top of page

Hiding my baby bump was wrong, and I did it anyway

A story of growing my baby, my personal brand, my career, and my confidence when the world felt like it was falling apart.




What woman would choose to get pregnant during a pandemic?


Well, I did. My partner and I were trying to conceive, and since it was taking a while, we thought we missed our chance. Since Shelter in Place started, our then five-year-old son wished for a sibling daily and is convinced that his hopes brought this joyous baby into our lives. Maybe he's right :).


Why hide something so good?


I chose to keep my pregnancy very private. I was scared to be barricaded in another layer of the system of oppression. And as a Latina and Black immigrant woman, I've broken down many barriers in my life. I've navigated these systems before and gotten back up repeatedly. But truthfully (((deep breath))), with this pregnancy, I chose not to navigate that system to its entirety and eliminate a barrier because I don't have to be a fuckn Shero all the time. None of us do.


Mothers can rest, too.


I could show up on video calls pregnant, dressed from my chest up, with chin up, and ready to show ya'll what I have to put down. Whether engaged in a good conversation, a partnership, or a job opportunity, I dodged the predictable "How's your baby?" "How are you feeling?" "Are you scared of being pregnant during COVID?"(And in case you're curious, yes. The.answer.was.always.YES.) I also dodged the historically biased thoughts of "Can she do the job?" "How long can she work for us before maternity leave? "Will she come back from maternity leave?" "But we need the work to be done right now."


To help release the tension that hiding my pregnancy initially created, I consulted with many professionals, like an employment law attorney, CEOs, a DEIB leader at a giant organization, and a young woman friend who's not a mother yet but ear hustles in her tech circles and shares all the things. The information I received only validated my decision to stay quiet.

Even one CEO who founded her business on serving returning mothers to the 9 - 5 said I should tell employers and that I could help break down the system by telling my truth. But at the end of what seemed to be good advice, her optimistic tone changed, and she said,


"But, I'm a white woman and I'm speaking from a place of privilege."

In this piece, I'm also speaking from a place of privilege. My husband has a great job, my parents are alive and want to be with our children, and we have a huge family who believes in community raising. I'm not worried that a bomb + AI will end my family's lives at any moment.


The Next 8 Months, 8 Minutes, 5 Phases, and 1 Rainbow


The List.

  1. The Decision

  2. The Growing

  3. The Delivery

  4. The Recovery

  5. The Sustainability 


1. The Decision

I've felt the pressure to choose between a thriving career and growing a family since I was 15. I watched my mother struggle to raise my brother and me as she tried to keep her career on track. I remember when one of us would get sick, I somehow felt incredibly guilty. I thought that if we were sick, my mother couldn't go to work, and we would be the reason she would lose her job. Her work never created balance; it was a train. And if the train was abrupted, the collision meant moving back to Panamá—my mother's greatest fear. Instead of repeating the path of pain with no pause to breathe—my greatest fear—I decided I wouldn't have children.


And then something amazing happened when I started dating my best friend, Jay Castro— my plans were ruined! I felt support from him. I trust him. Now I'm married to him, and we're lucky to have two children.


2. The Growing

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I grew my baby while growing my DEIB brand. I consulted DEIB best practices for a start-up, Hustle Hunters, shared knowledge and ideas through my LinkedIn posts, attended conferences to gain and share resources, and co-founded Parenting Backwards (on pause), where I worked on a podcast with sister-friend Stephanie LeBlanc Godfrey, founder of Mother AI. I also modestly participated in the change I wanted to see in my backyard in Alameda, California, through the renaming project Chochenyo Park. To maintain the professional development part of my career portfolio, I provide pro bono career coaching to Sista Circle Black Women in Tech.


Out of fear, I grew my baby in hiding. I did this because I feared that people in my work world would misjudge my pregnancy or the productivity I chose to act on. I even hid my pregnancy on my other social media platforms, where my friends and family members would have loved to celebrate our growing family. In my experience, the pandemic made me feel how closely connected we truly can be. Good or bad, I became highly aware of the truths and complexities of social media.


While pregnant, I also interviewed many times, which, if you know me, is like running a small business: develop a marketing strategy, build genuine relationships, create a pipeline, manage losses, strategize every move, build my DEIB knowledge, etc.


My pregnancy during the first trimester was delicate. I was very sick, and since we'd experienced a miscarriage before, I prayed a lot. I prayed that the aggressive taking and weakening of my body was a sign that my baby was growing strong enough to make their thriving entrance into a pandemic. I went to the emergency room once and almost twice. That happened around the time I had various interviews lined up. For that interview lineup, I had made and nurtured genuine relationships for more than six months, some for years. Only to have to cancel several of them because I didn't want to overextend us, my baby, and I, and risk losing another child to a miscarriage.


I went to the final rounds for the three opportunities I wanted the most, and I wasn't selected for any of them. For Company A, I created a free 😭 comprehensive global Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging (DEIB) + Employee Resource Group (ERG) strategy, for which I received positive feedback from leadership and no compensation. And truthfully, I couldn't finish it to my perfect standards. I couldn't drink more coffee, lose more sleep, or continue to ignore my nausea to get it done. I had to embrace being a recovering perfectionist and submit enough. The feedback I received for not getting an offer was that the other candidate had more years of various industry experience than I did.


