Creating a family friendly culture in the workplace

How important are family friendly policies and benefits in organisational culture?

Is there a correlation between a high performing organisation and a family friendly workplace?

It seems obvious that the answer is yes…and yet, there are many organisations who put family friendly policies and benefits at the bottom of the pile.  Family friendly policies and benefits are known to increase retention, recruitment, morale and productivity.  Arguably, these policies and benefits come at a cost to the organisation, so do the benefits outweigh the costs?  It can be difficult to put a figure on this type of benefit and return on investment.

There is also the unseen or lesser known part of family friendly policies and benefits that organisations can adopt; these are related to family building options such as infertility treatment insurance coverage, adoption grants, sick leave (for miscarriage or medical treatments), flexible working and egg freezing.

Simply having these policies and benefits will certainly contribute to a family friendly culture…but there is something deeper than these – a family friendly organizational culture that builds on the policies nd benefits.

You may have heard the saying – “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. This simply means that no matter how good the policies are they need to be supported by the organisation’s culture.

Going beyond the policies and benefits, leaders and staff need to develop the values and behaviours that make up the family-friendly culture:

Open Communication – on both work/life needs and institutional priorities.  Staff need to be able to freely communicate to their leaders and vice versa without incrimination or judgement. The ability to give 360 degree feedback freely about what works and what doesn’t contributes to this open communication environment.

Flexibility – at all levels of the organisation.  Creating an environment that makes it OK to ask for flexible working or time off by creating space to.  Believing that employees are less loyal or productive for asking for these creates will creates negative culture.

Commitment – recognition that a good work/life culture benefits everyone.

Fairness – fair doesn’t mean equal; leaders need to understand that one size doesn’t fit all, applying family friendly policies consistently is important.

These values can’t be written down in policy or given away as a benefit…they have to be enacted out by the people we work with every day and inspired by our leaders in our day to day lives.

What other values and behaviours do you think make up a family friendly culture that we can live by in our workplaces, including family building?

Do your leaders say they are family friendly but don’t live by the values they preach?

Entering the thirties…

For some reason I always had it in my head that I wanted to be married before I turned 30.  I don’t really know why, but it was some kind of milestone.  Perhaps I thought I might turn into a pumpkin or something horrifying and wrinkly on my thirtieth birthday if I hadn’t gotten married by then.  30 simply seemed like a pretty scary age to reach.  I can’t remember if I ever told Chris this at the time….but we did get married when I was 29. Phew! It was actually more about coincidence than any secret desire to not get married in my thirties.  Well 30 came and went and it was just another year like any other.  I know, I’m weird. It shouldn’t make a difference.

Anyway…I digress… I am now THIRTY weeks pregnant, and this same number seems equally as scary.  For me, entering the third trimester wasn’t the scary part – it was entering my 30th week of pregnancy!  And to top it off, I have been travelling for work when I hit this milestone.  When I am travelling on my own I have waaaaay too much time to think deeply about life and what the future holds.  And that is dangerous!  It doesn’t help that October is Pregnancy and infancy loss month and I have read MANY stories of women losing their babies.  I have seriously gone through a whole box of tissues this month.

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Plus there has been a lot of discussion after the third presidential debate where Trump and Clinton discussed abortion, particularly on late term abortion.  These issues have really connected with me emotionally, where ordinarily it wouldn’t – perhaps it is just the hormones thinking too much!  I have blogged about how it took me a while to not be in denial over this pregnancy and to accept it, so I hadn’t really thought about the outcome of this pregnancy and how scary everything can seem until now.  It was really around week 27/28 when Chris and I started to seriously prepare for Rocky’s arrival that I have started to truly embrace this pregnancy and fall in love with her, so I feel there is even more to lose with this recent strong emotional attachment I’ve developed to the little pudding I am baking in my uterus.  I guess this week has been when I have started to truly worry about how this child birth thing is going to go down!  But I know that it is natural to worry for most woman who are approaching child birth for their first time (and in fact I will hazard a guess that it is equally worrying for any subsequent pregnancy!).

