The Surprising Heartbreak of a Chemical Pregnancy


I was pregnant for a hot minute back in 2012. My period was still a few days away, but we were fresh on the baby making train, and I couldn’t wait to see if we’d had success, so I took an early home pregnancy test – the kind that boasts accurate results before you’ve missed a period.

As if by magic, a blue line appeared on the stick! Was that really a positive result, though? It was the faintest line possible and it took a while to appear, so I called the helpline on the side of the box for answers. The not-so-friendly lady on the other end told me that any time a line appears, it’s considered a positive. Congratulations, I was pregnant.  

My line was MUCH lighter than this one.

My heart wanted to believe the result, but my gut didn’t trust it. I took another test the next morning and saw the blue line – still faint, but there. I replayed the helpline lady’s words in my head, “Any time a line appears, it’s considered a positive result.”  But that weak line really bothered me, so on my lunch break, I stopped at the drug store to buy a digital test for good measure.

This one gave me the answer I wanted:


No ifs, ands, or buts about the result. Clearly written on the digital screen was the word I wanted to see. I immediately typed my dates into an online due date calculator, made an appointment for eight weeks out with my doctor, and started reading all about the amazing changes happening in my body right at that moment. 

The funny thing about a gut feeling, though, is that it doesn’t go away no matter how much I want to ignore it. The next morning, I used the last blue line pregnancy test from the box. Nothing. I squinted as hard as I could, held the stick under multiple sources of light, and willed myself to see blue. Still nothing. I took out the second digital test for safe measure:

Not Pregnant

Those words, so clear and blunt, were a sucker punch to the gut. Real stomach cramps soon followed, and I was, without a doubt, Not Pregnant. 

I’d had a chemical pregnancy – the very earliest kind of pregnancy loss women can experience, happening before five weeks gestation. A fertilized egg began implanting in my uterus, triggering my body to start producing the pregnancy hormone hGC (the chemical that pregnancy tests detect), but, for whatever reason, this one wasn’t meant to be and the implantation didn’t take. My body stopped producing the pregnancy hormone, accounting for the disappearing blue line, and I eventually got my period right around when I would have expected it.

Chemical pregnancies are incredibly common and, personally, I wouldn’t categorize mine as a miscarriage. I should never have even known it was happening since I’d jumped the gun and tested for pregnancy earlier than is advisable (There’s a reason doctors wait to see you until you’re eight weeks along. Those early days are always uncertain.). When I called my doctor’s office, they said there was no need to come in to get checked out. By medical standards, this was not a concern.

And still, I was so sad. Even if the pregnancy wasn’t real, the excitement, planning, and hope we felt for those fleeting 48 hours was, and I found myself becoming teary-eyed about it for the better part of a week. I was honestly surprised by my reaction. My rational mind is normally very good at managing my emotional heart, and, in this instance, I couldn’t quite control the waves of sadness that would hit. I decided to roll with it.

Through my week of feeling generally blah, I found a silver lining. We had just started trying to conceive, and now I knew for sure that we could! This knowledge comforted me over the next few months as we tried to get pregnant again. Even better, the chemical pregnancy affirmed for both my husband and me that we really were ready to start a family. Our momentary heartbreak underscored our desire to be parents.

The lure of early pregnancy tests was too strong for me to resist as we continued trying to conceive, but I never used the digital kind again, relying instead on my non-scientific examination of blue lines: the darker they were and the faster they appeared, the more confident I was in the result.

Happily, we didn’t have to wait very long to see another line. The one pictured above resulted in the little bundle of joy pictured below, and it all worked out just the way it was meant to be.

chemical pregnancy


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