Advice on handling a miscarriage
February 18, 2019 4:33 AM   Subscribe

We need advice on handling a miscarriage while my wife is a college student.

My wife is going through a miscarriage. We have one son. Prior to his birth, she had two other miscarriages. She's currently a college student. She had an assignment due last Thursday. Early last week, she emailed her prof and explained the situation and her gave her an extension until Sunday. However, this miscarriage seems to be taking longer than the last ones she's had and she's still in a lot of pain and it's not possible for her to work on her assignment. We're not sure what we should do here. Is it reasonable to ask for another extension? Should we just email the prof and explain things? Or visit a clinic and get a doctor's note? Or something else? Neither of us is really thinking clearly and we're just not sure what to do. Does anyone have any suggestions?
posted by NoneOfTheAbove to Education (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In her shoes, I would visit a doctor, not just to get a note but also to get a check-up. This is doubly true if she hasn’t been seen by a medical provider yet, which is unclear from your question.

I suspect her professor will be understanding, but obviously HMMV. A doctor’s note would certainly be helpful in case the professor is skeptical or not lenient.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:39 AM on February 18, 2019 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: I should have mentioned in the original post, but she did visit the hospital last week. She just forgot to ask for a doctor's note while she was there.
posted by NoneOfTheAbove at 4:44 AM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Call the hospital and ask that the Doctor who attended to her provide/email a note.
posted by Karaage at 4:52 AM on February 18, 2019 [10 favorites]

Consider how much the assignment is worth. If the prof is unwilling to give further extensions it may be best for your wife's mental health to simply skip the assignment and take the hit. Sometimes we can't do all the things. She may also be able to turn it in late for partial credit. Her health should be the primary concern.
posted by irisclara at 4:54 AM on February 18, 2019 [9 favorites]

She had an assignment due on THURSDAY, emailed before that, explaining a miscarriage and got an extension just to SUNDAY?!?!? Good grief- such a short reprieve seems completely unreasonable to me in the first place. Maybe that's the source of anxiety asking for another extension?

Your wife deserves to minimise unnecessary stress/running around if possible. If possible means to ask for a longer extension and if the professor says no, then go get the dr note.

There are lots and lots of reasons why one miscarriage physical or emotional debilitations might last longer or shorter, even when a person or people have been through them before. Whats important is allowing sufficient time to heal, sometimes that means taking formerly important things 'off the plate'.

Yes, it is totally reasonable to ask for another extension. If you're thinking more than 4 days more (longer is also totally reasonable), she could consider floating a date which seems manageable, taking care to ask if there's other considerations (besides just a date on the calendar) which would affect the professors decision.

Many doctors won't provide emails, but will send a snailmail documentation pertaining to a past visit. You could tell the prof that's coming, if the prof is questioning the veracity of the miscarriage.

I am so, so sorry for your loss.
posted by iiniisfree at 4:58 AM on February 18, 2019 [20 favorites]

Your wife is currently experiencing a painful, acute medical issue. Yes, it is reasonable to ask for an extension until it is over and beyond.
posted by grouse at 5:11 AM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

Email the prof. Prof may not be thinking deeply about miscarriage, and may not know that it can be a long play event. I am sure that prof does not want wife to be worrying about assignment.
Deepest sympathies, another prof.
posted by Dashy at 5:13 AM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

It is absolutely reasonable for your wife not to be actively working on her class assignments while in the process and aftermath of a miscarriage. It's reasonable to just email the professor. It's also reasonable to ask the hospital if they can provide a note, if the professor is recalcitrant.

If this turns into A Thing, it would absolutely be understandable to just take the grade hit if need be and if that's feasible. But if you need backup in your corner, look around and see if your wife's school has a student ombudsman. An ombudsman can be really helpful in navigating this sort of situation, if you end up with a professor unwilling to work with your wife. But hopefully none of that will be necessary if the professor is reasonable about a second extension request.
posted by Stacey at 5:29 AM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's not entirely clear from your question what exactly has been explained and how exactly the extent of the extension was determined, but I feel it is entirely appropriate to email the professor something along the lines of "The acute medical situation we discussed previously is unfortunately still preventing me from focusing on my classwork in the manner it deserves. Given the unpredictable nature of this situation, I don't feel like I am able to commit to a specific date when I will be able to turn in this assignment, but I will contact you once I am well to determine an acceptable due date. Thank you for understanding."