Getting ready.  We have been busy bunnies – knowing our diaries were getting pretty full over the next few weeks we decided to get all the basics ready for Rocky’s arrival.  The weekend of Hurricane Matthew we made all our big purchases –

  • Strollers/buggies (one jogger, one ‘umbrella’ lightweight style) which all ‘click and connect’ to a car seat.  I think they call it a ‘travel system’.  Wow choosing a stroller is intense!  It was perhaps easier than choosing a new car (Although I suspect Chris would argue otherwise with my multi-criteria analysis for buying my car!!). We chose the Graco Modes Jogger Travel System (bah which I have just noticed on sale) and Graco Breaze Click Connect Umbrella Stroller.
  • Pack n Play – this is basically a travel play pen/cot/changing table/bassinett system.  It even has a a vibrating chair and a mobile with music.  Very cool.  Who knows if it will be practical?!?! We went with the Graco Pack n Playard Nearby Napper.
  • The Layette.  We went to a few consignment/second hand baby clothing stores/boutiques and bought the basics to get us started.  Burp clothes, muslins, sleep suits, sleep sacks, socks, onesies, a few adorable outfits, swaddles, baby health care stuff. And yes, we did actually buy some clothes from the boys section.
  • Baby video monitor.  This one completely overwhelmed me.  There were so many different choices.  In the end we chose one based off reviews online because how else do you choose these days?
  • Baby Carrier/ Sling. We had a bit of fun trying these all on in babies r us.  We tried to find one that suited both Chris and I…basically it is one big long piece of cloth right?  You would think it is easy to choose a sling! Well ummmm no.  We went with the Moby Wrap Evolution Baby Carrier in DENIM!  Oh yes the colour is very important of course ;-p
  • A diaper Genie!  Basically a diaper/nappy bin.  Do we really need one?  Apparently so!
  • Diaper/nappy bag.  Sooooo many different choices – rucksack/back pack/messenger back/giant purse!  Colours, fabrics, goodies, flaps and sections inside.
  • Nursery.  We have almost finished the nursery, we are just waiting on a few items to arrive that we ordered from http://www.thelandofnod.com (wow they have some adorable stuff – at an extortionate price too!)  The majority of the furniture we bought from ikea or is second hand.  So this meant we could splash out on some of the decor items – such as the wall decals.
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I love these decals and rug!!!

Pregnancy woes.  I have been lucky with my pregnancy so far, so I guess it is expected that the last trimester will have a few woes, I can’t escape lightly.

  • Vaccine OUCHIE. I’ve already written about the side effects of the TDAP vaccine!!  That took several days before it wore off!  But I survived, that is the most important thing.
  • Turning into a Whale overnight.  I am struggling with getting out of our bed – I have to roll off the edge and clamber back in with a lot of huffing and puffing – it’s a platform bed so it’s not easy to get in or out at the moment, I may need a ladder soon and I suspect this is only going to get worse over the next few weeks!
  • The smallest bladder in the world.  Which means I rarely sleep more than three hours in a row, maybe two or three times a week I might get three hours of sleep.
  • Hemorrhoids.  The past few weeks my poo has slowed down to one a day (from three a day) and this has meant that I am now also suffering from hemorrhoids.  They are literally a pain in the arse!  I am afraid of them bursting and bleeding suddenly and freaking me out that the blood is from somewhere else!
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Some mild relief from Hemorrhoids 😦

  • Anemia.  I had a follow up blood test after my initial results came back as slightly anemic during my 24 week appointment.  At my 28 week appointment my results just came back to say I am still anemic despite taking iron supplements.  But the cause remains unknown because my iron stores are good.  So!  More blood tests! Perhaps I’m actually anemic because they keep stealing my blood for all these tests 😦 In the meantime I have been told to keep taking my iron supplements (YEY these cause even more constipation which I am trying to combat with fibre supplements) and of course my prenatals (which I have been religiously taking for almost three years now!).

