The silver lining

I am not one to talk about my career on here. This may be one of the last times I directly reference it, but I felt the need to share this story with you.

As you may have already read, I’ve had some major shake ups at work lately. My boss left. I was reassigned to a new role. Another key member of our team left. Then, they reassigned us to a different Director. All of this happened between the time we got home from IVF and yesterday.

I’ve been anxious about having a new Director when my last one was so supportive of our fertility journey.

When I informed my work I would be taking the full 4 weeks off, my new Director insisted on meeting me when he came to town yesterday. My HR rep told me the choice was mine as I am still off on disability, but I felt like the pressure was on to go in.

Our meeting was nothing I could have expected. They offered me a managerial role to run my entire department. This is a newly created role to off-set the assignment of the new Director. They need someone to manage the day-to-day operations and they chose me.

Why is this significant?

My workplace knows that I just experienced an ectopic pregnancy loss. They know that I have been pursuing fertility treatment and that we plan on continuing until we have a baby. In their eyes, this didn’t matter when it came to my promotion. They told me they will support whatever time off I need for appointments. They even encouraged me to make sure I am ready to come back as they don’t want to overwhelm me with the new role. I am still going back next Monday though. 

On top of all of this, I am one of less than 10 women in a tech company. I am the only woman in my department and now I will be leading it. I am honoured to work for a company that promotes women and does not let their personal journeys hold back their careers.

Three years ago, I left a government role because I didn’t feel like I could raise a child and continue my career there. Very few people in my department had children and it seemed as if you couldn’t move up if you did.

I have no doubt in my mind that my current company will allow me to continue my career and have a family. I so grateful to pursue this new opportunity.

I didn’t think anything good could possibly come after our pregnancy loss. I’ve been struggling to see the light, but yesterday was my first real day without crying.

I’ve felt lost over the past year. Our fertility journey drained me and my aspirations. It left me feeling like I had no purpose in life.

This new role has given me purpose. I am so excited to return to work, to be busy and to have something else to focus on other than miscarriage and infertility.

Thank you universe for giving me this gift. 

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Taking time off work to deal with a pregnancy loss

When I first ended up in the hospital after my tube ruptured, I was like ummm how do I even start explaining this to my employer?

Here are some tips and advice I learned along the way following our ectopic pregnancy loss.

Contact your HR Representative

Your HR department should have the most up-to-date information on what benefits and leave options are available to you.

HR also has a level of confidentiality that they have to maintain for you. Going to them can help eliminate awkwardness or emotional conversations with your manager. I found that my HR rep was also more sympathetic and concerned about me fully recovering versus how many days I may miss and what work would be waiting for me upon my return.

Personally, I didn’t do this. I contacted my Director (who I directly report to) first. In the end, this was a lesson learned. I ended up liaising with my HR rep more than my boss.

My HR rep reminded me that you do not have to divulge your full medical history to your manager. The choice is yours as to how much you disclose. When I spoke with my boss, I focused more on the physical recovery than my emotional state.  I didn’t want him to think I was some hormonally-crazed woman – even though I really was. haha

Choose which leave is right for you

Sick Leave

For someone who can’t miss much time off work (especially if your loss is following a fresh IVF cycle where you have already taken time off), your best bet is sick leave. The amount of days you qualify for depends on your company’s benefits. Speak to your HR rep for more details.

Short-term Disability 

My HR rep recommended short-term disability immediately when I told her about my surgery. Short-term disability (STD) works well if you 1) don’t have a lot of sick time 2) plan on being off for more than a week.

Ensure you get the info to process your application ASAP. Depending on your plan, there can be a specific number of days post-surgery in which you have to apply.

If you chose STD (seriously who chooses these acronyms?), you will have to get your doctor to fill out a form disclosing certain details about your medical condition and the amount of time they recommend you take off work. Your employer will also have to complete a form.

Short-term disability usually has a waiting period before it kicks in. For me, it was 7 days. During this time, you can use your sick time.

Typically, you will wait 5 business days or longer from the date their receive your application until you receive confirmation of approval. It proved to be a pain in the ass trying to find out whether my claim was approved or not. I played phone tag for a few days before our benefits provider finally gave me the stamp of approval.

Typically, you are also looking at a decreased salary. I think mine was in the range of 66.7%; however, this is definitely better than an unpaid leave.

