Before baby Cork, we had a Chemical Pregnancy

On April 13, 2016 I found out I had a Chemical Pregnancy, boarded a plane the next day and ran my first Boston Marathon on April 18, 2016.

I have written and rewritten this story too many times. It’s hard to know where it began and it will always be a part of the story of us becoming a family so there really is no end.

We decided to begin a family in March 2016. I knew I had the Boston Marathon coming up in a few weeks, but assumed if I became pregnant I would 1) not know until after the race or 2) be so early on that I would be able to run the marathon with no problems.

On April 7, 2016 I began bleeding. It wasn’t normal for me. It was painful and a lot – more than usual and something I had never experienced before. After five days of this, I went to my doctor. I didn’t understand what was going on with my body and had a marathon less than a week away so was growing concerned. They drew my blood for a pregnancy test and detected HCG (pregnancy hormone). I knew in that moment it must be a miscarriage. Since my flight left for Boston the next morning, I was squeezed in to see an OB/GYN for an ultrasound.

At this point, the emotions really began settling in. I felt so stupid. Why did I think it was a good idea to try for a baby before the marathon? Why couldn’t I have just waited another month? Why did I think everything would work out perfectly? Why hadn’t miscarriage crossed my mind? I felt so selfish. Why would I intentionally get pregnant then run a marathon? What if the race hurt the baby? Why would I put my body through that stress?

The ultrasound revealed there was no baby and that I had a Chemical Pregnancy. I had never heard of this term before, ever. A Chemical Pregnancy is a very early miscarriage, which takes place before anything can be seen on an ultrasound scan – usually around the fifth week of pregnancy. It means that a sperm has fertilized an egg, but later on, the egg fails to survive. Apparently this happens in 50%-60% of first pregnancies. And around 75% of miscarriages are Chemical Pregnancies. They often go undetected because it resembles a period, but is just later than usual. For me personally, it was extremely abnormal so I knew it wasn’t just a late period.

However, the doctor told us this was actually a good sign. It means that we are able to conceive, but this time it just didn’t work out. We left with hope and I left with a plan. I would run the Boston Marathon; enjoy every moment of it knowing this would be my last as I took time off for us to begin a family.

Boston Marathon

We left for Boston and had the most amazing time. I was so excited for our future. This was my last big race for a while and it was THE Boston Marathon. We needed to get away and just enjoy each other. And then we would come home, quickly become pregnant and have a little one on the way. This was my plan, not God’s planbut that’s a story for another day.

I am fortunate that I never took a pregnancy test to see it turn positive. I am thankful for that. I never knew I was pregnant until it was over. I felt every kind of emotion – confusion, disappointment, and hope. But I wasn’t heartbroken – until much later in our journey to baby. It wasn’t until months had passed and we still weren’t pregnant that I looked back and felt sadness. It wasn’t until then I felt as if we had lost something. Something we never knew – a baby that might have been – a baby we would never meet. Medically you can say it was never a viable pregnancy, but it still feels like a loss. I also felt as if I didn’t deserve to grieve because it happened so early on. I didn’t have weeks, or even months, of planning for this baby’s arrival to have them suddenly taken from me. I felt guilty for my sadness.

“Medically, a Chemical Pregnancy is more like a cycle in which a pregnancy never occurred than a true miscarriage.” Although this may be true medically, it still feels like a loss. And I wanted to share in my experience in case anyone stumbles upon this blog and has gone or is going through the same thing – you are not alone. It’s a hard set of emotions to deal with.

I shared the backbone of our story, but also censored some details. I remember wanting to reach out to someone who had gone through this to ask questions, even the TMI questions. If you have stumbled upon this and are struggling with fertility, you did not come here by mistake. I pray God will give you the peace and healing you need. If you want to reach out to someone who has been there or to just talk, don’t be a stranger, I’d love to talk.

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