If it’s one thing I’ve learned along this journey…the theme of IVF is hurry up and wait.
As an IVF patient you are constantly waiting for the next lab draw, next injection, next appointment, next phone call, next result. I believe this is God’s way of laughing at me when I asked for patience through this process. Speaking of waiting, we’ve made you wait close to two weeks for an update, so we figured it was about time.
Let’s pick up where we left off…
In my last post, The IVF Roller Coaster, I talked about our Egg Retrieval, Embryo Fertilization Reports and our Embryo Transfer. We also found out we had 2 embies remaining and are now our frosties.
Hubby and I decided to do something different for this cycle’s post-transfer “hurry up and wait”. Thanks to my amazing sister, we were able to take a long weekend and go to her lake house to get our mind off of things. It was nice. It was just Hubby and I and the amazing weather.
That Saturday, I noticed some abdominal cramping and tinges of pain here and there. Dr. Google said this was normal. I also had what most would consider early pregnancy symptoms such as sore ta-ta’s, fatigue, etc. However, as I have learned before, this is the cruel joke played by progesterone injections. Progesterone mimics early pregnancy symptoms whether you are or not. Sunday, I woke up with extreme low back pain all day as if I had slept wrong. I chalked it up to sleeping in a different bed and went about my day. I also had a feeling of stretching in my lower abdomen, something I hadn’t experienced with my last transfer.
Monday came around and at that point I was 5DP5DT (IVF lingo for “5 days post 5-day transfer). I had already made up my mind that although it was early, I was going to test. I didn’t want to be blindsided at work with the news and after hearing previous IVFers had started to get squinters (faint test lines) I wanted to at least try.
Hubby had gotten up earlier that morning and headed down to the dock to do some fishing. I woke up shortly after and being determined, I grabbed the stick in the pink foil wrapper and made my way to the bathroom. Still a little groggy, I followed the directions and set it aside for the longest 3 minute wait of my life. I rubbed my eyes and took a deep breath and picked up the stick. At a quick glance and the light reflecting just right, I peered at one pink line and a white area. I felt my heart sink. Okay, it’s still early. Don’t worry, maybe tomorrow. I sat it back down on the counter and began to put my contacts in. I started brushing my teeth and mid-brush I glanced down at the test again.
HOLY CRAP! (Actually, it sounded more like “howy cap” with my mouth full of toothpaste.) There it was. The faintest of pink lines next to a dark line. I put on some decent clothes and run down to the dock. I don’t even think I put shoes on.
“Morning babe!” says Hubby.
“HI! I have to something to show you!” I pull out the HPT (Home Pregnancy Test) “It’s faint but it’s there!!”
“Yep, it sure is!” he said. “I figured that’s why you came down here so fast!
We grinned at each other and joked about me carrying around a stick of pee in my pocket!
Is this real life?
I wasn’t convinced the line wasn’t leftover trigger shot. The trigger we used this time was an hCG trigger which is the same hormone secreted and picked up on tests. It can take 10-14 days for it to completely get out of your system, causing a false positive. Monday was day 12.
To say I became obsessed with testing would be an understatement. I tested again that night, Tuesday morning, Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, etc. Sometimes I would use different brands. Each test seemed to show a darker line than the last. I started gaining hope this indeed was not the remnants of my trigger but actually the real deal!
The night before our first official “Beta”, I decided to test with a digital test. HPTs are a qualitative test. As long as you meet the minimum level of hCG (usually a level higher than 25), it will show positive. Sometimes if it’s a darker line or it shows up quicker, it could mean there is more hCG in your system or it could just be a difference in the dye. Digitals are notorious for not being as sensitive and needing a higher hCG level to show positive. In my mind, 25 was the minimum to be considered a viable pregnancy. If the digital was positive it meant my levels were higher than 25. After 3 minutes, that even came back positive!
My first beta was Thursday, September 8th. Sidenote: ironically this day was the the one year anniversary of the start of this blog! How fitting?! I wanted to be there early in hopes I would get the number back early. I’m pretty sure I was one of the first people who arrived when the lab opened. I was there for all of 2 minutes, told they would call me shortly and I was on my merry way. Again, trying to avoid receiving the call at work I decided to grab breakfast at McDonald’s and eat in the parking lot. Hurry up and wait. After all, they called with my beta result from my 1st cycle within an hour. An hour passed and I decided I couldn’t wait much longer and decided to go to work. I get to work and another hour passes. I’m about to bang my head on my desk at this point.
