It’s okay to mourn your chemical pregnancy

woman crying in bed
Yurii Shevchenko/Stocksy

I haven’t talked about the baby we lost, at least not very publicly. In large part because it hurt too much and I felt like it wasn’t supposed to. After all, I didn’t carry him long. Our time together was so short I never got sick, my breasts never swelled and my insomnia never set in. I also don’t actually know his gender, but in my heart, he was a boy.

As my mom would tell you, “In my day, you wouldn’t have even known you were pregnant.” The beauty (and the curse) of modern technology is that we do have the potential to know. Two faint lines can foreshadow the future as quickly as 10 days after you conceive.

But a lot can happen between those pink lines and a healthy baby, not the least of which is having not been pregnant at all—at least in the eyes of the medical world.

A chemical pregnancy.

That’s what it’s called when you miscarry within the first five weeks of conception. Depending on who you talk to, chemical pregnancies aren’t real. Ergo, you didn’t really miscarry. But when we lost him, it felt like a piece was being ripped from me—both literally and emotionally. For several days, a horrible tearing sensation ripped through my body.

I’ve thought a lot about that pain. It was reminiscent of childbirth. A bit blinding, as it rushed through me and left a cold sweat. It caused me to double over, clinging to the countertop, the wall or my kneecaps. Each time it was followed by a gush of blood. Each time it was a reminder of the baby that might have been.

While we hadn’t told a lot of people, those who knew were amazing. Friends who just listened. Fellow mamas who could relate—who told me it was okay to grieve.

But I also remember the nurse who said, “Oh, so just a chemical pregnancy then.”

Just. I remember thinking, not just. I remember cringing at that word. I haven’t talked a lot about that word. I’ve felt so torn about how I should feel.

That nurse likely didn’t mean anything by it. Maybe she was new. Maybe she was having an off day. Maybe she’d lost a baby in the same way and felt comforted by such a statement. She probably has no idea that I’ve been carrying the word “just” with me ever since.

We have since welcomed a little girl into our lives. She’s a burst of giggles and light. The more I watch her explore the world, the more I’ve felt at peace with the boy we never got to meet. The more I said goodbye and let myself mourn his loss.

Because the truth is, it wasn’t “just” a chemical pregnancy. For me, it was real. It counted. And, mama, yours does too.