When to disclose pregnancy at work - bonus ivf edition
November 26, 2021 12:56 PM   Subscribe

When did you disclose your ivf pregnancy to the HR department at your job? To your direct boss? How did it go? I’m 6 months into a job, and a few years into a new career, and have to discontinue my adhd medication.

As you might guess, I just learned yesterday that my bloodwork is suggesting a strong pregnancy.

I have been absolutely hammered by exhaustion and nausea since 5 days after our 5 day fresh transfer of two great looking embryos. These were our only embryos from this latest round of ivf. We have never had anything implant at all before and we never got enough embryos to freeze. This is our first time transferring two.

I am excited and this process has been so unbelievably painful that I am just sinking into joy. But also into naps.

So clearly, I’m not sure I’m thinking straight at all about whether to disclose now, or how long to wait. I do worry that my work from home nap schedule over the next few weeks may put my job at risk. When I am awake I am too tired or nauseous to think.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm an infertility veteran so take it for what it's worth - it depends on how you feel sharing if you miscarry (may you not.) I disclosed a few times and then had to go through all the freaking explaining so I stopped discussing it before 12 weeks. I had "insomnia" and "food issues."
posted by warriorqueen at 1:24 PM on November 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

I cut my huge coffee habit when pregnant, and my rampant ADD, plus pregnancy brain, exhaustion, and nausea made me super disorganized and bad at my job, especially in the first trimester. I decided to tell one trusted leader at work who could cover for me.

I did end up having one miscarriage at 10 weeks (and also 2 healthy babies at different times!) so I was glad I hadn’t told everyone.

With all three pregnancies I felt kind of guilty and like I had to hide it or it would mess up my (pregnancy-hostile) career, but actually almost everyone I told was either very supportive or just didn’t seem to think anything of it. Being intentionally pregnant is a lovely thing, not a workplace faux pas!

Congrats on your pregnancy! Wishing you all the best!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 1:27 PM on November 26, 2021

One option is to only disclose to a trusted manager or HR person, to head off a misinterpretation of your performance issues. I can completely understand not wanting to disclose widely until later. "New medication that makes me nauseous" also works, as does "I'm cutting back on caffeine due to insomnia".

You can schedule specific times for naps - 1/2 hour at lunch, for example.

B'sha'ah tova (may it happen in a good hour).
posted by jb at 1:37 PM on November 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Remember that HR isn’t there to look out for your best interests , they are there to look out for your employer’s. Use them — like a tool, to your benefit — when the time is right for *you*.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 2:26 PM on November 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

‘Course, the above was written by an cynical old bastard who has worked for too many large soulless publicly-trades corporations whose HR departments may be very different than your own. In any event, congratulations! And don’t let any other bastards get in the way of you just being a person who’s got bigger fish to fry, now. Enjoy the journey.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 2:36 PM on November 26, 2021

Also I think it is not the business of anyone at work to know how you got pregnant, whether it was IVF or otherwise. Unless they were paying for it, as some organizations do? But even then?
posted by armoir from antproof case at 2:41 PM on November 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

I came back to say...I don't want to harsh your buzz here and I think it's so likely to go well! For me, from my first pregnancy to my first live birth it was about 6 years. Sharing my non-viable pregnancies in my particular, competitive field did, I think, impact on my career some. I'm pretty sure I missed out on one promotion, which I got a couple of years later when people assumed I'd given up, I think. So that's another reason not to disclose too early. But I truly wish you all the joy in the world!
posted by warriorqueen at 3:30 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

So happy for you! Praying for continued nausea and strong blood work.

Vote here is to wait (unless you’re in good with a reasonable and understanding not at all sexist weirdo or even pleasantly neutral boss) and pawn it off on other things.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:44 PM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I was pregnant with twins (which I mention because it meant 24/7 not puking but thinking I was about to sickness for my entire pregnancy) in person in the office in 2018 and didn't say anything until 16 weeks. Everyone in our personal lives knew by 12 weeks, but I didn't want to be pregnant for that long at work. I did do a lot of lying about the migraine meds I was trying and theyr crazy side effects, though.
posted by atomicstone at 6:04 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

My personal approach was to disclose late, like at 16 or 18 weeks (that was as late as I could get away with it -- and that took a lot of layered scarves for the last few weeks) or with work from home, I probably would've waited until right after the 20-week anatomy ultrasound. If necessary, you can disclose that you've been "having a lot of fatigue" and are "seeing a doctor about it." But if your office is like mine around winter holidays, you only have to get through like two more weeks before people start getting really distracted. Could you schedule occasional one-hour "appointments" for napping or "feel like you're coming down with something" and leave early or take a sick day? We all have occasional periods of low productivity for various reasons.

And congratulations!!
posted by slidell at 7:45 PM on November 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

I think the details of your pregnancy are absolutely no business of your employer. I would disclose as late as possible. As far as ADHD, I have had a change to my ADHD medication, and require the following accommodation: [list some simple accommodation]. Get support from your ADHD doc on the accommodation. /rooting for you
posted by theora55 at 8:07 PM on November 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

Tell when it is right for you overall, personally with HR I would wait until at least 12 weeks. If you are on any type of probationary period with your employment, I would wait until that is over.

I did want to mention that some people with ADHD do continue to take their medication (there are multiple medications, so maybe not YOUR medication) throughout pregnancy, and if you do or not isn't a hardline one CANNOT do this in pregnancy. There is an entire specialty of psychiatry called perinatal/ reproductive psychiatrists who you could attempt to see if you felt like it to discuss your current needs with someone who specializes in this kind of thing. There are considerations such as the severity of your ADHD symptoms, the type of medication you have taken in the past and the types of side effects you have had. This isn't to pressure you one way or the other, but I feel like this information isn't very well known so throwing it out there anyway.

Congratulations & take care!
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:33 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

When I was pregnant (also IVF!), I had to tell my boss basically instantly because I was supposed to go on a once-in-a-lifetime work trip to Vietnam, but couldn't because Zika was active there. Luckily, my boss is a trusted friend and solved my problems discreetly and kept the news to herself otherwise, but I didn't actually tell anyone else at work until I was nearly 6 months pregnant (largely because, having had so many miscarriages, I just couldn't bear the thought of sharing the news until my body finally gave it away!).

I think that, in your shoes (and not knowing your relationship with your boss), a simple "I wanted to let you know I'm having some health issues right now and may need a bit of leeway on some projects." That's it. And then share the news when you and your partner feel comfortable doing so.

More importantly: CONGRATS!
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 5:51 AM on November 27, 2021


I was in a very similar position about eight years ago. I had to play the whole game of "going through some health issues" due to the zillions of IVF appointments leading up to the actual pregnancy. Finally I disclosed only to my incredibly discreet boss at around 8-9 weeks, since I was starting to feel like utter hot garbage and wanted him to know what was up in case I had to miss some work.
posted by medeine at 11:30 AM on November 29, 2021

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