The First-Time Mom Who Got Laid Off While Pregnant

Lauren Caruso
The First-Time Mom Who Got Laid Off While Pregnant

In our new series, Pregnancy Diaries, we ask expecting women to jot down every pregnancy-related detail of their lives for a week. (Special thanks to New York mag and Refinery29 for the inspo.) Work-related conundrums, struggles with IVF, and a whole lot of nausea, ahead. For the second entry in our series, we have a 38-year-old writer/editor living in Brookyln who was recently laid off. She’s 20 weeks pregnant with her first child.

Relationship status: Married to my partner of six years.

Money situation:  $1,200 in unemployment insurance, but no debt. I am debt-phobic. I have an emergency fund of one year’s rent, plus retirement and investment savings.

How long did it take you to conceive? About six months.  I had been on the pill, but we didn’t use any contraception when we were open to conceiving.

Any other details relevant to your pregnancy? I was recently laid off, so I’m trying to stay positive despite fears that nobody will hire me.

Day 1

4:30 a.m. — Our younger cat wakes us by coughing up a hairball. After cleaning up the mess, I can’t fall asleep again, and neither can my husband. I love our cats, but sometimes I wish they would let us sleep before the baby disrupts our nights even more.

6:30 a.m. — While eating some Cheerios, I finish my morning reading: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, New York Magazine, and Gothamist. The political news makes me depressed and anxious, but also more committed to defending reproductive rights than ever. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to be pregnant, but I also don’t think anyone should be forced to be.

8:00 a.m. — I need a little catnap, so I go down for an hour.

10:30 a.m. — A former colleague and I meet for coffee in Greenwich Village. We were laid off a few weeks ago, and I’m glad to hear that she has some promising leads–she’s talented and anyone would be lucky to work with her. I don’t feel particularly confident about my own chances of finding a new job now that my bump is starting to show. I’m trying to stay positive, though.

12:00 p.m. — I need to buy some not-hideous maternity clothing. This is not easy, as most of the stuff is decidedly Not For Me: loud prints, frou-frou ruffles, goofy ruching. I find some moto pants, black tights, and a blouse that might look vaguely Isabel Marant-ish if you squint at it. I agonize over spending money when I don’t have a job, but I’ve been wearing the same pair of maternity jeans for three days straight. A worthwhile purchase, I decide.

1:30 p.m. — Heading home on a crowded subway car. I stick my belly out in an admittedly passive-aggressive attempt to land a seat. It doesn’t work because everyone is staring at their phones.

2:00 p.m. — Back home and I’m hungry. For the most part, I eat a healthy vegetarian, dairy-free diet. But now that I’m pregnant, I have some odd food preferences. I crave raw jicama, honeycrisp apples, and potatoes (the last of which I hardly ever eat in non-pregnant life). Lately, I’ve been eating mozzarella sticks. Why? Beats me.

4:00 p.m. — Another little catnap.

7:00 p.m. — Dinner is a bowl of brown rice, sauteed kale, tempeh, sweet potatoes, and tahini dressing. We watch Beverly Hills, 90210 and by 8:30, I’m asleep on the couch.

MORE: A Glimpse Into What Pregnancy After a Miscarriage Is Like: A Week in the Life


Day 2

6:00 a.m. — Up and at ’em. Now that I’m in the second trimester, I can finally sleep better. Still have to get up to pee a few times, but that’s a huge improvement over the first trimester.

7:00 a.m. — My husband is awake, too. We start our mornings together on the couch. He drinks coffee, I eat Cheerios. We are boring and happy like that.

9:00 a.m. — Today’s to-do list involves pitching stories to editors. I’m using the layoff as an opportunity to aim high and target my dream publications. I start by creating a list of story ideas and hopping on a freelancers’ Facebook group to sniff out some contacts. But first, I enter the Hamilton lottery. You never know.

11:00 a.m. — I sort of hate myself because instead of working, I get sucked into Facebook and now I’m dinking around with the baby registry. Things I Google: “do babies need to wear pants,” “how many onesies newborn,” “scandi nursery decor.” I feel dumb and uncool.

