“Chemical pregnancies" are more than just hidden biological realities, and it's okay to mourn the babies we never knew.
I had a baby, but I didn’t know it until she was already gone.
My period came right on schedule, but when it went on way for too long, I confirmed my suspicion with a pregnancy test. It’s surreal, to be standing there holding a stick with a big old “YES+” on it, and no baby inside me, not anymore.
I have two kids with me and I have two, maybe three, maybe more, whom I’ve never met. It’s easy to imagine that there were other pregnancies that began and ended without a sign, pregnancies I never thought to test for. And then, my body is healthy, but still — who knows how many more children I might conceive and lose, never knowing they were even there?
They call these early, early miscarriages “chemical pregnancies,” because they can only be detected by hormone levels in the blood, not by ultrasound. And to the medical world, they don’t really count. When doctors ask me how many miscarriages I’ve had, they don’t want to hear about these. These are pretty common, and they don’t necessarily mean anything’s wrong.
But they do count. They count to me, and they count to God. Those babies aren’t gone, after all. They have immortal souls, just like the rest of us, and God’s love isn’t determined by the length of your life.
Grieving a child you never anticipated is a strange experience. I didn’t even know if I’d grieve. I kept telling people it was all fine, until the day the digital pregnancy test ran out of power, and that “yes” was replaced by a blank screen. And then suddenly I was doubled over, sobbing and telling God he shouldn’t have taken my baby, and then an hour later, I was fine again.
People keep checking on me, and I don’t know what to tell them. Am I fine? I don’t know. But in the meantime, I’m holding on to one thought, and it’s helping: That baby and I, we’re not so different.
After all, what’s the difference between being a couple of cells big, and being five foot five, when you’ve both got a soul? When you’re both made in the image of God? When you’re both human, and so is Jesus?
When I am most upset, I wonder what that baby’s life was even for. I know what my life is for. My kids need a mother, the world needs more love, more prayers, and God has some kind of a plan for me. A priest once suggested to me that all the world’s miscarried babies, the billions and billions of them, are important intercessors for humanity. They pray for us; God knows — and He does — how much we need the prayers.
I love this thought, and it comforts me, but I think it’s incomplete.
In the end, asking what my baby’s life was “for” is the wrong question, because nobody’s life is “for” anything. We exist, and God delights in us, and that’s all. Does God have jobs for us to do? Absolutely. He calls us to our different vocations, and he works with us to enact his will in the world. Even these unknown, invisible babies have a job to do. But our job doesn’t give us our value. We are valuable because God loves us. We are created, and we are created precious. That’s all there is to it. It’s so simple it makes me uncomfortable, but it’s true.
It means I can never justify my own existence by a mountain of good works, by a long-lasting legacy, by anything at all. I can’t make God love me, but that’s okay, because He does love me. And he loves my baby too, even if I never got the chance to do the same.