“Being honest and vulnerable with people I can trust at work has made it possible for me to get through my miscarriage”
In this series of articles we hear from women ‘putting their work face on’, and managing to get through the day to day, while experiencing turmoil in their personal lives. After all, life doesn’t stop between 9 and 5.
Here’s Jenny’s* story.
Jenny* works in the film industry part-time and was eight weeks pregnant when she miscarried on one of her days off.
“We had been trying for about 2-3 months and I got a positive pregnancy test on the day my period was due. I was super excited, but a bit nervous.”
“I took another test a week later, it was negative and I was concerned so I took another one a few days later and got the same result.”
Jenny decided to wait and see what would happen and a few days later she got her period.
“It wasn’t dramatic, just heavier and more painful than usual. I didn’t go to the doctor either, which was very silly.”
Jenny describes feeling intensely disappointed that the pregnancy had ended, but her feelings were complicated. “It made me question whether I was ready or if it was the right time, which then made me feel guilty.”
I felt like other people around me thought that it was too early a loss for me to be as sad as I was
Jenny struggled not to blame herself for the miscarriage. “I felt like my fear affected the pregnancy and a myriad of other things I thought I could have done wrong.”
“I felt like I cursed the baby. The cycle of emotions just continued and I felt like a failure.”
While struggling with complex emotions Jenny says she also felt like she wasn’t entitled to feel upset. “I felt like other people around me thought that it was too early a loss for me to be as sad as I was, so then I felt a bit judged.”
When Jenny visited the doctor a few weeks later she took with her a list she had complied with all the reasons she thought could have caused the miscarriage.
“She helped me rule most of them out and put me on medication to support my thyroid, which would help for when I wanted to try again.”
When Jenny was due to return to work a few days later she went as usual.
Work provided a much needed distraction at a time when I felt empty and scared
“When we got a moment of peace one of my older colleagues asked if something was wrong and I told her. She immediately empathised and hugged me and told me it happened to her too.”
Jenny’s colleague suggested she let her supervisor know, which Jenny did.
“She said I could stay if I wanted the distraction, or I could go home. Everyone at work was very understanding and empathetic. They know me and know I love kids and really wanted one.”
Work provided a much needed distraction for Jenny at a time when she says she mainly felt, “empty and scared I wouldn’t be able to have kids.”
“I felt so sad for this person that I wanted to bring into the world that didn’t get the chance. It was tough.”
Jenny says the support she got from her workplace helped make the whole experience less awful.
“That is the only good thing about a loss, that it brings connection, and the moment you feel free to talk to someone about it they say ‘it happened to me too’ or ‘it happened to my sister’ or something like that.”
If you’re in a position to support someone who is dealing with pregnancy loss or infertility, put yourself in their shoes and be decent to them
Jenny is now pregnant again and this time she decided to let her boss know early on.
“I was very open from the start with my older female colleagues that I had had a positive pregnancy test. They reacted really well and allowed me to take care of myself by doing a little less bending and lifting and just giving me grace when I need it.“
With this pregnancy Jenny had a similar early experience with pregnancy tests, a positive test followed by a negative test.
“I went to the doctor this time and my HCG level was shown to be rising instead of dropping. I was referred to get a scan shortly after, but no embryo or heartbeat was visible. That was very scary.”
“A week after I got scanned again and they found a super cute little baby-in-construction. Then two weeks ago I had my 12 week scan and it all appears to be going well.”
Even if you haven’t experienced the same thing, your empathy can be a saving grace
Fortunately Jenny has felt really supported by her company while pregnant.
“When my boss is around he hardly lets me lift a finger, even though I feel fine to do my normal work for the most part. It really isn’t a perfect workplace, but in this regard I have absolutely no complaints. I hope this continues as I get more limited in my abilities.”
Jenny acknowledges that not everyone is able to speak to their bosses about personal issues but for her it’s been vital to making her feel comfortable and safe during work.
“Being honest and vulnerable with people I can trust at work has made it possible for me to get through my miscarriage and the anxiety surrounding my current pregnancy. If other people in my situation feel comfortable I hope they can find a way to talk to co-workers who can make things easier on them.”
“And if you’re in a position to support someone who is dealing with pregnancy loss or infertility, put yourself in their shoes and be decent to them. Honour the trust they have placed in you and try to be a friend to them. Sisterhood is powerful, and always let someone know that they aren’t alone in their situation. Even if you haven’t experienced the same thing, your empathy can be a saving grace.”
*Name changed to protect identity.
For more articles in this series see –
About the Author
Taryn de Vere is a writer, a colourful fashion activist and a mother of 5.