Mommy Maybe

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I work in a stressful professional job. I’ve tried everything I can to
lower the stress level but it just isn’t gong to happen, definitely in the
company I work for and probably not unless I take about a 50% pay
cut to go to a non-profit. My husband and I have tried for almost two
years to get pregnant and the doctors identified stress as a factor for
me and low sperm count for him. Either would be bad but the duo is
killer. We’re going to go the in vitro route and that requires a lot of
time for medical appointments and also more down time, probably for
a three month period, maybe longer. How can I communicate with my
employer without losing my job?

Mommy Maybe

Dear Mommy Maybe:

Start with the Human Resources department. You are describing a
medical issue and there are laws in every state that protect employees
with medical issues. You probably should start without giving medical
details, and without using “stress” in the explanation. Simply say you
have confidential medical issues that require you to take more time off
for medical appointments. Say you hope and anticipate it will be only a
three month window for appointments, though it might be longer.
Explain you have to schedule around the doctors and your own
physical issues, but that you will make every effort to work around the
requirements of work schedules and deliverables. Also say you will be
especially careful about documenting all your work and communicating
with colleagues so if anyone needs anything it will be easy to find.


Ask for the help of the HR person in communicating with your
supervisor. Ask what the legal requirements and realities are. If you
hear anything you do not like or that’s a potential problem, check with
the state Bureau of Labor to confirm you have it right. You probably
don’t want to open a case file now, but go back to HR if you need to
and update the conversation. Say you will continue to communicate if
anything changes; swear the loyalty oath to your employer; hope to
get pregnant quickly. The painful reality (other than the underlying
issue) is that you’re bound to need more time to get pregnant, be
pregnant, and be a mommy, so in the long run you may need to
negotiate a part-time job, there or somewhere new.