Chemical pregnancy: my experience (emotional post)
Early pregnancy loss or chemical pregnancy is one of those things that as women we aren’t encouraged to discuss publicly. The old superstition of you shouldn’t talk about pregnancy before 12 weeks, ‘just in case’. But 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That is so many women and families going through the upset and grieving a miscarriage and nobody even knows they are suffering.
I am 1 in 4 women.
In November of this year I experienced a early miscarriage, sometimes called a chemical pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant by doing a home pregnancy test when I was 4 weeks and 2 days pregnant. A beautiful clear pink second line on a FRER (for those not spending silly amounts of time on Trying To Conceive forums – a First Response Early Response test). By the next day I had a negative result. I started bleeding nearly a week later at 5 weeks and 1 day pregnant.
It was so early that I actually spent a less than 2 days knowing I was pregnant, followed by a week of uncertainty before I finally lost the baby. The time may have been short but in that day I had dreamed about a whole life. A whole person that was going to exist, my child. I had butterflies. Every spare second I could, I spent staring at the magical second pink line I had been waiting nearly 6 months to see. I was thrilled, I had planned out into minute detail how I was going to tell Fabio. All I needed to do was go and buy a digital test so I could show him a test that said pregnant, not just the two lines on a pregnancy test.
Only the test didn’t say pregnant when I tested the next day. The whole little person I was dreaming off had slipped away.
This was my first miscarriage, and I pray, my last. I can’t imagine how it feels to loss a pregnancy later on. I don’t want to imagine. But what I know for me is that I lost a baby.
I didn’t plan to talk about any of this, I wasn’t planning on writing about our journey trying to conceive, not until I was pregnant anyway. But when I searched and tried to find out information about the chemical pregnancy I was experiencing I found very little information to satisfy me. So I am going to share my experience and the information I have learned.
What is a chemical pregnancy?
A chemical pregnancy is an early miscarriage which occurs at a stage where a pregnancy would not have been visible on an ultrasound (around 5-6weeks gestation). An egg has been fertilised and then implanted but then in the days after implantation something goes wrong, often something chromosomal. The pregnancy stops developing any further and the body miscarries. At this stage that egg is an embryo and measures between 3-5mm.
When I was looking into this all something I found difficult was it seemed like the whole of the medical field don’t want women to see this as a pregnancy loss. ‘Most women wouldn’t even know they are pregnant at this stage if they hadn’t had tested early’ was the resounding theme of a little of sites. As if this makes it better in some way. Or as if it is somehow your fault because you tested early on in your pregnancy. But I defy you to find any woman that has seen a positive pregnancy test to have not, in that instant, have become a mother to a baby, no matter how small or how undeveloped. That women has lost a child and she deserves to be able to deal with this and grieve as she feels she wants to.
What happens when you have a chemical pregnancy?
This was something that I really wanted to find out when I began to have my suspicions that I was experiencing a chemical pregnancy. What was going to happen next? I could find loads of information on later miscarriages and what to expect but very little about such early losses. For me, when my pregnancy tests turned back to negative it was still 2 days before my period was due. I didn’t actually start bleeding until 3 days after my period was due. Which was one of the most frustrating things I have experienced. My body still thought I was pregnant. I was desperate to just forget about this cycle and move on to the next cycle of trying to conceive, especially as we had been trying for what feels like a long time. But I had nearly a week of limbo of knowing I was no longer pregnant but experiencing many of the symptoms of pregnancy.
I had morning sickness. Badly. With my first son I did not have morning sickness, I would experience some nausea and queasiness but I was never physically sick. Whereas this time round I had full blown morning sickness, I had 3 days of not being able to keep anything down. I even had to leave work to go throw up on a train, that kind of morning sickness! Which when I obviously hadn’t even thought about telling work about the pregnancy was not ideal, especially working in health care, my poor colleague had to disinfect the whole place in case I had a stomach bug! I had the fatigue and could barely keep my eyes open past 3pm. TMI but I was constipated which was my first pregnancy symptom with Harrison. I experienced this for a week before I finally started bleeding. My period was different too. It didn’t last many longer than usual but it was very heavy and had a lot of clotting. Which makes sense but to be honest wasn’t something I had mentally prepared myself for.
This is still a little unknown. I am now into my first cycle after the chemical. So far so good, I feel back to like how I did before. There are some resources that say that you should wait another cycle before you try to conceive again, and others that say start trying again as soon as you feel ready and even many that say for that some unexplainable reason you are actually more fertile the next cycle. I can’t judge whether that is true yet but we have decided to try again straight away. I need to move on. The longer I sit not trying again the more I will focus and obsess about this lost pregnancy and I will fall into a darker and darker place. But that is just me. If you feel like you need to take a break in order to grieve and recover than you should absolutely do that.
Emotionally, I found this really tough, especially at first. I have done a lot of wondering about what gender the baby would have been, about when it’s due date would have been (August 6th 2017), what must have gone wrong etc etc. But I have tried to take some comfort in that there must have been something not well with it and I would rather it experience pain and suffering at a later date and in the grand scheme of things I was ‘lucky’ compared to women that lose pregnancies later on. But I maintain my view of no longer how long you were pregnant, you were pregnant, there was another life, another child and you have every right to deal with that however feels right for you.
If you would like to find about more about chemical pregnancy I have found the following links helpful: