A lot of us know this date. October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. It’s a day where we should feel open to share our stories, where we lean on others for support, and where we raise awareness to help diminish the stigma that unfortunately is tied to pregnancy and infant loss.
March 2013 I experienced a miscarriage. It was unexpected and devastating. We spent two more years after that trying to conceive before our son was born in May 2016. I’ve shared my story of miscarriage on my blog but I’ve always left out one part of the story. In the moment it confused me but as time goes on I look back on my experience and I’m angry.
It was a Sunday afternoon and I just wasn’t feeling right. I couldn’t tell if my stomach was upset or if that feeling of dread in my abdomen was actually real. Should I call my doctor? After a few hours of trying to convince myself I just had a stomach ache I finally called my doctor. She scheduled an ultrasound to check my pregnancy first thing Monday morning. I naively thought if I got checked out everything would be ok.
As the evening grew later, I started spotting. It started to sink in that everything was not going to be ok. I sat in the shower just holding my stomach and holding onto the last hopes of our baby.
I realized I needed to call into work and tell my boss I wouldn’t be in on Monday. I have never called off sick before from my job because I knew it was just easier to go in. At the time I was working for a private preschool. We didn’t have subs and it affected the strict student teacher ratio when someone called off.
So I called my boss, let’s call her J, and told her I wasn’t able to come in the next day.
J: Why, are you sick?
J: You don’t sound sick.
Me: I called my doctor and she wants me to come in tomorrow. I can bring a doctor’s note to excuse my sick day.
J: What’s wrong?
Me: I’d rather not say.
Me: It’s personal.
After this back and forth exchange I bluntly said I would not be in so make whatever accommodations needed. My boss never got to know any of the staff on a personal level so I didn’t feel comfortable confiding in her. I also could not even speak the words, “I might be having a miscarriage.” I didn’t want to say it out loud, like if I don’t say those words it would stop it from happening,
At my doctor’s appointment an ultrasound confirmed that I was miscarrying. Besides feeling emotionally devastated, by this point I was in a lot of physical pain too. While this was going on my boss continued to call my phone and leave messages that they needed me in the afternoon if I could come in.
Reluctantly I went into work. Three hours after being told our baby was gone. Looking back, I should have stood my ground and said no. But I really needed my paycheck (teaching jobs were hard to come by in my area at the time) and now especially I needed my health insurance.
So I went into the preschool after lunch. The kids nap and then slowly start heading home. I could just sit and try to not think about what was pressing on my mind. I asked my boss if we could go into the office to talk. I decided to tell her what I just experienced.
Her initial response was pity. She was sorry I was dealing with this. And then our conversation took an odd turn.
She told me that her sister in law had a hysterical pregnancy once. Her body was physically displaying pregnancy and she wasn’t getting her period. But when she had tests done she wasn’t pregnant. She said she ended up having a D&C to end this phenomenon.
And then she asked, “Are you sure you were really pregnant?”
Needless to say, I moved on from that job as quickly as I could. I was astounded at the ignorance and insensitivity in my workplace after experiencing pregnancy loss.
Not only was I working a pretty physically demanding job while heavily bleeding, popping Tylenol like candy, but I was also insulted by questioning if what I was experiencing was even real.
I’m sharing my story for other women. Stand up for yourself when it comes to your health, physical and emotional. I’m not going to let the ignorance of others shake me to my core anymore. I’m going to share my experience to educate those who need to support women experiencing pregnancy loss. 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss. It is time to drop the stigma and simply take care of one another.