A Tale of Two Journeys | Outsource UK
Background is an image of John Crichton, our Head of Solutions Delivery with his two boys who are enjoying hot drinks on a winter day.

A Tale of Two Journeys

26th January 2024
Our employees

Navigating the emotional and mental health rollercoaster of infertility and IVF.

This is not something that I have really made massively public but not something I hide. First off, I consider myself very lucky to be a father of two amazing boys, but our journey to this point was far from straightforward.

I wanted to share my story to mark Parent Mental Health Day (27th January) as I know others are going through this while trying to maintain a normal working life.

My story explores the contrast between our two journeys to parenthood. While we were so lucky and grateful for the gift of our two boys, the paths we took to bring them into this world were vastly different, hopefully I can shed some light on the complexities of fertility, IVF, and the delicate balance between personal struggles and a bustling work life.

The unexpected turn

As a couple, my wife and I were fortunate enough to conceive our first child within three months of trying, the joy of expanding our family seemed like an uncomplicated endeavour. However, life had other plans for us when we decided to welcome a second bundle of joy into our lives.

What began as a hopeful journey quickly turned into an uncharted territory of infertility. The stark contrast between our two experiences was a reality check, highlighting the unpredictable nature of fertility… had we been naïve to think it would be so simple again? Something we didn’t even consider.  As we faced the challenges of conception, we found ourselves in the world of fertility treatments, with IVF becoming our path of hope.

The decision to undergo multiple cycles of IVF was not one made lightly. It came with a vast range of emotions, uncertainties and a level of resilience that was about to be put to the test. Our days became a series of appointments, injections and the waiting game that defined each IVF cycle. The emotional toll was undeniable, as the highs of hope collided with the lows of disappointment.

One of the most significant challenges during this journey was maintaining a façade of normality at work while grappling with the emotional rollercoaster at home. As a father with a bustling work life, the pressure to compartmentalise personal struggles and maintain professionalism was immense. The fear of bringing the struggles at home into the workplace was a huge self-burdened pressure.

“Leave it at the door” was something that I told myself most days which was due to the fact that I didn’t want to negatively affect my work. However, reflecting on it, maybe it was part of an escape from the realities of what we were going through.

Emotionally, the journey was a rollercoaster. The highs of hope and the lows of disappointment became defining features of our everyday life. Mental health took centre stage as we battled with the uncertainty of each cycle, and finding coping mechanisms to navigate the emotional landscape became essential.

I would encourage organisations to support people going through IVF or any other mental health struggles associated with parenthood (or not). I feel these could be useful to be adopted, but remember that people go through this journey in their own individual way:   

  • Create a Supportive Environment - Cultivate a workplace culture that values open communication and support.

  • Flexible Work Arrangements - Acknowledge the demanding nature of IVF treatments and offer flexible work arrangements.

  • Educate Employees and Managers - Provide educational resources about fertility treatments, including IVF, to increase awareness and understanding among employees and managers. 

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) - Offer access to EAPs that provide counselling services and emotional support. IVF can take a toll on mental health, and having professional resources available can be invaluable for employees.

  • Flexible Time Off Policies - Implement flexible time off policies to accommodate the physical and emotional demands of IVF treatments.

  • Confidentiality and Privacy- Emphasise the importance of maintaining confidentiality regarding employees' personal health information.

  • Check-In Regularly - Encourage managers and colleagues to check in with employees going through IVF, expressing genuine concern and offering support.

  • Flexible Return-to-Work Plans - Understand that the IVF journey involves various stages, and returning to work after treatment may require a gradual approach.

  • Emotional Support - Knowing they are not alone in their journey can provide a sense of community and understanding.

  • Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance - Encourage a healthy work-life balance for all employees.

Discussing fertility struggles remains a sensitive topic, and the decision to keep our personal journey private to most at work became our choice. While workplaces are becoming more aware of the need for supportive environments, is there still a stigma surrounding fertility? The silent battles we fought behind closed doors underscored the importance of fostering understanding and empathy in the workplace.

Our journey to parenthood taught us invaluable lessons about resilience, empathy, and the unpredictable nature of life. It highlighted the need for open conversations about fertility in the workplace and the importance of cultivating a culture that supports those going through such personal struggles.

As a father who stands on the other side of this challenging journey, my heart goes out to those currently navigating infertility and IVF and especially to those who have not been successful (there is still a pang of guilt every now and then that we were lucky where so many people weren’t)  I encourage workplaces to foster environments that prioritise empathy, understanding, and inclusivity. Let us break the silence surrounding fertility struggles and create safe spaces where individuals can bring whatever part of their journey to work they want

As someone who now enjoys the joy of fatherhood, I urge workplaces to foster an environment of empathy and understanding. Infertility is a personal journey that often intersects with professional life, and creating a workplace culture that recognises and supports this struggle is crucial.

To those on the path to parenthood, know that you are not alone.

Each journey is unique, and the road may be tough, but the destination is worth the struggle. As we share our stories, we contribute to a culture of compassion, breaking down the walls of silence that surround fertility.

Back to blog
Outsource - pioneering a new era of STEM recruitment