 Other exciting things whilst we countdown to R-Day (i.e. Rocky’s arrival!).  

  • Maternity leave planning.  I get 20 weeks of maternity leave.  In addition I have normal annual leave to take, home leave (where I get to fly back with my family to the UK for 2 weeks) and normal holidays such as Christmas, Easter etc all to account for.  My last day in the office will be 4 weeks before the expected R-Day, so 2nd December will be my last day!  This means I only have 2 weeks in the office because the rest of the time I am either travelling or training!  Whaaat?!!  How am I going to keep myself occupied for those 4 weeks?!  Well I have my Executive Development Program work to get ahead on before Rocky arrives.  Plus I have some knitting to do 🙂  I guess you might see me write a few more blog posts!  And we are still writing our book on infertility for friends and family.  Plenty to keep me relaxed.
  • Maternity photo shoot.  Although Chris will probably take some maternity photos of me, he can’t do photos of the both of us easily, so we decided to hire a photographer.  I selected 6 local photographers, and of course let Chris decide which one to go with as he is the pro! Naturally, he picked the most expensive one ;-p We paid our deposit and selected our location, so the photo shoot will be in a couple of weeks time! All we have to do now is figure out what to wear!
  • Travelling to Europe.  I have two more work trips to fit in….Bavaria, Germany and Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.  I love love love Bavaria at this time of year – the colours in the mountains are simply amazing!  And I am excited to be going to Luxembourg because I have never been before.
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My 30 week bump flying to Germany- and the plane’s seatbelt JUST fits round it!  I hope next time I fly I don’t have to ask for an extender belt :-s

  • Nesting.  You may recall we bought a new house earlier this year.  We have been slowly fixing things, decorating etc.  But the past week or so we decided to get as much done as possible – new sofa, new patio furniture, new kitchen table, hanging pictures, selecting photos to hang, organising the study/filing etc.  Chris has also been batch cooking sauces, chillis, stews etc to fill up our chest freezer. Bless him – he has been amazing at getting things ready because I have been, quite frankly, useless! This is what is called nesting!
  • Party planning.  I am not having a baby shower…but we are having a house, baby and birthday party to celebrate our new home and to enjoy some time with our friends before our family grows into three.  Oh and it is Chris’s birthday soon too.  So why not have a big bash?

That’s a long post – I’m sorry! But it has been a while and I wanted to capture everything that has happened in the past few weeks.  Signing off with a bump pic!

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It had been 11 weeks since the last bump pic!

PIO on the go

I had a plan!!!! My plan was to give myself the Progesterone in Oil (PIO) injection at Philadelphia airport lounge in between my two flights.  I would get some ice from the bar, put it in the ziplock bag I had packed and ice my backside to numb it.  I would then use the nice clean, usually quiet, restrooms to prepare and administer my injection – there are even sharps containers to dispose of my used needles.  It seemed perfect.

But nothing ever goes to plan in the land of infertility!!! Oh no!!!

My flight to Philadelphia got delayed once we boarded – we sat out on the pan for an hour, then they decided that the aircraft jet engine was actually broken (just as well we didn’t take off then??!) so we headed back to the terminal and de-planed.  Practically all the passengers on the flight were transfer passengers and because I was soooo desperate to pee I ended up at the back and so waited forever in the huge queue to figure out if it was possible for me to get my connecting flight to Amsterdam.  By the time I got to the agent, my flight in Philly to Amsterdam was boarding…so no, I wasn’t going to Amsterdam.  I explained to the agent that I didn’t mind flying the next day – but that flight was oversold already. Grrrrrr.  He was going to send me to Amsterdam via London – and I would need to stay in Heathrow airport for about 15 hours before getting to Amsterdam a day later.

Ummmm no.

So I asked about the possibility of getting to Brussels – my true destination.

