Thursday, 5 December 2013


Allow me a brief interlude in all my shiny, happy talk about blissed out babies and real OB appointments, for a missive of a more bilious nature. Those of you who have been reading for a while may remember I have previously on these pages both praised the NHS for its comprehensive, free-access care and decried it's insensitivity.

(I have to say, that while we are blessed to live in a society that - for now - continues to view high quality healthcare as a fundamental right of citizenship [or even, as in our case, residence], we have also been on the receiving end of that disinterested attitude on more than one occasion. But today I'm here to rant in a more generalized way.)

The universal healthcare of the UK's National Health Service: weighing in on the generosity end of the spectrum, there is the fact that all pregnant women in the UK receive what is called a Maternity Exemption Certificate, entitling the bearer to totally free prescriptions of any kind, as well as dental coverage, for the duration of their pregnancy and until the first birthday of their child. Wonderful.

At the other, less humane end of the spectrum, well...New levels of insensitivity have been reached today people.

After filling out a form with my midwife about a week ago, I received my certificate in the mail this week. Below the instructions for use, under a section entitled 'Important Information', alongside routine details of what to do in the event your address changes, etc, there was the following:

If you have a miscarriage within the first 24 weeks of your pregnancy, please return your certificate to us. (If your baby is stillborn after 24 weeks, you can keep it. Yay!)

Subtext: because really, if your sorry uterus can't even manage the job of carrying a baby to a minimally respectable point at which it is considered a death rather than just release of the 'products of conception', what right do you have to the privileges enjoyed by other, more effortlessly fecund women?

Ah, all the tiny, effortlessly cruel ways in which the world reminds us of our failings, of how we just don't qualify, of how we're not quite enough.

Okay, okay, I get it...Age of Austerity, economic bottom line, risk of welfare fraud, cold, heartless neo Thatcherism, yadda, yadda, yadda...

But seriously? Seriously NHS?! You can't come up with a more appropriate way of keeping tabs on the allocation of the state's resources, or show even the slightest hint of compassion in the context of your bloated bureaucracy?

I know that when I lost my babies, in the midst of all the grieving and gnawing pain and self-loathing, one of my absolute top priorities was to undertake the paperwork necessary to keep me in good standing with my healthcare registration status.

Honestly, I'm not even sure how to appropriately convey the sense of repugnance I feel at this piece of 'information' and the way in which it is delivered, because it would involve a string of expletives so long and ugly I would doubtless alienate the more genteel among my readers and belie my true, less-than-ladylike nature.

If, however, this stokes the fires of your righteous indignation as it did mine, fellow IFers, fellow loss moms, well then, please feel free to let loose with as many colorful expletives as you care to share.

I'll start us off: Fucking, thoughtless, asshole, inhuman, dickhead, douchebag wankers.

<End rant>

Does not qualify as humane treatment


  1. This is total crap. Makes me so mad ... I too am on the receiving end of what I consider to be blatant fertility discrimination here in Canada because my uterus cannot carry a baby. I am flat out denied the same parental leave and benefits by both our government and my employer. It all makes me SO MAD. Clearly those making the policies have never come face to face with infertility/pregnancy loss. Fuck them is all I have to say.

    1. Northern Star, what province are you in? In Ontario, you ARE entitled to maternal leave (17 weeks, I believe) if you have a miscarriage/stillbirth. According to provincial laws, every woman who is pregnant (regardless of survival of the infant) is entitled to maternal leave. It's the time designated to recover from childbirth. Parental leave doesn't begin until after the 17 week period is completed. While it isn't designated for parents who's child does not survive, it does apply to ALL new parents with a living child (male, female, adoptive parents, etc). Were you denied maternity leave? If so, you have a strong case of discrimination, I would think.

  2. Because a woman who loses her baby at 23 weeks clearly has no need for prescriptions related to ending the pregnancy, infection, pain, depression, etc...

    Douchebags. These little reminders are just the worst sometimes, because they're so unexpected.

  3. I remember reading this before I lost Lyra and thinking how horrible it was. Suffice to say I didn't return the card after she died. I didn't use it either - I remember needing to collect antibiotics etc after her delivery and paying for them with tears in my eyes.
    Thanks NHS.

  4. Oh wow, this really really seems an awful, heartless rule. One of my very close friends lost her baby at around 20 weeks, yet she needed a C-section, had complications because she lost a lot of blood, pulmonar oedema... ended up staying a few days at the hospital.
    These situations are awful and hard enough by themselves (words can not even describe this kind of sorrow) for this pain and medical needs to be "dismissed" in such a way. Horrible.

  5. Wow, that's terrible. And aren't losses over 20 weeks considered a stillbirth? I'd be offended by them calling a 22 week loss a "miscarriage." But then again, that would be the least of my complaints. Being used to the U.S. system of healthcare, I can't say I'm shocked. I think I'm desensitized to thoughtless asshole policies like this. It's horrible though.

  6. Incredibly insensitive. I think you summed it up very well. Obviously policies like these are made by men and people who've never experienced this kind of heartbreaking loss.


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