Aug 10, 2022

A chemical pregnancy is a very early loss of a pregnancy. It is a miscarriage. In a chemical pregnancy, there is usually an embryo and the early stages of a placenta which is implanted in the uterus but does not grow. The levels of BHCG are low because the placenta is not growing properly.  

Is a chemical pregnancy actually a pregnancy? Of course! And a chemical pregnancy is a pregnancy loss - it’s a miscarriage.  is the reason that the reproductive endocrinologist might call a miscarriage a chemical pregnancy instead of using the broader term of miscarriage? It may be because the use of the word miscarriage could dredge up difficult emotions such as disappointment and anger. In general, reproductive endocrinologists, who are often busily focused on a patient’s medical care, cannot take the time for the patient’s psychological psychological care. I think the use of the term chemical pregnancy, rather than the use of the term miscarriage, is sometimes used to minimize emotions associated with the loss. The use of the word chemical connotes subjectivity and science and has a sterile feeling to it. It thus moves us away from the emotions of loss and grief. You and I will use the term miscarriage rather than chemical pregnancy.

Women who would like to be pregnant and have a chemical pregnancy often feel profound sadness, disappointment, confusion, and anger. Psychologically, they have lost a deeply-wanted child. it is not surprising that sadness and disappointment would follow.

When women are pregnant, they often think about the child that they will birth nine months later. Will the child be healthy? Will the child look like her? Will the child have both partners' personalities? The loss of that future child in a miscarriage is devastating and anger is another emotion. Who's the anger directed towards? Some women direct their anger at the provider and staff at the clinic. They might wonder if their protocol was wrong, if a medication dose was too low or too high, or if the lab misread an important result. Anger can also be directed inward. Women often blame themselves when a miscarriage occurs. Sometimes, they think that something they did or didn't do caused the pregnancy loss. Perhaps the culprit was too much caffeine that she drank the morning of the miscarriage. Did she remember her prenatal vitamins that day? If not, could that have been the cause?

Women who do not direct their anger at their providers or themselves often are angry at the universe. Some women become so angry at God, for example, that their relationship with God is irrevocably altered. They wonder how a benevolent, life-affirming God could allow their miscarriage to happen. Other women are angry at the universe and the Fates that did not protect them. 

If you experience what your reproductive endocrinologist calls a chemical pregnancy, remember not only that it IS a miscarriage, but also that all of your emotions are valid. If you’d like to talk with me about your experience with a miscarriage, I am happy to talk with you. 

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