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Advice on how to support someone please?

(10 Posts)
MiscellaneousAssortment Thu 14-Aug-14 23:40:47

Sorry to ask as I know how traumatic and awful it is for people, but I find myself a bit ignorant and not knowing how to handle this.

An employee has just emailed in to say she's had a very early miscarriage and won't be in work until mid/ end next week. Im not a 'proper' employer as she helps me in my home, so I'm not trained in HR and very much learning on the job. But beyond this, miscarriage is such a not talked about thing I don't have any personal experience or understanding to fall back on. And I've realised I don't know much about this and think I should as don't want to upset her or ask her to do something that she can't do. I also don't want to make a big fuss about it as that could make her feel worse, so will take my cues from her, but any insights greatly appreciated.

I don't want to ask her as it could come across as very intrusive but can you help me please? I don't want to upset anyone on here either, so I hope my questions aren't upsetting. Eek, feel a bit out of my depth.

I think I must be naive as I had thought very early miscarriages were like a heavy period in terms of physical symptoms. Maybe it is for some but not others? She's been told to take at least 5-7 days off, but also said it was a non complex early miscarriage. Obviously I don't want to put foot in it by asking her but I don't know of this is normal? From mumsnet I've learn about later miscarriages and the medical side of it - and the campaign of course.

And when she does come back, should she be lifting things or standing up for long? Or being on her feet alot? Should she rest more or I could find her more sitting down type things to do? Or would that be a bad thing to do, dwelling on it or special treatment in an unhelpful / unpleasant way?

And the emotional effect of it, I know this is different for everyone of course, but what might she be feeling? I did wonder if thats the reason she needs time off because its awful, grieving and saying goodbyes to the possibilities and the hopes and everything. But she said she wasn't aware she was pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, and I guess it must be very strange for her, to not know then at the same time find out and find out its not happened all at once. I'm not sure how I'd feel in those circumstances.

I cannot have another child and was incredibly lucky to bear my son to term (though I didn't know it at the time). Finding out this for me has been extremely upsetting for me, I'm still grieving for the babies and family I will never have, but it's different as they were never real and growing, they are just in my head. I think this is triggering for me in a strange (& very selfish) way. I'm sat here crying and I'm not quite sure why, for her or for me. Obviously it's just now I'm being a wuss and there's not a chance in hell I'll relate it to me in any way when I see her, or be emotional, just confiding to mumsnet in private.

I hope this thread isn't too insensitive. I feel a bit overwhelmed and want to limit that to now, and be the best employer I can be to her.

Thanks so much flowers

Pinotgrigioplease Thu 14-Aug-14 23:54:57

Hugs to you misc

As someone who had a miscarriage at 7 weeks earlier this year & took a week off I would just say play it by ear based on how she feels.

I had known I was pregnant for 3 weeks before things went wrong & it was a planned, wished & hoped for baby but at the end of the day miscarriage is miscarriage and it sucks!

Personally, after the mc I could have gone back to work after a few days physically but not mentally.

When I did go back I just wanted things to be normal and returned to full duties (secondary teacher) but that may just have been me.

Sorry, I don't know if my rambling helps but just to say if you are sympathetic and understanding that will go a long way x

MiscellaneousAssortment Fri 15-Aug-14 11:28:20

Thank you that really helps alot.

It's hard to be understanding even when you really want to... When you don't understand!

flowers to you for your loss and bravery

thesmallbear Fri 15-Aug-14 11:34:52

Hello OP. I was 10 weeks when I had my miscarriage, but because the baby had died/stopped developing things were only measuring 7 weeks when it happened. I was only 2 weeks away from my 12 week scan, but everything was measuring an early size if that makes sense.

In my case I had 3 x early scans as I'd been bleeding. They eventually determined that the pregnancy was not viable, and as things had not come away naturally I was given tablets to make sure my body got rid of everything. I have to say it was nothing like a heavy period; I have painful and heavy periods anyway and this was nothing like that. My body basically went into labour, it was the worse pain I have ever experienced in my life. I passed a lot of large blood clots and the gestational sac didn't come out until six days after I'd been given the tablets. I think as everyone's bodies are different people have different reactions, some really bad and some not so much. I bleed for about three weeks post MC and then just as the bleeding started to die down I got my period. My hormones were all over the place and I felt completely physically drained due to all the blood loss.

