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Hanging on

Hi ladies,

So I am wondering how many of you have had your job or career affected by infertility.

I was handed a severance letter from my design job on Friday. If i had been there for more than two years it would be classed as unfair dismissal. But under two yrs the law does not protect you.

I have been hanging in there during the toughest year of my life. In a nut shell the past yr has included my husband having a cancer scare, ivf/pregnancy/miscarriage, failed round of ivf, grief in trying to accept i will never be a mum, bullying and discrimination at work. Throughout all this time i have tried so hard to not let it affect my work and attitude.

When i was handed the severance letter on Friday one of the reasons HR gave me was refusal to travel abroad with work. I was so hurt and devestated by this comment as HR knew about my ivf rounds and miscarriage, which is why my trip had to be cancelled.

I ran out of the meeting in floods of tears. And i don't feel like i can return to full time employment or my career after the treatment i have received over the years.

My weekend was finished off by a lady at a wedding putting her hands on my stomach and asking me when i was going to have a baby. Talk about kicking someone when they are down....


13 Replies

Wow, you really have had a tough time. You must be exhausted by life!

I'm afraid I haven't experienced discrimination at work due to ivf treatment but only because I took a career break to do it.

However I had suffered extreme stress and depression as a result of losing my Dad to cancer and facing the start of the fertility tests etc. in 2012. I was signed off for several months, lost all my confidence and was then bullied by two girls who clearly thought I'd just been off on a jolly!

I took redundancy voluntarily but it scared me and I struggled to find work after. Eventually I took a contract for 12mths but then did ivf (which failed).

Since been working part time in a crappy job because I'm not sure I can face the pace and stress anymore. Just getting more worried at home though and had no luck in the few interviews ive done.

I want to go back into marketing but struggle to explain the gap on my cv without talking about personal reasons - which would prob scare them!

I always thought if you didn't have kids, you'd have a great career. But I have neither. I think perhaps if you've chosen to be without kids it's easy to focus but when you've been through the mill - you need to have time to grieve and it does affect work.

Sorry about the idiot at the wedding - I think we've all been there! Someone offered to lend me a book about the birds and the bees once when I said we didn't have kids. He thought we can't have been doing it right!!!

It sounds like you need a fresh start somewhere they appreciate you. Are you able to take a bit of time off to recover?



Thanks MinMin for your reply. And sorry to hear about loosing your dad and the grief that you have also been experiencing ontop of the rollercoaster of grief from ivf . Just one of those things is heart breaking...But to have both is too much. I wouldn't know how to explain the career break as it's just too painful to open up. But would probably lie and say i went travelling or a half truth by saying it was time off recovering from grief.

Long term infertility causes the same level of stress as living with HIV or cancer. And yet it is an unspoken tragedy that we have to burden in silence. The consequences on our career progression, social circle and relationship are immense. And i actually think our experience makes us brilliant colleagues as we have empathy and insight for others in difficult situations.

I think this last experience has been the final straw in my 16yr design career. I don't want to work full time in that kind of environment again. But sadly i don't have the luxury of resting. I am the main breadwinner, and my partner has just re-trained and is looking for work. I just imagined at this age everything would be fitting together and it does feel like it just keeps falling apart. When all you want to be is a mum nothing really replaces that void. But i have to work myself back to a plan B of happiness. xxx


I know what you mean, every way I try to move forward even more falls apart. I thought by the time I was 40 I'd have a family home, children, and fun family trips and I wasn't focussed on long term career plans. Instead I'm still in the same flat, with no kids and no career. In fact the only thing I'm doing today is my councelling session. As you say, nothing replaces the void. I've actually list a small patch of hair die to the stress and this happened in 2011.

I keep thinking I'm so lazy but the truth is I just want to hide under the covers!

I hope you find a new career path and get help from supportive people. Keep us posted!! xx


Thanks MinMin, i know that feeling of just needing to hide under the covers. Our body has a way of shutting down to a help us heal. And sleep and rest are so important.....its not laziness, just part of the healing. I'm quite an active personality, so when I felt like this i really freaked out. But i got a great little app on my phone called moody. It helped me track my emotions each day and week after week month after month there was a general improvement. I still have a few darker days like this wkend. But recognising how i felt and why i felt like that was a massive wake up call. We are survivers of great grief and tragedy. And we need to recognise sometimes just how amazing we are to deal with all this shit that other people have no idea about. Grief and tragedy hits everyone at some point in life. So we can be there as ambassadors of the broken to be a hand to help others peel away their duvet in time. Hope the counseling goes well and big hugs xx


I've just joined this group but have been suffering for years and feel your pain. I'm sorry your work has been such an 'big behind' I'm not sure of what you are entitled legally. I hate it that infertility isn't given any proper recognition by work place HR.


Thanks Jess,

sorry to hear you have also been suffering for years as well. Welcome to our little group x.

