No, I really don’t think we have a policy for that. I’m not quite sure I even know what that involves,” said my headteacher when I told him I was going to begin IVF.
I then had to explain the intricacies of follicle stimulation, scans, injections, blood tests. He listened and said: “Do what you need to, tell whoever you need to, take the time you need and prioritise this – we will be fine without you for a bit.”
It all felt a bit like I had just told my granddad that my baby-making capacities had gone awry.
Fortunately, as it happened, we had a fantastic policy, which gave me paid leave – recorded as special leave, not medical.
I was lucky, and I didn’t have to ask, plead, request the time I needed. It made the whole process so much easier.
At the time, I was working in a pupil-referral unit. It was a small, supportive team and I decided to tell them what was happening – I felt it only fair as I would be disappearing off and colleagues would have to cover for me.
Their support was immense and when round one failed epically, having them to pick me back up was so important. I can’t lie, I was an emotional wreck, and they didn’t need to ask why.
I then started my second attempt. Anyone reading this with first-hand knowledge will know that the final stimulation injection to release the egg ready for collection and fertilisation has to happen in a very specific time frame. My egg release clashed with my head being out of school, the arrival of a school improvement partner and my husband being on a flight back from India .
Telling a stranger visiting your school that you had to nip out to give yourself an injection because “you know I’m trying to make a baby!” was certainly a once-in-a-career experience. It didn’t work that time either. I cried a lot. My husband didn’t know what to say. I locked myself in the toilet and cried a lot again. And again, my team knowing why was comforting.
When I went back to school that September, I sat in that same toilet and three tests turned positive. It had worked at the third attempt.
The hardest thing now is that I am in a new school and my new colleagues don’t know about all the above. I am often asked when I am having another baby.
Sarah Hardy (@MsSarahHardy) is an English teacher and assistant head at Burnt Mill Academy in Harlow, Essex. She is a member of The Maternity Teacher/Paternity Teacher Project