Michelle Randazzo’s first journey to pregnancy was a secret at work. As she went through IVF, she scheduled appointments around her job so that no one would know what she was going through. This also meant putting the hopes, worries, and disappointments of the process in a drawer.

“Having to hide what goes on at home, that silence, added this layer of mental and emotional stress that I didn’t realize I had while I was going through it,” Michelle remembers of that time.

Michelle left that job in search of a better work-life balance and took a position as the Total Rewards Benefits Manager at AlixPartners when her son was still very young. The culture was markedly different.

People talked openly about their own experiences starting a family and raising children. And AlixPartners’ benefits included a significant amount of family planning funds (regardless of marital status) - including egg retrieval and freezing, IVF treatments, surrogacy, and adoption – as well as generous family leave. The firm also has a buddy program for new parents and provides breast pumps and prepackaged kits to easily ship breast milk home for traveling employees.

“With our expectant mothers and new parents, the firm’s culture really is about caring for and giving our people the time with those new family members ‘when it really matters,’” Michelle says.

That institutional and cultural support is critical: studies show that people with fertility challenges are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, while those undergoing fertility treatments show higher rates of mood disorders. Paid parental leave has been shown to improve mental wellbeing.

In 2022, AlixPartners’ Women’s Empowerment Matters, NextGen, Caregivers and Parents, and PrideMatters ERGs partnered with WellHatched to host a three-part education series on fertility. The program provided employees an overview of various fertility assistance methods including a closer look at adoption, surrogacy, IVF, and egg freezing.

Most of all, the series created space for ongoing conversations and support among colleagues to share their fertility and family planning journeys, in which Michelle found comfort. 

 “People shared that they struggled with infertility, they conceived their kids through IVF and it was comforting to think ‘Oh, okay. Well, me too!” she reflects.

“Coming to a place where I can openly share my story and feel that my voice helps others is a beautiful thing.”

And, she says, life-changing.

Given the high cost of IVF and the stressful experience to conceive their son, Michelle and her husband thought that they were “one and done.” But with the firm covering the financial burden of trying again plus Michelle feeling supported by colleagues, they decided to go for number two. They already had a frozen embryo to try, so they thought, “why not, right?”

She’s now approaching five months of pregnancy.

“Had I not been at AlixPartners, I don't know if I would have made the same decision. I'm super excited and vocal about it. I'm telling people. I'm not trying to hide my belly,” Michelle says. “It's nice to shout from the mountain tops.”

For those who come behind her, Michelle hopes that openness and shared resources can shift the experience to one that fosters a sense of belonging and support.

“You're at work more than a third of your day. Some people don't even tell their close family or their friends about their family planning journey, and that's fine, but if you could come to work and have some trusted colleagues that you could lean into, that could make a big difference in your experience,” says Michelle. “Because no one should have to go through that process alone.”