12:00 p.m. — My husband, who works from home, cooks a cauliflower frittata and salad for lunch. He’s a much better cook than I am. To repent for my earlier procrastination, I shoot an email off to an editor to let her know I’m freelancing again. I search some job listings, and I even apply for a few positions, but truthfully, I just wish I could go back to my old job.

2:00 p.m. — All of this computer time is making me crazy. So I take the bus to a craft store to buy some yarn for a wall hanging. The bus commute eats up some of the day, and for 10 bucks, the yarn is a worthwhile investment in my sanity.

4:00 p.m. — Did not win Hamilton lottery.

6:00 p.m. — Back at home and cooking dinner: a slightly spicy quinoa-and-veggies thing. While I was at the craft store, our fancy Danish baby bouncer arrived, so I assemble it after dinner. It’s very stylish, as it should be for $200. (Yes, we used gift cards—I’m not completely crazy.)

8:00 p.m. — Vegan ice cream for dessert. Fetus goes crazy with kicks whenever I eat sugar. Despite the mosh pit happening in my belly, I fall asleep in the couch around 9.


Day 3

8:00 a.m. — Slept in after a tumultuous night of sleep. Ever since becoming pregnant, I have vivid, raunchy sex dreams. Last night’s involved walking into a room of naked men sitting on metal chairs. It felt vaguely German and I don’t understand what it all means.

10:00 a.m. — Husband and I are at the doctor’s office for the anatomy scan. The ultrasound technician isn’t the warmest, but she walks us through what she’s seeing. All looks good: Our little guy has long limbs (like papa!) and is measuring about a week larger than his gestational age. This makes me feel oddly proud of his healthy growth, yet also nervous—what if he keeps growing and becomes gargantuan? How am I going to push out Mega Baby?

11:00 a.m. — We get some take-home sonogram shots of the fetus. Dude looks like E.T. with a pronounced overbite. I hate myself for worrying that he’ll be homely, so I email my mom pictures and share my horrible, shallow fear.

12:00 p.m. — Husband and I use a gift card to eat at Le Coucou, a French restaurant. I eat an apple pancake-type thing that is more like dessert than brunch, and it’s delicious. Fetus dances with delight as we head home.

3:00 p.m. — A potential freelance client lowballs my rate for a one-day project. After taxes, it would be less than what my weekly unemployment check pays. This, plus the lack of response to most of my “Hey, I’m freelancing!” emails, sends me into a pity party. I’m such an Eeyore right now. Sad!

5:00 p.m. — Without work, I feel guilty about my husband supporting us financially, so I try to pick up the slack around the apartment. I cook, I clean, I organize, I plan for the baby’s arrival. It creates a feeling of accomplishment, which helps a little, but… sometimes I feel like I’m losing my identity, and it’s painful.

7:00 p.m. — I just don’t have it in me to make a big dinner, and neither does my husband. So we order delivery (again, gift card!) and watch Sherlock, which cheers me up a little bit. Oh, and my mom emails to emphasize that the baby will be very handsome and that he merely got caught at a bad angle.

Word to the wise: Always assume that a pregnant woman would like to use the bathroom. She probably does

Day 4

8:00 a.m. — It’s Inauguration Day, and I’m planning to avoid the live broadcast. Besides, I have a breakfast date with a good friend who’s visiting from San Francisco. He’s one of the kindest, warmest people I know, and he’s in love with a great guy. No surprise that I leave feeling better about the future. Thanks, Danny.

10:30 a.m. — I have back-to-back informational interviews at a big company, but I don’t think they know I’m pregnant. My dress is empire-waisted, so unless someone knows to look, Fetus Van Damme is mostly hidden. Everyone says it’s illegal to discriminate against pregnant women during a job hunt, which is true, but I’d rather not show off the bump unless I have to.

11:00 a.m. — One interview down. It went very well! The interviewer was crazy-smart and thoughtful. We had good rapport and I felt excited about the possibilities of working with him. God, do I miss talking strategy and being creative!

