Experiencing Loss in the Form of a Chemical Pregnancy


The term “chemical pregnancy” refers to a pregnancy loss that occurs so early that there is only the chemical reaction from the positive pregnancy test that indicates pregnancy occurred. It is essentially an early onset miscarriage.

I had a chemical pregnancy in January 2015. My husband and I were trying to get pregnant and had been for long enough to feel sick of seeing single lines on pregnancy tests, but short enough to still be optimistic.

Seeing two lines was so, so exciting. But, one was faint. More than an hour spent in the depths of TTC (trying to conceive) threads, I felt jubilant; a faint line was still a line. I was pregnant. Many commenters in the threads said they saw darker lines as the days went by. Why these women continued to test after they confirmed they were pregnant, I don’t know. It was probably the same reason I continued to test.

The next day, the line was darker, yet still faint. But, I was pregnant! My husband and I were thrilled, even though we knew it was early. The next couple of days my body felt different. I hadn’t expected that. I thought most women had no pregnancy symptoms in those first few days, but my breasts were so sore and I experienced my first-ever migraine. I felt like something may be wrong. But, I am also a worrier, so in my gut, I thought everything was fine, and that I was just over-analyzing every feeling.

Another test, and a fainter line slowly appeared. On my lunch break at work, I called my doctor, shared my symptoms and told her I thought I may be having a chemical pregnancy. She advised that I could come in, but ultimately, if I had a chemical pregnancy, there was nothing they could do to save it.

The next day there was a single line. I was not pregnant. The bleeding started soon after.

Loss is a tricky thing. I personally felt that I shouldn’t be mourning. After all, my body had proven it could conceive, and that was a good thing – something countless women pray for and never have. And while I had lost a pregnancy, it wasn’t that bad, according to how I thought I should feel. Hell, people don’t even call it a miscarriage. I didn’t have to go into labor; I didn’t fall in love with the feeling of baby kicks. We hadn’t even thought about names.

I found myself not allowing the pain to be felt. Sure, we cried. But I compared our loss to the losses of others – more traumatic, more raw – and didn’t give myself the opportunity to grieve enough because I thought my loss was not significant enough. I think that’s why I’m writing this now, more than two years after the experience. Moving forward past the loss happened almost immediately for me, because I pushed the hard feelings away. As a result, emotion regarding the experience was fresh in my underbelly, ready to bubble up at any trigger. Now, since I have let myself remember, and let myself be sad without comparing my sadness to the sadness of others, I no longer feel that pit of emotion.

If I could go back, I would tell myself not to compare my experience to the experiences of others. Not to negate my feelings because I felt guilty feeling them. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and there is no single path you must take to overcome.

My son was conceived the month after my chemical pregnancy. Words will never express my gratitude for him, for the ability to have him, for the fact that he is healthy and happy. I think any loss – no matter how large or small – can help you appreciate more. And I will never under-appreciate the amazing human my body created.


  1. I don’t know how I’ve never heard it called this before. I experienced the same thing a short few months after we were married. I sometimes feel guilty because I don’t mourn like I see others mourning. I didn’t have a dr yet, we had just managed to get some insurance the week before. When calling around I was told by a womens clinic to go the ER – I was having severe cramping with the bleeding. So I went.
    Insurance messed us up a lot, and I think I got so involved figuring all that out, I never did grieve. Sometimes I think of it, and the baby it might have been.
    Thank you for writing this and making me feel a bit better. Having a name for my “miscarriage” sort of gives it more closure.

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