It's now two months on and I still think about the baby I lost every day. When I first went back to work I was completely useless and couldn't concentrate on anything, although as time went on it became a welcome distraction.

The vast majority of people on here have had early losses so it might be worth reading through some of the forums for peoples experiences.

Catlover2014 Fri 15-Aug-14 14:43:12


How kind of you to post and worry about your emolyee in this way!

I have suffered from two mcs, one at 9 and one at 11 weeks. People think they are like a heavy periods but they are very painful as you suffer contractions much like when in labour. You also lose a lot of blood.

Physically I felt better after about a week but it did leave me very tired for a while. Emotionally it was awful. Hormones were all over the place and my heart was broken at the anticipated life that was lost.

I would suggest going for a coffee before she gets back to her usual duties. She may wish to go back to normal or might want to have light duties for the first few weeks while she gets her head around it all.


rascalrae Fri 15-Aug-14 16:13:05

I think you're being incredibly thoughtful misc so I'm sure that you'll handle the situation with great sensitivity.

When I had my miscarriage, my boss was brilliant. She discussed with me how I wanted to handle things, reassured me that there was no pressure and I could take each day & see how I felt. Some people like to stay busy, others find it hard to concentrate. Just ask her what will work best for her. I would imagine that she will be feeling tired because the combination of physical pain, blood loss, changing hormones, & the huge emotional rollercoaster is draining for anybody, so she might want to take things slow, or work shorter hours.

I had some lovely messages from colleagues saying that they were there if I wanted to talk, but we're conscious that they didn't want to make me cry by mentioning it in person. I really appreciated that because Iwould have cried, but the occasional hug and cup if tea was ccomforting.

I'm sorry this has raised sad thoughts for you flowers But please don't feel worried about handling this the wrong way, the fact that you're trying to understand shows you're obviously a very caring person.

MiscellaneousAssortment Fri 15-Aug-14 22:17:17

Gosh sounds like it can be a really horrible experience for some, physically as well as emotionally no idea you could get contractions too.

What counts as an 'early miscarriage'? Was thinking about it and I knew I was pregnant at 8-9 weeks, and that felt very early and not quite real in terms of how I was feeling (hopeful but unreal, strange and wistful I guess), then by 12-13 weeks it seemed very very real indeed and I had a definite bond and connection, thought of him as a tiny whole being... So the difference for me would have been massive in just a few weeks.

Haven't heard from her, I just wrote a short email back saying how sorry I was and just to keep me in the loop on when she feels up to coming back to work, and appointments if she needs time for them etc.

Maybe I should have written more but was trying not to gush, or presume to know what she was feeling.

enlightenedbunny Sat 16-Aug-14 13:48:38

You sound like a very kind and supportive boss, and what you've emailed her sounds like just the right amount of concern without being presumptuous/intrusive.

However 'early' the miscarriage, I think it is underestimated how great the emotional impact of the loss can be. Whether consciously or not, there are already attached feelings/plans for the future and when this is snatched away it can be devastating.

I was sorry to read your story also: "its different for me as they were never real and growing, they were just in my head" - perhaps different circumstances but still a valid loss and no less distressing. You are not being a wuss - you are being human and this is a very natural response.

Be kind to your employee, but also be kind to yourself. brew

thesmallbear Sun 17-Aug-14 12:22:10

Hi OP, a miscarriage is anything up to 24 weeks (anything after that is a still birth). An early miscarriage is within the first 12 weeks.

I suppose everyone is different. I knew I was pregnant from the day my period was due because we'd been trying so I took a test. In fact, I knew before I took the test that it had worked that time as I just felt pregnant, which may sound crazy as I'd never been pregnant before but I honestly just knew. I could feel this waive of hormones which just felt like way too much to be the normal PMS type symptoms.

We (perhaps stupidly) got a bit carried away quite early on. We went to the Baby Show, decided how we were going to decorate the nursery and bought a couple of small soft toys. I even bought a copy of Mother and Baby magazine! I couldn't feel the baby moving but I knew he (had a feeling it was a boy) was there because I felt so different. It did feel a long way off, but also very real at the same time.

I suppose feelings maybe different if the baby was unplanned, maybe confusion or bringing up maternal instincts that you never even knew you had. Everyone will be different I guess.

MiscellaneousAssortment Mon 18-Aug-14 00:05:40

Thanks so much, really helps, and so sad too, and full of strength.

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