It's almost three months since we were put on the IVF waiting list. Therefore, in just over three months, we should hopefully reach the top. This is what I've discovered from others going through the same thing on the fertility friends forum, on the section for our local hospital.
We have our open evening next week, on Thursday at 3pm. This is a school day so my husband and I are having to leave work early to make the session, something which won't go unnoticed. I'm hoping it's ignored. But since we work at the same place it's hard for people not to notice when your name's on the board as being out. And people jump to conclusions. And the obvious conclusion for a couple married a year and a bit is that it's a 12 week scan appointment. Oh how wrong they would be. I just hope no one thinks to comment. Watch this space.
Anyway, work has been a difficult time for me. Just before half term I had an absence review. This is because I triggered a review due to two separate absences in a two month period (bad cysitis and then norovirus). My attendance record has always been excellent really. The reason I'm being monitored is because I had four weeks off when my mum died and I then had a miscarriage on my return to work day. Since then they've been monitoring my absence, which seems ridiculous.
So I had this review meeting. I informed the manager that I will be expecting and needing to have lots of time off, most likely in September, due to the IVF as I believe this is when it will fall. It's not ideal - it could have been in the holidays. But I don't have the control over that. The manager asked what time off I'd need and I said I didn't know. I can't imagine but I know it will be quite a lot, the odd morning here and there, a day or two for egg collection etc. I might find out more when we have the meeting next week.
I left the meeting feeling upset. The manager said that it was "my choice" to have IVF and if I needed to take time off work then that was my choice. Choice.
What a word to use. In fact, my CHOICE has been taken away from me. I can't just have sex and get pregnant like almost everyone else. We have to schedule it in. We have a 32% (or thereabouts) chance of conceiving in one, expensive cycle. Everyone else has that chance EVERY month they try. Every month they have sex. So, no, it's not OUR choice to have this treatment. She seemed to believe that, or rather implied, that we don't necessarily need the treatment. That if we didn't have it we'd eventually conceive (we're young, we've got loads of time....!). On the one hand I hope she's right. I hope that it may happen on its own. If not this time, then maybe once Stanley and/or Lucy have arrived. A second or a third baby by accident.
It made me so angry and upset about the way she said this. And to top it all off my absence monitoring has been extended to December. I'll have been monitored for two years then. And this is someone who when at school (the school I currently work in!) had one day off in five years. My absence clearly isn't a problem but it's been made out to be and I feel guilty for it. I couldn't have avoided my absence if I'd tried. One day I actually got sent home because it was so bad. I nearly went to A&E, called the doctor out etc. Yet, here I was explaining the intricacies of the treatment I had for each illness, the medication I took, the doctor's advice not to mention all of the symptoms I experienced. Yes, all of them. It was such an invasion of privacy. Why isn't saying you had norovirus (extreme sickness and diarrhea for four days - only two of which needed me to miss work) enough?
So I decided to ring HR to see what their view on my future absence for IVF would be like. I wish I hadn't bothered. I felt even more deflated. The woman on the end of the phone clearly had no idea what IVF entails. Instead she said I should try to negotiate my treatment, to think of the school too, the job I do is important don't you know. I should "meet them half way". I should try to book my appointments outside of school's hours, like you would for the dentist. The dentist. It's a bit more than that, love!
I was even more upset after that. I explained how it's the most important thing I'll ever do, it's my future, my life. Yet, no one seems to grasp the magnitude. I explained that I can't control the appointments and they are very precise.
So at the moment, I don't know where I stand with it. So far, all appointments have been paid, but there have only been two. I will know more in July when I see the consultant. In the meantime I may contact the unions for advice. One union states that fertility treatment should be paid. After all, everyone else manages to conceive without needing time off work. Surely if I need the time off work and if it's unpaid then it's discrimination against infertile (or rather 'subfertile' as they say now) people. Watch this space I guess.