update: my coworker is upset that I’m pregnant

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who shared an office with someone who’d been struggling with infertility and started treating the letter-writer coldly when she suspected she was pregnant? (#2 at the link; first update here) Here’s the update.

I wrote in last year and sent in an update about my coworker, who was upset that I was pregnant. I wanted to give everyone another (final?) update on my situation, and clarify a few things from my last letter.

Jane does have a son. He’s in school, but I’m not sure exactly how old he is. Some people speculated that she was undergoing IVF, and that’s why she announced she was pregnant. While I won’t speculate her motivations, she said many times that IVF wasn’t an option for her.

Shortly after my December update, Jane let everyone know she was having major surgery in February. In early January we hired Fergus, who would be covering for Jane while she was out, and then for me while on maternity leave in May. Immediately after his hire, Jane requested she be moved back to her old desk, because it “wasn’t right I be left alone with a man in my condition”. I told our boss I was totally fine working with Fergus, and the requests stopped. Surprisingly, all coldness Jane expressed towards me evaporated, seemingly overnight. Jane came into my office at least twice a day to ask me a question (she would have emailed before). I was cordial and friendly, but not as much as I had previously been.

Jane was supposed to train Fergus on some of her job responsibilities, but that never came about. When she went on leave in February for surgery, Fergus and I were left with a pile of work, some of it time sensitive, that hadn’t been touched. It was a hectic few weeks, to say the least. It quickly became evident that Fergus and I worked very well together. Tasks were being completed with more efficiency, even though we had more work to do. Fergus suggested some adjustments that worked at his old job. Some were great, others didn’t work, but we definitely improved how some things run!

Jane decided to return to work a month early, against medical advice (or so she told me). The first week she was back was incredibly stressful. Jane took back tasks that had previously been hers, but claimed they were done all wrong, or she didn’t remember how to do them. The best example I have is Fergus dated a document 21-03-15, when she would have marked it 3/15/21. Neither are wrong, just different (this didn’t affect how the document was saved – the name didn’t change, and it was still in the same folder as always).

Shortly after her return, HR and our manager pulled me into a conference room to discuss maternity leave. They then asked if I preferred working with Fergus or Jane. I did hesitate, and offered that there were advantages to working with both. When they explained that there didn’t seem to be enough work in our department for three people (true), but too much for two (also true), they were looking at filtering off some of our tasks, as well as some from other employees who were overburdened and create a new position. I was still hesitant, but did admit that I preferred working with Fergus over Jane. By the end of the week, some of Jane’s work had been shifted back to us, some of our tasks were shifted to her, and she picked up some new responsibilities. It was neither a promotion or demotion, and she was still in her same office.

My coworkers decided to host a small baby shower for me the Friday before I went on leave. Jane absolutely gushed over me (to the point that it was uncomfortable). I gave Fergus a thorough debriefing of the things I could (our work tends to have a short turn-around time, so I finished what I could and handed off the few things I couldn’t), and told him I’d be as available for questions as I could be.

The first day of leave, Fergus called me and told me that Jane had quit that morning, with no notice. I was actually surprised; she seemed more like herself after her surgery. But this means Fergus is working alone basically through July. Some of Jane’s work has been shifted around to other employees until I get back, and then we’ll reassess. I’ve assured Fergus I’ll try to answer his questions when I can.

Oh, and I had my baby last week! Thanks again to the commenters who offered well-wishes. We had some (expected and unavoidable) issues, but overall things went well. I had a little girl three days after my own birthday, so now myself, my daughter, and my mother are all May Tauruses. Kinda cool if you ask me.

Once again, thank you for all your wisdom and help. You and the commenters are great!