My pregnancy was real. Really brief. Really scary. Really exciting. Really surprising. Really sad. Really hopeful. Really exhausting.
There were three emotional weeks between the moment I saw two lines on a pregnancy test in my bathroom at 4am and the moment an ultrasound confirmed we’d lost it. This wasn’t our first pregnancy, but it was our first since knowing the pain of losing one. We were scared and sad from the start that we might lose it, yet we were hopeful this might finally be our time.
For us, not conceiving was far less devastating than having a miscarriage.
Three weeks of knowing I was pregnant. Six weeks and change gestation, as the doctors in the USA calculate these things in terms of one’s last menstrual period. We were excited and surprised — it had taken us two long years to get pregnant again. Not conceiving had become the status quo. Sure, not conceiving was disappointing, but it was also predictable. I could plan for it by buying tampons; washing my Diva cup, stocking up on naproxen sodium. As much as we wanted to be pregnant, there was some comfort in not being pregnant. It was familiar territory. For us, not conceiving was far less devastating than having a miscarriage. I know for some struggling to conceive, seeing others pregnant can be triggering. For me, being pregnant was triggering.
So while the news of this pregnancy was met with joy and wonder, it was also met with sadness. Sadness that we couldn’t predict the future; grief for the baby we should already have with us. That was real. I cried a lot the first couple of days. Maybe it was the hormones?
The hormones, those were real. My doctor would call my loss a biochemical pregnancy. Yes, blood tests and my doctor had confirmed that my levels of the hCG hormone had risen initially, indicating that I WAS pregnant. But since I can’t conclusively say that I passed a gestational sac and none appeared on the ultrasound, I didn’t fall into the category of what is medically called a clinical pregnancy. It felt like a cruel trick to hear this. The last time I miscarried, the process was long, painful, and involved an IV and prescription pain meds. This time felt like a period. Had I really been pregnant? Could I really grieve?
Just because it was a biochemical pregnancy doesn’t mean my womb was always empty.
My pregnancy was real. Despite my fears, I tried to embrace it. I reasoned that even if my pregnancy was short-lived, or perhaps especially if it was short-lived, I needed to enjoy the moments while I could. I read pregnancy books from the library, I looked at baby things on Craigslist and joked that my husband could “hear the cells dividing” if he put his ear to my belly. And those cells were growing, if only briefly. Just because they were never seen doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Just because it was a biochemical pregnancy doesn’t mean my womb was always empty.
We named my womb’s latest resident “Lil Presi” since I was hiking in the Presidential Range of the White Mountain for most of his short life. I may never have been able to confidently believe we’d have a baby at the end of this pregnancy, but I sure was able to believe that this pregnancy was real. And I want others facing early pregnancy and/or early loss to know: it IS real. And so are all the emotions that go with it. Our society may shy away from discussing early pregnancy but it is so damn real. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not.