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Infertility + Pregnancy = Pissed Off Boss

Literally on the morning I received the “Neena Comment” (see here for the blog post), I had my “End of the Year Review” with my boss. It’s amusing to me that in the same morning, both my boss and a total stranger would somehow bring up how much unhappiness my uterus has caused them. Take a number people… take a number.

As some of you may remember, I started the year off informing my boss that I would be doing a clinical IVF trial in February, which would entail me having to miss a few days of work (see here for that blog post). He was not only less than understanding but as memory serves, he actually physically backed away from me when I told him about my infertility issues… as if it were contagious.

Of course, the clinical trial failed and I eventually went on to IVF 3 around the end of May, which also required taking a few more days off from work. Given the current state of the economy and the overall job market, my “infertility trilogy” (which was definitely not as entertaining as ‘The Godfather’ trilogy) wasn’t looked upon kindly. And now that I’m pregnant and have regularly scheduled doctor appointments, I suspect my boss might have been rooting for my infertility to win. Sure, this would have meant I’d remain childless… but much to his happiness, I would also never have had any reason to leave my desk (except possibly to pee).

As you may or may not know, I’m a freelance writer and an occasional stand-up comic (I’m currently on a break from performing to avoid either throwing up or falling asleep while on stage). Even though I get steady writing jobs, it simply does not pay the bills… let alone for three in vitros. Therefore, I have a day job Monday through Friday where I use my B.A. in Theatre to portray a woman who finds expense reports, photocopying and meeting planning as exciting as an orgasm. I’m sure many of you can relate. It’s truly a rare thing to get paid for what you actually enjoy doing. I think Drew Carey said it best when he said, “You hate your job? They have a support group for that. It’s called everyone. They meet at the bar.

So, until I figure out a way to collect paychecks without working, I have no choice but to remain a corporate ho. Perhaps if I were a REAL ho, I could not only get paid, but I could lay down for a bit during the day… which admittedly… would be nice.

Getting back to my review though: My boss pointed out that I’ve missed work due to several appointments and/or medical issues (the medical issues being infertility and pregnancy). Going forward, he stressed that he needs me to be in the office as much as possible. In theory, I really do understand. My ovaries and uterine lining have had their own timetable this past year and they know nothing of my boss’s schedule. I can totally appreciate that my reproductive trials and tribulations have often cut into work time. However, the fact remains that I am finally pregnant and this means, like it or not, I do have to take time away from work. I mean, I consider myself talented in many, many areas but I’m simply not capable of giving birth in my cubicle without attracting some attention. If that’s what it comes down to, I’ll at least have to make sure I put out a tip jar. Why not?

The thing is even when I have been out of the office after various retrievals, for my polyp removal surgery, while I’ve been on various bed rests and most recently, right after my amnio, I’ve always plugged in to work from home… even when I was still waking up from anesthesia (which explained the very unfortunate email I sent to the Chief Operating Officer of my company telling him how many eggs we got).

My point is that even though I have missed time here and there, nothing has ever been dropped, I’ve gotten my work done and I’ve made every effort to do everything I can to balance both my fertility and my job. And I swear – if he had any idea what it was like to go through infertility treatments, an abundance of hormones and worst of all – negative betas, all while trying to work and appear normal, he’d not only be shocked that I’ve shown up to the office at all but that I’ve managed not to attack fertile co-workers with my pencil sharpener.

I just can’t help but wonder if perhaps I had never taken time off for the infertility treatments in the first place, whether he might have been more patient about the pregnancy itself. There’s just nothing I can do about that now though. If only in addition to maternity leave, companies considered infertility time. Or how about just a mental health day? Something! Throw an infertile a freaking bone Corporate America!

For now, my focus is on trying to schedule early appointments before work and resist the urge to staple things to my bosses head. Hopefully soon, somehow, my boss and I can start 2012 in nothing but a positive, happy place where he and I never again discuss what is and isn’t coming out of my birth canal and how it affects my day job.

Lastly, I did want to briefly acknowledge the overwhelming response to the Neena Post from last week. I have no idea if she ever checked back or if she read any of your many entertaining, humorous, blunt and hard core responses but I personally was blown away by how insightful they were. I also want to thank you for so many kind, encouraging words. It meant a great deal to me – truly. It was ‘Exhibit A’ that many who read my blog are supportive, generous, thoughtful, funny as hell, good people. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

27 thoughts on “Infertility + Pregnancy = Pissed Off Boss”

  1. Bosses can be total a-holes about medical issues. My fiance had CANCER and his boss gave him grief for going for radiation treatments. Because I guess a dead employee is somehow more productive???