I thought i had support from HR considering the HR manager also can not have children. But it just shows HR are there to protect the business and any personal empathy can not affect their agenda.

So right now i want to fight them all the way to the bank for how they have treated me. It's just a shame like you say there is no HR policy for infertility only pregnancy 😣


I no longer work for the company that I worked for when I was undergoing ivf. Mine where a bit more passive agressie about it and didn't just fire me but I had been there for 2 years by then so it would have been difficult for them.

They made it impossible for me to enjoy my work. My manager pressured me to divulge to the rest of the team that I had been undergoing ivf, it wasn't something I wanted to discuss as I didn't trust them to keep it to themselves as they were the biggest gossip mongers in the place I didn't want it to become common knowledge. They passed me up for a promotion even though I was perfectly qualified for it. Then the icing on the cake was my performance review where I basically got put down to such an extend I was in tears. Apparently my attitude was bad, well, the stress of ivf and hormones don't make your mood that great, there's just no understanding from people, again pressuring me to discuss the ivf with colleagues. Apparently I wasn't pulling my weight (lie), too much time off (ivf related only) and no pay rise as a result. That was the last drop for me and I started looking for work then. I was pretty rock bottom at that time.

Fortunately I have landed on my feet since, I had one of those I've got nothing to lose attitudes and applied for a job I thought I couldn't ever get. Guess what I did get that job and never looked back. I love my job now 2 years on, I have been promoted once since moving careers and had 2 pay rises since starting.

I think what I'm trying to say is don't let that severance define you and don't let it knock you. You will find a job that you will love.


Thanks so much for your reply. So sorry to hear you were treated so badly. I can't believe the treatment by your manager...simply outrageous. Well done for not giving up and moving on to bigger and better things. I had guessed if I had been treated like this other people in my situation probably will have been too.

I have spent the evening at a friends house researching discrimination laws.....what a blast haha. But really does make interesting reading and has made me think about taking my case to tribunal. When you look back on your treatment at work it makes you realise just how tough your it has been. And when you amount all the unfair treatment to discrimination claims you are looking at £10-20K compensation! Maybe if more people went down that route managers would have to think twice about the kind of things you and I have experienced xxxx


I looked into it too at the time but I was still such a mess at the time I couldn't emotionally invest into the process. As I have landed on my feet so well where I am now it no longer seems worth it. If I had been fired however it would have been a different story.

In hindsight I was really bullied out at the time but you know what? they can keep their crummy job, I am better paid and really happy where I am now.


too right. Well done for not allowing it to destroy you and moving onwards and upwards :)


Hello I can't believe the things I'm reading in this thread and send out masses of empathy to all of you xx minmin I too started my fertility treatment at the same time as losing my mum to cancer (she died suddenly the morning I was in hospital having my pre- op for lap and dye investigation). Huge empathy to you. I stuck it out for about a year at work whilst grieving for mum and going through donor egg ivf in Spain. The stress was enormous especially as I was going through a leadership assessment programme at work where one of the key requirements was resilience! I decided to take a career break as it was all simply too much. This was extended by agreement with my company and at the end of it (after 5 attempts at fertility treatment and 3 miscarriages) I approached my company to explore going back. Cutting a long story short they didn't have a suitable role for me and had cut numbers in the team I previously managed but refused to make me redundant. (Imagine if this happened to someone whilst on maternity leave - I'm sure they couldn't get away with it) I took legal advice and it seemed I had a strong case but in the end I walked away from it because the emotional effort of a tribunal was beyond me by then. Duchy82 i get it. My legal advisors said I'd need to explain publicly what I'd gone through to make the case strong and I just couldn't do it. I decided to put all my emotional reserves into the more positive process of building my new life. 6 years on I still grieve and find the childless life very challenging. But I'm glad I took control and turned my back on the fight. I completely understand anyone who wants to go for it though. It seems so unjust otherwise. Fuzzy winker there's nothing to lose at least by having a chat with a legal expert. I'm very glad I did if only to get validation of my case. Minmin you are anything but lazy! Please give yourself a hug from me. It's so tough. I had absolutely no idea where my life could lead after finishing the ivf journey and deciding to quit my career. I know I'm no longer capable of handling the type of stresses my previous job entailed. I retrained by going to evening classes and became a gardener! Don't be afraid of going for it if you want to return to marketing.

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Hi Caudalie, thanks so much for sharing your story. I can't even begin to imagine how hard it must have been for you to go through treatment while grieving your mum. My heart goes out to you. Really lovely to hear you are in a less stressful job and enjoying something as lovely as being a gardener. That really gives hope to me pursuing something for me in the future. Love x


Thanks so much fuzzy it's very very few people who have recognised/realised how hard the situation was for me so thank you for your very kind words. I'm glad to have inspired hope in you. I never thought I'd do something like become a gardener. It was that or a wine taster and I wasn't much good at that despite trying really really hard!!!

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