After the attacks in Brussels I booked my flights via Amsterdam because there were still no direct flights with my preferred airline – American – from the US to Brussels.  But the agent said…hmmmmm I wouldn’t have thought about sending you to Brussels instead of Amsterdam, but if that is what you want then I can get you there via London tonight.  So I accepted the challenge of the additional transfer in London and decided what the heck, I’ll go to Brussels airport (I guessed it wouldn’t be that bad).  From that point onwards I was just unlucky with every flight and barely made the connections. My plan to do the PIO injection in a nice clean restroom went out the window, I was going to have to do it on the transatlantic flight.

I ended up doing the injection in the teeny weeny aircraft toilet.  Fortunately I got some ice so I was able to numb my backside whilst I prepared the injection.  It was pretty challenging to do all of this in the teeny toilet with no flat countertop space…., plus I just get the general heeby geebies about aircraft toilets (people are just so gross in them and never clean up after themselves -sorry grumpy frequent traveler whining!!!). Then there was the turbulence! Everything went slipping everywhere…the progesterone bottle…the needles…the alcohol swabs! Aghhhh!!!! Finally once I got the injection drawn up and ready to go, I got all flustered thinking about people waiting outside and wondering why the hell I was taking so long!  So it took me a couple of minutes to mentally – wooooohhhhsaaaaaaahhhhhh – breathe – relax.

I waited for the turbulence to calm down and I managed to finally give myself the injection and pierce the skin without any issues.  But of course it takes a few minutes for the oil to be injected because it is so thick…and whilst that was going on the turbulence came back!  I was hopping around the toilet trying to balance on one leg and not tense up my butt and leg muscles whilst the needle was still in it.  Very challenging indeed.

I then remembered it was the day to put on new vivelle dot patches (estrogen) on my tummy, as I was doing this I dropped everything on the floor.  Gross.

But despite all this, I barely had any blood after this injection (impressive considering all the joltyness), and I was super proud of myself for not completely freaking the f*** out.

Having said that….I don’t want to have to do that ever again!! I do not recommend to anyone doing this injection on the go.  I did the Lupron one in the plane toilet before and that was easy compared to the Progesterone.  If I’d been more organized I would have asked my doctor for some progesterone suppositories for the days I am travelling.

Anything to keep this little one growing inside me 🙂

PS.

If you are interested to know – my unexpected trip to Brussels airport wasn’t too bad, but it did trigger some thoughts.  I thought about that day as I went to pick up my luggage.  I thought about how that day there were many customs border staff stopping practically everyone to check their bags as they left the airport.  I recall that how at that time I laughed because I was one of the lucky ones who did not get my bag rummaged through.  But today as I went through customs there was only one man.  I thought about how if I had been stopped by customs that day, I probably wouldn’t have been upstairs in departures when the bombs went off.  It was then weird to walk out of the baggage area to see the boarded up area from where the damage had been caused from the explosions upstairs.  I recalled the images of this area in the media and matched it to what I saw today.  A shiver went down my spine as I tried to find my way out of the airport to the train station.  No starbucks for me today.  The route to the train station today brought us out through the parking garage I had found myself in immediately after the explosions, not knowing where the hell I was or where to go.  Today I found myself thinking back about my whole experience.  It was very solemn…but I was OK.

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IVF Diary Vol II: 15th Jan 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Gonal-F 300 iu & Menopur 150 iu.  Chris really is great at this injection thing.  I prepared the Gonal-F whilst Chris prepared the menopur.  We both read the instructions to remind us how to mix everything up, but like riding a bike, it was easy this time around.  Chris was a little bit nervous, but he needn’t have been, he did a great job.  I even looked down at the needle as he was injecting it – I am still not good at watching the needle break the skin though :-s.  The menopur did burn a bit as it went in, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I remember it to be.

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Medical procedures undertaken. Nil.

