Thursday, June 13, 2013

IVF and the Workplace

A series of recent conversations prompted me to share my experience on this topic. Again, let us keep an open mind about this - remember that everyone has a choice, the decision of going down the IVF route is not one that is taken lightly and this is deeply personal on so many levels.
When would you inform your supervisor that you are undergoing IVF?
Do you also inform your colleagues?
How are you going to request for leave for your treatments if you don't tell them?
Will your career be in jeopardy?
The list goes on and on.
It was in my 3rd year of employment with the organisation when we decided that we would 'try' for a baby. We also knew that it wasn't going to be a straight forward 'try' because I have PCO.
I shall not bore you with all the treatments we underwent prior to IVF and instead focus on how I handled it with the workplace from the start.
Again, as with any communication without ambiguity - no skirting around the issue and state it for what it is.
I sat down with the President of the company (my supervisor)  and shared the decision my husband & I made in consultation with our fertility specialist. That, I would require xxx days off every month, that I will make up for those work days by working from home (keep a timesheet) and plan for all treatments around work commitments specifically deadlines and travels. In addition to that, I will also keep him updated with outcome of the treatments.
In addition to that conversation, I also sat down with my team and told them exactly what I had discussed with the President. This was done with the view that openness and honesty breeds understanding. Crucially, they did not wonder why I was taking days off from work each month! The other benefit I reaped from doing this was the sympathy received when treatments were unsuccessful...and they were unsuccessful for 4 years! Yes, I received a lot of support from them all. When I finally fell pregnant and gave birth at full-term after a miscarriage on the 5th year, they were all over-the-moon EXCITED for us and no doubt, a huge sigh of relief as well!
Admittedly, I am very lucky to be part of an organisation that genuinely cares and values its staff holistically. Fortunately for me, it is a relationship that works both ways. They value me and I value them even more!

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