And the smug little show-pony you rode in on

In an attempt to not get sacked, avoid confusing the entire universe, or piss off every colleague I have, I did in fact tell my boss I was doing IVF. She and I worked out an arrangement by which I work extra hours on some days to cover for my absences on others, so I could attend all my monitoring appointments without enfrettlement. She also agreed that I could take a week’s leave at relatively short notice to cover the uncertainty of when exactly retrieval day was going to be (as soon as I know the date, I let her know, and she uses her status as High and Mighty Boss Lady to OK it in the face of the protocol-obsessed drones in office management. Hah! Hahaha HAH!).

So far so truly excellent.

However, Boss Lady said to me she’d never dealt with this sort of thing before, so she was going to check protocol with HR. Ooooooookay. On the other hand, HR had been truly excellent about my continuous health issues and regular monthly days off and working-from-home episodes.

HR announced they had no protocol or policy about IVF, and could we have a meeting to discuss it? Boss Lady promptly went into supportive overdrive and so, with our lists of notes, she and I met with HR’s representative just this very afternoon.

We established that the Powers That Be agree that working extra hours to cover time off later in the week is exactly what we should be doing, and that I am entitled to a couple of appointments as genuine ‘medical’ paid time off, which is nice, unexpectedly so even. We also established that I am not entitled to any paid sick leave for retrieval or recovery therefrom, as that is an elective procedure (fair enough, but why then allow some paid medical leave for monitoring, you fruit-loops?). But I am allowed paid sick leave if I develop OHSS, because, and I quote, ‘if you went rock-climbing and fell off and broke your leg, you’d get sick leave for that, even though you chose to go rock-climbing in the first place.’ I nodded, thoughtfully. Even weirder, once the embryo has been implanted (‘transferred,’ I muttered), I get treated as ‘pregnant’ and am allowed all monitoring appointments as paid maternity care, even though I might not actually be pregnant. Basically, Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise.

It’s a lot, a lot, more than you’d get in the private sector. I need to focus on that.

HR’s representative at one point fairly early on in the conversation tried to explain the policy by describing IVF as being a ‘cosmetic’ procedure. I said, ‘you mean, an elective procedure.’

‘Oh, yes,’ she replied, ‘Elective, like cosmetic dentistry or something!’

I gasped, I think audibly, because Boss Lady shot me a concerned look and immediately dove in to change the subject. ‘Perhaps May should tell us a bit more about what the procedure involves?’ So I did a quick, idiot-friendly 101 on IVF, replacing ‘Needles up the cooter!’ with ‘minor surgical procedure’ and ‘dildo-cam’ with ‘ultrasound scan’.

HR’s representative then went on to talk some more about the rationale behind leave versus paid sickness absence, and, I kid you not, repeated the word ‘cosmetic’ to describe IVF several more times. And I felt deeply weird, because on the one hand, HR are being reasonable and good natured about it all and she was making suggestions about taking more work-from-home days if I needed them after retrieval and didn’t want to use all my leave on it, and wishing me luck, and so forth, and on the other hand, cosmetic? Are you fucking kidding me?

I didn’t say anything more about it at the time. I actually felt myself shutting down with a clang, emotionally. As we were leaving, Boss Lady told me not to worry about any of it and concentrate on ‘what’s important’, meaning the IVF cycle, bless her. I think she could definitely tell something had derailed.

I went back to my desk and wrote increasingly vituperative emails to my Deleted folder for the rest of the afternoon.

Cosmetic? The hell, woman?

It already seems to me bad e-fucking-nough that I should have to discuss the dates of my menstrual cycle with half-a-dozen Goddamn colleagues every sodding month. And now I have to discuss my reproductive plans. And be judged on them. And have some gurning twatweasel jobsworth patronise me about doing a ‘cosmetic’ procedure – what does she think a child is, a fucking handbag? – for which I have to be (Universe, you must be shitting me) grateful because they’re allowing me to dick my schedule about so much to make it all work. Cosmetic, she called it.