What are my symptoms? Period started right on cue yesterday morning!  Hot flashes and a bit of dizziness a couple of hours after my 2 first injections of this cycle.

How do I feel today?  A little bit annoyed that my plans to have a more relaxing stim period and 2WW are falling to pieces. Some short turn around-high impact work may fall on my plate next week.  I would have to forgo some of my steadfast principles for quality work and accept that in this case a 40% solution can only be delivered in the time lines given.  I have stuck to my guns though to some extent – where I was going to be taking the whole week off work, I am now only taking Monday and Friday off.  Tuesday and Thursday I will be working from home, Wednesday I’ll be in the office.  As we talked about this potential work, I started to feel sick to my stomach.  I started thinking back to last time around when I was trying to get my project finished and how stressed I was feeling about balancing the IVF process and work.  I let down my quality levels then – no one noticed (of course I noticed), in fact I got lots of praise for that piece of work.  Last week when a senior boss praised this work in front of the whole division I sat there quietly proud, but felt a bit sad that I had accomplished that with little help during a shitty time of IVF, followed by the whole ectopic pregnancy thing and ultimately miscarriage.  My boss has been great by not dumping everything on me right now, he quite easily could have done, but he didn’t so I appreciate that, but I can’t quite help  thinking about how IVF is holding me back from doing my absolute best.  I don’t think my colleagues around me think like that (fortunately they are all smart, intelligent people who know me), it is just myself I am fighting with these thoughts.

All that being said, I’ll talk about something positive.  We decided to go out for dinner at our local restaurant to celebrate surviving and nailing those first two injections.  Chris deserved his beer!  As we were finishing our meal the power went out in some of the building.  There was a storm that evening so it must have knocked the power out.  I said don’t worry, we are on a different power grid to our neighbours over the road (the block our restaurant was on) and last time their power went out, ours stayed on.  As we walked back, we realised that our grid was out and our neighbours’ over the road was on! Typical.  Fortunately we are well prepared for such events (for hurricanes and other storms etc), and carried on with the power of candles 🙂  It was a little bit romantic…I snuggled up in bed preparing for the power to be out all night and the temperature to dip.

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Power outage = Candle lit bedroom!! Fortunately we have quite a few candelabras left over from our wedding table decorations still 😉

But then came the hot flashes!  I needn’t have worried about keeping warm, it seemed the drugs were doing a great job of that for me!!

Any results?  Estradiol <20 (as it should be, the same as IVF 1).  Progesterone <.2 (as it should be, the same as IVF 1). FSH 3.21 miU/ml (IVF 1 was 9.29, in 2014 it was 6.8) LH 0.771 miU/ml (IVF 1 was 3.48, in 2014 it was 4.9).  My LH level came up as red in my results…this means it was out of the ‘normal’ range, it is very low.  But not by much.  So I looked into it.  Although lower FSH is good, low LH is not good…apparently calculating the FSH-LH ratio and knowing the LH levels are good predictors of IVF outcome.  Let’s just say that I read several scientific reports, plugged in my numbers and the stats aren’t good.  But, the good news is that I don’t care! Why?  Because women with this kind of level and ratio still got pregnant.  And I am going to be one of those women in 4 weeks time 🙂 In your face science!!! **

What’s next? The same injections Sat, Sun, then monitoring appointment on Monday morning.

Weight. Work stress = nom nom nom bads.  But I did do the mixed martial arts P90x3 routine and pushed myself hard, so I don’t feel so bad.

Waist.  NSTR

Boobs. NSTR

Hours of Sunshine 🙂 Still NONE.  Let’s see if the sun comes out this weekend!

Fun Activity to keep Dani from going insane. IT’S FRIIIIIIIIDAYYYYYYY!!  I need say no more.  Surprise date night.

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

** Reserve right to have science egg in my face later

IVF Vol 2 begins!

Yesterday my period arrived, just one day later than anticipated, but that’s all good.  I called my nurse and started with the Birth Control Pills (Reclipsen).

