chemical pregnancy (and the problem with testing too soon)


I was never really a big believer in love at first sight. Love takes time to grow and can’t be truly experienced upon first glance. At least that’s what I thought…until I saw two lines on a pregnancy test. When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I knew I loved that little person the instant I saw that test.

A few weeks ago I had a chemical pregnancy. On Sunday morning, I got a positive pregnancy test. The blue + sign was very faint, but definitely present, so I rushed out to the store to purchase another test…just to be sure. Sure enough, the pink lines revealed the same result. I was pregnant! Evelyn would be a big sister! Michael and I were immediately excited, even though we were also a little cautious. On Monday, I called my OB/GYN and they ordered the blood work. On Tuesday, when I called to get the results, a nurse told me that my HCG was only 10. She said that anything higher than 5 is considered positive, but it was lower than they wanted to see. Immediately, my heart sank. She told me they would test again in a few days to see if the number was higher. She said it would be best to wait until Friday or Monday if I could.

I wasn’t sure how in the world I was going to wait that long. I started to search the net for stories of successful pregnancies that started out so low. They weren’t easy to find. I read stories of women whose numbers slowly raised, only to end in miscarriage after several weeks of loving that tiny life. I wasn’t sure if I could handle that roller coaster. I wanted a resolution…I wanted this to either end now or carry through until my baby was here. I had decided that I would go back for more blood work on Friday instead of waiting all weekend and I had an extra pregnancy test I was planning to use on Thursday morning, just to see if the line got any darker (or lighter).

I’ve never been an early tester. During my years of TTC, I knew plenty of women who couldn’t wait to test, sometimes as early as 8 days past ovulation (DPO) (normally, a period won’t show until about 14 DPO). I may have gotten impatient once or twice, but I couldn’t handle the stark white expanse that occupied the space where a line should be and most pregnancy tests will be negative if used too early. I’d rather just wait for Aunt Flo to show up. The tests I happened to buy this time were the ones that claim to give you a result up to 5 days before your missed period. As I read the box more carefully, it said that because the tests were designed to detect very small levels of HCG, the chances of a false positive are higher, particularly in women nearing age 40. Fabulous. My hope for a viable pregnancy was fading fast.

See, the problem with testing too early is that “chemical pregnancies may account for 50-75% of all miscarriages. This occurs when a pregnancy is lost shortly after implantation, resulting in bleeding that occurs around the time of her expected period. The woman may not realize that she conceived when she experiences a chemical pregnancy.” In other words, most of us have probably been pregnant at one time or another and didn’t even know it. Our periods came as usual or maybe we had a little “scare” when it arrived a few days late. If I had waited just 3 days longer, I would have never known.

So, in the wee hours of Thursday morning, Evelyn woke up with a fever. I got her out of bed and we meandered downstairs to snuggle in Michael’s chair. I set her up with some water to drink and then I decided to go ahead and use my last test. At 2:30 am, this was as close to FMU (first morning urine) as I was going to get. I waited a few minutes and cautiously looked at the stick. There was the faintest line, just barely visible, and much lighter than the one from just two days ago. All I could think was, “It’s ok, baby. I love you, but you don’t have to hang on for me. It’s ok to go home. I love you.”

I rocked Evelyn for a little while and had a bit of a cry. I knew that this just wasn’t meant to be, but that didn’t make it any easier. Evelyn’s fever seemed to lift and she finally fell back to sleep. When I woke up later that morning, Aunt Flo made her appearance and that stick in the trash can stared back at me with its stark white face. Maybe I had imagined that faint pink line in my early morning stupor, maybe I hadn’t, but it was white now. Not even a trace of a line remained, but the love was still there. Because once you see that line, there’s no going back.