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'Tis the Season ... To Be Depressed
This is Part III of my Baby Chase series where I talk about all the fun times T and I had trying to have a baby. And by "fun" I mean not so fun. You can read Part I and Part II to catch up.

When we left off, I had decided that I wanted to have a baby. T said he wanted to think about it for a few months. Well, those of you who know me IRL know that once I make up my mind, things are happening now. Not in 3 or 4 months. So I basically steam rolled over my husband who was simply trying to be the voice of reason, knowing my impetuous ways.

I saw my OB for a pre-conception consultation and he told me we could start trying as soon as I finished my cycle of birth control pills. Dr. G said there was no increased risk of miscarriage the month after stopping the pill, which was my first question considering my history. Dr. G did add a caveat. He said if, "you're the type who will blame yourself if something goes wrong," then you should wait a few months before trying.

Nice foreshadowing, Dr. G.

I got knocked up the very first month we tried. I dutifully waited until day 28 of my cycle and took a test. That's when I was introduced to the gray areas of home pregnancy test results.

Me: "T, is that a line or am I imagining things?"
T: "I don't see anything. Did you follow the directions?"
Me (smacking T in the head with the box): "Look, here in the bright light. Do you see it?"
T: "Ummmm... I think so."

After a few days of some positive and some negative tests (I think I went through at least 4 or 5 tests a day, an early sign of my developing home pregnancy test addiction), I went to my OB/Gyn. Well, Dr. G was going through a break up with his partners. The office was in chaos. I had to wait 75 minutes for a pregnancy test. Which, because they did a urine test, was negative. I asked for a blood test. The staff said "wait a week and test again." Um, I. don't. think. so.

I got a new doctor. They got me in the next day. By this time, by my calculations, I was 21 DPO (days past ovulation). A home pregnancy test should be positive by 14 DPO and a blood test will pick up HCG earlier than that.

The test was positive. My HCG was 63. For the uninitiated, the average HCG at 21 DPO is 1061, with a typical range of 324-4130. They had me in 2 days later for another beta and a progesterone level check. My second beta doubled nicely, so I thought I was safe. I didn't know it at the time, but my progesterone level for that pregnancy never got above 7. Again for those of you who luckily have no idea what I'm talking about, a good progesterone level in the course of your normal menstrual cycle is between 2 and 28. It gets much higher during pregnancy. My doctor later told me he generally likes to see at least a 20 with the first beta. Mine was a 7.

I had my first ultrasound, by my calculations, at about 26 DPO (5 weeks, 5 days). A transvaginal ultrasound conducted with the all-seeing-dildo-wand, put me at 4 weeks, 2 days. They told me I must have had my dates wrong. There was a gestational sac, but they wanted me back in a week for another ultrasound. I did not get a grainy, black and white ultrasound picture to take home, although I desperately wanted one, like all the happy women I saw leaving the office.

Dr. M gave me many warnings about calling if I had bleeding, abdominal pain, or pain (oddly) in my shoulder. A few minutes on Google later that day told me he was worried about a possible ectopic pregnancy if my dates were right.

I spent the next week on Google. I basically couldn't do much else except type in various search terms such as "small sac, gestational age" and "low hcg 21 dpo."

At my next appointment (almost 7 week by my dates, 5 weeks, 2 days by theirs), we again saw a gestational sac, and possibly fetal poles, but it measured 4 weeks, 6 days. Not a good sign, but Dr. M told me we would wait until I should be 8 1/2 weeks, do another ultrasound, and then we would know whether or not the pregnancy was viable if we saw a fetus and a heartbeat.

Any guesses on what we saw?

No heartbeat.

I finally had a D&C at 10 weeks (after several more mentally excruciating ultrasounds) when my body showed no sign of fixing the situation on its own. I had no bleeding at all, but lots of morning sickness. Morning sickness is usually a good sign of a health pregnancy. Ah, the irony.

I scheduled my D&C for July 3rd, rationalizing that I could take the 4th of July off from work (a Friday) without guilt and then be back in the office by the weekend.

After all, I didn't want to inconvenience anyone.

To be continued....

Welcome to Day 9 of Wil Wheaton watch. Feel free to stop over at his blog and remind him that I'm still here. Waiting. Patiently.

I just heard some horrible news that adds some perspective to my post above. A little girl in my son's pre-school class is in Boston right now having exploratory brain surgery for a tumor in the center of her brain. Apparently our local children's hospital can't do anything for her.

She's 3 years old.

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Blogger Sunshine said...

Oh honey, I'm so sorry.
My first was a miscarriage. It's so sad and hurts so much when you want that little person so much.
I'm thinking of you.

Blogger Mad Hatter said...

