Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a young colleague who looks up to me in a maternal, almost
fairy godmothering advice-giving kind of way, though I have neither
children nor a wand. She and her husband struggled to get pregnant
and after much trauma decided to go the IVF route. She is now
certifiably one month pregnant and in a few weeks will find out if she’s
bearing twins. Yesterday she approached me about her indecision,
caution, fear, sense of obligation, ambivalence, etc about attending a
conference four hours drive away. She made the commitment to speak
two months ago, before she was pregnant and didn’t back out sooner.
It would be a big feather in her professional cap to wow the attendees
and do some marketing. But the baby is the most important thing in
her life. I told her to go sleep on it, but am unsure what I should or
shouldn’t say.


Dear Tongue-Tied:

Your mouth should stay shut for good reason: If you push her to put
duty first, she attends the conference, and then loses the baby, which
can happen just like in any other early pregnancy, IVF or natural, you
will feel guilty and she may blame you. It’s simply not your job to tell
her what to do. Even if you were her supervisor, this is personal
medical territory and not the domain of anyone but her and her doctor
to decide. Even if losing her job were on the line, it’s still her call.

It’s fine to give advice and flattering to have people come to you with
their problems. But this is a case where the decision should not be in
any way influenced. You can tell her to write down all her pros and
cons, or even suggest she recruit a colleague as backup should she
decide not to go. Perhaps if this were a few months down the road
she’d feel easier. But it isn’t and unless she’s ready to quit work, she
will have to figure out how to balance a job and a baby in the long run.
But absolutely no one except her can make the decision now in this
most fragile and changing of times.