The loss of a child is devastating at any time, and most would think that those surrounding any parent grieving would be considerate and patient and accommodating. However, for one Australian mother, her grief at the loss of her daughter at 35 weeks gestation was compounded by a heartless letter she received from her boss, cancelling her maternity leave.
The mother, known only as Lauren, spoke to A Current Affair and told them she discovered she had lost her daughter, Fiyori at 35 weeks gestation. She told ACA that she felt her daughter wasn't moving very much and decided to go to the doctor for a check-up. "I went for a check-up and was advised that my daughter had passed away," she said. Because she was so far along in her pregnancy, Lauren had to deliver her stillborn daughter, something she said was an "extremely difficult time".
"I don’t think it had truly sunk in, the enormity of the loss," she said. "My daughter had gone and there was a huge gap in our family."
Lauren explains that she has previously applied for 13 weeks paid maternity leave and had planned on taking a year of unpaid leave. A few weeks after her loss however, she received a letter in the mail stating her employer had terminated her maternity leave and requesting she return to work.
"I was denied the 13 weeks paid maternity leave that I was expecting to take and also the 12 months unpaid leave," Lauren said. "I straight away went to the Fair Work website to see if this could really be legal, and it was." Lauren was in the process of helping her two older children deal with the loss of their baby sister as well as planning funeral arrangements. "I just felt silenced, and that really magnified my grief," she said.
"I had small children I had to help through this grief, I had to recover from the delivery of my child, I had to make funeral arrangements," she said. "It was just shocking." Lauren returned to work six weeks after her stillbirth.
According to news.com.au., current legislation dictates that private companies don't have to honor paid parental leave when “the pregnancy ends other than by the child being born alive”. The Stillbirth Foundation is hoping to change the legislation so parents who are grieving are entitled to paid parental leave. "It's such a simple thing to be done, but it makes such an incredible difference to these families," Stillbirth Australia CEO, Kate Lynch, told ACA.