When you’re in the middle of a really complicated, emotional situation you become all consumed by it – things seem muddied and unclear, and everything feels like a battle. For me, the battle was trying to have a baby. Every single month felt like NOvember, between the countless negative pregnancy tests and heartache, all I seemed to hear was ‘no’. I just wanted a child of my own.
I learned a lot about myself during this time but it was possibly the biggest challenge of my life. I tried to tell myself it was okay, it would be fine if I was never a mummy, but I didn’t really believe it. I constantly felt like something was missing and spent a lot of time feeling sad.
Reflection, realisation and new perspectives
Fast forward five years and three rounds of fertility treatment and my husband and I were successful on the third and final attempt. But I can honestly say those dark times in my life have in some respects been turned on their head because I now feel like I have another important purpose, apart from being a mummy, and that’s helping others in similar situations. It’s funny how things turn out.
It was only when our daughter was five months old that I reflected on my journey and realised how truly difficult it had been to work full time and try and have a baby via an assisted route. I had no guidance from a work perspective, nothing to show my treatment as a valid reason to work more flexibly or have time off. I had to explain my treatment at every twist and turn to justify my appointments, scans, blood tests and tears. And this was just during our third attempt – for the first two rounds of treatment no-one knew about it, so I did what a lot of people do, and I lied about where I was and what my appointments were for. It felt easier that way.
Connecting and sharing with others
It wasn’t until I got talking to other people about this that I realised it wasn’t just me who had these challenges. I felt a mixture of emotions: happy that I wasn’t alone, but angry that lots of organisations simply don’t see fertility treatment as something their people might need support and intervention for from them as an employer.
It’s because of our experiences that myself and two friends created “Fertility Matters at Work” – a registered community interest company set up to educate and empower businesses to recognise the number of employees who need fertility treatment to support their paths to parenthood. It gives them the tools they need to commit to supporting their employees in a variety of ways including the launch of a brand new, unique e-learning package.
I am so grateful that my own battle will enable others to have better experiences in the workplace. When people get in touch to thank us for what we’re doing, I couldn’t feel prouder that we’re paving the way and giving this topic a much-needed voice.
By Claire Ingle for Alive!
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