If you missed it, you can read Part One here.
The morning of Halloween, I went in to my clinic bright and early to have my blood drawn for my beta. It's about a 40 minute drive from my house to my clinic, and this generally seems like a very long drive on beta day because I'm anxious for the results. On my very first IUI cycle, I took a home pregnancy test and got a false positive the night before my beta. Ever since that time, I have not tested at home at all, so beta day is generally pretty nerve wracking as I wait for an answer.
This time, however, was different. I was so convinced that this cycle was negative that I wasn't scared to test at home. And like I said in my last post, both home pregnancy tests I used showed a negative result, so I knew exactly what to expect on beta day. I was relaxed and very at peace during my whole drive to the clinic. More than anything, I was just ready to get the formality of the blood draw over with so we could move on to the next cycle.
Overall, I love my clinic. I have very few complaints about the clinic or my doctor, but one thing I hate is the way they handle beta day. I generally have my blood drawn around 8:00am, but do not receive a call with my results until 3:00 to 4:00 that afternoon. That is a long time to wait! I think they could definitely handle this better and get the results to their patients in a much more timely manner.
After having my blood drawn, I headed home and went about my day as normal. I was feeling a little defeated and disappointed with how the cycle turned out, but I wasn't just devastated. Like I said before, I had spent a lot of time in prayer - praying for peace, grace, patience, and trust - and God had certainly granted me those things. There were several times in the middle of my day caring for my two kiddos that I completely forgot that I was waiting on a call from my clinic.
Around 3:00pm, my phone rang and it was Hannah (my fertility coordinator). I answered and expected her to just pop out with "I'm sorry, your beta was 0 this time", but that's not how it went down. She was being a little awkward - stuttering around like she was looking for the right words. I remember thinking, "I already know, please just tell me."
Well, I didn't already know, and that was the problem. She finally told me that my beta was 21. Ummm, what? What does that mean? My thoughts almost immediately began racing as I asked her what that meant. I knew that a beta of 21 on 14 days past IUI was not necessarily a good thing. I knew that it didn't necessarily mean that the cycle was successful. Hannah told me straight out that while there is a measure of HcG in my blood, she really encouraged me to not get my hopes up. She said that such a low number was concerning at best, and that they didn't even consider something lower than 40 (at this many days past IUI) a positive. She scheduled me to come in to the clinic to have my beta redrawn in 5 days.
So, what did that mean?
The short answer was that we didn't know. It could mean that I was experiencing a very early miscarriage. It could mean that I had the beginnings of an ectopic pregnancy. It could mean that my body was experiencing some sort of strange hormone surge and there was no pregnancy at all. It could mean that I was pregnant . . . barely.
For those of you that may not know: Both a beta blood test and a home pregnancy test measure the amount of the HcG hormone in your blood or urine, respectively. The amount of HcG in your blood should climb rapidly from around 4 weeks to 9 weeks of pregnancy. Most home pregnancy tests, including the ones I used, don't detect HcG at levels lower than 25 to 40. That is why I received two negative results . . . the HcG in my body wasn't even high enough to be detected on a home pregnancy test. At 14 days past IUI, we would have expected my HcG levels to be closer to 100. It varies with different people, but with both Brianna and Brenson, my HcG was around 100 at 14 days after IUI.
A woman who is not pregnant can have small amounts of HcG in her body. That was the reason we didn't really know if my level of 21 meant I was pregnant or not.
After getting off the phone, I honestly didn't know what to think. I just sat there for a minute letting it all sink in (luckily, the kiddos were down for nap). I was so sure that this cycle was negative, and receiving a "maybe not, maybe so" answer was overwhelming. And honestly, it made me mad. I just wanted a yes or a no . . . not a maybe. I suddenly felt so angry that I didn't get a straight answer. I felt angry that my body is broken. I felt angry that I had to wait another 5 days for an answer. I felt angry that we even have to go through all of this mess to have babies in the first place. This was very odd for me - anger is not generally my go-to emotion - so I surprised myself by feeling so angry. Then, I cried a little. I thought I was doing so well at accepting things with this cycle, but this unexpected turn of events really threw me off. It even took me a while to call Chris and tell him what was going on.
It didn't take long for me to calm down. I quickly realized that feeling angry wasn't going to change or accomplish anything. During the next 5 days, we did a lot of praying over the situation. I specifically prayed for whatever was happening - whether that be a pregnancy or a miscarriage or whatever - that it would happen naturally. I also prayed that I could be calm and at peace during the waiting period. And I prayed that someday we would be blessed with another baby . . . whether that meant at this time or in the future. I thought a lot about different scriptures that deal with worry, and every time I felt myself become anxious, I meditated on those scriptures.
The 5 days passed quickly, and I found myself back at my clinic getting my blood drawn again. This time my beta was 197. We immediately rejoiced that it had gone up, but it wasn't really climbing at a great rate. That number was still concerning for 19 days past IUI, and could still indicate a problem. However, a beta that high was definitely a positive. We didn't know if it was a viable pregnancy, but we rejoiced that I was pregnant for that moment. Small victories.
We waited another 4 days, and I went back to my clinic to have yet another beta drawn. It had now climbed to 1089. Hannah was still telling me to not get my hopes up because the numbers didn't look great. However, my beta was climbing at an okay rate, and I was encouraged by that. I asked Hannah if just maybe we had a late implantation and that was skewing the numbers. Being off by just 2 days could make a huge difference at this point. Her exact reply was, "Well, it's not impossible." I was starting to think more and more that we were dealing with a late implanter, but I still had ZERO pregnancy symptoms. I didn't know what to think of that. The possibility that I had no symptoms because no baby was developing went through my head often. I was trying to be hopeful and real at the same time.
Chris and I had also made the decision to not tell anyone what was going on. I really wanted to share this with my family, but I felt like I needed to know what to share with them first. I didn't want to get their hopes up if this wasn't a viable pregnancy. Of course, had this ended up being a miscarriage I would have shared that with them, but I needed to know for sure before I did. I still wonder if that was the right thing to do or not, but at the time it's what we felt was best.
Hannah went ahead and scheduled me to come in for an ultrasound on November 21st (12 days from the last beta . . . more waiting!), but she did tell me that there was a distinct possibility that we would not hear a heartbeat.
We just continued to pray and tried to wait patiently.
To be continued . . .