This is almost too painful to read in light of what bon's going through right now. It feels as if hearts are breaking all over this virtual space right now.

Blogger Suz said...

I'm so sorry. We had our twins as a result of our 2nd IVF, so I know some of the pain.

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Steph. I can't find any words. Your story, your details...it brings back so much. We lost so many dreams and hopes, and I suspect, a healthy bit of optimism too. People always tell me to focus on what we have, the girls, and I do, but I don't forget our journey. That would seem like a betrayal. And unwise. There had to be a reason for it. Right?

And progesterone. You reminded me of months and months of progesterone supplementation.

I don't care; it saved my two girls' pregnancies.

And cured Jon's needle phobia.

To you (HUGS)

and we'll get Wil.

Using My Words

Anonymous Emily R said...

I'm so sorry. Been down a very similar road.

Given your history, why aren't you on progesterone immediately after conception? And your doctor should be monitoring you from the start. But, you know that!

I'll be hoping for you.

Blogger DD said...

I certainly wish I had no idea what any of the acronyms meant, or what a "beta" was or what role progesterone plays in a pregnancy. For anyone who has gone through difficulty in either getting pregnant or staying pregnant, our M.D. license is honorary.

Blogger slouching mom said...

Sigh. Mad's right. There are so many sad stories out there of late.

Hugs to you.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Emily - I've discovered that, unfortunately, most women aren't really given treatment options after 1 (or even 2) miscarriages. And doctors aren't even all in agreement about whether progesterone after conception even helps. But, you can bet your ass that I was on progesterone with Hollis. I'm convinced that's why he's here.

DD - I know. Often I feel I am an honorary RE. (Reproductive endocrinologist for those who don't know.)

Blogger Alpha DogMa said...

I am the type to blame myself if something goes wrong. And the fear of something going wrong kept me in cringe-mode for both my pregnancies. And for most of my sons' lives. That is so horrible about H's classmate.

The Wil will be here soon. I can just TELL.

Blogger Christine said...

i was addicted to home pregnancy tests, too. and i know WAY too much about HCG levels. I'm sorry about this sad loss.

i have missed so many of your posts! sorry. . . .but i am SO behind your quest to get will to comment! and the cake looked heavenly.

Running on empty

Anonymous Angela said...

I'm so sorry this loss. I do not have this experience, but so many women do, and I can't help but think that there are proactive things that our medical field could be doing to make this less common. I can't imagine the pain....

Anonymous Jenny said...

Oh I wish I didn't relate to this story.

But I do, several times over. And I wish I could just hug you.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a 3 year old that I need to hug for awhile.

Blogger Mary said...

All of us who ever wanted children -- whether we got them or not-- should read a really great book called Crossing the Moon. The author chronicles her battle, and I mean battle, to have a baby. If memory serves, she started at 37 and tried for four or five years. In the end, she and her partner never were able to conceive. The book is a raw account of that desire and how she came to terms with one of life's tremendous "No's."

As someone lucky enough to have gotten pregnant three times -- nearly on the exact day desired-- I know that I can't imagine the exact contours of this pain. But wow: this book. And I swear I am NOT the writer or even a friend. Just came to mind.

Anyway, the yearning is informative because it makes me remember how much I wanted my three, how grateful I was to be pregnant. It's a good thing to return to during the sometimes rockier days post-gestation, full of temper tantrums and middle school angst!

I am so sorry you had to go through all of this! I have had two very close friends who went through ectopic pregnancies and one lost her one working tube because of it.

I can not relate to it...other than the pain I watched as my friend told me, "Well.....today I get to go to the doctors office and they will give me a shot to kill my baby!" Obviously, it was not a viable pregnancy and was growing like a tumor...but to her...that was not the case!

Kinda makes me want to go hug my kids!

Blogger flutter said...

I am already chewing my nails....

Blogger Brillig said...

My first was a miscarriage too (and I've had a few since, but never quite this heart-wrenching) and I remember being SO SO SO SICK! And how everyone told me that "morning sickness" was a good sign. Yeah... Um... not always.

I too am a home-pregnancy-test-addict. :-D I remember going to Costco once, many years ago, and seeing a huge box of pregnancy tests and thinking, "who would need 25 pregnancy tests?!" hahahaha. I've since bought those boxes... :-D

Blogger newduck said...

This has to be every woman's worst nightmare. Or maybe just those of us who have gone through it. I'm reading your blog for the first time and wishing I'd found it sooner. I'm only 2/3 of a lawyer (currently a 3L) and 2/3 of a mom (still have 3 months to go), but completely inspired by your posts. I'm also a brand new blogger and wishing I knew about this a year ago. So thanks!

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