What I Learned From My Chemical Pregnancy and Miscarriage

January 10, 2019

I’ve been writing and re-writing this in my head since my chemical pregnancy and miscarriage at the end of October, but I couldn’t bring myself to actually open my laptop and type it all out. Maybe it made it more real, maybe I needed more time to process or maybe, just maybe, for the first time since I started this blog it all just felt too vulnerable and close to the heart to really dive into in the moment.

Now that it’s been a couple months it officially feels real, it’s no longer something I’m trying to process the reality of and as confusing as my emotions were even just a month ago, I really feel like I’m coming out the other side. I feel a sense of clarity and strength that I really didn’t see possible the morning we lost our baby.  

I want to run you through all of the details despite how painful they might be to recount because when it all happened to Zack and I, I really wished I could have read something like this. Something that just maybe might have put my feelings into words when I couldn’t. Something that would have made me feel less alone. So let’s back it up to the beginning.

After many lengthy discussions about what is right for each of us and our family we decided early last summer that we would start trying for baby number two. Which, in all honesty, could be its own separate blog post. Making these major life decisions isn’t something that happens overnight or that’s even possible to agree on when you get married. Things change and people change and it’s not so black and white. When we set out to have kids it was two or three, then after Owen we just felt so complete and even though we still feel that way today, we felt a pull to grow our family or many reasons I’m sure you can imagine.

This time though felt different than when we were trying with Owen. We were so naive then, we really had no idea what it meant to be parents, what life was like with a baby and how could we? We simply didn’t have the experience and on top of it, none of our friends did either. We were the first.

But here we were, almost four years later, choosing to add another kid to the mix. We knew about what pregnancy could be like, what the sleepless nights felt like, how exhaustion and the overwhelming love would affect us and fill our hearts, but again came the uncertain. Would Owen and his potential sibling truly be friends the way we dream about? Would we find time and space for us as a couple? As individuals? Would we be able to support the lifestyle of a family of four with our careers? But I think the one that scared us the most was, will the pregnancy be healthy? Will the baby be healthy?  

Early pregnancy in general isn’t talked about enough for so many reasons, mostly because we’re all encouraged not to talk about being pregnant until you’re in the second trimester, but it’s an incredibly fearful and vulnerable time regardless of the longevity of your pregnancy. You hear that miscarriages are common constantly, but the details are muddled. When exactly does it happen? How do you know it has happened? Is it always a rush of blood? There were so many unknowns for me personally.

I found out I was pregnant really early. About a week before my period should have arrived. I took a First Response pregnancy test that shows one line if you’re not pregnant, two lines if you are pregnant. What I was unaware of at the time is how that line, the one that indicates if you’re pregnant or not, can vary drastically in color based on the amount of hCG hormones in your system (the hormone that the test detects). That line was faint when I took my tests. Immediately I turned to Google and was reassured that a faint line is still a positive, that it just indicated that there wasn’t a ton of the hCG hormone in my system and since it was so early it all made sense to me. I didn’t second guess it.

So I celebrated! A positive test after just a few months of trying felt like such luck after how long we tried with Owen. I had already planned for a sitter that night so I convinced said sitter without spilling the beans, Amy, to come over a little early so I could meet Zack at work and tell him in the middle of midtown Manhattan. He works at the Empire State Building so it felt very New York and very fitting. It was a really really special moment that I think we will both always remember fondly despite the outcome.

We told our close friends and family quickly – we were over the moon. We bought Owen big brother books and started the conversation with him about welcoming a sibling, I made a doctors appointment, started taking my vitamins and adjusting my diet. My pregnancy symptoms kicked in quickly and I experienced nausea and was beyond tired. I slowed down and took time to rest and out of nowhere, a few days after my expected period, I had a small bit of spotting.

