Saturday, March 19, 2011

Headline News: Pregnancy Test Results

*This post contains medical information. If you haven't figured that out from the title and the labels, then you probably have bigger issues to worry about than being freaked out by the information contained below. Just sayin'.*

Eleven days after my embryo transfer was D-Day...erm well actually B-Day. I was scheduled for a pregnancy test first thing in the morning and then expected a call back from the doctor's office at some point that afternoon.

This whole process is really crappy because you're anxiously waiting all afternoon for a phone call that's either going to give you really good or really bad news. I told Husband that they should save the bad news calls for the end of the day so there's fewer hours you have to live before you're allowed to go home and put on jammies. He claims women would catch onto this pretty quickly, but I doubt I'd notice and I do think I'd appreciate it. But as it stands, the call can come any time from 11am to 4pm, and afterwards you're either going to be walking around grinning for the rest of the day because you're pregnant or you're going to have to lock yourself in the ladies room in tears because you're not.

Those are the only two options, right? Positive pregnancy test or negative pregnancy test?


It turns out there's a third option: inconclusive. The pregnancy test measures the level of human chornioc gonadotropin (HCG) in the blood. A level of HCG below 5 means not pregnant. A level of HCG above 25 means you are pregnant.

So there's this whole no man's land between 5 and 25 where you might be pregnant...but you might not be. On B-Day, my HCG level was 12.

Unfortunately I got the call from my doctor's office while I was on the phone with another attorney. I put her on hold, answered the call, and got the news that I had to repeat the pregnancy test in two days.

Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder?

After I hung up the phone, I went back to the other attorney who was explaining in tremendous detail how our case, scheduled for hearing in just a few hours, was completely blowing up in ways that were not helpful to either of our clients. Finally, the call ended and just as I was ready to call Husband, the phone rang again. Another attorney on the same case was calling. He was on the opposing side and really wanted to rub in these late developments that were so detrimental to my client's position. I made it through the call and finally called Husband...

who happened to be in Florida for the day! So it's not even like I could make him come home to meet me! I explained to him what the nurse had said and he was dumbfounded.

Husband: I had it all planned out what I was going to say to you if it was positive. And I knew exactly what I would say if it was negative. I didn't even realize there was a third option!

At this point, I'm hysterical, which if you're counting, marks the fourth time in three weeks that I've completely and absolutely lost it while at work. Luckily I had closed my door prior to making the call and since my co-workers have all managed to look me in the eye since, I've convinced myself that they did not hear my crying.

I pulled it together and hung up the phone. As I passed my boss's office on my way to the ladies room, she spotted me and could tell something was wrong. I walked into her office and lost it for the FIFTH time. She immediately sprang into action, decided that she would go to the courthouse to deal with my case that was on a downward spiral, and I would go out to lunch with our social worker to get out of the office.

As a totally unrelated aside, if you're looking for 100% waterproof eye makeup, I recommend tarte Amazonian Clay eyeshadow (reviewed here) and Smashbox Jet Set eyeliner. Despite my crying for nearly two hours straight, my makeup looked impeccable. It's become my go-to eye makeup on days when I'm expecting phone calls from my doctor's office. But I digress.

We went to lunch and ran some errands and when I got back to the office, I felt tremendously better, though I still didn't want to go home alone. Luckily a fellow princess happened to catch wind of what was going on and offered to bring over dinner. It was much appreciated and rather than sitting at home, weeping all evening, waiting for Husband, I had a slightly more pleasant evening with a friend and three crazed pups.

The next day, I found this website, which made me feel more optimistic. At the very least, I decided to be cautiously optimistic. If the numbers go up on the second test, I can be even more optimistic. If the numbers go down, at least we have ten frozen blastocysts that we can use next time (without my having to pump myself full of medication again!)

On the morning of the second pregnancy test, I heard no less than two Queen songs on the radio: We are the Champions and Bohemian Rhapsody. I decided it must be a sign and convinced myself that good news was in my future.

Unfortunately, my HCG levels were only up to 19. My doctor asked me to come back for a third, and likely final, pregnancy test four days later. He expected at that point, my levels would begin to drop and advised me to lower my dose of progesterone in oil. I had a million questions, but unfortunately my doctor had a death in the family so he was viewing my chart remotely and not actually in the office.