For Company B, I requested to have my interviews spaced apart and not booked back to back on the same day. But they couldn't or chose not to accommodate my request. The hope with my request was to give myself time between interviews to be sick, drink water, and take a breath to continue to focus and be fully present. But without the spacing to reset, my symptoms affected my execution. The type of feedback I received from Company B was a first for me; some interviewers said they had difficulty connecting with me. And I understand. But I showed up as my whole self. Isn't this what every company says they want from their candidates and employees? Well, in an interview, it better be your whole best self.


3. The Delivery

I had our second child on April 28th, 2 months before writing the original version of this blog. Like any good program manager, I planned my days and weeks around the due date. And like a good DEIB program manager, I embraced the unknown with grace and space.


I also had a 2nd round interview scheduled at Company C on April 29th with a hiring manager I highly respect—someone I would've enjoyed to work with and learn from. My last manager and I were a mismatch, and the relationship caused great distress to my mental health. I've since recovered thanks to therapy, self-love, and relaunching of my DEIB brand. All this said, my next manager relationship means the world to me. I've gotten to know the hiring manager from Company C in many profound ways:


  • We grieved together for George Floyd's murder;

  • We shared frustration after the invasion of the capital happened;

  • We celebrated my son's birthday by sharing the hope we have in children for our future;

  • We helped each other reach our professional goals;

  • They even encouraged me as I interviewed at other companies!;

  • We laughed together.


Did they know I was pregnant? No. I trust the person, but I can't trust the system they are in with me.


Back to my delivery. It happened a month before the due date, and I labored at home for six hours. We barely made it out of the house, to the car, on the freeway, and then to the hospital. He was born 30 minutes after I entered the hospital walls, and I delivered him in 8 minutes.


Soon after my son was born, I felt the most joy I've ever felt.

My natural birth gave me strength, focus, and energy. It was like the new feeling you experience when you fall madly in love. Although a small part of me still wanted to interview (I can be tenacious and outrageous when I want something), I rescheduled the interview for the following week to give my full attention to my new child.


A week later, between juggling my new life as a mother of two and being grateful for the naps I had during the night shift—I interviewed, and it was great. Five minutes before I logged into our call, my newborn demanded to be nursed unexpectedly. And still–I did great!


It was one of my best interviews to date.


It felt good throughout my whole body.


I was told that I was going to the final round of interviews.


So, I followed up with the recruiter. I then followed up again as I waited for a response. Then, almost a month later, and soon after I messaged the hiring manager, I got an email from the recruiter saying that they'd already hired someone.


I was forgotten!


I didn't get the chance to interview in the final round, as I was told. I couldn't help but think, was it me? Did I miss something? Did I make all this up?


After processing my feelings, I calmly checked in with the hiring manager and learned more about their hiring process. I had never experienced a hiring process like this before.

Moving forward, I will call this process "the first." Typically, a group of final candidates can interview and compete, allowing them to be seen and heard. I learned that Company C does it differently; they use "the first" process to avoid bias. "The first" process means that the first booked candidate, who checks all the boxes for the role first, can get an offer and accept it, ending the process.


I was one of two finalists.


I learned that "the first" process exists so interviewers can't compare candidates and minimize their personal bias. However, this process allows the interviewers to avoid checking their personal biases through accountability. At a minimum, I wish I had been informed of this process through the information on their website or through my recruiter. In addition, their website says they share all the information you need to do your best in their interviews—being "the first" would be critical for me to know beforehand.


4. The Recovery

I booked physical therapy, took up paddle boarding, and breathed deeply into my meditation practice to persist steadfastly in my DEIB journey. My newborn son's name is Ka'isa. In Chamoru (The Chamorro people are the Indigenous people of the Mariana Islands Wiki) it means that a rainbow is coming. --a name story to reflect our times and to keep hope.


5. The Sustainability

I'm in love with my children and my partner. I love the community who knew about my pregnancy and those who didn't but somehow kept me going anyway. I'm grateful for those who supported me at all hours of the day, any day of the week. And I hate oppressive systems, like the ones where we have to constantly over-perform and over-sacrifice. I've since let go of hate and shifted my emotions to the big v-word: Vulnerability.


I was pregnant.

I was sick.

I was scared to tell you.

I’m a mother of two and plan to adopt a third child.

I’m capable of more than you know.

I’m committed to making systems better for us—BIPOC mothers.

I will persist when I need to.

I will rest whenever possible.

I will play with my kids.

I'm at peace with my choices.

Do you want help with your next career choices? Book a vibe check.


Your cafécito lover,

Katherine


Behind the magic:

  1. Photography by Kimberly Davalos, Filipina, BIPOC counselor, advocate, author, and speaker.

  2. Floral Crown by Amber Lester, Black, founder of Flor the Culture and Co-founder of the Black Joy Parade.

  3. Hair and makeup by Arijana Merrigan, Palestinian Bosnian war refugee, immigrant, and survivor. Pilates Instructor, hair and beauty artist, and mother.

  4. Edits by Jay Castro, Chamoru, and Italian, Guampedia strategy lead, speaker, my partner in all things magical.

Resources to check out:

  1. Allyson Felix is building an empire of her own — and making Nike execs eat their words - LINK

  2. Black pregnant women face a mortality crisis—and now a pandemic. Can tech help? - LINK

  3. Working mothers are quitting to take care of their kids, and the US job market may never be the same - LINK

  4. Pregnant At Work In The Time Of Corona - LINK

  5. How to Job Search While You're Pregnant - LINK

  6. New Study Provides Another Example of the Increased Risks of Being Pregnant While Black or Hispanic - LINK

  7. Color of Change - LINK

Updated: July 1, 2021, February 23, 2024.

25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page