Deciding how long to take off work after a missed miscarriage is tricky. I agonised over it unnecessarily for days.
It’s been 12 days since we discovered I’d had a missed miscarriage.
The pregnancy stopped at nine weeks, but there were no signs that anything was wrong until the 12-week scan.
Finding out I was no longer pregnant was one of the worst experiences of my life. It was my first pregnancy after three fresh IVF rounds, so for it to end this way after all the effort we’d been through was devastating.
Co-incidentally, my husband and I had already booked the following week off as holiday. So on the same day as the doomed scan, I emailed my boss (who had known about the pregnancy all along) and asked if I could cancel my annual leave and change it to sick leave.
Of course she said yes. And if she hadn’t, I would have got a sick note and taken it anyway, obvs.
The first week following the news was tough. After the ERPC procedure on the Monday, I spent most of Tuesday crying in bed. Wednesday I had to sort out some problems with my rental flat, which was stressful but a good distraction.
My husband wanted to go and see his parents on Thursday/Friday, as we’d planned to visit them the previous weekend. But I couldn’t cope with the idea of making polite small talk with the in-laws, even though they are the loveliest, kindest people.
However, I also didn’t want to sit around feeling miserable as sin either. I felt utterly devoid of energy, motivation and purpose, and completely stuck in a rut.
In the end, we went to see my mom in Sheffield, and it was definitely what I needed. We got cooked for, had lovely lie-ins without our usual 5am (real life) cat alarm clocks and enjoyed the hottest Easter weekend on record. Seeing loved ones was just the tonic, as was the plentiful wine that flowed like water.
We’re now into week two, and I agonised over whether to go back to work yesterday. Physically, I am still bleeding a bit, feeling quite constipated and a bit headachey. But nothing worse than having a normal period, really.
Emotionally though, I’m up and down. I have a really short fuse, I’m triggered quite easily and I feel exhausted. But I haven’t had a day off sick in 10 years. So doing so feels alien and ‘wrong’, like I’m taking advantage of the situation. And I worried about what other people in my team would think and say.
So I woke up yesterday and decided to assess the situation. And you know what? I thought, sod them.
I have had three rounds of IVF in 12 months. While doing so, I’ve worked 50-hour weeks, used my holiday for appointments and ploughed on – even when pregnant – until I was physically, utterly exhausted.
Enough is enough. I’m not saying work stress contributed to the missed miscarriage. But I should never have been doing 50-hour weeks consistently for months at a time in the first place. That’s essentially doing two extra days a week, without any additional pay.
My conclusion was that I deserve to take this week off. No one will thank me for going in and carrying on, as I would normally. Sure, my boss might be grateful, but in a week’s time, my ‘heroic’ act would have been forgotten. Plus my other workmates would be none the wiser.
The best thing I can do this week is look after myself, get as mentally and physically strong as I can, and go back next week a less broken version. I have to say, lying in my bed this morning at 8am, I feel it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
I’m probably not in the best position to give advice at the moment (and I am rather biased) but, for what it’s worth, you need to go with your gut.
I honestly stressed about whether to go back to work for days. But as soon as I woke up on the day I was meant to go back, I knew in my heart of hearts I wasn’t ready.
What I did do was log into my emails remotely to assess the ‘damage’ from the previous week. It was a relief to discover that there was none. That made me feel better. But, ultimately, the world doesn’t stop spinning if you’re not there.
I also spoke to my boss, who told me to take as much time as I needed. It was super hard having a conversation with her about what happened, but she was absolutely brilliant, and now I don’t feel guilty for being off whatsoever.
Most managers would say the same thing. Going through a miscarriage is devastating. It’s grief you are feeling right now – there’s no other way to describe it. So don’t feel guilty on top of all your other emotions.
Think about if one of your team told you they’d had a miscarriage and need some time off. You wouldn’t dream of saying anything other than: of course you do. Take as much time as you need.
Do what’s right for you
There’s no right or wrong amount of time, either. I’ve read countless forum threads about this. Some people are OK to return after a week and like getting back to a routine. Others needed three or four weeks. Whatever you need, take it.
Remember, this is pregnancy-related sickness so you are protected by law: your employer cannot use these absence days against you when it comes to promotions, renumeration decisions or redundancy. You cannot be discriminated because of it.
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