The cramping, it seems, was totally normal and related to the ovarian hyperstimulation which had started back up due to the low amounts of HCG my body was producing. So I got the hassle of more ovarian hyperstimulation symptoms but without the happy news of a pregnancy.

That evening did not go well. Husband wanted to follow our doctor's instructions and do the progesterone shot whereas I felt that at best we were only prolonging the inevitable and didn't want to do it. Husband said he didn't want to look back in five years and think, "If only we'd done those progesterone shots, something would be different," and threatened to call the emergency line to tell them that I was refusing to take my medication. We finally reached a compromise that I'd take the injection that night and the following day, he'd speak to an actual doctor and ask whether there was any chance that we'd end up with a viable pregnancy.

I cried the entire time that Husband was administering the shot and afterwards he felt horrible.

He called the doctor the next morning. According to the doctor, there was a infinitely small chance that we could end up with a viable pregnancy and for that reason, we should continue the shots. Husband tried to explain this to me, but I told him that I'd already made up my mind and that the phone call was for his benefit: if he was going to insist on stabbing me with an 1.5 inch needle the next three nights, he needed to know exactly what the odds were of it making any difference.

So we continued to do the shots and managed to prove pretty definitively that these shots are administered much more smoothly when both people are calm and relaxed, rather than anxious about stabbing one's wife against her will and she's wiggling around on the bed in tears upon being reminded that this whole elaborate process didn't work. The second-to-last night, he hit a vein and we got blood everywhere! And on the final night, the first time he tried to inject the needle hurt like heck so he had to change the needle and try again.

I wish I could write that on the third day my HCG levels skyrocketed to 300 and suddenly I was pregnant with twins, so that Husband and I could complete our family with one try and never have to go through this again. That somehow I was wrong and the progesterone in oil shots made the difference and we were in that infinitely small percentage of circumstances that turned into a viable pregnancy.

I wish this story had that kind of ending...

but it doesn't.

On the day of the third test, my levels were up to 45. To be a viable pregnancy, they should have been at least 90. My doctor predicted that at some point during the next week, I'd have my second miscarriage of this process. If I didn't, and if my blood work a week later hadn't begun to drop, he suspected that I might have an ectopic pregnancy, which could potentially require surgery.

I wish I had better news. In fact, I wish I had actual news. I leave you all in limbo just as Husband and I have, for the last two weeks, been in limbo. My fourth pregnancy test is on Tuesday so I won't know definitively what's going on until then...and given the uncertainty of the past few weeks, I'm reluctant to make any promises that I'll have answers because I can't say for certain that I will. And that is completely devastating to me.

Of all the possible outcomes for our first IVF cycle, I think this is the worst. I'm pregnant. It worked, but I'm going to have a miscarriage...again. It's a loss that I wouldn't wish on any woman, not even my worst enemy. And no one should have to go through it twice, but unfortunately I will.

In fact, I'm hoping I will because the alternative means surgery and potential irreparable damage to my ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus.

Trying again is a given. At this point until the doctor's tell me it's a lost cause or that it's medically dangerous to continue, we're going forward full steam ahead. And hopefully someday in the not too far future, that will yield some happy news that I can't wait to share with all of you.

If anyone has questions about this entire process, please feel free to email me or comment below. My biggest hope in documenting my experiences is that it will help educate women and couples who may be beginning or considering IVF and have questions. The fact that the first cycle didn't work for Husband and I doesn't diminish that so please consider to respond as you have been throughout this process.

Thank you all for your support throughout this first cycle with IVF. I've enjoyed reading your comments as well as your emails. As difficult as these last few months have been, having the support of so many women, most of whom I've never met, has helped me significantly and more than you, or even I, may realize right now.


  1. Aww Sweetie..Im so sorry it didnt work out for you this are so brave and strong.....and good for you for wanting to keep pushing ahead and trying until you are told to do otherwise.

    I wish you the absolute BEST:)

  2. Oh Kathleen, I have enjoyed reading your blog so much over the last couple of months, and I have really enjoyed your posts on this whole process. I have anticipated this post over the last couple of days, and as I read this post, my heart truly started to ache for you. I cannot imagine how you feel, but my thoughts are with you, and I will continue to pray for you as you progress onward through this process.

  3. Kathleen, I am sending you and your husband love and prayers that it will work out the next time around. I wish I had some amazing words of wisdom for you, but all I can say is that you've handled this with grace and dignity. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I sincerely wish you the best and a home filled with as many children as you want.

