This blog may be triggering for some readers. It includes an outline of a UK Bill on leave for parents suffering from miscarriage and my own story of miscarriage (at 10 weeks’ in April 2022) and why I decided to share my story.
The UK Parliament has been presented with a bill to give parents three days of leave if they suffer a miscarriage last month.
The bill outlines that employers should adopt this policy, which will allow three days of leave to anyone who suffers a miscarriage before 24 weeks. Right now is up to each company to determine the leave provided to their employee, with no legal rights to take time off work.
Why I shared my story publicly
I decided to share my miscarriage story with my subscribers and on Instagram because it was such a big event in my life. I was profoundly rocked by this loss: from the minute we found out we were expecting, it never crossed my mind that we could lose it. Call me naive, an optimist or whatever you like, it just didn’t occur to me.
Instead, my mind was full of excitement – when would we tell George, how would we all fit in our two bedroom house, when could our family visit to help with the baby and other plans to celebrate our first Christmas as a family of four, already seeing the images of us standing in front of Christmas tree at my in-laws’ house.
In creating my community, I have tried to be authentic and share both the highs and lows of being a working mother. It can be very uncomfortable for me to show up in this ‘real’ way, but I know from the feedback that I receive, how helpful it is.
My story is common, but hurt more than I ever could have imagined
The challenges around my miscarriage were drawn out, including multiple hospital visits. I spent eight hours in hospital in Sydney, shortly after we had arrived on our holiday. It was our first time back to Australia and I was thankful to my Dad, who waited patiently for hours while I had multiple tests.
Everyone at that first hospital visit seemed to know the writing was on the wall – they couldn’t detect a heartbeat, yet somehow, I remained optimistic. A few days later, the miscarriage would be confirmed with a further ultrasound, but it wasn’t even needed – I told the very kind sonographer my symptoms and the answer was written all over her face. It was then that I knew there was no longer a baby.
After a month of our Australian holiday, with so many happy memories, we returned back to the UK and I endured a further six hospital visits and two procedures. Fortnightly urine tests at the hospital humiliatingly confirmed I was still pregnant.
Thankfully, the final (and painful) procedure worked.
My miscarriage and the aftermath lasted several months, and the back and forth to hospital with different tests, the constant bleeding and my own grief made it feel like I was hiding something from my community, particularly with social media when we are told to frequently ‘show up’ to build engagement.
Messages of solidarity were so helpful
I was inundated with messages after sharing my story – mainly from women who had recently suffered their own loss, or had dealt with their own fertility challenges. I was enormously comforted from their messages: from how they how shared their miscarriage story at work, to planting a rose bush in memory of their loss.
The name, ‘The Women’s Vault’ has the double meaning – to spring forward positively (empowerment) and a safe space to talk openly about your greatest challenges and desires.
Trying my best to show up authentically
Where I can, I try to show up with confidence, including self-confidence and confidence in knowing what will help my community and authenticity as a leader. What this means to me is about being real and true to your experiences. It’s also about listening to others and giving them the space to share their stories. You listen to all of the stakeholders in your world and give everyone a chance to share their experiences and what it means to them.
Organisations want to better understand how to support their employees
I really hope that this bill in the UK is passed to give time and space to the families that need to grieve. From my experiences – both with clients that I have spoken to, and at industry discussions that I have attended to talk on issues related to maternity and fertility in the workplace – I have seen that organisations are keen to support employees suffering either miscarriage or fertility treatment.
I will continue to share my story to help others feel less alone and offer ways to educate organisations on how they can help women with miscarriage and fertility at work.
If you would like to share your story with me, or if this blog has touched you in some way, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where you can get support
- Tommy’s has a free helpline, run by midwives, to help anyone suffering pregnancy loss: find out more here
- The Miscarriage Association also has a helpline, and lots of online resources
- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists provides information and a list of resources here
In Australia, PANDA runs a free helpline that offers support and counselling
Share provides support resources, as well as an online support group, phone line and a list of regional support groups.
Tools to help:
The Miscarriage Association has certificates that can be downloaded to recognise your loss.
I am yet to create mine, however this is something that would have brought me enormous comfort – being able to have a memento to recognise the life that I celebrated and mourned when lost. I wanted the acknowledgment, the recognition that they were already loved and missed so immensely – a grief I could have never imagined, nor understood when family, friends and clients had shared their losses with me.
The Bill will go through a second reading on 16 September.
For noting: If the baby is stillborn after 24 weeks’, or dies shortly after birth, employees are legally entitled to parental leave and pay.