My time off was broken down like this:

  • 1st week: Waiting period of 7 days, used sick leave with full salary
  • 2nd-4th week: Short-term disability with pay of 66.7% of full salary

The catch with STD is if you need time off beyond the initial approved period, you will need to resubmit medical statements from your doctor and have your claim reassessed.

Bereavement Leave

During my extensive Google search, I learned that some, but not many, employers honour bereavement leave for a miscarriage. It’s worth it to ask if this is valid at your company as it saves your sick days and could be allotted towards your waiting period if you choose a disability leave.

Maternity Leave

If your loss occurred in the 3rd trimester, you may qualify for up to 17 weeks of maternity leave. Double check your provincial labour laws to ensure this applies in your area.

Vacation or unpaid leave

If your worst case scenario means that you do not have access to any of the above mentioned options, you could also consider taking vacation or an unpaid leave. I truly hope that no one is faced with having to choose this last resort option. Recovering from a miscarriage is anything but a vacation. However, an unpaid leave might be the best choice if you need more time to heal beyond your approved paid leaves.

Decide when to return to work

Recovering from a miscarriage – no matter how far along you were – is not an easy task.

If you had surgery, there is always a recommended recovery time. Obviously, this can change due to complications, infection or even just how fast your body personally heals. Following my laparoscopy to remove my rupture tube, my surgeon told me he recommends minimum 2 weeks off for an office job. I was starting to feel physically better at 2.5 weeks, but I was an emotional wreck. I chose to take just under 4 weeks to ensure I was headed back to work with a clear head. This was an easy choice for me because my doctor and short term disability approved me to be off for up to 4 weeks.

If the leave you selected meant you are approved for a specific amount of time, you can choose to return to work earlier or later. Speak with your HR rep about how to return to work sooner than anticipated. If you need more time off, speak with your doctor.

I do recommend that you consider taking the necessary time for self care. But ultimately, how much time you take following a pregnancy loss is a personal choice that only you can make.

I want to thank the women who encouraged me to take the time I needed over the past few weeks.

These options are based on my experience in Canada (sorry US and International folks). There is no guarantee that these options will be available to you. Double check your benefits plan and local legislation to see what you qualify for. 

If you stumble upon this post and are currently in the first few days following your loss, my heart breaks for you. I hope this helps ease some of the anxiety you may face around taking time off to deal with your pregnancy loss. XO

The infertile in the corner

Last night I went to my first major social outing since our loss. It was a house party to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday.

The good news is I didn’t get absolutely intoxicated. I had a few beers (meaning the most I’ve had since the beginning of July), but in the end, I came home almost sober.

The bad news is I had to deal with a group of fertile women who had no clue that they were being insensitive.

It was one of those occasions where the crowd just doesn’t mix well. Her friends vs. his friends = awkward. Fortunately for me, I know both sides. To start, I sat in between both groups as to participate in whichever conversation I enjoyed more at the time.

Her friends don’t have children. Most are married, but one woman is single.

His friends all have children. My husband and I and the hosts themselves were the only ones from that group without kids.

Anyway, the wives of his friends started discussing their birth stories. Yes, you heard me right. They were discussing their birth stories right beside the woman who experienced her first and only pregnancy loss just over 2 weeks ago.

I tried to ignore it, but it was just too much. They talked about when they realized they need to go to the hospital, how they made it up to labour and delivery, etc.

I got up and went outside for a bit.

After that, my night was tainted. I went and sat on the other side of her friends as to avoid his friends – and their incessant baby chatter – as much as possible.

Throughout the night, a few of his friends wives asked how I was doing. I just said, “I’m ok“. One of the wives even asked when I was returning to work. See, it’s not as if they don’t know. 

While we were cleaning up at the end of the night, I told the wife of the birthday boy that I couldn’t believe they would talk about that in front of me. I understand that they don’t get it, but still. There is a thing called common sense. 

Her response was, “Oh Lindsey, you always so sensitive.

She proceeded to go on and say that she totally supports how we are pursing treatment to have a child, but that I need to get over some things.

She doesn’t get it. I am not JUST doing fertility treatments. I am not JUST recovering from surgery. I am mourning the loss of our baby girl. She totally does not understand how profound a loss of a child is.

She told me that I will have a baby one day and I need to not let what people say get to me.

I responded by telling her that there are NO guarantees that we will have our OWN child and that maybe those people need to become more aware as to not be so insensitive themselves.

She gave me a hug and apologized for her own insensitivity, but kept reminding me to stop being so sensitive.