  4. Kathleen, I'm so sorry! I've been thinking of you all week - I can't imagine the pain (both physical and emotional) you are going through. Thank you for sharing your story with us, though.

  5. Oh Kathleen, I'm so sorry to hear. Know that you have people from all around with nothing but good thoughts for you and your husband. I can't imagine, like Ashley mentioned, the mental or physical pain you've been going through...

  6. Kathleen, I never post on any blog but I felt that I needed to do it. I went through 3 IVF treatments and also two frozen cycles. I know it is an emotional roller coaster. It is so hard and I felt no one really understood how I felt. It was hard being at work, it was hard being with friends who had no problems like mine. Stay strong, try to find some time to go out with your husband, enjoy a good movie, go out to dinner. It really does work out at the end. I knew deep down that I will be a mom some day, after 10 years of marriage, numerous IVF's, i also had 3 ectopic pregnancies we adopted, then did final cycle of IVF and got pregnant, then I got pregnant again without any intervention. Who would have thought I would have to tie my tubes for fear of another pregnancy. I have 3 awesome boys. So it does work out. Stay strong and stay positive, things do work out at the end. Ann

  7. what a great support system you have here. it's really uplifting! and I hope it makes things a little easier for you, though I can imagine it still sucks. Hang in there, I know it's been rough, but know that you are very loved!! <3<3<3

  8. Oh, Kathleen!
    I Haven't commented in awhile, but I have to tell you that (even though I have never wanted children myself) it just breaks my heart when a couple wants one so much and tries so hard and runs into so many obstacles. I wish you and your husband all the best and I hope, hope, hope that you have the news you want so badly sometime soon. you are WONDERFUL to share this process here- I am sure that you have helped a lot of women with your strength and courage. I just want your wish to come true...

  9. My heart breaks for you, having had a miscarriage at 12 weeks a year ago and unsuccessfully attempting since then - and I still can't imagine how you feel. Thank you for blogging about this process, I'm certain it will help someone in the future when they read what you've gone through. A friend gave me some advice last year, and it was some comfort to me. Just imagine how much you will love and appreciate your baby (and you will have one) compared to someone that hasn't gone through what you have. You know how fragile and precious a successful pregnancy is. Good luck, you have lots of support from us in the blogosphere!

  10. So much stress in your life! I'm sorry you have to go through all this, but I'm certain there will be a happy ending.

  11. I am continuing to pull for you and your husband. While I do not have any children of my own, I know a few people who have had hard times getting pregnant and are proud, loving parents today. They kept pushing forward to achieve their goal: parenthood. You will one day too! Continue to be strong. :)

  12. My heart aches for you, Kathleen, but you and hubby have been so strong and I am grateful that you are sharing your story for all the other gals who may be going through the same thing now or later. I'm sending you a great big virtual hug.

  13. sh*t. I just want to tell you I'm sorry. the universe can be cruel, but your baby will meet you and your husband someday.

    I work with lots of women who have LOTS of attempting to conceive stories. Don't lose hope- I can't believe how much some of the women I know went through before have a first, second or even third baby. But, guess what, all of them eventually succeeded. every single one of them that wanted to continue the process eventually carried to term and had their baby. I wish you didn't have to go through more of this but I really am so glad you shared this with us and everyone else, you don't know who you may have touched or helped.

    take care of yourself and keep on keeping on :)

  14. I'm so sorry to hear this, Kathleen. I have had three miscarriages and know the heartache. But, I also know there is hope. After tears of trying we did not end up with just one but three children! - Not all at once, thank goodness!
    It was a tough road but worth it. The good news is you can get pregnant and you have a wonderful support system. Hang in there, I'm rooting for you! Hugs, Allison

  15. Oh Kathleen, I'm so sorry to hear this. I have been thinking of you all week and am sending you a big ole hug. You are so amazing and helping so many women by sharing your story. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your hubby as you continue this journey.

  16. Thank you for writing, despite everything. I'm a guy, who's never been pregnant but who does know a lot about mysterious medical situations. Recommendation: always ask, "When is the earliest time I will have DEFINITE information?" Then, try to avoid putting any brain power on the problem until that specific time and information comes around. Recommendation: try to accept that some things are unknowable -- ever.

