Monday, May 29 was a Memorial Day. C and I returned to NYC that evening. The week ahead was sure to be rough – we were putting our cat to sleep that week and I was going to get the final word from the doctor that my HGC level had indeed, like the month previous, fallen.
I had one more HPT test left in my medicine cabinet in the apartment. When I told C that I might as well use it up – he said, “why do you keep torturing yourself”. He was right but an HPT in my hands is like a pipe full of crack to a crack addict. I peed on it. Quickly the line second line indicating pregnancy became very, very dark. What in the hell as going on here!? Neither C nor I could believe our eyes. Could it be? Once again our hopes were raised. I was kicking myself – what about all that wine and the sleeping pill!
My hopes were quickly dashed the following morning when my period began. I went to the RE’s office around 8am, gave blood and waited for their phone call. It finally came at 1pm – my husband was also on the line. I had stopped taking phone calls from the doctor at work. C and I decided that he should learn the news first and then inform me. I heard the voice of the nurse..and stopped her in her tracks. “I’ve started my period, so I know what you are going to say” I informed her. “Well, that isn’t your period – your levels went up to 51”. I couldn’t believe it.
I quickly learned that a level of 51 at 15dpo was certainly within range for normal betas but it became clear that this was on the low side of normal. Only 60% (or something like that) of pregnancies with a beta such as mine went on to become normal pregnancies. Certainly this would be a singleton pregnancy – twins would probably be a much higher level…but every two days they checked my levels and every 48 hours my beta doubled. I was given three IVIG transfusions -there was a theory that my immune system was causing early miscarriages and this would help calm it down. I was also placed on blood thinners for the remainder of my pregnancy. One shot of lovenox and one shot of progesterone until week 12.
When my beta level reached 5000 they stopped testing me every other day and I went in for a sonogram to check for a heartbeat. I remember I was due to attend an offsite work presentation and had to arrive late. When I walked in they were already in progress….everyone turned, looked and me and cheered when I told them there was one strong heartbeat place in the right spot in my uterus. When I told C the news he said, “but what happened to the other ones??”. That made me laugh – for the first time “be thankful for what you have” became something I could not only understand but live by!
During one of my many visits to the RE for a sonogram and bloodwork I passed a short woman wearing huge black sunglasses. Instantly I knew who she was…and so do you. I can’t ethically post her identity here but let’s just say she is a huge star married to a very famous actor. A few days later while giving more blood I saw her husband (my childhood crush) enter the “wank room” as my husband calls it. A number of weeks later I saw them both pass me while giving blood – clearly they had come for a conversation after a failed cycle. She was around 40/41 (approximately) at the time and to my knowledge has never been pregnant again. At that moment it occurred to me that infertility can happen to anyone to everyone – money certainly helps buy more cycles but can’t make your ovaries work or make that embryo a healthy one or solve implantation failure.
I certainly digressed…the weeks went on and on – and nervously we waited for magical #12. We had chosen the most conservative doctor in Manhattan (by ALL accounts) and she did a wonderful job of worrying about me and testing me – so much that I felt that I could finally relax. We had our nuchal scan (where they measure the back of the neck to check for aneuploidy) at week 11 and all looked fine. The blood work came back normal…but my doctor was urging me to have an amnio at 18 weeks. She told us horror story after horror story about women who had great first and second trimester results delivering downs and trisomy babies. But I couldn’t do it. I’d come so far and was just not willing to take the 1 in 300 risk of miscarriage that might be the result of an amnio. When I spoke to the radiologist he told me that results like mine had never – in his 20 plus years of experience – resulted in anything other than a normal child, my decision was made. My doctor wasn’t pleased but I didn’t care. I couldn’t take the risk.
In my 20th week they discovered that I had placenta previa – being on blood thinners and having your placenta cover your cervix was not a good combination. I was put on modified bed rest and allowed to get up four hours a week (which I used stupidly used to go to work!). On December 7, when I was 31 weeks pregnant, C lost his job – on December 8 my doctor, during a routine examination, found that I had dilated to 1 centimeter, my cervix had shortened considerably and I was contracting fairly regularly. I was put in the hospital for four days on a magnesium sulfate drip. That was the most miserable drug I’ve ever been given – it made you feel like you had a horrible case of the flu and every muscle in my body was weak and ached. I was only allowed to get up once a day to use the toilet. They gave me steroid shots to help develop the baby’s lungs should it arrive early. On day 4 I had stabilized, was no longer contracting and allowed to go home. I stayed on the couch and in bed for a month and half. I ventured out for a small walk at 35 weeks and had a massive contraction which sent me hobbling back to the apartment in pain with a very angry husband…and an even angrier OB on the telephone. When she asked me why I went for a walk I told her the truth – I was bored. “well the NICU is very exciting” she told me, referring to the Neonatal intensive care unit…my doula called and told me that I should have a small glass of whiskey to stop the contractions. She urged me not to tell my doctor…and I didn’t.
At 38 weeks I was induced because of my blood clotting problem. But first, to prove my child had well developed lungs, they made me do an amnio – which I did without hesitation. I was feeling miserable and wanted desperately not to be pregnant anymore….