Struggling with fertility can be a very lonely place. We often struggle with questions such as “who do we tell?” “Who will understand and support?” “Whose business is it anyway?” Coping at work without telling anyone can be tricky and isolating.
We all know how workplaces celebrate when someone falls pregnant. This is a particularly difficult place to be when everyone is so happy and you are feeling like you’re the only person in the world who can’t get pregnant. Then of course you become the focus of attention because “it must be your turn soon”. Listening to talk from new parents about sleepless nights, first teeth or cute language, let alone the constant sharing of photos and videos can all be a bit overwhelming and depressing.
There are a few ways to manage and cope with this constant battering. Sharing your thoughts can really help keep you grounded and calm when the infertility stress ball is building. Journal writing can be very useful and cathartic. You can write to yourself, expressing your innermost thoughts about the people in your office, the events around you or even your own internal rollercoaster. Journaling has been a part of therapeutic practice for many years and the reason is because it works. Some words are best written not said out loud. In a journal you can say what you want, release your anger, tension, jealousy, and then shut the book and it’s done. Keeping a journal tucked away in your filing cabinet or bottom drawer allows you to journal when intrusive thoughts come throughout the day. When you find you can’t focus on that phone call you need to make, email you need to write or meeting you have to attend, because you just need to scream. You can ‘scream’ into your journal. You can write in the journal, do a quick mini meditation to re-focus and get back to work, with no one the wiser. Just a small note – make sure you hide that journal so that co-workers don’t find it and read what you really think about them!
Another way to cope at work is to find someone to confide in. Someone you trust will understand and help make the workday that bit easier, knowing that they know the pain you are feeling. They don’t have to do anything in particular, except understand and be there with a gentle touch or glance, when the next pregnancy news is announced. They can rescue you from being trapped in looking at photos of little Suzie’s 1st birthday party, or they can take you out to lunch when everyone is talking about the latest Royal baby! Finding someone to trust may come from an unexpected place, you may not want to tell someone who may be the next person to get pregnant. It may be the older mother of grown children, a male colleague with infertility or someone you haven’t really had that much to do with, it may even be that woman in the office who has been married a while, no children and mysteriously disappears when baby photos are produced. You just never know where kindness can come from, but what we do know, is that sharing makes this journey that little bit easier.
A good friend at work can sustain you through balancing the demands of hormone injections, doctor’s visits, coping with a swollen stomach, stomach pains, nausea and headaches. They can understand the disappointment of unsuccessful cycles and the growing tension between you and your partner, and they can ease that internally nagging voice in your head that tells you “if only you hadn’t waited …….. if only you hadn’t put your career first”.
Having infertility can feel like a full time job in itself. Having to balance it with the demands of a career is challenging and difficult. Give yourself a bit of a break and find someone to walk alongside you in your 9-5 day.
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