infertility in the workplace

When preparing to start our fertility treatments early last year, I sat down and thought about all of the ways I could minimize stress throughout the process. I took a look at support avenues and who we would really need to be there for us. When I looked at our life as a whole, I knew our family and friends would be there for us without a doubt. Then I thought about how I was going to manage this process around my work schedule.

Fertility treatments are complicated. It’s not just taking a bunch of meds and then, voila, procedure day. From the time your cycle starts you have a series of early morning ultrasounds and blood work appointments as well as procedure days and recovery days. It can be a lot. If you employer doesn’t know what you’re going through, it can be even harder. I thought about all the things I would have to say as to why I would be late a few times a month or even, as I figured out later, daily. The thought of having to make up excuses or reasons as to why I was adjusting my schedule constantly was already exhausting me. It was then that I decided to be open about my infertility at work.

Before we started our first IUI cycle I sat down with my boss and explained what we were about to go through. I let him know that my in-office schedule during monitoring would be altered and I would ultimately require time off for procedures and even some work-from-home days to accommodate various appointments. His response to everything was amazing. I am fortunate to have a flexible work environment to begin with but bringing this to light was welcomed by even more support, not only from him, but many others in my office.

I know everyone’s workplace situation is different, and I do consider myself very lucky, but the moment I could cross “work” off the list of potential stressors, it was a giant relief. On the other hand, when I told him this would be happening, I was still under the impression that a couple of IUI’s later I would just be pregnant. Going back to work after failed procedures has had its own moments. I’ve been lucky enough to work-from-home on test result days so I can deal with my emotions in my own way but then I’m usually very ready to return to work the next day.

Going back to work after finding out we were pregnant, but would most likely lose it, was probably the hardest. I gave the people I work the closest with a heads up before I came back because I wasn’t sure of my ability to actually speak about it in real life without losing it. The day I found out I was no longer pregnant I was actually at work, had a good cry and then carried on. Throughout everything over the last year, my coworkers have made this process a lot easier by just being there (and they may not even know it).

I never thought that one year later I would be having the same talk with my boss again about altered schedules and needing time off but with our second IVF cycle approaching, I find myself here. I still maintain that of all of the things I often worry about during this process, work still isn’t one. I have been able to manage both my work and personal life and while it may be at wonky hours, it allows me to carry on with building our family.

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