When coping with infertility, you reach a point where you do what you can to just simply survive each day. Our behaviors changed, life changed-we couldn’t keep doing what we were doing because infertility eats into your life in many different ways. Sure, life doesn’t stop, but you have to make adjustments….relationships with friends and family change (in both good and bad ways)…the type of food you eat…the extracurricular activities you enjoy change (again, in good and bad ways)… sexual relations…sleep…body shapes…when you go out…when you stay in…and how you work. It all changes in unexpected ways.
I don’t talk about my work on my blog, mostly because it would bore you to death! But my relationship with work has changed as a result of infertility. My bosses and colleagues have supported me from the beginning. They have been flexible, understanding and considerate. So I have no complaints there. Fortunately the nature of my work enables me to have the flexibility I needed to deal with all medical treatments. But what has changed is the way I work.
My career goals haven’t changed as a result of infertility. My ambitions are similar to what they were 4 years ago. But I have fallen a bit behind in terms of timing and where I hoped to be. I have had to step back and not be as forward leaning, proactive as I once was through fear of letting people down. My promises to deliver have come with caveats- I over manage expectations and don’t promise too much. I’ve always been a glass half full kind of worker. I like to lead with positivity. I am the ‘yes I can’ kind of person. I’m reliable, honest and open. I like change, but get frustrated when things aren’t seen through or completed. I like timeliness, I dislike laziness. I like to try new ways of doing things, but try to articulate methodology in doing them. I like to learn new things. I want everyday to be a school day!!! (Why didn’t I feel like that at school I dont know why!!).
But Infertility broke some of this. I still got my work done, I still deliver good work, I get praise for the speed/quality of my work still. But I’m not satisfied in the way that I do it. Infertility has affected my ability to travel (and now my pregnancy to some extent!) and therefore my ability to work on all the things I want to have been impacted. And my personal professional development stalled for almost a year now and has been replaced with knitting, colouring in, tv watching and blogging. All good things for the soul that I so badly needed to help me fight this battle. Applying my mind to new knowledge generally got too challenging.
Since I left university I have always been in a continued quest for new knowledge! I took a part time masters of science in a subject that was practically unrelated to my bachelors degree. I even continued my education whilst on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan where I was working 7 days a week already! I’ve taken language classes and various free courses online to keep up my skills. But the past year it was too much for me and I stopped to take a break.
I got withdrawal symptoms. I started looking at MBAs and Masters of Science in analytics/data science etc. I really don’t need another one! But I missed the learning. I even looked at courses that Chris and I could do together! But then an opportunity at work came up – to apply for their Executive Development Programme. I applied, not expecting to be successful this year because I had heard many others who had applied year after year were waiting to go on the programme. But somehow my application was accepted! I received this good news just before my third round of IVF treatment and I talked it through with my boss and HR – what if I got pregnant from this treatment? This would mean I would be having a baby half way through the course!!! Travel to the residential courses in Europe may be slightly problematic! Should I pull my application? Let someone else go? But there was also the issue of – what if I didn’t get pregnant? I was chosen to be on that training programme. I can’t keep placing my life on hold because I ‘may’ get pregnant. So we decided to postpone the decision to later.
When I found out I was definitely pregnant and it looked like Rocky was sticking around I needed to make a decision. Would I embark on this training programme knowing that half way through I would become a new mum?
I worked out the travel commitments (4 transatlantic trips and 1 week of training in the US). I would be 24 weeks pregnant at the first residential course in London, 31 weeks at the second in Luxembourg, 1-2 weeks postpartum at the third in Rome, 3 months postpartum at the week here in the US, so technically still on maternity leave and 5 months postpartum for the forth residential course in Brussels. And in between all that there are distance modules to complete as well as a team project (to be completed in our own spare time).
Phew! Could I do all that?? Why the heck not? Except for the residential course 1-2 weeks postpartum I could do it.
So I asked if a) I could miss one residential week and b) if I could break my maternity leave. The only risk was if for some reason my doctor banned me from flying to Europe for some pregnancy complication. I ummed and ahhhed about this dilemma for a while. I spoke with past students (who were mums and dads) to see what they thought….could I do it? In the end, I concluded I could do it and should do it. In a similar vain, I shouldn’t miss out on this opportunity ‘just in case’…anyone can get the flu and not be able to travel so why should I not do it just because I’m pregnant? I double checked with my doctor and she said I should go for it.
So no regrets!!! I’m starting the executive development programme in a couple of weeks and I’m excited to be getting back to the things I love to do for work. Continue my professional development.
In a similar vain, I applied for a job in my team which would be a promotion – I have that interview in a couple of weeks too. I’m up against some very talented colleagues so I will try my best, but again, it’s simply another step for getting back to doing things I love and pushing myself. I will take that any day.
Here’s to glass half full days 😊