I called my doctor and that’s when I first learned about the term chemical pregnancy, which she wasn’t certain it was. Since it was a small amount of blood, but bright red, she said it could have been caused by a few different things – sex, heavy lifting, implantation bleeding or chemical pregnancy. She essentially told me all we could really do was wait it out and see if the bleeding continued and for a solid week it didn’t. I felt hopeful despite some cramps, I just didn’t want to believe it could actually be a chemical pregnancy.

But after heavier bleeding came again early on a Monday morning before Zack even left for work, it was hard to deny. I made an emergency trip to the doctor where they confirmed that it was in fact a chemical pregnancy and a very early miscarriage. For those of you who are unaware of what a chemical pregnancy is, here’s some helpful information.

So there it was. A miscarriage. I felt numb. And I felt a sadness I really haven’t experienced before. The loss of the baby was overwhelming, but in all honesty it was so much more than that that shook me to my core. It was the conversations Zack and I had had about whether or not this was right for us, the decision to try, the actual trying itself (which isn’t all just hot, passionate sex – it’s often stressful and tends to detract from the overall mood if you catch my drift), the excitement and the heartbreak. I felt responsible for climbing aboard the roller coaster of emotions of trying to conceive and bringing Zack along for the ride. For bringing our marriage along for the ride. And for bringing our people – our friends and family too.

But, as we’ve done time and time again, we re-emerged stronger than ever (after a few solid nights of heavy drinking together, that is). We supported each other through the grief and the downward slope of the roller coaster the best ways we knew how. We gave ourselves time and space to process and set a date in the future to open the discussion again, but ultimately chose not to jump back into trying right away. It just felt too raw and too scary, regardless of our doctor saying it was absolutely fine to do so.

We learned a lot from going through this pain together. We learned what’s important to us and our family. We learned who would stick by our sides despite it being uncomfortable for them to process. And we learned that as happy as another baby would make our lives, that we are already pretty damn happy with what we have.

Regardless of what our future holds I will always carry this experience with me for all the heartbreaking reasons and for all the reasons that it made us stronger. It’s so easy to think that our decisions shape our lives but there’s so much that is out of our control in this life. We have a choice in how we move forward, but this miscarriage wasn’t something we could have ever prepared for.

If you’re finding yourself in similar shoes, my heart breaks with you. You are not alone. Each pregnancy and miscarriage is unique, but with time, the amount of time that feels right to you, you will feel better. It just takes time.

Photography by Amy Frances.

Leave a Comment

  • Love you both so much ♥️ So proud of you for sharing, still so sad for your loss, and so glad you have each other.

    • Love you Erin! Thank you for being so kind and loving through this time for us. Cannot wait for your wedding and to squeeze you!!

  • I’m just going through this at the moment and your candid honesty makes such a big difference to me. Thank you so very much for sharing. It’s especially heartening to hear ‘you will feel better’. I know that will happen but it’s so difficult right as I just try to get through each day. Thank you again xxx

    • Camille, I am so sorry to hear about your loss and heartbreak. Those first few days are absolutely the hardest. I remember feeling so hurt, but almost numb as life continued to move all around me. I needed time to almost standstill so I could process it all but of course things keep moving around us despite our grief. Just make sure, that despite life’s busyness, that you are giving yourself the right amount of time you need to grieve. It takes time but I promise you will feel better. Sending so much love to you. Here if you need someone to talk to – hailey@householdmag.com. Thank you for reading. <3

  • Thank you for this. My husband and I just got the positive on Monday night after our 3rd IUI and today, after I had my second blood draw, learned that it was chemical. Devastating. Exhausting. All the things. But while being optimistic I simultaneously know that I need to grieve this. Thank you. Needed this today. Already sobbed to my hair stylist so ready to feel a little better. ha. xo.

    • Hey there Lauren, my heart sank when I read your message. I am so sorry for your loss. Aren’t hairstylists the best for that? I used to work as a receptionist and I swear those ladies were therapists just as much as they were hair goddesses! You grieve in whatever way you need to for as long as you need to. Here for you. Please shoot me an email at anytime if you need to vent or just need someone to talk to – you are not alone. (hailey@householdmag.com).

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