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I was pregnant and exhibited pregnancy symptoms throughout first trimester. Some co-workers guessed I was pregnant.

I just found out I miscarried and will have procedure tomorrow. Next week I return to office.

How do I respond to co-workers if they ask what happened. I already informed my supervisor of due date to plan for maternity leave, so naturally he will ask.

How do I deal with this shame?

THANK YOU:

Thank you for this outpouring of support. This was my first pregnancy. I have tears in my eyes knowing I am not alone in this. Still I go through a lot of grief because my dreams were dashed. I pray I can have another child soon.

UPDATE:

I'm about to go to the hospital and I checked my work email. When a coworker asked how I was I replied "The Lord Giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord". He figured it out and also mentioned his wife went through similar tragedy.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!!!!

RETURNED FROM HOSPITAL:

I returned from hospital yesterday and in the process of recovering physically. Hopefully I can find something to occupy my mind ...

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My condolences, I know how hard this can be. Understand though that there should be no shame involved, this was not your fault, and however you decide to handle it in your workplace, most people will understand that. –  Moses May 1 at 15:41
    
@JennyD ---- Oh Thank You. We had traditional arranged marriage and my family had so much trouble to find me someone, and when they did, we all rejoiced. As soon as he started to show his abusive side, at first I was in denial, but then I opened my eyes to the reality. I thought somehow he would change, he is adjusting to USA, but that was never the case. And now my baby is dead, I will never forgive him, even if he becomes a saint. –  Glowie May 3 at 13:11
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Hello, I'm really sorry to hear about your unfortunate circumstances. We'll be planning to do a comment cleanup on these comments soon, so my suggestion is to use The Workplace Chat to talk further or if you have the reputation to do so, create a separate chat room. That will help take the discussion off the main Q&A and still allow you to talk about this. Hope this helps. –  jmort253 May 3 at 16:03
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@JennyD, Glowie, et al. I created a chat room for discussions around this question. As an aside, I consider this an experiment and don't want to set a huge precedent for moderators to create chat rooms every time there is a long comment thread, although it's worth noting that it only takes 100 reputation for anyone to create a chat room themselves. Hope this helps! –  jmort253 May 3 at 18:18
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Thanks, jmort - I was AFK for a while. I deeply appreciate your lenience in allowing the conversation to go so far beyond the topic, and your helpfulness in creating the chat room. Thanks! –  Jenny D May 3 at 18:52

3 Answers 3

up vote 59 down vote accepted

First of all, my condolences. I hope you get through this difficult time, and please realize it is not shameful or your fault. It is very common - this article estimates 1 in 4 women go through it.

Sharing any personal information or change, especially a negative one (miscarriage, divorce, death in the family, etc.), is always difficult. It should be a little easier in the workplace than in your personal life, however, as there is some structure there.

Decide how you want it dealt with. Are you feeling OK with people coming up to you and asking you about it? If so, then you'd just reply to them when they do. (Word will then spread after you've told a couple people.) Since you're asking the question, I assume you don't feel prepared for that. Do consider taking off some time if you can, even though you're "physically OK" to work I don't know any manager in my field that wouldn't insist you take a week off just for you. You might be more prepared to handle the question afterward.

There's no real good way of stonewalling on an issue like this, either. There's no effective way for people to not find out, and you have to realize people will talk to each other about it.

What I would do if I didn't want to have the discussion with random folks is to share the situation with your boss and ask him or her to convey to the rest of the team how you'd like it handled. For example, if you don't want anyone talking to you about it, they could convey a message like "As many of you know, Carol was expecting a child this July. Unfortunately, she has had a miscarriage (or however you feel comfortable describing this - e.g. "She has had complications, and is no longer expecting"). She is doing well and will be returning to work shortly. Please respect her privacy during this difficult time; she'd prefer for people to not discuss this with her at work."

You can also go the gossip route, by asking a friendly coworker you trust that is generally tuned in to to the gossip mill to spread the message and to stress that you don't want to talk about it. Some people, oddly, prefer this route, while others don't like the thought of "people talking about them."

When I was divorced, I used that first technique - just telling people as it came up, and word then spreads quickly enough that most folks stopped running across it. But I have a pretty thick skin, and that was the right approach for me.

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+1 for asking that someone in the org to send out a "here's what happened, please leave her be" message. Most people won't want to cause distress and should be happy with this guidance. –  yochannah May 1 at 16:36
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She could even convey the message herself, via e-mail, for example (allowing her to customize the message as desired). Sending an email to everyone (all staff in the office?) might be a good idea - although it might get the message to more people than ideally desired, it would greatly reduce the chances of getting asked about it. –  Dukeling May 1 at 19:51

Firstly, very sorry. It can be a very upsetting event.

I would understand that it's not something you may want to discuss with all, and sometimes people can get over heavy just wishing to be helpful or supportive.

You've already brought your supervisor into it, so you'll need to advise him regarding the leave. He should be able to have a discrete word with other staff to request you aren't put into an uncomfortable position, although it may happen so you should be prepared.

You don't deal with this shame, you have no shame to deal with, it's an unfortunate and traumatic part of the human cycle, but there is no shame involved.

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As others have said, please remove the word "shame" from your mind. I'm sorry for your loss.

  • For those coworkers with whom you explicitly shared your news, you might consider a brief word ("Unfortunately, I miscarried.") if you're up to it to ensure they don't continue to wonder and begin asking painful questions.
  • For your supervisor with whom you explicitly scheduled time off, a brief word about the situation and an indication that you will no longer require leave should suffice. Personal health information should be confidential, and therefore your supervisor should have no reason to mention it whatsoever to anyone. However, if you want your supervisor to field questions from staff, tell your him or her exactly what you'd like people to know, and whether you would prefer coworkers approach you directly or not.
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+1 for the idea that your supervisor can be leveraged (if there's a trust level between you) to help you communicate what happened to lessen the load on you. –  DVK May 2 at 17:08

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