Time off work, particularly in the Summer, should be a simple affair; take your holiday allocation, go somewhere sunny, but not too hot so that you can’t concentrate on a good Stephen King novel, and sleep off the stress of the year’s first half. But time off, for me at least, has meant anything but these things since miscarrying.

Last week I decided to take a leap into the unknown and ask my MD for time off over Christmas – an extended break moving into mini sabbatical territory – when I would recuperate and take stock of the last eighteen months of trying, and failing, to start a family. I told him of our baby journey and of the recent miscarriage that prompted my decision to “take some time”. He said… that he was going through the same thing; that his wife had miscarried the same week as me. I’d have been less surprised if he’d taken a live koala in red gum boots out of his filing cabinet. We went on to have the type of conversation – about hormones, therapies and grief – that hitherto had been reserved for close friends and specialist therapists.

My time off was a chance for us to talk about something painful, indecipherable and common to us both. My time off, and his agreement that I should take it, became a shining beacon of hope.

Then I announced this “time off” to my assistant who was, initially, supportive. That was, until a few hours later when she wrote a document outlining her anxieties; seemingly related to my mini sabbatical but, as it turns out, obviously related to her feelings about the job in general; she asked for a new title, a bonus and other financial incentives.

My time off sent my assistant into a tailspin of requests and me into an anxious, guilt ridden ride that somehow, by taking time to balance my own life, I owed her.

For months, DH has had time off planned this week; a walking holiday around the southern coastal path, with his Dad. It was time off he was looking forward to; walking, thinking and reflecting. There’s no way he could have known a miscarriage would happen so close to it. And equally no way he could have cancelled it at such notice. Besides, I’m doing fine. Mostly. I have good friends, family and specialist therapists nearby.

But DH’s time off sent me into a tailspin and then an anxious, guilt ridden ride at having told him that I was in said tailspin; that he’d been my crutch for every second since I’d miscarried. That I was worried I’d fall over without him there.

And as I sit here now with DH off walking the coastal path, on the eve of a new working week that spins inexorably to the year’s end and my own time off, I reflect on people moving in and out of each other’s professional and personal lives. I see, clearly, like a towering pyramid of limbs, how we all hold each other up; with our conversations, with our habits, with our very “being there”. And I see how it takes extra strength and agility to support yourself when the man, or woman, beneath you just needs to take a little… time off.

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