You feel like someone punched you in the gut. Maybe literally. All you know is you were pregnant and excited but then your doctor told you that you 'only had a chemical pregnancy' and you're not sure what the heck that even means. Was your pregnancy even real? Is a chemical pregnancy real and if not, why are you so devastated?

Before we go any further, if you are experiencing loss due to a chemical pregnancy, we are so sorry. In fact, in this month of pregnancy and infant loss awareness, we are so sorry if you've EVER experienced a pregnancy loss. One in four women do every day, and we are heartbroken with you.

What Exactly IS a chemical pregnancy?

The biggest question most mamas have about a chemical pregnancy is, 'Was my chemical pregnancy a real pregnancy?"

The answer, unequivocally, is yes. Yes, it was. A chemical pregnancy happens very shortly after implantation. We're talking very shortly. It's before an ultrasound can detect anything but because your body starts producing pregnancy hormones (hCG or human chorionic gonadotropin) immediately after conception, it will show up on a pregnancy test. Doctors confirm the pregnancy just a they would any other pregnancy--with a blood test (often after urine).

When there is no viable pregnancy that is seen on ultrasound after about 5 or so weeks of pregnancy (about a week or so after conception/implantation), you are diagnosed with a chemical pregnancy. Many women won't even get to the first ultrasound until around 8 weeks of pregnancy, so you may never even know except you'll likely still have hCG in your blood. This is what your doctor will probably advise you to continue--blood tests--because they're going to look at your hCG and progesterone to determine when you'd be considered fully miscarried. Typically this is when your hCG is lower than 5.

Why Did I Have A Chemical Pregnancy?

You should know--NOTHING YOU DID caused your chemical pregnancy. Do NOT blame yourself; you have no reason to feel guilt.

The sad truth about biology is that it's a freaking miracle humans are conceived regularly and survive the gestational period and births that we do. There are SO many things at play.

In the case of a chemical pregnancy, clinicians generally believe there was something atypical about your baby's chromosomes and it simply couldn't develop as it should.

The problem is that for those of us who go through the emotions of a chemical pregnancy, there's no way to know. Nothing to prove and no way to do it anyway. And since it's so early in pregnancy that you lose, many clinicians will also chalk it up to "Well, that happens, it's common," and there really isn't a way for you to 'test' and see what may have been wrong. Many women may not even realize they're having a miscarriage because the baby would only be about 3mm in size at most.

And that's what is so frustrating. There's no way to know what causes a chemical pregnancy and that often means there's no real resolution for the women who suffer from them.

Can You Treat Chemical Pregnancy Loss?

If you've ever had a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, hearing, "It's normal," or "It's common," may tear your heart up even more.

Most of the time, if you've ever heard, "Many women miscarry and don't even know it," it's a chemical pregnancy they're talking about. Unless you're specifically trying to conceive, you may not even think about being pregnant until a missed period, which typically puts you at 5-6 weeks pregnancy. What often happens in chemical pregnancy is that you miscarry but it's mistaken for a 'late' period or a 'heavy' period and you don't even know you were pregnant.

If you're trying to conceive, you likely will have pregnancy tests that are positive,'ll still bleed and you may doubt you were even pregnant. It's the residual hCG left from the baby that is giving the positive test, and that can play horrible mind games with you.

Doctors don't typically have issues with you trying to get pregnant again after a chemical pregnancy but suggest that you give yourself a period so you can shed your uterine lining and let it settle into a more stable scenario for a new pregnancy. Trust that just because this happened this time it won't automatically happen again.

Should I Be Sad About A Chemical Pregnancy?

First. You can feel ANY WAY YOU WANT TO FEEL!

If you're wondering if you should be sad about a chemical pregnancy, the answer is, "It's up to you."

You may not be. You may not even know you were pregnant and even if you did know, this wasn't a time you'd necessarily planned to be pregnant. You might feel you weren't ready or your body wasn't ready or a myriad of other feelings that could be relief and it's okay. No one should judge you for those feelings.

Let us repeat get to feel what you feel.

For many women, though, there is a distinct sadness after a chemical pregnancy. Many women are trying to conceive and were so excited to see those double lines. Or many may not have been trying but when they saw the lines, got hopeful and excited as well. Many began dreaming as soon as they found out.

And sadly, no matter how hard we try to support and encourage, many feel that their bodies failed them. That this loss is THEIR fault and they could have (and should have) done something to stop it.

(Have we told you yet that you.did.nothing.wrong?!?)

The sadder truth is that the world may try to tell you that you shouldn't be sad because it 'barely was a pregnancy,' or 'you didn't even know,' or 'you weren't even trying,' or 'there wasn't even a baby.'

And no, you won't have any ultrasound pictures to show anything, and no, the developmental stage didn't represent much more than a few weeks post-conception, but you WERE pregnant and you can grieve and mourn the loss. This can be a traumatic, heartbreaking experience. Grief is a natural part of a loss process, so allow yourself that if you want.

And the same goes for your partner.

Allow your partner to grieve if they so choose, and if you can grieve together, you may get through the loss even stronger. Don't be ashamed of sharing your feelings with your partner and with others. Many may give you a hard time over mourning, and that may make you angry. Remember that only you are walking in your shoes (along with a possible partner) and only you get to decide how to handle those feelings.

To help work through your grief, maybe consider a letter to your child? Tell him or her what you are sad about. Getting thoughts out on paper can help. Or, perhaps consider creating a grief ritual that allows you to process this loss in a way that lets your heart heal.

Most importantly, know you are NOT alone.

This forum is a great place to be open and vulnerable and find support. As well, Still Standing Magazine is a great resource for those who have 'been there' and 'done that' and can give you support as you navigate through grief after chemical pregnancy.

Again, if you're reading this because you're suffering a chemical pregnancy or any type of loss, we are so sorry. Know that we're here for you, and support you, no matter what you're feeling.

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