News & Blog

Back to School… and Infertility

A RESOLVE Q & A with Karen Jefferies from Hilariously Infertile about going back to school.

Q1: Hi Karen! Tell our readers about yourself in one sentence.
Hello! I am a teacher, wife, and I… am infertile and funny.

Q2. Did you always want to become a teacher?
Yes. Both of my parents were teachers and I knew from an early age that this is what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to use my love of Spanish, I am a Dual Language teacher. I did, however, want to be a marine biologist for a little while in elementary school; Free Willy was very popular.

Q3. Tell us about the moment when you received your infertility diagnosis.
I was driving down the FDR highway in New York City when I received the voicemail. I did not understand what the doctor was saying, so I went home, listened again, Googled, and became inconsolable. I did not know what this meant. Were there different levels of severity? The thought that popped into my head was: Maybe this is why I became a teacher, because I cannot have kids. I was devastated. I was alone and I was letting my thoughts get ahead of me.

Q4. Being a teacher can have its own set of compounding emotional, financial, and logistical challenges when trying to have a child. What are some that you feel is not openly discussed that maybe others can related to?
The time struggle is huge, in my opinion. Most jobs have a loose start time, or a looser one than teaching. When you are a teacher, you must be at your door to greet your students at a certain time. Making it from your house, to the fertility center for morning monitoring and still getting to work is incredibly stressful, especially because most teachers show up for work hours before the students arrive. For me, even when I was “on time” I still felt rushed and late because I was not there over an hour before my students as I normally am.

In addition, managing those daytime doctor appointments and your sick/personal days is stressful; making teacher plans each time, being away from your classroom and your students, adds to your stress level. Another challenge that most people do not realize is we are constantly in front of our class. Constantly. When you get the call that your IUI failed, you cannot put your head down and cry, you cannot run to the bathroom to pull yourself together, you have to smile and continue teaching. When you are in pain from your egg retrieval you cannot just sit down and take it easy, you have to teach, and teaching through all of that is harder than most people know.

Q5. We all have work stories. That co-worker that announces she is pregnant at your meeting, those awkward questions about why you have so many doctors’ appointments, and moments where you try to keep it together despite the fact that you just received a call at work that your last treatment failed. What has been the hardest moment of being both a school teacher and a fertility patient for you?
After my egg retrieval was by far the hardest for me. I had 33 follicles so I was extremely sore the next day, but I went to work because I felt that I had taken too many sick days for other fertility procedures and being absent from teaching two days in a row is a challenge on the students and on the teacher, so I went. That was a huge mistake. I could barely walk, every step I took was sending shooting pains through my whole body, and I was so bloated that I looked five months pregnant, which did not help the situation.

Another hard part for me what the rumor mill. Most of my friends at work knew that I was going through fertility treatments, but other people did not. I drink soda as my coffee and one time a teacher said, “We think you are pregnant because you aren’t drinking your soda in the mornings anymore.” I was very open and very polite in my response. I told her, “No, I am not pregnant, I am going through fertility treatments and I am trying to be proactive and healthy so I cut out caffeine.” No one really asked me after that (wink).

Q6. What coping methods have you personally used to help manage the blitz of emotional triggers that can come along with teaching and the back to school buzz?
I would stay away from Facebook for the first few weeks of September. You do not need a reminder that a) it is September and b) that you do not have a child getting on that school bus or starting pre-k. Take care of yourself and if that means more spa time and Netflix time, do it. Know yourself and give yourself everything you need to make it through this time. This same advice applies to the holiday season as well.

About Karen: Karen Jeffries is a fourth grade dual language teacher outside of New York City. She does not consider herself a writer by trade, but she did write a hilarious book about infertility, which she has been sharing with her followers for years. Karen is infertile and funny! This combination is equal parts unlikely and spectacular. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her family and apply numerous layers of face cream, due to her recent realization that she is on the slippery slope to forty years old. More than anything Karen hopes to help other women through their infertility treatments, one laugh at a time.