    I'm sorry you're having problems with yours. Maybe you need to stage an IF-themed version of A Christmas Carol for him.

  2. what an asshole
    don't mind him
    focus on your little miracle

    if you aren't in love with your job and it's just a paycheck – who cares? worse comes to worse, you'll find another one like that

    no, scratch that – you can find a better on

  3. How awful! My former male boss always treaded so lightly when I mentioned fertility issues. I wish yours would have done the same instead of making you feel guilty for not having functioning body parts. People suck. So sorry you have to deal with this BS, Jay.

  4. It's all kinds of medical issues – a coworker is out with kidney stones and the boss pointed out how convenient that is because it's the coworker's birthday today. Female health brings on the worst attitude but really it's just everything.

  5. Can you say the word vagina or uterus or something like that to make him extremely uncomfortable next time he gets on your case? Maybe tell him something completely ridiculous and nonsensical like "I'm sorry I was late today but I was having vaginal cramps this morning!" or report him to HR? What an ass. I hope his kids hate him as well.

  6. My first boss at my last job was uber supportive of my infertility needs. However, when boss #2 (aka, the bitch) took her place, she was NOT so supportive and made my life miserable to the point where I would lie about my doctors appointments, or end up apologizing for taking a "really long lunch."

    She once got mad at me because I did not tell her about an ultrasound I had at 6:30 am … something that in no way affected my work schedule. Luckily for me, our HR manager had both of her children via IUI and was able to tell my manager to shove it ever so politely. Unfortunately, she was still a bitch and I ended up lying to her and using my infertility appointments as an excuse to really go interview for a new job.

    I'm sorry that you have a boss who just isn't understanding about what you have to go through. It's hard enough taking that leap and filling them in, even though legally you don't have to, but for the sake of being a good employee and being honest. I definitely hope 2012 is much better for you!

  7. is ENTIRELY against the law to demote, fail to promote or fire a woman based on pregnancy and pregnancy related issues. The same applies to medical issues, which your infertility treatments qualify as. I would be happy to run you a million attorneys phone numbers who would have a friggin field day with your boss. I hope he wrote that bs on your evaluation and you got a copy of it. You were looking for a way to collect a check without actually going to work…this guy seems to be in full support of having that happen for you. It's called a lawsuit!! 🙂

    Feel better honey. Keep a paper trail. Get a lawyer. Confucious Say: Lady with insensitive boss, get paid for her patience.

  8. What a douche! Just remember that in the long run, this guy giving you grief doesn't really matter. Just do your job, and keep smiling, excellent actor that you are.

    I'm lucky that my boss, while an a-hole in other ways, has been completely supportive of my time off for my 3 IVFs, and doesn't blink when I need to work from home the days I now see my OB.

  9. Thanks for the laughs today Jay. What a great way to end the week! I'm going through the same thing, but luckily have a nice boss and a workplace that doesn't ask where I am ever, (for the most part I've been pretty sneaky and quiet about everything) but it's hard to schedule IVF and monitoring appointments during the working hours and hope nobody schedules a conference call while I'm supposed to be away.

    Gosh, at least you're pregannt when he came down on you. If you weren't yet and he mentioned all the time lost for IF issues, OMG, how sad! I'd have cried like a baby and then called a lawyer like the woman above said. 🙂

    Great comments today too. Hilarious. I definitely think you should throw some female anatomy words at him when he mentions this again. 🙂

  10. I've had similar experiences with my job. So many doctor's appointments. then pregnancy more doctor's appointments. then a preemie in the NICU for a month. By the time I got to actually have maternity leave, I'd used all my sick time and vacation time. My boss never came out and said anything but I got that feeling that I'd better get my butt back to work ASAP. Good luck!

  11. Ahhh! The life of a corporate ho! Love it… People can be so insensitive… Great post Jay, always appreciate it 🙂

    I agree with another poster- if it's not your dream job, try not to let them suck the life out of you!!!

    Hope you are feeling well this week and the munchkin is doing fabulous <3

  12. Uh he just sounds like a total DOUCHE!! Fortunately I have the most amazing support network and haven't had to deal with that. Not sure of the HR standards in America but pretty sure you get personal leave and annual leave and are actually entitled to them. Some people are just morons! Good to have you back Jay 🙂

  13. I have such a sour feeling in my stomach. I totally missed the "Neena" post before now. As someone who has been through multiple surgeries, IUI's and "only 3 IVF's" AND a stillborn…….I know the anger that all of that instills in a person. However, that being said, it makes me really sad to see someone take that anger out on another infertile. And it IS hurtful at the stage I'm at for someone to imply that I'm fraud for claiming to be infertile at this point. I may have a living daughter but I also am back to being infertile. I saw how many responses you got to this persons comment to you so I won't try to elaborate any further. It's just sad when us "infertiles" have to even attack each other. I've seen these kinds of hurtful comments on other blogs and have feared getting one on my own. I just don't know that I could take such an attack and come out being the better person how you did. I think my husband would for sure encourage me to retire my blog at that point.
    I'm sorry that your boss is such a prick. I always feel like my work is hell but if anything, they've always been supportive of my struggles and getting time off has never been an issue. It's just sad to see so much hate and misunderstanding. I'm sorry you had to deal with it being directed at you.

