My baby is a year old now and it is only now I feel strong enough to tell my story. I’m not asking for help. My life is pretty good. I have a happy, healthy little girl and a job I love. I want to write down what happened to me. If you are reading this and have had a negative experience whilst being pregnant then don’t worry. It will be alright.
I was marketing manager for a well known restaurant chain. I had moved from London back home to Scotland and went on a relentless job hunt. I was offered two jobs and I picked the marketing manager job. My husband and I were newly married, living in Scotland and had one mission. Save for a deposit! Buy a house!!!
I was welcomed into a small, dedicated team and immediately got on well with my line manager. Friends and productive colleagues our families got on well and our work life was one success after another. It was hard work. I looked after Scotland and was then given Ireland . Promotion shortly followed and after a year I was promoted to a regional marketing role. This involved a lot more travel and a lot more hours. Crucially my line manager was no longer the manager for Scotland but instead his boss. A lovely, hard working lady and life was pretty fab. My husband and I bought our gorgeous home and decided we were ready for our baby.
I got pregnant straight away and couldn’t wait to share the news with my colleagues and friends. That’s where I guess everything went pear shaped.
I had morning sickness almost straight away. At around 6 weeks things got bad and stayed bad. I was admitted to hospital and after two weeks was sent off but signed off sick. I think in total I was off sick for 13.5 weeks. At around week 20 I returned to work. As long as I didn’t travel and took the pills I could function. I could think. There was nothing wrong with my brain and I wanted to distract myself from the horror of the hypermesis. No such luck. They had me booked everywhere. Ireland one day, Glasgow the next. Back to my gruelling work week with no exceptions or special circumstances. I simply couldn’t cope. Everyone’s attitude at my absence was palpable. I had let them down. I was never one for being off sick or tolerating excuses but the pregnancy had brought me very low. I wouldn’t have known me. After one very long drive I had to pull over. The sick had covered the steering wheel. It was puddled in my lap. It hit me how ridiculous I was being trying to continue on. I phoned my previous line manager as the meeting was in his area and was told “well, what are you going to do because being off sick isn’t an option. You should quit”
Now. I might have wanted to quit. I wanted to die. I definitely wanted to hurt him. His wife had two perfect pregnancies, what in earth could possibly be so awful. I phone my boss that evening. She was very honest with me. For that I will be forever grateful. She told me – “if you are at work, people will assume you are ok to work, go off sick. Look after yourself and your baby. Your job will be here when you are well again”
Suffice to say I was off until I was 31 weeks pregnant when suddenly I felt fine! No more sickness. I went back to work however things were frosty between my colleagues. There was no welcome. No hand over. Nothing. However it didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to loose my mat pay and I thought that after I returned to work after mat leave I could wow them all and get some of the respect back. I collapsed at 33 weeks. I was taken to hospital again. The midwives and I were on very good terms. I had preeclampsia. I was induced and had a healthy baby girl at 38 weeks however it was clear to me from the lack of notice, response or respect that I was no longer welcome.
I never thought of myself as weak or someone that needed help. When my little girl was 8 months old I started looking around and was offered an interesting job with more money, responsibility and with such an incredible company that even though i am only someone’s maternity cover I know when she comes back to claim her job I will find a new permanent job of my own.
Of course she’s coming back, not anytime soon but why shouldn’t she come back. The company has done everything right by her. Not just ticked a box but genuinely cared and looked after her. The staff turnover at this new job is virtually non existent. Employers take note!
I was lucky. My husband took care of me. He has a good job, we got by. How on earth do woman without such strong support do it?! I have had trauma therapy and can talk about the pregnancy now. The best tonic has been my little girl Eleanor. The biggest compliment I can give her is that she was worth it. She was worth the fight. The worry. The feeling of complete worthlessness I was made to feel.
If you are reading this, you are not worthless. You are having a baby! If things are bad now please believe me they will get better.