It has taken me a while to get to the point I felt I was ready to make this post. Somehow putting it off and not putting what happened to words and publishing it out into the universe made it seem less final. But it is time to let go, and let this become a chapter in my yet unfinished story.
To pick up where I left off in my last post, my pregnancy test mania only continued to grow. My lines kept getting darker, to the point the test line was so dark it was pulling ink from the control line on my FRER tests. I felt confident going into my first beta.
My first IVF cycle, my initial beta came back at 91. Anything over 5 is considered pregnant, but they like to see it over 50. I was hoping for over something over 100 this time around. When I got the call that my first beta was 279, I was ecstatic. That high of a number for just transferring one embryo was fantastic. I was walking on air the rest of the day. In the back of my mind, there was the tiny looming shadow of doubt, since I was now facing beta #2, and historically that has not gone well for me. My first cycle, my second beta was where we knew I was miscarrying.
The day of my second beta, I was an absolute nervous wreck. It was a Monday, which is always a slow day for test results at the clinic. I couldn’t handle sitting at my desk at work and waiting. Why was it taking so long? They almost always call before 11. Then it was 11:30. Then it was 12. I left for lunch extremely worried; something was wrong. It had to be. They were trying to find the words to tell me they were so sorry. To determine what next steps would be. I had prepared myself fully for the worst when the phone rang at 1pm.
Beta #2 had come in at 1000.
That was an incredible and very healthy doubling time. My thyroid numbers were a little high so they were keeping an eye on that and might put me on meds to regulate if my third blood draw showed them getting too high. But other than that I was doing well, and to come back in a week for another blood draw. After that we would schedule my ultrasound for the following appointment.
“This is really happening” I thought. After all the heartbreak. All the pain. That little frozen embaby, my only embryo to ever make the freeze and the lowest quality of the three from my 2nd fresh round, was my little fighter and the one I was meant to have. My journey was taking a happy turn and I could finally relax a little bit.
The next couple days I went on with life as usual. I still was not planning to tell anyone outside of the immediate family that had been texting asking for updates, until we had cleared the ultrasound, seen the heartbeat, and were out of the woods. One friend that had been keeping up with my story and building me up each time I fell throughout this process told me she was pregnant, too, when I told her my news. How amazing to have a good friend to go through the process with!
Wednesday, everything changed.
I got off work and went to grab a few things at the grocery store. I hurried home and dropped off my groceries on the kitchen counter and went back to change out of my work clothes and use the restroom before I unpacked and started making dinner. When I went to wipe, the room started to spin and my whole body broke out into a cold sweat.
“It can’t be, not again. Not again…” I kept repeating to myself, as I felt all the hope drain down and out of my body. I tried to hold on to the fact that my numbers have been so amazing, this could be anything. Lots of women bleed, and everything ends up fine.
I took the next day off of work so I could stay off my feet, The bleeding had been getting slightly heavier, and more red than pink now. Cramps had started, too. Devastated, and not feeling I had the strength to wait until the next week to know for sure, I asked if I could come in early for my 3rd blood test. The nurse agreed, and I drug myself into the clinic wearing my sweats and no makeup to get the test over with and move on.
When my phone rang a couple hours later, I was prepared to make a plan with the nurse for what to do next. I was not prepared, however, to hear that my beta had quadrupled.
“Your HCG came in at 4000, today, my dear” she said. “So far, so good. Just take it easy and we will go ahead and get your ultrasound on the calendar, assuming everything will be fine.” So, I scheduled my first ever BABY ultrasound. Not an ultrasound to monitor suspicious fiberous breast lumps, or huge endometrioma cysts on my ovaries, an ultrasound like in the movies to see my precious baby. Maybe this was a test of my faith and God was showing his greatness. Whatever it was, I was thrilled. So I crawled back into bed and laid my hands over my tummy, and my little one.
The following day, the bleeding and cramping got worse. I felt like I had already cried wolf enough this cycle, and my betas kept coming back great despite the bleeding, so I just kept to my resting. The pain started to get extremely bad in the evening on Friday, where it was almost coming in waves. It had me doubled over laying on the floor of my closet in the bathroom, and I was starting to pass big clots of blood. Having been through two miscarriages before, passing tissue and clots was nothing new to me. At one point when the pain was at its worst, I sat down on the toilet and actually cried out a little bit in surprise when I passed what felt like something rather large, I turned to look at what had come out, and on the edge of a very large, dark clot was a small, clear-ish gelatinous looking ball. A little larger than a quarter.
My pain started to subside immediately, and I felt like I was floating through a dream. Nothing like this had ever happened before and I felt like I needed to investigate it, so I pulled on a glove and fished the little sac out of the toilet, and held it in my hand. In my heart of hearts, I knew what it was. I knew I had just labored and delivered my gestational sac, and my baby was in there. But I refused to admit it. In a daze, I set it on a piece of notebook paper to reinvestigate in the morning. But by the next day it had mostly evaporated and just a bit of residue with a few fragments of tissue remained.
I googled and googled trying to find a result for “miscarriage, gestational sac, 6 weeks” that did not look exactly like what I had passed the night before, but with each search result I became more and more sure that my baby was gone.
I called and explained what happened to the nurse on Monday, and they let me come in the next day for bloodwork to make sure everything was ok. I knew it wasn’t but there was a thread of hope that maybe I was mistaken. By the time I got the call over lunch on Tuesday, I was prepared to take it. My beta had gone all the way down to less than 50. Luckily I was with my husband when I got the call, and while it made me teary, I had had a few days to process everything and didn’t have a total breakdown out in public.
My doctor had an opening come up to get me in that same day to talk about the cycle and what happened, so I left work early to go to that appointment. Everyone in the clinic was so, so sad for me. They all had been talking about how this was my time and how great my numbers were and how good everything looked. I got many condolences and hugs from my team there. The doctor told me at this point, we could try in the next cycle replacing sperm or egg, to see if we can increase our odds and get a better result, since we are working with potentially less than ideal gametes on both sides, since my husband’s sperm was retrieved from a MESA procedure and immature, and my endometriosis could be affecting egg quality. Or we can keep trying the way we are, and eventually we will most likely end up with a good egg matched with a normal sperm, and get our baby. But there is no telling how long that will take. We aren’t ready just yet to give up on a baby that is genetically ours together, so our next cycle we will try again the same way and hope for the best.
We decided to take a cycle off, this fall, and take a little time for us. My body has been put through the ringer this year, and emotionally I am having a harder time bouncing back from this miscarriage. The others were painful, and I felt a deep sense of loss and sadness, but I never saw a “product of conception” in the way I saw the gestational sac this time. It made it feel ten times more real, and ten times more sad. I ended up burying the paper that had the tissue residue on it in a houseplant..I didn’t feel right throwing it away, and I didn’t know what else to do with it. I felt it was a girl, and I named her Faith.
We will try again at the end of January next year. I am hoping that everything stays quiet in my ovaries with my endometriosis between now and then.
After the third miscarriage this year, I feel like I have lost more than my baby this time. I have lost the certainty that this will work for me and I will be a mother. It is an emptiness that is proving hard to fill. Please keep us in your prayers, the next few months, that January is a new year and a new start for the hope of growing our family.