A couple of weeks ago, I had to have a conversation I never thought I would have to have.
I had to tell my (male) boss about our infertility and plans to pursue IVF.
I realize that it’s really none of his business, and that legally I don’t have to say anything. That if I have enough PTO there is no reason I NEED to share this particular piece of information. But, in the same respect, I also know that I could have to take an hour or two, a whole day or a couple of days without much prior notice, and that losing my job because of recent weird absenteeism would not help our financial situation.
The one bonus I had is that he is a lone male in 2 offices full of women. Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapists tend to be women more often than men. But, as a male with two kids that I’m pretty sure they didn’t have issues conceiving, he probably had no idea what an IVF even was. (he didn’t)
I racked my brain for a couple of days after sending the message requesting to meet with him for a few minutes later that week on how I was going to introduce the topic.
- Hey boss – despite all of the rabbit sex my husband and I are having, we can’t seem to get pregnant, so I’m going to need an IVF
- Um, so you know when two people love each other very much? And they decide they want children? And then they do this thing so they can have children? That isn’t working for us
- So while we have the outer parts working effectively, we can’t seem to get the sperm to meet the egg and therefore, need to do an IVF
- Bryan and I can’t have kids naturally because I have PCOS and he doesn’t have enough sperm so we need an IVF
All of those options screamed TMI!. And truthfully, I went into the meeting having no idea how I was going to start the conversation about our sex life and ability to procreate. Talk about awkward.
Oddly, I sat down with him and blurted out, without thinking (which for me is usually a bad thing): Bryan and I are what I call “reproductively challenged”, and went on to explain that we were unable to have kids naturally and therefore would need to have the aid of science in order to be able to get pregnant. And that I’d need to take a few days of PTO. And that I wouldn’t be able to give much notice before taking the PTO. I even whipped out a handy calendar visual to explain how long it would take and when approximately I would need said days off.
Luckily, he was understanding, but as expected had no idea what an IVF was. Or how much one cost. When I told him, his jaw dropped.
Yeah, my thoughts exactly. And that’s for a 65% chance.
Since that conversation, I’ve decided I kinda like the term “reproductively challenged”. Infertile, literally meaning not fertile, does have a bit of a negative connotation. Not so negative that I’m going to contact my congressman and demand the term be changed to reproductively challenged in order to fight the discrimination of infertile people everywhere, but you know what I mean. The “challenge” part in particular fits for me because of my competitive nature, and so I picture my PCOS ovaries with their multiple follicles attempting to produce one healthy egg, fighting over which one is going to grow its egg faster. The winner becomes the dominant queen follicle, reigning over all of ovary land, and the left side gets so angry at losing that it spits out a bunch of eggs and causes a tube blockage, rendering itself useless.
The right ovary and tube, celebrating its victory, merely laughs at the left side. Bryan’s sperm, thanks to too much testosterone (go figure), fight each other to the death on their way out, and so there are only a few healthy ones left at the end. Thus, making procreation challenging. And leaving a lonely queen egg.
In all seriousness though, most of the time a diagnosis of infertility doesn’t mean we CAN’T reproduce, obtain or sustain a pregnancy, just that we need help doing so. So the next person stuck in the weird awkward situation of explaining to a male boss why you’re going to need several days off of work with little notice you can stick your chest out a little and proudly say “I’m not infertile, I’m reproductively challenged!” Make sure to stomp your foot for good measure.
The competitive nature in me accepts that challenge. And plans to WIN.