11:30 a.m. — Second interview just wrapped up. My interviewer wanted to watch the inauguration, and it was challenging to keep my political views to myself. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all.

12:30 p.m. — Lunch with two friends who are also freelancers. We meet at Maison Kayser and they say I’m barely showing—which means the dress is indeed hiding the bump. We have a great time and I realize that yes, I need to get out of the house more.

2:00 p.m. — I trek to Union Square to meet my former assistant, who’s also unemployed. She’s hard-working, sweet, professional—a real catch for some lucky employer. In a way, I’m happy to not be her boss anymore, because I like her a lot as a person, and now I can advise her to dump the selfish assclown she’s dating. So I do.

5:00 p.m. — Downpour outside, crowded subway trains underground. A teenage girl kindly offers me her seat. Fascinating fact: Every person who’s offered me a subway seat has been a woman. Not a single man has done so yet. Make of this what you will.

7:00 p.m. — I whip up a bowl of brown rice, tempeh, sauteed kale, and sweet potato for our dinner. We avoid Trump inauguration coverage and instead, we watch 90210 reruns and talk about what a pious mansplainer Brandon is. He definitely would have voted for Trump, we agree.


Day 5

8:30 a.m. — A tumultuous night of abbreviated sleep. The fetus’s kickboxing practice is getting less cute by the day, but at least this means he’s going to be a healthy baby. My husband makes breakfast for us: eggs, toast, peanut butter on apple slices.

10:00 a.m.— Change sheets, do laundry, vacuum, clean kitchen.

12:00 p.m. — Leftovers for lunch. I keep waiting for the whole voracious-appetite thing to kick in, but I’m no hungrier than usual.

2:00 p.m. — We take the subway to the women’s march in NYC. Grand Central is teeming with people, and of course, I have to pee, because this is my fun new pregnant-lady hobby. The bathroom line is easily 40 women long, so I buy a hot cocoa at a coffee shop, where there is nobody waiting to use the loo. I can’t wait to be not-pregnant again, because this will mean I can go for more than 30 minutes without having to whizz.

2:15 p.m. — Okay, now we march. Pretty exciting to hear the roar of the crowd even before we join it. I’m a little cautious because people are packed close, and I don’t want anybody to accidentally jostle my bump, but it all works out well. Baby’s first protest! (The fetus’s, not mine.)

2:50 p.m. — Ugh, I have to pee again. We have slowly marched only half a block so far. Must not let bladder dictate what I do in life. Must continue on in solidarity.

3:00 p.m. — Mind over bladder. Mind over bladder.

3:30 p.m. — “I’m done,” I tell my husband. I feel like a crap activist (a craptivist?) but I get winded and tired easily, and I’m about to pee my pants. We find a bathroom—sweet relief!—and run into an editor friend outside of the subway. She, too, was laid off a while ago. She’s doing well, though, so that gives me hope. Also, I have to pee again.

5:00 p.m. — We’re too tired to cook, so we grab tacos on the way back to the apartment. There’s a dad with a cute toddler at the taqueria, and it seems strange to know that in less than two years, our own boy will be stumbling around.

7:00 p.m. — I work on my yarn weaving while we watch Girl On The Train, which is not very good and (spoiler alert) has a dead-baby plot twist. Not what I need to see right now.

8:30 p.m. — This movie is dumb and too bloody and violent for me. I leave my husband to finish it in the living room while I continue reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in bed. Within half an hour, I’m out.

Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my identity, and it’s painful.

Day 6

7:00 a.m. — Now seems a good time to mention that overnight, I get up at least three times to pee. Word to the wise: Always assume that a pregnant woman would like to use the bathroom. She probably does.

8:00 a.m. — On Sundays, we have a lazy breakfast and read the Times on the couch. It’s not very exciting, but I enjoy the routine, especially because I know it will seem the height of luxury in six months.