If she feels comfortable explaining that the medical situation is a miscarriage, she may want to do that. A student's exact medical situation shouldn't determine how understanding or flexible a professor is, but in reality it does. A professor is going to be much more understanding for something like this over the flu or whatever.

To be clear, she does not have to explain her situation in medical detail, and her Dean of Students or Student Ombudsperson should back her up regardless of the details, but it might save time and effort on her part to get the explanation over with, if she is OK with that.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Take good care of each other.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:40 AM on February 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

If you are in the United States, she should reach out to her Title IX officer on campus for assistance. This person should be able to explain the available resources and help her with contacting professors.
posted by Quiscale at 6:12 AM on February 18, 2019 [8 favorites]

I am a professor and advisor, though not your wife's. Assuming you're in the U.S. (this may apply to other places, too) in addition to the good advice available in this thread, your wife should also be in contact with her college's student services office - it's called a variety of things, on my campus it's the Dean of Students. There's usually an office on campus specifically designated for advocating for students in exactly this kind of situation, running interference with professors and Title IX officers and such. On my campus, the DOS office cannot mandate that professors play ball, but they can strongly suggest - and usually professors cooperate with a little official encouragement (and that will give her time to get her documentation lined up, because unfortunately, some of my colleagues have heard everything - twice - and won't do anything without documentation.)
posted by joycehealy at 6:21 AM on February 18, 2019 [15 favorites]

I'm a professor. Your wife definitely should have a longer extension; she's experiencing a medical emergency that prevents her from working. College is supposed to hold students to normal high standards, not inhuman ones. She (or you) can write the prof and say "wife is still experiencing severe pain due to the ongoing miscarriage and cannot complete the assignment. Please let us know if you need a doctor's note to document this? Thanks so much for your help." Or something along those lines. If the prof wants a Dr's note, you can get one.
The advice about Title IX is good if it comes to that, but I'll also throw in that this is also completely reasonable reason to consider requesting an Incomplete. With an I, as you might know, you make up the work within a given time period (a semester or two depending on the college) and get the grade you would have gotten. It is meant for emergencies like this. In your wife's case she could make up the work immediately after the semester ends and get it off her plate.
posted by velveeta underground at 6:32 AM on February 18, 2019 [19 favorites]

Contact your Title IX compliance officer (usually a Dean of Students, or similar title). You should not provide medical information directly to a professor. At my school, we are not supposed to even look at doctor's notes.

A Dean of Students is there precisely to help with these kinds of situations. Your tuition dollars are paying for their expertise. Use them.

I am so sorry for your loss.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:05 AM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm a professor.
This varies a lot by university but yes the dean of students should be a good place to go. Other places would be disability services (they do short term disability too). The reasons for working more formally mean that the faculty is held to particular rules.

The professor possibly doesn't know how long this is taking. Email again a day "I'm still actively miscarrying, can't leave my bed or house. Is it possible to get a longer extension?"

Don't assume that you need a doctor's note. Most universities aren't using these anymore (to not discriminate against those without health insurance, to discourage students from going to the doctor for a cold).
posted by k8t at 8:20 AM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Nthing contacting the Dean of Students. My university just put in place a formal system where the student gets in touch with the Dean, and the Dean then gets in touch with all the professors informing them that something is going on (no details given.) This is to make it so the professors don't have to ask for doctor's notes, etc, since the Dean's office takes care of all that. The professors are then highly encouraged to make accommodations.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by damayanti at 8:28 AM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm a professor and at my campus, this can be handled by the Student Services / Student Accessibility Services office. This is a serious medical emergency and the professor seems like they may just not understand the severity of what's going on. Going through Student Accessibility Services will take the burden off you/your wife to have to do all of the legwork in contacting the professor, and additionally the staff there will be familiar with keeping sensitive medical issues private while still making a request for the appropriate accommodation.

If you'd like to memail me with the school name, I'd be happy to do a little digging and find out who might be the best person for you to contact at the school. I've worked with my school's accessibility services for a good number of my students and they are usually very good advocates for student needs.
posted by augustimagination at 6:55 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

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