Every other woman they’ve dealt with could have got knocked up by screwing a berk in a pub car park. She could’ve insouciantly fucked her way through the entire student population and have no more idea of who the father was than an alley-cat. She could’ve lied about being on the pill or poked holes in all her condoms with a pin. But she won’t have to sit there and have to be grateful to some undereducated bureaucrat make witlessly judge remarks about her reproductive decisions. No. Other, fertile, ‘normal’ women get to make their decisions about how and when to have a child in perfect privacy, and there are laws and policies in place by the motherfucking dozen to protect them from judgement or discrimination. They don’t have to ask their boss’s permission to go screw their partner.

I don’t think this can even be seen as an ‘elective’ procedure. I have had nine miscarriages. I am in agony every month. I have a pretty serious health problem, which HR sodding well knows all about, preventing me from conceiving the nice private nunya way. Why is it ‘elective’ for me to then have to undergo an expensive, invasive, painful and undignified procedure, publicly, to even so much as have a tiny microscopic fucking chance at having a child? How is this comparable to getting my fucking teeth whitened? Did I ask for this? Did I choose it? Can you show me the fucking paperwork where I signed up for this? How is it fair to wank on about this being ‘cosmetic’ (bitch. Bitch bitch bitch), when other people can ‘choose’ to get drunk and forget their diaphragm in total, sanctioned, privacy?

Stupid, thoughtless, careless, judgemental little bitch. That is all.


25 responses to “And the smug little show-pony you rode in on

  • Blanche

    I can’t even. No. Just can’t. Many many kudos to you for holding it together in meeting, and to your boss for being such an awesomely awesome boss. Cosmetic?!? I’ll be shaking my head over that “minor” misrepresentation for quite some time. Whenever you leave this position (and hopefully it will be thanks to finding that being a stay at home mum is where you really want to be and not other reasons), I’ll be first in line to send a vitriol filled missive on your behalf to the donkey-headed so-called Human resource person.

  • chon

    oh I have no words for that stupid mole.

  • bionicbrooklynite

    Dude, IVF is like the worst cosmetic procedure of all time, then, because not a thing about it made me better looking. Unless you think I needed bigger boobs, which I assure you, I did not.

    What a cuntswallop.

  • Jo

    Seriously. I can’t even. Gah.

  • a

    You should probably write stuff like this for about a week straight, and then send that fool a polite and charming letter informing her what an #&)*#*$& idiot she is. I’m sorry you had to suffer through this.

    This is yet another thing you have to plow through – the informing of the employer. I’m glad they’re being properly flexible about your time away. That almost makes up for having to explain in detail every last bit of it. But not quite. As a rather private person, it makes me cringe to think about someone from work being in my business.

    I am, however, laughing at bionicbrooklynite’s comment…

  • chewyzoey

    Am secretly wishing some USA news programs – start reading your blog and making news and waves about it – Cosmetic! . because I totally AGREE with you. BEST post EVER – i cannot adopt children because I was abused as a child. WTF but celebrities can buy kids no problem even when conceiving is NO problem for them.
    this whole system sucks. but your boss rocks. very sweet. Hope at some point she allerts HR to the HORRIBLE choice of words.

  • Amy P

    I *was* going to type *headdesk* and then explain I meant HR’s head, not mine, then I realized that the desk didn’t do anything wrong…

  • Amy

    Ermahgerd. Can’t form any real words. I think you hit all the nails on their heads.

  • Emily Erin

    Were I the vengeful sort (and most days I’m not); I’d almost wish that the poor nitwit had to try IVF for herself to realize how very UN-cosmetic it is. Perhaps in 10 years you’ll get a properly apologetic note indicating that she had UNDERSTANDING of what an asshat she was being when she said this. Sigh. I am sorry that you had to sit through this but glad that your boss is supportive.

