Chemical pregnancies are losses too. I say this because until I had a chemical pregnancy I didn't understand this. To me, it seemed not much different than the disappointment of many negative pregnancy tests followed by the arrival of your unwanted cycle. No baby. Disappointment. Same thing right?
But, it's different. This I can say for certain now.
My husband and I have been trying to have a second baby for 3 months now. Last month, I got pregnant. I know this because I felt pregnant: slight nausea, uterine cramping, lack of energy, ovary pain...and I just felt pregnant. I've been pregnant before so I don't think that's too presumptuous to say. Then we got a positive pregnancy test. We were ecstatic!
This pregnancy was a little different than the last. There was no implantation bleeding or nipple soreness like last time (which not everyone has either of those). I've heard that every pregnancy is completely different and I was looking forward to experiencing this truth.
We waited until I'd gone to the OB at 8 weeks to tell our families last time. I was planning on the same thing this time. But we were so excited! We couldn't wait. Especially my husband was excited to tell. And I was excited that he was so excited. We had decided to tell the family over FaceTime since the in-laws live in California and, while my parents are only 2 hours away, it would have been a few weeks before we'd see them. We wanted to get a big brother shirt for my son and have them notice it during our FaceTime conversation. So, after my 9-5 shift at the ER, I picked up my son, and rushed to the baby store. They didn't have one exactly his size but I figured he'd grow into it and it would do the trick. I couldn't wait to get home. I'd already told my mom we would be calling her that night. I was so excited!
I'm a paranoid person with a lot of medical training. So I took another pregnancy test to be sure before we called our families. I was now over 5 weeks so the positive would be strong, based on what had happened in my first pregnancy. So no need for the whole first morning urine jig. I'd test, see the positive, then we'd call the parentals.
But it was negative. One line and stark white where the second was supposed to be. I was so confused.
I had heard of false negatives. Was this it? Should I have used the first morning urine after all? No, I knew, it should be a strong positive by now. The hormone doubles every 48 hours. My heart sank. I didn't want to accept it yet but that meant...I was going to miscarry. It was a chemical pregnancy. But I still held on (because logic and pregnancy hormones aren't often friends). Maybe it was a false negative? A friend advised me to send the hubby out for another test. That sounded good. No way I could sleep without knowing for sure anyway and two false negatives would be unheard of. I was already a sobbing mess.
I went to the bathroom and got my answer before I ever asked the hubby to go. Blood. I still have 6 months left until I'm an MD but I know what that means. "Inevitable abortion" is the medical term. Or a "chemical pregnancy" or "early miscarriage" colloquially. But to me, the mother, it was a loss.
That's all I felt. Loss.
Then the cramping started. It hurt. Emotionally and physically. I wanted nothing but to curl up into a ball and cry. My husband is wonderful but he didn't get it. He was disappointed too. He kept saying that. But I wasn't just disappointed. Even though that would've been the "normal" response, I guess. Disappointment, after all, was what I imagined I would feel if I ever went through this. I was wrong. It was more than disappointment. I grieved.
My son crawling all over me is usually a joy, one of my greatest joys. I love his hugs, kisses, smiles. I love how he's a momma's boy and prefers me over everyone else. But I felt fuzzy, numb, angry. I didn't want him. I wanted to be alone. To wallow. To cry. My husband was loading firewood. I was angry because he left the baby with me. He didn't understand because I NEVER mind being left to take care of my son. But I wanted to stop being crawled all over. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted to curl up and cry. And sleep.
My husband could understand the physical pain. He's always so much better at making me take something before I let pain get horrible. He gave me something strong I had left over from my son's birth. I took it. I cried, nursed my son in bed next to me, cried some more then slept, while the he put our son to bed (I almost always put him to bed).
Then came morning. I had to live with myself. I had accepted the loss. I was ok. "It happened for a reason." "Mother nature knows best." The most likely medical explanation was a gross chromosomal abnormality incompatible with life based on how early it was. I was grateful it happened so early. The later, the greater the loss I assume. All these things my husband had told me the night before but I wasn't ready to hear them then. Now, I accepted it all. I was more rational. Less blinded by emotion.
But I also began feeling a lot of guilt (another stage of grieving, I guess). Guilt for being angry the night before at the two people I love most. For ignoring my son when he was trying to play with me. For being so emotional instead of rationally disappointed like my husband. Also, I felt guilty for the loss. Was it my fault somehow? I felt guilty for taking melatonin to try to adjust from night shift to day shift the week before. For getting an MRI 2 weeks before when I didn't know I was pregnant. For drinking a diet coke one night to survive a 16 hour shift when I was deliriously tired. Could I have somehow harmed my unborn child?
Today (2 days later), this guilt has subsided. I know that my role in this was minimal to none. Chemical pregnancies are common. All I can do is next month avoid all these things I fear may have harmed my unborn child. And try again. I am ready to try again. And, from what I have read, that is ok to do.
I share this not so glamorous moment of my life because I think it's important for us women to be real with each other. To share our struggles so that the standard of motherhood is not so ridiculously high that we all feel like failures. Because there are many moments where that is exactly what I feel. Overly emotional and a failure.
But it's ok to be emotional. It's ok to grieve differently than a man. I wish I had someone telling me this while I was going through this. Telling me that it was ok. That this was what I needed to do to move forward. So, this is my message: Grieve. Cry. It's ok to feel loss in whatever way you need to.