Last year, I took on a new role. It was one that I didn’t ask for, but I had no choice other than to accept. I’ve been an employee ever since. The job requirements are simple:
- Excellent note-taking ability.
- Must be inquisitive; must ask a lot of questions.
- Ability to multitask and balance multiple projects.
- Well-versed in budgeting financial spreadsheets.
- VERY experienced with research, specifically Google.
- High endurance; overtime is optional, but encouraged.
- Type A personalities are not preferred. The ability to surrender full control is necessary.
Please note that you will be unable to plan any vacations, or ask for time off in advance because you never know when you might be needed or called into the office.
Think of it as of one those long-term office retreats where you go through multiple ice-breakers and challenges, except you’re the only participant and the reward is (if you're lucky) a healthy baby.
And make no mistake; this is not the kind of job you can leave behind when you go home every night. This role isn’t that simple. You can try to compartmentalize, but this job will ultimately overlap with your personal life, whether you want it to or not.
IVF is like a full-time job.
Infertility is all-consuming. You'll find yourself thinking about "work," morning, noon, and night.
“I wonder if I’ll get positive reinforcement today.”
“What kind of numbers will I pull today?”
“Have I made progress or back-tracked?"
"What will my boss say about my performance from last week?”
You will have to learn to expect weekly, maybe even daily meetings about the same thing, often scheduled for weeks at a time. But instead of Powerpoint presentations, it’s ultrasounds of your lady parts put on display for review.
The whole "This-meeting-could-have-been-a-phone-call" is often the vibe.
Also, your actual performance at the company is totally out of your control. In fact, you never have to stay up late studying or preparing, unless you choose to. You were born for this role, literally. Even if you never imagined working here. But here you are, and your success depends not just on you, but your team, as well as a slew of other uncontrollable factors.
But the role is not all bad.
There are a few benefits to doing IVF
These are just a few silver linings to help you endure the countless more difficult tasks required of you in this position:
- You’ll meet people you never otherwise would have, and maybe even forge lifelong connections.
- You'll gain a heightened self-awareness, physically and mentally.
- You'll realize your own emotional strength and endurance.
- You'll learn how to become your biggest self-advocate, something that we never think about until we're forced to, but so important.
- You'll learn the art of patience and coping mechanisms.
- You'll find value in the present space.
On the outside, fertility treatments are a lonely process. But on the inside, there are endless colleagues that you can lean on if you're having a hard time. They are truly the only people who will fully understand what you're going through, as they are each equally passionate about getting their own 'win' within the company. No one is content to stay where they are, and everyone wants to be promoted. And many will be, while countless others will continue to go to work every day waiting for it to be their turn.
These changes and turnovers aren’t performance-based, and therefore shouldn’t be taken to heart, but that's easier said than done, of course. This is yet another reminder that in this job, no matter how hard you work, rewards aren’t based on merit or good faith and may still remain elusive. Unfortunately, even if you want it badly enough, success often comes down to luck and statistics.
There’s also the unavoidable factor of ageism in the workplace. Someone younger can always swoop in and find instant success. It’s frustrating, but you can’t complain to your boss. They’ll empathize, but in reality, it’s out of their control, too. It’s just the way the fertility cookie crumbles. It’s not personal, even though it can often feel that way.
I have been in this job for longer than I would like to admit, but I will continue to work hard at it because I remain hopeful in myself and my team. Together, I know we can reach the finish line and I will finally graduate from "team player" to full-time business owner with an employee count of two. Until then, I'll try to focus on those silver linings.