That was the thought running through my mind two years ago. On December 14, 2012, I had what was to be my final IVF transfer, the procedure in which the doctor puts the embryo back in (please do not call this an “implantation,” because no doctor can “implant” an embryo – the embryo has to do that itself – but I digress). It was the day of the Newtown tragedy, and I couldn’t help but feel that was a bad omen. It was already a risky move psychologically to do the transfer around such an emotionally charged time of year as Christmas. How would I handle the holiday if I didn’t get pregnant? It was, after all, our last shot.
After the transfer, I lay in the recovery room listening to the woman next to me giggle to her husband with the excited voice of someone doing their first IVF. “Honey, can you believe I have two babies inside me right now?” she exclaimed. Rookie, I thought, then tried to block her, and the negative thoughts that she was causing in me, from interrupting my valium-induced happy place. I wasn’t sure if the embryo could feel my mood, but I only wanted to be sending it positive vibes.
But I still didn’t really expect it to work. It was our “closure cycle,” a FET (frozen embryo transfer) of two embryos left over from my summer cycle, which ended in miscarriage. Because that was my final fresh cycle, I begged the embryologist to freeze something, anything. Thank God I did.
My beta (i.e. pregnancy blood test) was on Christmas Eve, but I had taken a home test days before anyway. Even a positive pregnancy test was not enough to make me feel happy, though, since I had had five positive tests in the years before, and none of them had led to a live baby.
Because I already knew I was pregnant, the first beta never really made me nervous. It was always the second one that freaked me out. The initial number doesn’t matter that much – what matters is that it doubles on the second test. So I went through the holiday with a sense of trepidation. It seemed too much to ask for a Christmas miracle. Too cliche. Too cheesy.
My next beta was right after Christmas, and sure enough, it barely rose at all. I cried, but also felt a sense of acceptance. I had literally done everything I could. I emailed the adoption agency we’d decided to work with and told them we were on board.
Two days later I had to go for another test to make sure my levels dropped appropriately. I had had a previous ectopic pregnancy, the telltale sign of which is erratic betas, so that was a concern. After the early morning blood draw, my husband and I went out to eat at our local breakfast spot. While there, my phone rang. It was the doctor on call, who I didn’t know and who obviously didn’t know my history. “Good news,” she said. “Your beta doubled and everything looks good.” Huh?
I went outside in the cold without my jacket so I could hear her more clearly. “But,” I protested, “this is my third beta. My second didn’t rise at all. It’s supposed to be going down.” She didn’t have an explanation for me, and told me to come in in another couple of days.
Now I was angry. Just when I had started to accept what was happening, and was resigned to the fact that I would never be pregnant and that we would be adopting – the universe had to mess with me again. It was pouring salt in the festering wound that had been my years of infertility treatments and miscarriage. Why was God being so cruel?
On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I went out to dinner, and I toasted with ginger ale instead of champagne just in case. I was pissed that I couldn’t even get drunk on New Year’s. The waitress, who by the end of the evening admitted she’d had a few to drink, asked us if we had kids. We told her no, and she replied, “Tonight will be the night for you guys! You’ll see. I predict you’ll conceive tonight!” Thanks, drunk waitress, I thought, for making me feel even worse.
Next beta. It went up again. And the next – up again. It didn’t make sense. Looking at my chart, the technicians would always miss the second test, and start talking excitedly as they drew my blood. I’d have to remind them that things were still uncertain. Didn’t they notice that glaringly strange second test, the one that didn’t jump at all? The one that told me my baby didn’t make it? The only explanation was a “vanishing twin,” in which both embryos implanted but only one of them kept growing.
There wasn’t one specific moment when we knew the pregnancy was stable. I wish there had been, so I could have cried tears of relief and joy and felt a weight being lifted off my shoulders. But the first ultrasound only showed a tiny sac and no heartbeat, and then I had some bleeding. It wasn’t until almost eight weeks that we heard the glorious swish-swish sound of his heart, and even then because it was very slow we weren’t out of the woods yet. Through it all, I felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
And to be honest, I still feel like that to this day.
Other IVF moms, tell me about your “two week wait” and beta story!