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Birth Control Pills (BCPs) – YEY!!!!

I will be on Birth Control Pills for 14 days (1 day longer than last time), then 3 days later we go into the Clinic for my Cycle Day 3 baseline ultrasound and blood tests – this time we won’t need to have all the lessons on injections – but we will need to sign some paperwork and sort out the finances.  Then the next day I get my instructions for injections…and we are off on IVF/ICSI cycle 2!  Here is a calendar of our cycle…

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Planned Dates for IVF Cycle 2.

It is all happening a week later than I expected, which puts me in a conundrum about work travels.  This would mean travelling for work almost the day after I take my first beta blood test.  If it is positive, then I will be flying transatlantic to the UK just 4 weeks pregnant, and have to figure out how I’m going to do these progesterone injections.  Or if it is negative and I am not pregnant, then I will be away from Chris at a sad time. Either way, it kind of sucks.  If I don’t go on this work trip then I will be a real let down to my team.  I’m hoping Chris might be able to come with me on this trip, but it is really hard for him to get the time off work.

Anyway, I am genuinely excited to be starting this cycle, but I had a little cry yesterday.  I think it was all the period hormones running around.  I cried because of the whole situation of fitting everything in life around this IVF cycle.  I’m trying to make it easier for myself by taking some leave off work, but it is a busy month for my team, there is lots of work to be done, I have already had to pull out of one work event (in Switzerland :-|) and so I feel guilty.  Despite feeling like this….I still have hope for 2016 🙂

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2016 is the year I will be stronger, braver, kinder and unstoppable.  This year I will be fierce!!!

For those of you who are new to the whole IVF process or want a reminder of how IVF works you can find a summary on my “What does it all mean?” page here.  Currently I am in Step 1 of the process!

 

Balancing Work and Infertility Treatment

I have been mostly open with my colleagues about the infertility treatment that we are facing.  I told a small number about the three IUIs, but in preparation for IVF I decided I needed to tell a few more of my colleagues in my team.  In fact, my team gave me a gift card for a nice restaurant as a I was about to take four days of sick leave for the Egg retrieval and embryo transfer for our first round of IVF.  But it’s not something that everyone is comfortable  initiating a conversation about it all with me.  They don’t know where the line is, so I try to  be open about it as much as possible and help them to feel comfortable asking me whatever questions they may have.

This ‘open’ approach has mostly worked in my favour; but that doesn’t mean it has been easy.  It is coming up to almost a year of treatment and my boss has known about my appointments and treatment for the majority of that time.  He has been accommodating, caring and supportive to my needs.  But ultimately, it doesn’t matter how supportive your peers and bosses are, there is the issue of the work that still needs to be done.

I feel unreliable, I feel flaky, I feel selfish and I hate not being flexible. I feel like the weak link in the team.  I hate that it is almost impossible to plan long term projects and work travel – a key part of my job.  I feel helpless, sometimes I feel useless.  I try to compensate by being overly proactive in areas that don’t require long term planning; I try to over achieve on short term goals and tasks.  But ultimately this impacts my career.  I feel like I have taken a career break. 

Juggling work with infertility treatment requires meticulous planning – and yet what are you told when it comes to IVF treatment?  Always expect the unexpected.  So planning for the unexpected becomes an overly stressful burden to your sanity.

For me, the first time we went through IVF it was a quiet time of year for us – August.  Many of my colleagues were on their summer holidays, so all was good.  This time around we are expecting to start stimulation in the New Year.  Things start to get a whole lot busier at work at this time of year.  I have already had to say no to travelling to Europe in January because it is likely my egg retrieval will be in that week.  Not attending this meeting in Europe may impact my involvement in the project overall.  Or simply just add another layer of stress even if I do pick it up afterwards from playing catch-up.