8:30 a.m. — Much to my horror, my shirt suddenly feels wet. My shirt is wet. Much to my horror, my nipples are leaking. Dr. Google tells me this is colostrum. I stuff my bra with tissue and shame.

11:00 a.m. — I’m taking the bus to see a former colleague, but it’s standing room only. Some elderly women graciously offer me their seats, which is very kind of them, but I can’t do that! What’s the protocol for this sort of thing?

11:30 a.m. — I meet a former colleague for coffee. She got a new job at the same company—hooray! I’m happy for her and also, I feel like an unemployable loser. But I try to keep that part quiet. I show her pictures of the homely fetus. She agrees that he is not the handsomest in his current state, and I appreciate her candor.

1:00 p.m. — On a whim, we decide to get manicures. I haven’t had one since becoming pregnant, since I am trying to avoid unnecessary exposure to chemicals, but… it does lift my spirits, and surely that counts for something.

3:00 p.m. — Grocery shopping. I buy apples, some veggies that can be used in a risotto, kale, almond milk, and chili supplies.

4:00 p.m. — I try to find a good WordPress theme for my professional website. There are too many choices, and I’m indecisive. So instead, I switch to doing the very, very important work of looking at crib bedding.

5:30 p.m. — I make quinoa chili for dinner. It’ll be interesting to see how our son eats. Our plan is to raise him as a vegetarian, like me, but if he gets older and wants to try meat, I won’t stop him. I secretly hope my chill-mom attitude on the matter will render him uninterested in eating meat. We’ll see.

7:00 p.m. — My husband and I take a bath together. It’s very calming and it helps my lower back ache a bit less. My boobs leak during the bath, which I find mortifying but my husband finds normal. He is exceedingly kind and understanding about all of this weird body stuff. We read in bed with the cats and make it an early night.


Day 7

7:00 a.m. — I’m on this big Farina kick lately, so I whip up a double batch for me and my husband. He teases me because I can’t stop talking about how it costs only pennies per serving. So sue me—I like a good value. And the folic acid is important for the baby, too. Okay, maybe I do sound like a Farina spokesperson.

8:00 a.m. — I need to finish a story for my old job, but I’ve been putting it off. Today is the day, though! I spread out my interview transcripts and notes, then get to work. The writing flows quickly and smoothly.

10:00 a.m. — I’ve nearly finished this damn story. Why didn’t I just work on it earlier? I’m feeling good about this accomplishment, so I take the opportunity to send story ideas to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Why not?

12:00 p.m. — I write and mail letters to senators Gillibrand and Schumer. On a roll! Gettin’ things done!

1:30 p.m. — Off to see a friend and her newborn. I stop to pick up some food and coffee for her, and randomly, I run into a writer who just left her job. We commiserate about what’s happening to our industry. It helps me remember that being laid off doesn’t mean I’m unemployable, even if it sometimes feels that way.

2:00 p.m. — What a cute baby my friend has! He’s so tiny! So sweet! (Can he sense the presence of another baby-to-be, I wonder?) My friend looks beautiful as always, and while she’s understandably tired, she seems to love being a mother. Her son is lucky to have great parents because they’re kind and caring, but also, they’re both gorgeous. Kiddo won the life lottery.

5:30 p.m. — Ack! Where has the time gone? I have to head home, but first, I stop at Target for trash bags and other thrilling purchases. Normally, I like to look at the baby clothes and what-have-you, but I’ve got a meal to cook.

7:00 p.m. — Pasta with tomato sauce, sauteed tempeh, kale: it’s what’s for dinner.

8:00 p.m. — …and chocolate chip cookies, which make the fetus kick before long.

9:00 p.m. — Husband and I get into bed to chat and read for an hour or two. It’s a nice night:  The cats are curled up at the foot of the bed. It’s quiet outside. The fetus, having exhausted himself from cookie kicks, is doing tiny somersaults. And yes, I most certainly have to pee.


Want to submit your own pregnancy diary? Email to get started. 

MORE: The First-Time Mom Who Got Her Dream Job While 7 Months Pregnant