Getting the news that you have to undergo fertility treatments can be a little overwhelming. When it comes to expanding your family, balancing work while undergoing fertility treatments can be a struggle, especially with time demands, treatment procedures, and the side effects that may occur. Some people can afford to take the time off from work and focus on their new treatment schedule, but many do not have this option.
Luckily, for those that have to learn to balance your new treatment schedule and work there are some tips to help make the process a little easier. Before learning about some of these tips though, it is important to have a basic overview of how fertility treatments may change your usual routine.
Fertility Treatments and What to Expect
The exact schedule for fertility treatments will be different depending on your body, how you react to the medication, your doctor, and which procedures you will be doing. The most common fertility treatments are IUI- Intrauterine Insemination and IVF – Invitro Fertilization. IUI is where you will be on a monitored menstrual cycle with medication up until ovulation, then your clinic will place sperm into your uterus when the time is right to conceive. IVF has quite a longer process and will involve a lot of medication (shots, pills, and patches), an egg retrieval procedure, and an embryo transfer(s).
Both of these processes require frequent monitoring using blood tests and ultrasounds to see how your body is reacting to the medication and make changes accordingly. Your appointments will usually take place within the first few hours of the morning and could be every day or every few days. This means that you can expect to spend a lot of time going into your fertility clinic throughout the process.
Obstacles That May Arise
When planning ahead for your fertility treatments it is important to understand some obstacles that you may run into. While many people hope to continue on their normal schedule as if nothing has changed, this is not always the case. A lot of the medication for fertility treatments are time sensitive. Meaning that you will have to move around your daily schedule to fit your new medication schedule. Many of your shots will occur in the nighttime or morning at the same time each day. You may also have to stop what you are doing throughout the day to take certain oral medications or change hormone patches depending on what you have been prescribed.
On top of the time that you will now be adding to your routine with doctor’s appointments, procedures, and a new medication protocol, there are the side effects to consider. Many of these medications come with side effects that can make maintaining your daily life a little more difficult. It is hard to predict how each medication will affect your body and if you will be struck by any of the side effects. It would be best to assume that there will be days throughout the process that you will be tired, sore, and not feeling your optimal self.
You may also have to change your schedule on a moment’s notice with certain treatments, this could make scheduling appointments around your work schedule difficult.
Tips to Help Balance Work and Fertility Treatments
Although it may seem a bit intimidating to be taking on this new full time job of fertility treatments, it is possible to figure out a routine and process that will work for you. By taking these tips into account, you can better plan for what’s ahead and prepare yourself as much as you can:
- Figure out how much time you will need. As mentioned above each treatment requires a different schedule and medicine protocol. It is important to sit down with your doctor and discuss what to expect with the road ahead. Most clinics will provide you with a calendar of upcoming appointments and medication times. There may be time that you will need to ask off from work for certain procedures. For example, most clinics will have you rest for at least one day after your egg retrieval and one- five days after an embryo transfer. This will require your prior knowledge to schedule with work accordingly. If you have a physical job, you may also need to ask for modified duties if your clinic recommends this. Many doctors also recommend taking time off in between cycles if a failed cycle does occur to give you the chance to grieve before continuing on with the process.
- Formulate a plan to discuss your treatments with work. Fertility treatments will require you to change your schedule or to miss some work for most day jobs. It is helpful to develop a plan of action before bringing this up to your boss. Perhaps you could suggest staying later if you have to come in after your normal time or if there are certain tasks that you can do from home. While many women do not wish to fully disclose what they are doing with their bosses, it will be hard to get the time off and change your schedule quickly if they are unaware of what you are undergoing.
- Decide what you want to disclose. With that being the case, you do not need to tell your work every single detail of what you are going through. You do not have a legal responsibility to inform your employer unless you need time off for work. Many clinics will provide a letter stating that a medical leave is required without providing specifics. However, if you reveal a basic idea of what you are going through your work may be more willing to work with you throughout your treatment time period and help make the transition easier.
- Have a support system. Fertility treatments are a lot for someone to go through and they will change your body and schedule drastically. It is helpful to have someone that you can discuss these changes with and to lean on. This person could be your spouse, family members, or even a close friend. Having someone there to listen and help you out will help you to relax and feel at ease throughout the process. They may even be able to help pick up some of the slack around the house or at work, which could help relieve even more stress for you.
- Put yourself first. While many people want to put their career first at all times, when undergoing fertility treatments it is important to put yourself first. You are putting your body through a lot with the medications and procedures and you will notice some major changes. Take extra care to make sure that you are comfortable within the workplace while you are there. This may mean investing in some loser clothing to help relieve some of the bloat, wearing comfortable shoes, eating small frequent meals to help relieve nausea, and drinking tea or ginger ale to help with stomach aches that may occur. Even simple little adjustments may help to make you feel more at ease during this time period.
- Take a step back. If you have a lot of extra commitments usually, now may be the time to take a pause. It is best to not overload your schedule more than necessary. Try and focus on what is important and manageable for you during this time. If possible, try to scale back on responsibilities at work and at home a bit to help set aside time for you to relax and rest.
- Enjoy some self-care. Try and find time for activities that help you to relieve stress. This could be cooking, doing light exercise (if your treatment allows for it), deep breathing, or even reading. Whatever helps make you feel relaxed will help make this crazy and stressful process a little easier at the end of the day.
Remember the Big Picture
While it is easy to get lost in your new schedule of fertility treatments, home life, and work, try and take the time to remember WHY you are doing this. It will help you stay focused and motivated to get through it. Remember that fertility treatments and your new schedule are just temporary and things will get back to normal again at some point. Using the tips above and preparing for what is to come will hopefully help make the process easier for you and your family.