  • Emily Erin

    Gah, somehow the *NO* part of *NO UNDERSTANDING* got eaten. Blech. Anyway, cheering for you as you plod onward, silly HR nitwits notwithstanding.

  • Mina

    In all my dealings with HR throughout the years, I have found that they are definitely resourceful, yet somehow very, very little humane. Helpful sometimes, but so weirdly devoid of human touch. Or ability to think. Yes, former-place-of-employement-HR colleague, yes, you the one who went headhunting the guy who got promoted for the job he left in order to get promoted, I mean YOU. True story, no kidding, poor guy thought the higher management was playing tricks and testing his loyalty.
    So yes. Still, I think you did well to write all those emails to the delete folder, the twat will remain just that, no despite your effort to enlighten the twatness. Save your energy for better causes. And bitch-slap the sod in your head numerous times. Until a true cosmetic procedure is needed.
    Stay strong.

  • QoB

    Words mean things. “cosmetic” =/= “elective”. FFS.

  • Sheila

    Jesus wept. I really don’t know how you didn’t reach over and smack her repeatedly around the head. FFS.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    For what it’s worth, I think this may well be the best thing you have written. Writing like this deserves a broadsheet column. Representing, as it does, a concentrated jet of (righteous. So almighty fucking righteous) incandescent rage, it makes me furious on your behalf. Flame-throwery-type furious. And sad as a friend. And furious.

    The next poor woman sat in front of the Idiot HR Thing will also suffer. Please do consider conveying to her, via boss if diplomacy requires it, just how WRONG and insulting the term ‘cosmetic’ is, and that you have, in fact, taken offence. Your feelings are important, May, both in a holistic context and a HR context. Their policies are supposed to tread an anodyne line between Profit and Peace, I always thought – not causing hurt and distress with their phraseology and implications, You would also be doing her a favour, personally and professionally – because the next person she says that to may well nut her right there and then. Letting this one lie will cause you anger Every. Time. you think about it – and it really, really shouldn’t be let to lie. It was offensive, end of. If it was unintentional, fine. If it was intentional, through ignorance… you have a explanatory letter mostly written here!


    • Twangy

      Yes! A column, a letter. Something, because That Woman. Words fail.

      Well, printable ones do, anyway.

      I am so annoyed. Honestly, it really was e-fucking-nough.

  • wombattwo

    Babies make rubbish handbags… They’re terrible at holding things like phones and keys and not dropping them. Or dribbling all over them.


    Cosmetic like a f*cking elective knee replacement is cosmetic? Like you’ve chosen to have because you can’t walk? IVF is no more cosmetic than that. How bloody ridiculous to compare an invasive procedure that you need because you can’t reproduce any other way, not to mention all the emotional stuff, and the hideous adenomyosis to teeth whitening?!?


  • Anonymous

    Understandable. Everything you had to say on the issue, that is.

    Take care May. And breathe. And fuck them.

    K x

  • nonsequiturchican

    Holy shit- cosmetic. There are just no words. I’m so sorry about the whole meeting. I would have probably shut down as well.

  • Melissa

    I’m flabbergasted. COSMETIC?! I can’t even form words! I think I would have lunged across the table!

  • Betty M

    Good grief. Words absolutely fail. This is why I never told HR anything beyond “minor op” and testing beforehand. Unfortunately a quick scan of any comments column under an article mentioning IVF will be choc a bloody bloc of idiots like the HR idiot. As if any of us did or are doing this for fun.

    (And apologies for the total lack of supporting words from me lately I have been testing google reader replacements all of which are horrid and my commenting has died as a result but needless to say with you all teh way May and H on this).

  • starrhillgirl

    Cosmetic. Huh. So nice of HR to clarify.

  • now where was I? | certainlydifferent

    […] read May’sblog( will link later whne i get around to teditng) and I wonder now if she will feel same? she is going the route of IVF (she is medical issues, not […]

  • Sol Solntze

    Well HR can fuck right off. That is all.

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