Then, there is the added problem of being physically at work; suffering from pain and tiredness as a result of the hormones and your body coping with the side effects of the drugs.  I tried to hide the pain.  I must have gone to the toilets about 25 times a day to hide.  Sometimes I just spent 5 minutes sitting there taking a timeout.  And it wasn’t just the physical pain, the emotional strain plays a part in all this too.  Simply put, the infertility treatment has also affected my mental focus on doing a good job.  For example, I was not satisfied with my output around the time of the IVF (I had a deliverable due just before the start of the IVF cycle – this was a terrible terrible idea!), although I know I am very self-critical and set high bars for myself – no one has actually complained about my work thus far.  I just hope that is because what I delivered was satisfactory, and not because people were afraid to upset me!!!

I just hate this.

And I am lucky that I do not have to lie to my colleagues.  I cannot imagine having that added pressure of guilt and keeping up with lies in addition to the stress of the treatment itself.  Some people need to keep their treatment a secret either for job protection or it is within their nature to keep family life private.

So what have I learned?  Second time around, I will schedule in a combination of annual leave and sick leave into my diary for the start of stimulation.  Fortunately it’s a new year of leave, so I will be able to do this this time around.  Who knows what would happen if we have to do IVF all over again after this round.  But this time, I’m going to try to focus on the treatment rather than juggling it with work.

Maybe I’ll take up some knitting or do some oil painting to keep me occupied.  I’m going to need to find something to keep my mind busy!!!

:-s

As for the long term impact on my career, well, I will just have to not worry too much about it just now.  Maybe if we get to summer next year and still no pregnancy, how I feel about my career is going to really influence my decisions about what we do next.

The Childless Analyst

I don’t really talk about my job much from the pure and simple fact that it is quite a dull subject to talk about.  But today I wanted to share with you something that happened this week.

I was observing a student class who had a task to describe the ‘persona’ of an analyst.  They had a template to fill out that included things like: name, role, tasks, products they produce, skills….their family and draw a picture of the analyst.  Now considering this is meant to be a ‘typical analyst’….there was always going to be some stereotyping involved with this task.

And here is what the students came up with:

the_analyst

They filled in the box under ‘Family’ a big fat X…i.e. no children.  They then discussed that in actual fact the analyst probably has a cat and some fish instead.  Well, apart from getting the name DAVE wrong, if they put DANI in the name box they would have been pretty accurate and I would have given them full marks!

But I simply sat there in disbelief as the students discussed why they put a big fat X in that ‘family’ box.

So, today I decided to give up Trying To Conceive because I have a greater desire to fit the stereotypical childless analyst in the eyes of my peers.  I haven’t discussed this with Chris yet, but I am sure he will be pleased that he can now get some fish again (he misses his fish)……

……….IN OPPOSITE LAND……..!!!!!!

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NaBloPoMo November 2015

Trying not to cry at work is HARD

On Tuesday, after my second beta test, I went home from work early so that I could receive the good or bad news in private.  But my results had not ‘come back in time’, so not knowing when I would receive my results, I went into work on Wednesday.  I was busy running around the office preparing for a one day workshop I was leading the next day when I received the phone call.  You may know already that the news was ‘not good’.  Receiving news like this whilst at work is difficult. My eyes were welling up when I dashed to the toilet quickly, passing one of my senior bosses and trying not to look him in the eye.   I called Chris and had a good old cry – lucky there are not many women at my work to gate crash my pity parade.  Chris said he would come to my work for a hug and he would be there in about 30 minutes.  So I collected myself, and headed back to my desk.  A colleague of mine who had promised to provide me some input to my project report for about 3 weeks decided to tell me he was not able to do it and he was going on leave the next day.  Let’s just say, this was the wrong time to be telling me this.  My attitude initially to him going on leave was….”and…..?????”.  I had waited some time for his input and my report was already late.  I said “No worries…..” in a very sarcastic and mean tone.  Then my friend walked past us happy and bubbly….realised she had just interrupted something and asked if she should go, to which I nodded.  Anyway, I was clearly in a grump.

