Friday, September 18, 2020

Big Fat WTF

They say the 2WW (two-week wait) is the hardest part. They’re right. After my donor-donor embryo transfer, time slogged along. It felt like my life was on pause until a pregnancy was confirmed or denied.

I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to feel during this ambiguous time, but I didn’t feel bonded to my embaby, if she still existed. My husband and one of my daughters started speaking to my stomach as if the embaby could hear them. But she didn’t feel “real” to me yet. And, as anyone who’s ever had a miscarriage can relate to, I was unsure if it would ever feel real. Even if a pregnancy was confirmed, would it feel real before the eight-week mark? (When the risk of miscarriage drops.) Would it feel real at 12 weeks? At 20? Was there really any safe zone when it came to pregnancy?

Five days post-transfer, as soon as I woke up, I peed on a stick. Only one blue line appeared. This is what women trying to conceive call a Big Fat Negative (BFN). My heart sank. Apparently I was attached to the idea of this baby.

Then the toxic thoughts rushed in. Thoughts like: I wish I had never started down this path. It’s already been so much heartbreak. So much time and money wasted.

Questions arose: Is West Coast IVF a snake oil salesman? Did the clinic give me a defective embryo? Should I have transferred two embryos in case one didn’t take? Does God not want my husband and I to be parents together? Why wouldn’t He want that?

The day of the BFN was a Sunday, our one kid-free day of the week, so my husband and I went to our favorite lake. Normally, we would have gone on a long run, but I had been trying to not raise my temperature or my heart rate just in case the embaby was trying to implant. But the BFN made me bold. “Fuck it,” I thought, and started running. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop. I ran almost six miles.

Later, at church, I felt like I wanted to cry, but held the tears back. My husband and I just exchanged sad glances throughout the service that silently said everything we couldn’t form words around.

As I do when I’m disappointed, I went into planning mode. My husband and I decided that if this cycle had indeed been a bust, we’d shell out the extra $3K for a second embryo on the next transfer, even though it increased the chance of twins to approximately 50 percent. Fantasizing about two little ones kept my mind occupied and gave me hope. If I truly wasn’t pregnant, I was eager to get started on the next cycle.

Eight days post-transfer, I woke up from a dream in which I took a pregnancy test, but instead of two lines, the result came up as two crosses. I took this as a good sign and when I woke up, I immediately peed on a stick. The first blue line appeared and then…slowly…a second one came into view, though it was substantially faded compared to the control line. Given that the test was negative a few days ago, and now there was a faint line, it was moving in a positive direction (quite literally), right?

The next morning, I repeated the process and…the second line appeared again and was darker!

I immediately texted pictures of my BFP (Big Fat Positive) to both of my teens and to my husband, who called me to say he was cautiously optimistic. “I want to see the blood results before I jump up and down,” he said.

I wasn’t going to wait to jump up and down. I was excited and happy and grateful to God. I couldn’t stop smiling. It was the furthest along that we’d made it in the fertility journey; why not celebrate? I even tacked the positive pregnancy test to my bedroom wall so I could look at it frequently and reassure myself. (It's still there today.)

Ten days post-transfer, I gladly presented my arm to the nurse at Dr. Baby-Maker’s clinic for the beta hCG test. The difference between a urine test and a blood test is huge. Basically, a urine pregnancy test tells you whether you are or aren’t pregnant; there are only two options. A blood test measures the amount of hCG (aka the pregnancy hormone) in your blood, telling you how pregnant you are – the higher the beta, the better (and a really high number can indicate twins). Also, the hCG should double every few days (if that doesn’t happen, it can be a sign of miscarriage), so fertility clinics do a second test a few days after the first to confirm the pregnancy is progressing.

According to West Coast IVF, anything above a 30 was a positive pregnancy result. 

My first beta hCG: 227!

My second: 765! 

Pregnancy confirmed, my treatment coordinator gave me a due date of May 15.

“May is coming up so fast!” my husband said.

“Are you kidding me?” I said. “It took eight months to get pregnant and now it’s going to take another eight months to meet the baby. Nothing about this has been, or will be, fast.”

Within days, my symptoms started: I could suddenly smell everything (for better or worse), my boobs outgrew my sports bra, I was burping all the time, I had the slightest nausea in the evenings, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open past 8 p.m.

“You might experience some bleeding,” my treatment coordinator warned me. “It’s very common in IVF patients. If it happens, don’t be alarmed. It doesn’t necessarily mean miscarriage.”

I brushed off her comment. “I’m not bleeding now and I’m not going to start!” I thought.

The only problem was, it wasn’t up to me. And six weeks in, I started seeing red

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