A little googling reveals the following definition on about.com:
‘A chemical pregnancy is like a cruel joke. You take an early pregnancy test around the time your period is due that shows a faint positive. Naturally, you get excited and start spreading the joyful news that you’re expecting. Then, a few days later you get your period and the doctor says, “It was just a chemical pregnancy.” Meanwhile, you’re left confused and possibly devastated. The term chemical pregnancy sounds like a false positive pregnancy test, as if you were not really pregnant at all. But the truth is that a chemical pregnancy was indeed a conception and is actually a very early miscarriage.’
In nutshell, the egg is fertilized and begins implantation but, for probably good reasons like genetic abnormalities, didn’t hang on. It’s called “chemical” because the hormone yields a positive on the test, but that’s about where it ends.
This sounds right to me, especially after reading account after account in online discussion boards of exactly what I just went through. In my case, however, the nurse did *not* say it was a chemical pregnancy; she said she just couldn’t figure out how I ever got two positive tests as I must never have been pregnant given my low beta. Still, it’s outrageous that she wouldn’t have even mentioned the possibility of a chemical pregnancy when it sounds like they’re extremely common (online research says that up to 70% of conceptions end in miscarriage). Most of the time, the woman isn’t necessarily monitoring her cycle with military precision, so a chemical pregnancy can appear to be merely a late period.
To humor nurse Olga, I did pull the test box out of the recycling bin and it lists the expiration as February 2014. I just don’t believe that two tests independently malfunctioned to produce two positive results. Especially when my now heavier-than-ever period arrived 3 days later than my longest-ever cycle (Day 31). I’m hanging on for dear life to the conclusion that I was pregnant. So, I’m basically done with what Olga thinks and have requested an appointment with the doctor.
Meanwhile, this blog isn’t about Olga. (I just feel so mad at her!) How am I doing?
As you know from this blog, if not from experience, it’s hard enough when it simply doesn’t work in any given month. Well, I just spent 5 days thinking, believing, sensing that I was building a human, from scratch. Feeling bewildered, ecstatic, anxious, thrilled, and all the emotions that go along with the magnitude of that. I felt calm. I looked like I swallowed a canary. Every day, I felt a little more certain that this was it–how could it not be? I’m healthy, tests are good. I even had smug moments–I figured it out! I got ‘er done! I joined the club! I looked at online pregnancy calendars, planning out my life. I moved another phase of problem-solving–OB referrals, ultrasounds, where will I store my leftover vial… Shit, I need to move out of this studio!
And in quiet moments, I sat with the poppy seed, and that was enough.
I am so grateful to my friend A who reminded me to enjoy every day of being pregnant. Even if it ends early (as it did once for her), no one can take away that experience of sharing the news with people you love–and how much more fun to say, “I am,” instead of “I was.”
I’ll never forget everyone’s reactions. I know next time they’ll be a little more hesitant (as will my own). It was really the best 5 days that reflected to me all the love in my life and in the life of my child to be. That little poppy seed brought me all that! What a powerful albeit tiny bundle of cells moving emotional mountains over here!!
I’m really sad. My head knows nothing super bad really happened, but my heart is grieving.
Thanks especially to my friend J who was staying with me this week and went from a joyful uncle to protective big brother in the space between Sunday and Wednesday. He did my expense report for me last night because it was due today and I couldn’t manage it…somehow one of the more poignant expressions of love in the past 24 hours.
And there have been so many expressions of love, all perfect, all welcome, even when people call or email or text to say that they don’t know what to say.
I’ve seen women grieve, cry, rest, gather themselves up, and try again, and that’ll be me.
My poppy seed will be remembered for teaching me all of the above.