I fumbled for words knowing that whatever I said would probably not make a difference at this point.

I feel like I should have spoken up. I should have asked them to change the topic. I should have pointed out their insensitivity.

Instead, I did what so many in my situation have done before me.  I held my tongue. I left the room. I let myself feel ostracised. I didn’t enjoy the party.

Please dear God, give me strength and a voice to endure the many challenges I expect to face as we move forward on this journey. Please show me the way to create awareness to make this world an easier place for those of us facing infertility and miscarriage. 

MSF conference discount code & IAAC survey

This post is directed at my Canadian fertility sisters. If you know anyone in Canada, please share! 

MSF Mind-Body Fertility Conference

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A few months back, I wrote about an upcoming Mind-Body Fertility Conference in Toronto. If you are in Toronto-area and have been hesitant to register, I have some GREAT NEWS!

Use the discount code “MindBody” and receive 50% off your registration.

For $50, you get to hear 14 fertility experts including a keynote from Julia Indichova, author and founder of fertileheart.com.

To register, visit http://msfconference.ca/.

If you go, please send me an email and tell me what you learned!

Infertility Association of Canada (IAAC) Survey

The Infertility Association of Canada (IAAC) has launched a 9-question survey directed at infertility patients to gauge your awareness of the organization and your needs.

PLEASE take 5 minutes to fill it out: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CKHF5DV

I am quite passionate about increasing awareness of infertility in Canada. IAAC has a long way to go to be comparable to Resolve in the US, but with your support, we can get there.

IAAC is always looking for new voices, faces and hands. I have recently become a volunteer and a friend of IAAC.  If you are interested in helping out, check out their website for more information or send me an email.

Acupressure for fertility success

If you know me, you know I’m an avid Googler. I love finding new information and resources to help me throughout life – especially on my fertility journey.

Heidi Brockmyre came across my radar a few months ago. Today, I watched the replay of her recent live training: Acupressure for Pregnancy Success. 

Acupuncture points and acupressure points are the same thing. You just use your fingers instead of needles!

This topic interests me as we all know acupuncture can be costly and time consuming. Months ago, I tapped out my acupuncture benefit coverage for this year. I was fortunate that my local acupuncturist was willing to give me a special price to offset our cost. While we were away for our IVF cycle, I spent $365 alone on 4 treatments during the retrieval/transfer phase.

I like the concept of being able to practice fertility self-care. It saves you money and time while actively involving you in each phase of your cycle.

In the live training, Heidi talked about empowering women to be aware of their bodies. This spoke to me after enduring an ectopic pregnancy. If I wasn’t in tune with my body, I probably wouldn’t have rushed to the hospital when I did. I am always paying attention to my body for signs and symptoms that are normal or irregular.

When I’m having a natural fertility cycle, I sometimes experience pre-flow spotting, menstrual cramps, clotting, and PMS. I also tend to have later ovulation times. In traditional Chinese medicine terms, improvements could definitely be made to my cycle. After listening to Heidi explain signs of imbalances, I would say I show potential signs of blood stasis, stress, hormonal imbalance, digestive deficiency, and low reproductive energy. Um… that was all of them! 

The good news is my flow is MUCH better than it was when I first started trying to conceive. With a combination of acupuncture, acupressure and diet, I will continue to see improvements.

Heidi uses the formula: healthier menstrual cycle = a more fertile cycle 

A healthier cycle means:

  • Increased blood flow
  • Decreased stress
  • Healthy digestion
  • Hormone regulation
  • Boosted reproductive energy

Heidi demonstrated an acupressure sequence to build a healthy uterine lining. Healthy lining is necessary for implantation and also helps to nourish a sustainable and lasting pregnancy. This protocol was quick, easy and effective. I felt tension in areas where she said I might. I also noticed I was more relaxed at the end of the session.

This live training was an intro to Heidi’s new program Fertility at Your Fingertips™. This virtual self-care acupressure program can be used for natural, medicated, IUI, IVF or FET cycles. In fact, Heidi gives you both streams: natural cycle or ART cycle. The acupressure protocols line up with specific times during your cycle. You can do them anytime, anywhere in just 15 minutes. The program also includes a protocol for early pregnancy and one for your man (or sperm donor if he’s known) to make his swimmers faster and stronger. On top of all this, Heidi offers a ton of bonuses!

