LA. My husband, Mr. Pessimism, is also Mr. Hollywood (graduated from film school, dated an MTV producer, blah blah). He said, “You need someone to do hair and makeup,”