How To Make Work Work For You During Fertility Treatments
As you go through stressful and preoccupying fertility treatments, work can actually be a help!
- The office can give you a distraction from the persistent anxiety of worrying, watching, and waiting for treatment results.
- The job can give you a predictable routine to get you through the disorganizing effect of an unexpected pregnancy problem.
- Staying busy and active with projects can also give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your self-esteem, just when you need it.
- Co-workers can give you an opportunity to talk to someone who is not family (who may have their own stake in your treatment outcome) or social friend (who may gossip). Talking is actually a natural stress remedy because it gives us a sense of "doing" something and an opportunity to "hear" ourselves. But, we have to choose our workplace listeners wisely:
- Make sure it’s a co-worker who will respect your privacy and let you take the lead in the conversation.
- Make sure it’s someone who won’t talk about themselves and take over the conversation.
But suppose you want your fertility issues to be private at work because you don’t want unsolicited advice, or to hear about everyone else’s infertility stories, or think there’s a stigma...
Explain to your supervisors that you’re dealing with a “medical” condition and need a flexible schedule. That way, you won’t have the added stress of trying to hide the inconveniences like doctor’s appointments and medication side effects.
Find out about company resources because you don’t have to explain why you need counseling to ask for it. In fact, if your company has mental health resources available through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the EPA services and therapists are completely confidential.
If your company provides fertility coverage as part of its overall benefits program, the provider should also have additional resources, education, and counseling available to you with specific expertise in dealing with infertility treatments.
If there are no services available or you don’t want to ask, don’t let yourself feel isolated just when you need understanding and support. Reach out to national fertility organizations like Resolve, or the American Fertility Association, or your fertility practice’s resources for finding others to talk to in confidence. No one should go on this journey alone.
And what about all that workplace stress? Infertility causes stress, but stress alone doesn’t cause infertility. So don’t blame yourself for working hard or quit your job unless you were planning to leave anyway - drastic changes increase your stress and not working may give you too much unscheduled time for worrying.
Besides, many patients have told me that they were touched by the flexibility of their employers while they were in treatment and the emotional support they received from co-workers. I hope you will have the same support during your journey.