When the stick starts to smile, reads pregnant, or gives you a double line, most of us have to do a double take. After we double check (in the form of another test; trust us, we all do it!), we usually pick up the phone and call our plus one, our best pal, or our partner in crime. Whether you were waiting for this for years or just started trying a month ago, finding out that you are preggers can be pretty overwhelming. The emotions can be as volatile as the weather in the tropics. Even if you have a child (or children), adding to your clan can make you clamor.
For most of us, those first few minutes/hours after that positive test are dominated by questions—and the majority are about the very distant future (a.k.a. nine months away). When is my due date? Will this baby be a girl or a boy? Do we have enough space in our home? When should we tell our family and friends? And while we, too, love a good future plan, unfortunately, there is not all that much that we can make of or plan for after one positive pregnancy test. The reality is that, from the pregnancy test to the postpartum unit, there are A LOT of hurdles. In fact, a good chunk of positive pregnancy tests don’t even make it past the first week or so.
Although many of us blame that box we lifted or that bike ride we took, in most cases, early pregnancy losses have nothing to do with our actions. It has everything to do with the embryo that implanted. The majority of early pregnancy losses are the result of abnormal embryos (an extra or missing chromosome). In the land of embryos, fetuses, and human genetics, 46 is the sweet spot. We get 23 chromosomes from our mom and 23 from our dad. Anything more or less than 46 is considered abnormal.
While not all pregnancies with abnormal chromosomes miscarry or don’t make a baby, the majority does not make it very far. Very few abnormal derivations of 46 chromosomes are even compatible with life. And luckily for us, the body knows this and puts up a big red STOP sign to the pregnancy.
We in no way mean to rain on your pregnancy parade. A positive test definitely means something, and for many, it is the beginning of a long and fruitful journey. And while we, too, get super excited at the pregnancy texts and emails our patients and friends send us, we want to remain cautiously optimistic.
Tempering your emotions can soften the blow when things don’t go right. Remaining realistic in the beginning of a pregnancy is key. While we certainly don’t recommend you walk around with your head and heart low, we do suggest that you hold off posting your pregnancy test on Facebook. Give it some time; see how things progress. Let your doctor confirm that he or she sees fetal development and a heartbeat before you let your heart go crazy. It can prepare you for those potential skipped beats.