Riiiiiing. My heart jumps. I grab my phone and walk out to the parking garage. It’s the nurse who has been doing my scans. “Hey Jackie, do you have a minute? I have some good news for you!”
Finally. My first beta at 8dp5dt is 68! Our office actually tests earlier than most. This day is equivalent to two weeks after “ovulation” or in my case retrieval and fertilization. They also tested my progesterone levels. Progesterone levels can be a great indicator of miscarriage if low or a sustainable pregnancy if over 25. My progesterone came back at 106.29. I was caught off guard by such a high number. Although good, you typically don’t see progesterone this high until the second trimester. My doctor reassured me it’s nothing to worry about and we would rather have it high than low because that could indicate a miscarriage.
They typically do beta tests every 48 hours since betas are supposed to double every 48-72 hours as a rule of thumb. In my case, my first beta was on a Thursday which meant I would have to wait until Monday for my next test because they are closed on Saturdays! Hurry up and wait, again. Let me tell you, your mind can do a lot of over-thinking in 4 days and Dr. Google and I are no longer on speaking terms.
Monday rolls around and I decide since it’s my day off, I’ll go in a little later since I could be waiting for results awhile. I was more nervous about this appointment because if my “68” doesn’t double and decreases, it could indicate a chemical pregnancy. Another 2 minute visit and quick needle stick, I’m out the door. Hurry up and wait…but not as long. This time my results came back in 50 minutes! Our coordinator called with more great news! My levels were at 313! Which means they were doubling at a rate of 44 hours! My next appointment was scheduled for today! At that moment, I could start to feel like I could breathe a small sigh of relief.
Today, I went in early because I had to be at work. I don’t even think this time it took 2 minutes before I was out. I was at work by 9am. Hurry up and wait…AGAIN. By about 10:30am, I was getting antsy and had started to fear the worst. At 11am, I received the call. My level needed to be at least 626. It came back at 861!! We now have a doubling time of 33 hours! They are very impressed with my numbers!
Based on my doubling betas, at this point I’m actually considered pregnant. I’m completely overwhelmed at the thought. Four years of infertility struggles, tens-of-thousands of dollars spent, millions of tears cried and we finally may have something to show for it. I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m trying very hard to not put the cart before the horse because I realize, we aren’t done yet. In my mind, we are unofficially official.
Just because doubling betas are good, it doesn’t mean we are out of the woods yet. Next Thursday afternoon, we go in for our first ultrasound. They will be looking to make sure everything is where it should be and not ectopic or a molar pregnancy, measure the gestational sack, see the embryo and possibly even see a heartbeat. We will also find out if we have one or two little peanuts in there (yep, it’s definitely a possibility). There is a lot riding on this ultrasound.
Although I want to celebrate, part of me is terrified about the next couple of weeks. These next few weeks are crucial and things can change quickly. I am also consistently reminded of our loss that occurred four years ago and I pray that we make it safely past the 8 week mark.
While most prefer to wait to share their news, we decided to share this with you now for two reasons. One, because many of you have been following our journey and for the most part, already know the timeline of when everything is happening. Even if we waited until our second trimester to make an announcement, most of you would have already figured it out by our silence. Reason two being almost the same as number one. We have been so thankful for everyone’s support and uplifting thoughts and prayers. At this point, we can use all the support we can get. God forbid if the unfavorable does happen, knowing the support system we already have will make a huge difference in how we may handle something of that nature.
So here we are. I’m 5 weeks pregnant. I already have morning/all day sickness, can smell foul scents for what seems like miles away, my abdomen feels like I’ve done 1,000 crunches and sleeping through the night without having to use the restroom is a thing of the past…and I love it. It’s a constant reminder that things are changing and what we’ve hoped and prayed for is in the works! I’ve prayed louder and harder more in the last two months than I have I think in my entire life. God is good and He will provide!
I plan to update frequently as we continue along this journey. If all goes well at my 6 week ultrasound, we will go back for an 8 week ultrasound and hopefully will get to hear a heartbeat! Again, Hubby and I both sincerely thank you for your unwavering support, prayers, and positive messages you have sent us these last few weeks. We will be forever grateful!
Until next time,