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  • Writer's pictureKatie

Work, IVF and the weight of the world

So, we've started the IVF process officially, which means I've had to go to the doctor approximately eleventy-billion times in the last few days. We're doing "natural cycle" IVF, which is slightly different than the IVF you're probably picturing -- instead of pumping me full of shots designed to make me produce multiple eggs, the doctor is monitoring my cycle daily and will retrieve whatever egg pops up naturally this month. There are some major pros to this process over "stimulated" IVF, including that it's about a third of the cost, far less invasive and much less likely to leave us with a "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" situation (we're going to have a hard enough time fitting one kid in our 1200-square-foot D.C. row house let alone multiples).

However, the daily doctor visits are a real pain in the ass. I have the option of going to offices in either Arlington or Bethesda, and neither one is convenient for getting me to work on time. In fact, I'm learning I need to get there a minimum of 15 minutes before the office opens, while the door is still locked and the lights are off, in order to be in and out in enough time to even make an attempt at being punctual. I've had to rely on my co-workers to cover for me in the mornings when I've been noticeably absent.

It's something that I imagine is increasingly becoming less charming for them as time goes on. And I get it -- when you're hired for a position, you get a list of duties that you're responsible for every day, and that doesn't include "all of the items my co-worker is supposed to be doing." It's particularly stressing me out right now, when for a variety of different reasons my job security is currently tenuous at best. In a world of cheetahs, I really don't want to be the three-legged wildebeest.

To my current team's credit, if they're at all frustrated with me, they have not actually voiced it -- in truth, they've been nothing but incredibly supportive, which I'm grateful for. But as I'm not exactly giving a State of Uterus address right right now, I can't help but wonder what others here are thinking when they see me waltz in an hour past our daily report time.

And my other question/concern is, even if they were fully informed about what I'm going through, would they care? Or would they view it as irrefutable evidence that women should not be in the working world?

If it sounds like I'm making too big a leap for that second line, well, I'm not sure that I am. Last year, I overheard two men discussing a woman's 18-week maternity leave, saying, "She should have just quit then tried to come back later instead of making other people do her job for that long."

And then there's this gentleman's lovely sign from the sidelines of the Women's March this weekend:

Photo shows a sign from the Women's March that says "Godly women are: quiet - obedient - pure - dressed modestly. Godly mothers are: submissive to their husbands - baby making machines (have as many as womanly possible) - keepers at home; cooking - laundry - doing dishes - please their man, etc."
Real nice.

This is the part about being a woman that makes me want to scream endlessly into the void. There are plenty of wonderful men out there -- I'm married to one of them -- but there's still a sizable portion who on some level believe the world would be better if women just stayed home. And let's be real -- there's a sizable portion of women who might even argue the same thing.

It's just so goddamn unfair. R doesn't even have the option of going in and doing these doctor appointments for me; it's all on me to track my cycle and carry our child. The reality is that I'll be punished for that in multiple ways at work, whether through being skipped over for promotions for being "unreliable" or not being asked to be a part of various teams.

I want this. I want to be a mom, want to have a family with my husband. But there's another part of me struggling with what this is going to mean for me going forward. How much of my potential will I fall short of because of this? What won't I get to accomplish?

I'm not exactly breaking ground here with this blog post. My struggle is not a new one by any stretch of the imagination. It just... sucks. It sucks. It sucks that it's 2019 and this is where we are. It sucks that there are still a lot of men who don't get why I'd want to be more than a brainless servant/vessel. Why I'd want a job to come back to after having a baby. Why housework would not lead to my self-actualization. Why I might care whether or not I have an orgasm in addition to whether or not you have one.

And if it's not that these men don't get it, it's that they get it and they just don't care. I wish there were a way to get through to them what this feels like and somehow shoot empathy into their veins.

My hope for my future IVF baby? Be the scientist who discovers how to do that.

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