After 40 minutes of being really pissy one minute, and on the verge of tears the next, Chris arrived at my work.  We had a big hug and cry together in my work car park (parking lot).  Chris stayed for a coffee, and we decided we would work from home for the rest of the day.  I went back to my desk to finish off my preparations for the next day when my colleague (who I had been grumpy to) asked if everything was OK?  So I told him about my phone call. I held back the tears as I said it, but said it was OK, I was going home for the afternoon, which he agreed I should do.  I felt a little bit bad for my pissyness, but I know he understood that it wasn’t personal against him.

Thursday….I kept myself super busy at my workshop all day, I hardly stopped to think about anything else other than work.  It was great!

Today, Friday, I had my third beta blood test.  It didn’t start out great as my appointment was already eating into some ‘compulsory training’ time at work…and of course, the clinic had a waiting room FULL of patients.  I was greeted by a nice enough nurse who I had never met before. I thought I had met them all!!!!  In fact, it was very bizarre, I noticed that the receptionist was someone I had never met before, and all the other nurses I saw wondering around were all new. I wondered briefly if they had done ‘swap staff with another clinic’ day.  V. weird.  Anyway, the nurse who took my blood was pretty distracted by another nurse who was ‘in training’ (who at my last beta test, I blamed for my late result 🙂 ).  They were gossiping, I did not appreciate a lack of attention when I was already upset with having to be there. Grrrr.

After I made into work this morning 40 minutes late, I sat in on about 1.5hrs of pointless training (I am actually already trained, and didn’t know they were going to be covering this same material).  You can tell it was going to be a good day for me….not.  The office was very quiet today, everyone was out on travel or on leave, which was probably a good thing, but I felt lonely.  So I took myself off to a quiet empty meeting room and typed up notes from Thursday’s workshop to keep me busy…but it was slow going, my mind kept wondering to my results.

At 2pm my phone rang, I was surprised because the results weren’t due back til 3pm.  It was the doctor who had done my egg retrieval and  transfer calling with the bad news.  He said my hCG levels were 395 (actually it turns out he was wrong, they were actually 345).  My first response was wow it went up again, OK – I wasn’t expecting that!  But he brought me back down to earth and said he did not believe this would be a normal pregnancy, he would expect an absolute minimum level of 800 by now, and I should stop taking my medications to prevent prolonging the pain (Emotional pain he meant), he did say that I could choose to stay on the meds if I wanted to be 110% sure, but he recommended to stop them. He also told me to arrange a follow up appointment with my doctor as soon as possible.  And that was it.  I actually did not cry, I was just confused.  Sad, but confused.  I stayed in my meeting room and focused on my task at hand, surprisingly I got a lot done in the next two hours.

It is so hard to not cry in front of work colleagues, but at the same time, being there has been a good thing when I needed to divert my mind’s wondering to sad things.

As I left work I received a phone call from my doctor, she started talking to me as if I did not know my results.  However, she was far more informative about my results and what she wanted to do next.  She told me that she agreed with the other doctor I should stop taking the medication, there is a very very small chance (about 1%) that this might be a viable pregnancy, but coming off the meds will not harm the developing foetus if in fact it is developing.  By stopping the medication my body will be allowed to do what it probably would ordinarily have done and let me bleed.  She wants to see me on Tuesday afternoon for an ultrasound and another beta test to be sure I do not have an ectopic pregnancy, although very unlikely, she wants to check.  It is normal if I don’t start bleeding for another 4-5 days, but in the mean time if I get any sharp sudden pains or difficulty breathing to call her immediately.  She also started talking about what we have in the freezer – we have just one blastocyst that was frozen on Day 5 stored away.  They won’t do a transfer with just one frozen, so we would have to do another round of IVF.  Can’t even think about that right now.

As soon as I got home I took off the estrogen patches from my stomach.  It feels good to not have anything stuck there, and we don’t need to think about doing an injection either.  I’m trying to think of the positives here!