Being pregnant isn’t just about buying some onesies and planning out a nursery, or even about wrapping your head around the idea of a new person you created being part of your life.
There’s also the very physical responsibilities of doctors’ check-ups and bloodwork — and when you’re dealing with infertility, multiply that by two. Actually, more like four. And don’t forget about the added emotional weight of uncertainty and just plain worry.
Now, take all of those appointments, those thoughts, those hopes, and insert them into your workday while still trying to get to meetings, phone calls, emails and everything else on your plate. Feel hard? Then you can get some sense of what the women in U.K. lifestyle reporter Rachel Moss’ story “What It’s Like To Navigate IVF At Work” have dealt with, and what so many thousands of others contend with every day.
What has struck Rachel, who has been covering the topic of infertility all year, is how secretive women feel they have to be about the subject. Much like the thankless office tasks we talk about further down in this newsletter, it’s something rarely discussed in public. Women are just kind of expected to shoulder it themselves.
“So many women told me they fear judgment over something outside of their control. I wanted to investigate how this plays out in the workplace, to raise awareness of the difficulties of IVF, but also show women going through it that they are not alone,” Rachel explained.
And to her, it’s unfortunately not a surprise. “In a world where the gender pay gap and maternity discrimination exists, it’s understandable why some women feel unable to tell their employers they’re trying to have children — I think the onus should very much be on employers to fix that culture.”
Being flexible is the single biggest thing employers can do to help people undergoing IVF, Rachel notes. Being given the option to work remotely on treatment days or having managers who check in on your well-being can make all the difference.
And it’s that focus on not just the physical, but mental health as well, that can be game-changing. While you may be getting poked with needles on the regular, the ravages on your psyche are just as real, and women need support for both.
If you’ve gone through IVF while working and have a story to share about how you dealt with it, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speak to you next week,
Follow Rachel Moss (@rachelmoss_) for more stories about women’s reproductive health and the taboos that surround topics that should frankly be discussed far more frequently. Follow the newly relaunched HuffPost UK Life (@HuffPostUKLife) to discover more about everything from mental health to money to relationships.
An interesting thing happened when a developer team composed of all women held a community meeting in Toronto to ask about what’s missing from condo buildings: They heard about issues they’ve never encountered before, like a lack of storage for strollers and inadequate lighting in underground parking garages. And just like that, they knew they had to change the status quo.
When it comes to the things people don’t want to do around the office — like planning parties, picking up snacks and organizing outings — women will volunteer more often than not (which is scientifically proven!). And if we don’t volunteer, then we’re asked, more than men are. So for every woman who has ever found herself on the receiving end of “can you grab the coffee?,” here are some practical tips on how to disengage without endangering your job.
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