Monday, August 6, 2012

Just For A Couple Of Days: Thoughts On Early Pregnancy Loss

When I first heard the term "chemical pregnancy" many years ago, it made me do a mental double-take.

What does the chemical in there actually mean?

Why do I sometimes still use this term, even though I disagree with it? Is it because I feel like no one will understand me if I don't?

I am not sure why, but after the last few days I have a few more answers.

The fact that the pregnancy didn't continue does not mean it didn't happen.

Just because many women will not even know they had such an early pregnancy loss, does not mean it didn't happen.

There was still the beginning of life, even if for a short time.

There was still the potential of a baby coming Earthside.

There was still the bond between mother and baby, regardless of how long the pregnancy actually lasted.

I know all this because I have been there.

Once, many many years ago. When hubby and I first got married and I went off the pill. Later on in that cycle I started feeling off, and my Google search made me head to the drugstore to buy a test. A test that came back super faintly positive. I then went to my doctor who did a blood test, which also came back positive, but by the time she called with the results I had already gotten my period. I will never forget her response when I told her I had started my period, "Oh, well, then you had a chemical pregnancy." And that was it. No offer of support, no offer of guidance or reassurance. I was 22, had never before even known about the inside info of trying to get pregnant, let alone miscarriage. And I felt a bit lost. And sad.

Fast forward to last week. I got a very faint positive pregnancy test. The only reason I tested was because I recognized the symptoms. And I was right. But the next morning when I tested again, to see if the line was any darker, there was no line. And then the day after that, the bleeding began. This period also happens to be the first one since Bebecita was born. It is also the heaviest period I've had in a long time, perhaps maybe the heaviest ever.

I am feeling such a mix of emotions.

Disbelief. Shock. Worry. Relief. Guilt. Sadness...

We were not trying to get pregnant...and I don't get pregnant easily so this totally surprised us and shocked us for more than one reason. It was my first cycle after having Bebecita, so I got almost one whole year of period-free living, which was great, but it also made us slack a bit in the birth control department. Why do we need to worry about that? Well, because it's healthier if I don't get pregnant so soon after baby because she was born by cesarean. If (big, big IF!) we do have another baby, then I want to wait at least 18 months between pregnancies, if not more. Also, I have gestational thrombocytopenia (fancy talk for low platelets during pregnancy--which means I am at risk for bleeding if they get too low). This is just another possible worry-factor if I do decide to get pregnant again. And one that warrants some consideration and planning with a care provider. And I have to admit I have been forgetful about taking my prenatal/postnatal vitamins. Eeeks. I eat healthy, but I am pretty sure my folic acid intake isn't where it's supposed to be.

I am sad too because there was a little life inside me, even if it was just for a couple of days. Those few hours between that super faint test and the negative one the next day, made me have to think about another baby in our family and all that would entail. And you know what? I as OK with it. Despite all the trepidation on timing and missed vitamins, I was excited and happy.

Words are powerful, sometimes more than we realize. I've realized that using the term chemical pregnancy is insensitive. I would prefer we use "early miscarriage", or "early pregnancy loss" because that's exactly what it is. If the logic behind using "chemical pregnancy" was to soften the hit, or even to say the pregnancy wasn't actually real in an attempt to make women feel better, it doesn't work and it's not true. It only makes us feel lost and confused because we still feel the loss, physically and emotionally. And we deserve to be given the space to grieve, if we need to, without being made to feel that the pregnancy wasn't "quite real".

And despite all this, I sometimes catch myself using the term chemical pregnancy. Mostly because the few times I used "miscarriage" with my doctors to describe what happened to me all those years ago, they shrugged it off and said in so many words: "That doesn't count." And in fact, it isn't in any of my charts or health records. It's as if it didn't even happen. I was left feeling like perhaps it actually didn't. But that's not the case and after this current experience, I feel this is true even more so.

Acknowledging what it actually is helps say, "Yes you were here sweet baby, if even it wasn't for long..."

And this helps {me} tremendously with the healing process.

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