Fight the good fight (idiom): To try very hard to do what is right
After the loss of a pregnancy, it takes a while to regain your strength and to resume the types of things you used to do. Be patient, don’t rush it, do what feels right for you. For the longest time, just getting up and getting through the day, was enough for me. But this week, I received a very welcome nudge from Summer, prodding me into doing a very Anjulie-like thing again – fighting the good fight.
This week I received an email from my workplace to say that they were updating the company policy on miscarriage. They are now allowing all employees (mother or father) to take two weeks of paid leave, following a miscarriage. If employees need more time off, that can then be considered via the company’s extended sick pay scheme. They also put it in writing that if you have a baby born alive at any stage of pregnancy, you are entitled to your full maternity leave.
When I miscarried with BoC and My Baby, I took just 4 days and 3 days off work, respectively. Both were kindly, at the discretion of my manager – I was very fortunate in that regard. Although that’s how long the physical healing took, we all know that the emotional healing took longer.
When Summer died last year, I was told by the hospital that I was legally entitled to my full maternity leave, but I quickly dismissed it. My company did not have a written policy, and though I knew they would honour the legal guidelines, I did not think to raise it with them – I felt I’d qualified on a technicality and that the legal guidance wasn’t really for the likes of me. I was of course, wrong.
I am thrilled that all employees at my workplace now have this formal policy around baby loss – this acknowledgment of grief, the space and time to grieve, will mean so much to so many people, when they need it most.
I was kicking myself actually, for not having been one of the proponents for this change (as an Indian female from a lower working-class background, I’ve previously worked on amendments with respect to my company’s gender pay gap policy and awareness around diversity and inclusion, as well as mentoring practices. It’s not my day job, I’ve just got a big mouth (alongside some hopefully decent ideas) and a huge team of senior advocates). Baby loss was the next “obvious” fight for me, but to be fair to myself, I’ve had a lot on my plate this past year, so I’m forgiving myself for not going all guns blazing on this one.
Instead, I decided to write a note of thanks to the head of HR, for the change in policy. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised with the email response (this guy really gets it!), that I’m sharing the short exchange with you, with the gentle hope that it may encourage you to take up the good fight, where you work. In this day and age, when it’s so easy to complain, let’s single out some of the good stuff too.
I just wanted to send a note to say thank you for putting a policy in place for miscarriage and for explicitly documenting the policy regarding neonatal death and stillbirth.
As someone who has experienced two first trimester miscarriages, followed by a neonatal death of a child (all while working here at [this company]), I can tell you first-hand how relieved I am to now have a formal policy in place for these traumatic events. Having something in writing (particularly for miscarriage), legitimises the losses and will remove a lot of the mental stress and guilt that comes with taking time off work. Thankfully, my manager and team have always been incredibly supportive around my losses; I’m just so pleased that all my colleagues will have the same understanding going forwards – men and women, alike.
I have done a lot of work in recent months to raise awareness around baby loss, so I just wanted to say that this update has really touched me today – I am extremely proud of the stance the company has taken. Thank you all.
Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you think might appreciate this feedback.
Thanks so much for your note, I am sorry to hear about what you have gone through – but reciprocally proud to hear that you have felt supported by [the company].
I had been mulling it over for a few weeks and then two things really made it a must-do for me. I saw news coverage of the national campaign pushing for a statutory period of leave for two weeks following a miscarriage and just thought that we (society) had got it all wrong if employers as a whole weren’t consistently demonstrating compassion. I also reflected on the fact that about a year ago the Government introduced statutory parental bereavement leave of two weeks for the death of a child aged 18 or under and thought for statutory provision to differentiate loss in that way makes no sense.
A couple of the comments and a couple of emails I have received make a good suggestion of coming up with some additional guidance for managers on how they can best support colleagues who experience miscarriage or neonatal death. If you are open to helping – I think your experience and insight could help us make sure every manager in [this company] has a tool available to help them support all of our colleagues who may experience this.
Mr [man from HR]
I have, of course, offered my help, in any way he sees fit. I have always said that if we have to go through this, then some good must come from it. So I thank BoC, My Baby, Summer – and all the readers of Mumoirs – for giving me the confidence to support this incredibly important initiative. Now THAT’s a good end to the working week! Have a nice weekend, all.