  14. I agree with what others have said— totally illegal and worth talking to HR about if he gives you a bad review– ya weren't out cause ya had a hangover it was MEDICAL. Sorry you have to go through this.

  15. what a dick, I think most jobs don't want you to be having fertility treatment because hopefully that will lead to pregnancy. Blah blah medical issues theyhave to by law give us the time off same goes for pregnancy related one.

  16. What a terrible douche bag of a boss! Not only is he a jerk but he's also completely inappropriate on behalf of the company! I agree with the previous posters – write this shit down!!!

  17. Okay, I guess your boss has a right to complain about whatever he wants to… but I know that in Georgia, infertility AND pregnancy are considered disabilities. You know what happens when you give someone a bad review based on their disabilities? BAD things (for him, obviously). Now, I'm not sure how the HR laws are in New York… but surely to God their at least as progressive at the ones in Georgia. Maybe someone should remind him of those laws in an anonymous e-mail 🙂 Gah, what a jerk!

  18. Agree with Wonder Woman. You need to get his comments in writing and print them for back up.

    He has no right to let you go nor to make your life hell due to medical reasons.

    Just because we're in a Recession doesn't mean that you have to waste your life away at a job that you don't like. You're a gifted writer and now that you're becoming a parent, I wonder if you could get a job at a Parenting Magazine.

    Life is to short not to enjoy especially with your little one on the way. If he's like this now with all that you've been through, how is he going to be after the baby is born?

  19. Ummmm…what is your boss going to do when you are out on maternity leave? Does he realize that you won't be giving birth and immediately returning to the office? What a jerk! But yeah, if you do give birth in your cubicle, a tip jar is completely appropriate.

  20. So sorry you are dealing with a boss like that. Like others have said, make sure you write everything down. I am unfortunately/fortunately unemployed so I don't have to deal with that when I need to go to doctor visits.
    On a nicer note you are so funny!

  21. So it's basically illegal for your boss to say anything to you at all regarding your medical issues. I'm sure other commenters are saying the same thing. Just know that the law is on your side in this in case you ever need it. And human resources will be, too.

  22. I just cant get the image of you attacking someone with a pencil sharpener out of my head… I have this crazy image in my head and it is how I feel every time someone asks me "why don't you just adopt" or says "what is wrong with you?" AHHHHHHH! Also, ur boss is a douche… but I have been there as well. It is not easy… I got the eye rolls and the long drawn out oooookkkkkk's when I submitted yet another time off slip. What can you do though? There comes a time when you decide to not give a shit because obviously having a baby is way more important to you than a job you hate anyways! Am I right??

  23. I had the fortunate experience of having awesome boss support during the many fertility treatments, surgeries, D&Cs, etc (including one boss who was back in the office fresh from her own IVF twins). BUT THEN, the moment I finally had a pregnancy that stuck, a new crazy-evil boss from hell rolled in and added a million layers of stress to my already stressful high-risk pregnancy. He totally picked on ME more than anyone — it was really strange — and threatened my job constantly (even though I had just been promoted before he started).

    The good thing, though, was everyone loves a pregnant lady — and I got mountains of support from kind colleagues who felt especially bad for me, which helped a lot. What kinda asshole gangs up on a (hard-working, well-liked) pregnant lady? We reported him multiple times for crazy shit he did. And, finally, a couple weeks before I had my son, he was fired. But it took me a LONG time to get over that stressful period in my life (though that was just kinda mixed in with all the IF trauma, losses, white-knuckle-ride pregnancy, etc).

    My advice, though — don't let this jerk-wad take any of your joy at this time. He's probably a very miserable person inside. Seize yourself some nice moments in the workday if you can sneak them in (e.g. take a long lunch to try on maternity pants, take nice walks, read those dumb Babycenter updates, etc).

    I also work in NYC and have often felt so much pressure to skip lunch, be seen at my desk a million hours a day, reschedule doctor appointments until my bladder is about to explode from some infection, etc. But really, you've gotta take care of yourself… especially when there's going to be a little one counting on you.

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