    When's the last time you listened to "Made in Heaven"? I consider this to be Freddie Mercury's quietly sarcastic commentary on folks' well-meaning comments that all of what is happening was meant to be -- when, realistically, we have NO idea what WAS meant to be or IS meant to be. Sometimes it's just "Is no 'why' -- is only 'is'."

    I'm taking my ride with destiny,
    willing to play my part.
    'Living with painful memories,
    'Loving with all my heart.

    "Made in heaven." "Made in heaven."
    "It was all meant to be." Yeah.
    "Made in heaven." "Made in heaven."
    That's what they say.
    "Can't you see?"
    Oh, I know, I know,
    I know that it's true --
    yes, it's really meant to be --
    deep in my heart.

    I'm having to learn to pay the price. They're turning me upside down.
    'Waiting for possibilities.
    'Don't see too many around. ...

    "Made in heaven." "Made in heaven." "That's what everybody says"
    everybody says to me.
    "It was really meant to be." ...

    I'm playing my role in history,
    Looking to find my goal.
    'Taking in all this misery,
    But giving it all my soul. ...

    "Made in heaven." "Made in heaven."
    "It was all meant to be." Yeah.
    "Made in heaven." "Made in heaven."
    That's what everybody says.
    "Wait and see"
    "It was really meant to be."
    "So plain to see."
    Yeah, everybody, everybody,
    everybody tells me so.
    Yes, “it was plain to see.”
    Yes, “it was meant to be.”
    "'Written in the stars ...."
    "'Written in the stars ...."

    *** As I said, I believe Freddie is saying -- and I second the idea -- that some things are not so plain to see, not so meant to be, not written in the stars -- but life goes on. You seem to have the stuff to make it in life no matter how this thing comes down, so tell yourself that. You WILL make it no matter what.

    *** If you have to do some metaphoric "head banging," try doing it to Brian May's "Headlong":
    And you're rushing headlong –
    you've got a new goal.
    And you're rushing headlong –
    out of control.
    And you think you're so strong,
    but there ain't no stopping, and
    there's nothing you can do about it!…

    *** Life is what it is. Do your best. Keep your head up. Keep moving.
    'Wishing you and your husband the best no matter what.

  17. I started to cry when I finished reading this post. I'm so sorry that everything turned out this way, it really is heartbreaking to hear about. But I agree with other reviewers who say don't give up hope. My mom went through intense fertility treatments for my 2 older sisters and my aunt adopted when she was told she wouldn't be able to conceive and both ended up with naturally conceived children as well (myself and my cousin). One way or another, I know you will end up with a wonderful baby that completes your world. My prayers are with you and I'm amazed by your strength and willingness to share such a personal struggle.

  18. Oh gosh, Kathleen, I'm so sorry things ended this way for your first cycle. You are accumulating some AMAZINGLY good baby karma, girl.

  19. You are so brave to put this out into the world. A friend of mine and her husband went through so many IVF cycles, even got to the point of considering and trying donor eggs. After several miscarriages, she just discovered that she and her husband are pregnant the old fashioned way! So you never know - don't lose hope!

  20. I can only thank you SO MUCH for sharing all of this - we're trying to, and we don't feel so alone, reading the journey you and your husband are on. I hope for great news for you soon...thank you.

  21. I am sorry that you haven't gotten the results that you were pregnant, but don't lose hope, the pregnancy could be viable. I have had some friends go through the process of IVF with great results so if this cycle didn't work, hopefully the next will. I recently had a friend who went through IVF for her first child fine, tried for a 2nd and after two unsuccessful IVF cycles, gave up only to get pregnant without any medical help. You really never know what can happen so I wish you the best of luck

  22. Oh Kathleen, I am so sorry you have to go through all of this! You are very brave to keep trying and to publish it to try and help others! My prayers are with you!!!!

  23. not sure if you are looking for hope, but you should be:

    hopefully you come back with good news tomorrow.

  24. I just want to give you a great big hug. so here ya go(((((((((((((HUG))))))))))))))))

  25. I hope there is some fluke in the numbers but if not please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I wish I could say something that would make this easier but I really don't know what to say other than we are all pulling for you two!!!

  26. I am so sorry Kathleen. I wish you guys all the luck in the world. I hope that you are doing well. Lots and lots of hugs to you.

  27. O Kathleen! I got so teary reading this. It sounds like y'all have been on such an emotional roller coaster. I admire the strength and courage you and your husband have as you take this journey. I'm rooting for you both. Hugs!


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