Yesterday, just 2 weeks before I'm due to start my maternity leave, I was informed: "we won't be extending your contract." The dreaded words, no one wants to hear, let alone at 8 months pregnant.
I don't know how I managed to hold my emotional self together, well at least I made it out into the parking lot before I let the tears out, but it wasn't long before my inner critic raised its ugly head, and by the time I arrived home some 40 minutes later, I'd heard just about everything my ugly inner counterpart had to throw at me
Another challenge for expat life here in the Netherlands, and sadly not the first time I've witnessed and heard stories of expectant mothers in the same situation.
My contract is due to expire during my maternity, which means I will now lose my maternity pay benefit, and not being able to seek employment weeks after my baby is expected to be born, this is an uncertain and scary time.
Although work stated their reasons where not because of my current pregnant situation, and actually because of the current business burn rate vs. revenue, they couldn't justify extending my contract. I couldn't help but take it personally and feel the breeze of discrimination.
Knowing they had just received large series A additional investor funding, made that a hard pill to swallow, but my rational business mind, and experience at running businesses in the past, led me to sympathise.
It must have taken some fucking guts to sit an 8-month pregnant woman down and bare that news. That could have gone multiple ways, and I'm still in disbelief that I didn't ugly cry in the glass meeting room for the whole office to see.
I keep replaying the conversation in my head, and when he told me it wasn't good news, he asked: "Is that what you expected?"
"No," was my answer. (and inside, I screamed...because you've been using phrases over the last couple of months like "when you come back" and "next year" "and "the first company baby," so yeah, this is a fucking shock for me.)
Deep down, I can hold my head high, but not today, it feels too heavy for that right now.
I know that I've worked exceptionally hard, I've been flexible and adaptive, brought industry expertise, knowledge, and experience, I've made a difference and left an impact, so, why can't I hold on to those thoughts, why am I flooded with the uncertainty of unemployment?
In truth I feel ashamed and embarrassed about it, It's been hard enough fitting in here in The Netherlands as it is, and this job gave me back my confidence after a year of disabling depression.
I can't catch an employment break in this country, and it feels like It's just another negative experience to add to my growing list of expat employment woes, that has previously left my confidence dragging on the floor, in pieces.
I'm angry that this impending special moment, maternity leave, feels tainted. It's my first child, yet I can't even think about that right now.
Instead of reveling in this last phase of pregnancy, my mind is full of worry, and the question, how the hell am I going to find a job while navigating becoming a new mother?
I'm pissed off that this moment feels ruined, and I wonder if I hadn't actively requested and pushed for this meeting, would they have waited until I was on maternity leave to send me an email with this news?
Today after the worst nights sleep, I feel like I just haven't got the energy to go through this, and even though I should be thinking about this little baby squirming around in my tummy, I feel like I can't cope with being pregnant right now.
I'm in a weird void. I can't look for a job at 8 months pregnant, and I know, I should be excited about becoming a new first-time mother, except now I'm even more terrified because that little bit of stability and security is gone.
I feel guilty at how negative I'm feeling, and I hope in a few days, it will pass, and I'll find my inner strength again. I'm holding on to the thought that maybe this is life's crazy way of putting all the pieces into place? I hope so, and I hope my boss slept like shit last night because I certainly did.
Have you experienced something similar? I'd love to hear how you got through.