That test line turned blue. You came up with a clever way to tell your husband. You started seeing an OB or midwife, only to be told “There’s no baby, you had a chemical pregnancy.”
There is a lot of misunderstanding around chemical pregnancies. A LOT! Most women talk about it as though they were never pregnant. This comes from the way that we discuss chemical pregnancies, and it enrages me.
When we conceive a baby, our body begins to produce a hormone called HCG. This is the hormone that the pregnancy test is looking for. There are only two possible reasons that you will have HCG in your body. The first being that you’re pregnant. The second is that you are undergoing fertility treatments and the doctor used HCG as a trigger shot to induce ovulation. We won’t get into the nitty gritty of fertility treatments, but if your doctor tells you not to test before a certain time, then you must wait until that date or else you could get a false positive…the only time that it’s possible to get a false positive.
In other words, your body does not naturally create HCG unless you are pregnant…the hormone literally is created by the placenta. Because of this, it will only be in your body, if there’s a placenta. Therefore, if you get a positive pregnancy test, you are completely and totally pregnant in every sense of the word.
A chemical pregnancy happens when you miscarry the baby before your next expected period. Doctors estimate that up to 70% of pregnancies end as a chemical pregnancy, and most women will never know because they believe they just had another period.
The problem with the term chemical pregnancy, is that it infers that the pregnancy test was triggered by a false chemical. That something was wrong with your body. There was a misfire. A mistake. A fluke. Nothing could be further from the truth. Going back to the fact that your body does not create HCG unless it’s pregnant, there is no way to have a chemical or hormone trigger a positive test when you aren’t pregnant.
This means that a chemical pregnancy is not some mysterious mistake made by chemicals. A chemical pregnancy is a very early miscarriage.
I have had clients tell me that they’ve had a false positive test. However, every single time that I’ve questioned further about the period after the test, they reveal that it was a heavier period, a more painful period, with many symptoms that they don’t usually experience in their monthly cycle.
The medical industry has created these labels, because they don’t have time. They don’t have the time to sit with a grieving mother or to comfort the loss of a father. Again they estimate up to 70% of pregnancies end in early miscarriage, can you imagine how much time it would take a doctor to hold space for that many women? It is understandably so much easier to blame a chemical or a hormone that must have just been off.
However, this removes the humanity from pregnancy and patient care.
We need to recognize that when you are pregnant, you are pregnant. You cannot be kinda pregnant. You cannot be just a little pregnant. There is either a baby in your womb or there isn’t. End of story. Any termination of that pregnancy is a loss, is a miscarriage, is a death.
Because of our need to rationalize the murder of unborn children, we have removed the humanity from early pregnancy and as such we’ve stopped recognizing that a miscarriage is a mother’s loss. We’ve created stepping stones throughout pregnancy that entitles mothers to grieve more or less based on how far along they are. We can fully understand the pain that a woman who has a stillborn at 30 weeks goes through. Dropping down on the scale our heart hurts for a mother who has a miscarriage at 15 weeks. Smaller still comes a miscarriage at 8 weeks, we hurt for the family, but we lack the understanding that the mother will still have to give birth. However, at 4 weeks pregnant (about the time of your next period) it is now a chemical pregnancy, that is in no longer in need of mourning.
Again, a baby at 30 weeks, was a baby at 15 weeks, was a baby at 8 weeks, was a baby 4 weeks, was a baby at conception.
We MUST stop pretending that life isn’t of value. That life does not begin at conception. That life is of less importance due to size or physical features. When we recognize this, we understand that a chemical pregnancy is not a chemical fluke at all. Sadly, it’s a miscarriage.
While this is very hard to tell women, especially women who only thought their pregnancy was a fluke. It also opens the door for true grieving and healing.
If you’ve had a chemical pregnancy…
First and foremost, it’s okay to grieve through this loss. In fact it is absolutely essential for you to heal from this experience. Not only for your emotional health but also for future pregnancies. Please, take all the time that you need to heal!
Treat this as a miscarriage. Do things that you would do to heal from a miscarriage. Some women name their baby, or plant a tree for their baby. I bought a birthstone ring for my first and second miscarriages. Do what works for you. There are ways to commemorate your baby and there are ways that will end up just being a trigger for you. I no longer where my birthstone rings, but they helped me get through a difficult grieving stage.
Sharing the news with others can be difficult as well. Base it off of your family and circle of friends. If you have loving supporting family members then there is nothing wrong with sharing your loss with them. However, if you have family members that will only hurt you further, it’s okay to not share. My parents have refused to speak with me about my miscarriages and forcing the subject with them only brought pain on myself. Focus on what you can handle and do what works for you.
Take time and hold space for yourself. This can be anything:
- Get a massage
- Take a bubble bath or shower
- Go for a drive
- Go for a walk
- Write in your journal
- Write a letter to your baby
- Take a mini vacation to heal
- You can do these things with your husband or on your own. Again do what is healing for you.
When it comes to spouses, it’s a lot like the oxygen on the airplane. Grieve. Mourn. Heal. Then come back for your spouse to support their grief and healing.
In 2019 we rush through so much of life, and grieving is no different. We want the fast paced, short cut version so that we can get back to being happy and living our lives. Trust me, dear mother, I have tried this version and it does nothing. That pain simply sits in your heart festoring until you face it, dig it up and process it correctly.
Hannah is an amazing resource to discuss your miscarriage with. She offers amazing support and has helped me to recover and grieve through my own miscarriages in ways that I didn’t know were possible. Just the ability to discuss the intense pain as well as the experience of my miscarriages with someone who doesn’t shift uncomfortably and change the subject was a game changer.
I also offer emotion clearing to my clients, which I have found to be of great benefit to my client’s with loss and miscarriage. When we experience emotional trauma, our emotions can get stuck in our body wreaking physical damage and causing more emotional trauma. When we’re able to clear these emotions, it can give us the stability to process those emotions and then move on.
All of these are amazing resources to heal through your loss. Again, do what works for you.
We must begin facing chemical pregnancy, miscarriage and pregnancy loss the same that we recognize loss on any other level. We must mourn these losses. We must heal from them.
I can guarantee you that if you work through this pain, you will be whole again on the other side. You can heal from this. You can go on. For now, it’s okay to be broken.