#Microblog Mondays: Infertility Leave

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Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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A friend sent me an article a couple of weeks ago discussing “Infertility Leave” as the new maternity leave. It was an interesting read, it touches on how much of a toll infertility takes on a woman’s career and the juggling act that is required. It touches on the egg freezing option that both Google and Facebook are now offering, which shows that family planning is starting to be considered by some companies (though the whole egg freezing is probably a step in a different direction altogether).

At first, I thought infertility leave sounded like a great thing but after having it roll around in my mind for a bit, I’m not so sure. For one, it would mean opening up to your employer about infertility, which I know a lot of people (myself included) are not comfortable with. Secondly, even if employers offered it, I think there would still be a stigma attached to using it, and other employees would judge from lack of understanding. Overall, I think it would still be a hindrance to ones career, whereby using an “infertility leave” would leave you open to judgement, and being passed over for opportunities for growth. I know of quite a few ladies who have given up careers to focus on trying to conceive, or carry a healthy pregnancy. But is it fair that they have to choose? Or what about those of us who have to work? If your company offered it, would you take advantage?

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19 thoughts on “#Microblog Mondays: Infertility Leave

  1. nonsequiturchica

    I didn’t tell my (now retired) boss about my first IVF cycle. I can’t imagine that I am going to tell my new boss about my next IVF cycle either. Why not just have more generic sick leave for everyone that people can take advantage of whether they have cancer, infertility, or something else?

    • Yeah I’m not comfortable with telling my boss either. Unfortunately, if there were to be more general illness time, there are those that would ruin it for every one else by abusing it.

  2. I am one of the ones who has quit my job to focus on growing our family. Yes, I’m fortunate to be able to afford this, but as a female professional in a male dominated industry, my decision to leave work has essentially also made my family planning very public. And we fully expect that this will hinder my ability to return to my profession on an equal footing to my male colleagues. So, no I don’t think an infertility leave will be utilized by professionals if such a thing is ever created.

    • Yes, I was actually thinking of you when I wrote that part. And I’m interested to hear that you wouldn’t use it, even if the opportunity presented. At first I was thinking that I would be the lone person who probably wouldn’t be comfortable taking advantage of that sort of benefit, but maybe my mindset is more common than I think.

      • I guess I could have used it before I resigned, but I’m sure that would have been really looked down upon.

        The one good thing about such a leave is that it would raise awareness to infertility struggles, which could help breakdown some of the silence.

      • Yeah, that’s my issue with it, people wouldn’t understand, and would judge. But I suppose if it became common enough people would learn more, and it would be accepted just like any other medical condition.

  3. This is such a fascinating debate. I struggled with time off work after our recent loss, but in the end, I took it. After returning to work, my one month absence didn’t seem to matter much. I realize I am very fortunate to have an employer that knows about my situation and is supportive. This is not common. An infertility leave could be months – if not years -long! We all know there are no guarantees when it comes to treatment. I would like to see workplaces supporting more flexibility for time off for appointments, etc, but just like the egg freezing debate, I’m not so sure an infertility leave would promote equality or progression for women.

    • Yes, it’s a very fine line. I would appreciate having more time and flexibility for appts and what not, but then that means opening myself up to conversations and situations I am not comfortable with. I wouldn’t be so worried about the time I am gone, and leaving my company in a lurch because all in all most of us are pretty expendable. Yes our workplaces would maybe stumble, and have to pick up the slack but most of us are not integral pieces of the corporate foundation. It’s the perception I have an issue with. You are right, in that you are so lucky that your employer is understanding and supportive.

  4. Yes! My company has FMLA so they know I am using it for infertility. Although it’s such a big company I don’t deal with management directly. So they don’t know the reason behind my intermittent absence. If I had to deal with management idk if I would be comfortable saying anything.

  5. I haven’t taken official leave for infertility, but I’ve taken a lot of sick time. I do, however, know a lot of people who have taken leave for infertility or its aftermath, but not as “infertility leave.” I feel like as a society we’re not ready for that. I agree there would be judging. I wish it weren’t the case, as it would be great to have leave available separate from your sick time (I feel like I am eating away at my maternity leave sick time by taking so much for IVF cycles and associated surgeries), but it wouldn’t work for everyone. I am lucky to have very supportive administration at my school, and they know about my situation and are very family-oriented, but I know this is not the case for everyone. Although, I just found out about this Family Sick TIme that is separate from your own sick time at school, and I wondered if I could use it for infertility appointments and rest times. Or would that be looked down on? Not sure. Sigh, so complicated though I wish it wasn’t.

    • Yeah I can use sick time, but like you, I’d rather save it for when I really need it (I’m hoping for when I’m suffering morning sickness or some such other pregnancy related malady.)

  6. I didn’t have infertility leave, but I was open with my boss and let her know about those early morning blood draws et al. She flexed my classes so my planning period was the first period. If I was late to school, it didn’t inconvenience anyone else. I tried to cover for other teachers (and have them cover for me) vs. using subs for days when I had to be out. But I had a very kind principal. I don’t think I would have been open like that with just anyone.

  7. Here from MicroblogMondays (and happy to have found this post!). Like many, I was very quiet with my employer about our journey, both with treatments as well as our losses (I ended up giving my final exam right after retrieval and a second exam the night I miscarried a second time). I know for a fact that though they would have been kind, taking time for growing a family would have hurt me career-wise.

    I agree with Jess’s comment that our society isn’t ready for infertility leave. It’s barely able to handle maternity leave (3 months unpaid leave is a joke) and child-care is a mess in this country. Hence though I think it’s a great idea, I also think we have a long way to go before we’re ready for this.

    • Yeah, I agree that it’s still a long ways off. I am lucky to live in Canada and would be eligible for one year mat leave. It’s pretty terrible what we, going through IF, deal with to not let it affect our professional lives.

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