Shock double blow that left mum ‘struggling’
Anna Kratovil could not have been happier.
After moving to Australia from the UK with her husband in 2009, her career was on track, she was mother to her son Finn and had a second little boy, Alfie, on the way.
But her world fell apart in just a few terrible days in 2013 after she tragically suffered a miscarriage at 18 weeks and received the shock news she was being made redundant from her job of 15 years.
"I had all the scans and everything was looking fine but I started to spot and pass clots," Ms Kratovil, now 39, told news.com.au
At hospital she was told she was losing her baby and her own life was in danger due to the risk of infection.
"I was in shock and denial," she said. "I was off work on sick leave for about two weeks and I actually did try and go in. I was in a bit of a daze and my colleagues were lovely, asking me why I was there and telling me to go home."
As she struggled to deal with the enormity of what was happening she received the message from her work about being laid off.
Ms Kratovil called her company, who she said knew about her miscarriage, to ask why they had chosen to let her go during such a difficult time.
"They told me that half of the team had been made redundant that day. I don't think it was directly correlated to my miscarriage but it was the circumstances," she said.
"It hurt because they could have kept me on, supported me, looked after me until I had gone through the trauma."
Ms Kratovil said she was still angry about the lack of compassion shown to her and she was pushing for greater recognition in the workplace for women who miscarry.
"They could have thought about what they were doing, given me some time to grieve and have the redundancy conversation when I was back and in a better frame of mind mentally and physically," she said.
"We're not sick, we don't need sick leave - I was grieving."
Under the Fair Work Act, women are entitled to special unpaid maternity leave if they miscarry after 12 weeks.
But the early pregnancy loss support group The Pink Elephants Support Network is pushing for the Act to be amended to provide two days paid bereavement leave for parents experiencing a miscarriage at any stage.
Speaking during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, the charity's CEO Samantha Payne said it wasn't about the amount of leave.
"It's about bringing miscarriage into the spotlight, shining a light on it and creating awareness and recognition for a woman's loss and true grief," she said.
"We want there to be an amendment to the bereavement act to be inclusive of miscarriage.
"We feel those who lose a child to early pregnancy loss are grieving and should be included in that act."
Ms Payne, who co-founded the group nearly four years ago after discovering a lack of support after her own miscarriages, has gone on to help about 15,000 couples.
Apart from online support, the charity also offers a peer support program that connects women who have been through loss, with another woman currently going through it.
Ms Kratovil is a peer support ambassador, sharing her experience to help other women.
"It's about getting it out there, not stigmatising it and making it taboo and actually opening up and talking about it," Ms Kratovil said.
Following her devastating experience, Ms Kratovil said she became a "shadow of my former self".
"My partner was fantastic and he really supported me and I was lucky enough to have a son who I just showered with love. But he was the only reason (at the time) I got up every morning," Ms Kratovil told news.com.au
"It was such a struggle to get up and get through the day because you are in such grief and loss and to lose my job I felt I had no purpose anymore."
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The young mother was fortunate enough to fall pregnant with twins, Isabel and Zoe, now four, six months after getting the all-clear from her doctors.
"Because I was having twins I knew I couldn't get daycare for three children … and that was it. So I haven't gone back to work since because I couldn't."
One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage and most happen in the first 12 weeks.
Each day in Australia, 282 women report pregnancy loss before 20 weeks gestation, and one in three pregnant women over the age of 35 will experience pregnancy loss.
A bill legislating three days paid bereavement leave for women and their partners following a miscarriage has been introduced by New Zealand Labour MP Ginny Andersen, which is anticipated to pass in early 2020.
But in Australia, there are currently no entitlements for couples to use bereavement leave if they experience a miscarriage, Ms Payne said.
"Employees feel more entitled to take leave for a runny nose than they do for losing a baby,
and that has to change. We are at a point now in 2019 where it's not OK to be ignoring this
in Australian workplaces anymore," Ms Payne said.
"Having to use personal leave does not validate the unique nature of the grief that a couple
experiences when they have lost a child, and further magnifies their grief and mental health
Ms Payne said couples should be entitled to compassionate or bereavement leave under the Act's National Employment Standards so that most Australian employees will have access to
Compassionate Leave as a minimum entitlement.
"Amending this legislation will validate that miscarriage matters and provide couples with a fairer working environment," she said.
For information and support visit The Pink Elephants support network