Three years ago today I read the words, “I am so sorry,” from my OB-GYN in an email delivering my final set of blood test results. It was Saturday, November 1, 2014, and it was pouring rain outside. My husband and I found our hearts broken in a way we had hoped we never would.
I’d heard the term “chemical pregnancy” before, but had always assumed it meant a false positive pregnancy test or a faulty pregnancy test. It wasn’t until I had one myself that I learned it was technically an early miscarriage.
The name and designation is due to the fact that everything is still too small to be visualized via ultrasound until around 8 weeks. The only way to confirm a pregnancy that early is through a series of chemical blood tests done over a span of at least 48 hours. The lab work determines if the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your blood is rising or falling. HCG is released into the bloodstream by the placenta after fertilization and implantation have taken place.
It is estimated that nearly 50% of all first pregnancies are chemical pregnancies, but many are unaware it has even happened as it can be mistaken for a late period. Had I not been tested so early, I may have never known either.
But I did know.
I knew when I suddenly started to feel different–to feel pregnant. I knew when I painted the nursery a color I thought would work for a little boy or a little girl. I knew when I ordered a onesie to surprise my husband with when the tests finally caught up with my gut feeling and confirmed I was pregnant. I did all of this before ever seeing those two pink lines, because I knew.
I work in the medical field, and at the time we were using an electronic medical record that legally allowed me to access my own information. I remember my physician explaining to me what a chemical pregnancy was at my first appointment.
She suspected it but encouraged me to hold onto hope until we had results from the blood work; some women can bleed off and on during their pregnancies and go on to deliver healthy babies.
The first time I logged into my medical record to see if the blood work had returned I saw “threatened abortion” as my primary complaint. I watched as that changed to “spontaneous abortion” once my labs came back and confirmed the loss.
The terms are not inaccurate. I know the medical definition of abortion is the ending of a pregnancy. That is what happened. My pregnancy ended abruptly. Still, it hurt my heart to see those words attached to my name.
A few weeks later when I logged in again there was nothing listed at all. Nothing about a history of miscarriage or a history of pregnancy loss or a history of chemical pregnancy. Just nothing. Like it had never happened at all. That hurt, too.
So, why am I writing all of this today? Why do I feel the need to tell you all of this?
Maybe it’s just time. Our lives were changed forever over the course of that week. For three years I have tiptoed around speaking about what happened to us because I don’t want anyone to think I am comparing my grief to theirs. Grief is not meant to be compared. I didn’t begin to heal until someone was brave enough to share their story with me, so now I’m sharing mine with you.
I’ve been afraid to speak because I know there are people out there who think differently than I do and people can sometimes be so cruel even without meaning to be.
I know too many parents who lost their babies further along in their pregnancies. I know too many parents who left the hospital with empty arms. I know too many parents who had to bury their babies after they had been born. And I know too many parents who live with regret because they elected to have an abortion.
But the thing is, all of us wonder who our babies would be today. All of us.
My baby was a “clump of cells.” A blastocyst. Microscopic. I never even got to see him or her dance on an ultrasound. My baby didn’t yet have a heartbeat. My baby didn’t have a name. My belly never had a baby bump. None of this is news to me.
But none of this detracts from the loss of human life. Life begins when an egg becomes fertilized. Life is not contingent on how badly someone wants to be a parent. Life is not contingent on a level of dependency or stage of development. Life is valuable.
I had a chemical pregnancy. You would have turned two years old this past June. June is all we had so we gave it to your sister as a middle name. I think of you every time I say it. I have nothing but some pictures of me and your daddy holding up the onesie with huge smiles on our faces and positive pregnancy tests.
You were here.
You will always matter.
This story was submitted to us through our My Story Page by Nikki.