I don’t promote products on my blog unless I believe in them. I’ve purchased the Fertility at Your Fingertips™ program help me on the next phase of our fertility journey. I’m looking forward to using the acupressure to compliment my existing yoga and meditation practise (which I’d like to start up again once I’m fully healed from my laparoscopy). I won’t be going back to acupuncture until I have coverage again in January, but Heidi’s program will give me an opportunity to work on my cycle on my own, in my own home.

If you think this would interest you, check out Heidi Brockmyre’s Fertility at Your Fingertips™ program.  

Enrolment is only open until October 30th. There’s an added bonus if you enrol by end of day October 24th!

Note: I’m not getting any affiliate bonuses, free product or perks from promoting this. I just wanted to share a good thing that I found with my fertility sisters. I’ll post an update and let you know how it’s working out for me. 🙂   

Picking up the pieces, then breaking all over again

I haven’t written since Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

I just had two good days. I didn’t even cry once.

Then, I realized it’s just because I’ve been distracting myself, trying not to think about what happened.

Today, it’s been 2 weeks since my surgery, 2 weeks since we found out our pregnancy was ectopic, 2 weeks since we lost our baby girl.

It feels like it’s been forever.

Today, I also had my first session with a grief counsellor. I woke up dreading it. I knew it would all come flooding back. I cried all morning before I went to the session. And then, I was a puffy-eyed, red-nosed, snot-filled mess when I left her office.

She was kind and listened well. She sits on the Perinatal Loss Board at our hospital and offered to take my feedback to them. She also told me she doesn’t think I’m ready emotionally to go back to work. She recommended I take the full 4 weeks that the doctor allotted to me, and even consider taking more.

We talked a lot about my job. I don’t talk about it much on here, but it all changed since we got home from our IVF. My wonderfully supportive boss quit. The project I am on got postponed. I was reassigned to a new role. I don’t even know what my full role and responsibilities are yet as this transition happened 2 weeks before our loss. Although it’s a promotion, I’m dreading the thought of more responsibility and stress.  I have a new boss. He knew nothing about our situation before my surgery. Since then, I’ve sent him two emails and had one phone call. I told him I would be off work for 2 weeks. Then, I extended it to 3. What will he think if I ask for more? 

It makes me angry that grief is unrecognised or seen as weakness – or at least that’s how it feels. 

Like I’ve said before, recovering from surgery is easy. It’s the broken heart that needs time to heal.

The grief counsellor let me borrow books from their library. Tonight, I read Still: A collection of honest artwork and writings from the heart of a grieving mother. It was written by Stephanie Page Cole, founder of the Sweet Pea Project.

On page 13, Stephanie writes, “People will tell you that time heals. Those people are liars. The pain doesn’t go away, you just build up your tolerance to it. It’s like lifting weights. If you try to lift 500 pounds, it is going to crush you. But if you lift it everyday of your life, it is going to get easier and easier to do, and eventually you are going to lift it without breaking a sweat.

I guess that’s all I can hope for: continued strength and tolerance.

My to-do’s after counselling are to consider how I would like to approach dealing with my grief and decide how much time I need off work.

I have some counselling coverage through my health plan. I would consider going back to this woman. She has also suggested the local Miscarriage Support Group, but it only meets 1x a month. I would also like to work with my fertility coach again. My coach and I have a call tomorrow to discuss options.

As for the time off, I don’t even know what to do. Some friends say go back and relish in the distraction of work. I am not the kind of person to shove my feelings down and ignore them though. I’m scared of not being strong enough to lead a team of people right now. I’m scared of emotionally breaking down when the first person asks, “How are you?“.

I’m currently in the process of getting my short term disability claim processed. I have yet to hear from a case manager, but another friend recommended I should see what they say (meaning how much time off they will pay me for based on my diagnosis) before I make my decision and re-inform my boss.

If doing what is right for you is a sign of strength, why do I feel so vulnerable right now? 

Am I just delaying the inevitable by taking more time off? Or do I rightfully deserve a break after everything we have been through since August? How much time would you take off it was available to you?

Joining the wave of light for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

I am 1 in 6 who suffers from infertility.

I am now 1 in 4 who suffers from pregnancy loss.

Each day my heart slowly becomes whole again, but I know there will always be a tiny hole that represents this missing piece of me: my angel baby.
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I carried her in my body for a 7 weeks, 1 day, but I will carry her memory with me forever.

Tonight, I light my candles with love and light in honour of each and every baby that left us too soon, each and every parent who grieved in silence or out loud, each and every broken heart.

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