The Last Three Days – The Healing Begins

Monday December 7, 2015

Beta day.  I didn’t sleep well the night before.  It was the first night I had a hard time falling asleep during the two-week wait.  I got up at 6:15 and was out the door by 7:05.  I wasn’t particularly nervous, strangely.  I prayed for strength, peace, and calmness on the way.  At the lab, the wait wasn’t long.  I was in and out within 15 minutes.  The phlebotomist told me that the results would come back within two hours, and most likely wouldn’t show up online because this particular test is usually labeled “confidential”.  So it sounded like most likely I would have to call to find out.  How was I feeling?  I was half hopeful and half expecting the worst.

After I saw my 9am client (who I saw about ten minutes early so I was done ten minutes early), I checked online and didn’t see any results.  Just then and there, at 9:44, exactly two hours after my blood draw, I received a new message from my OB/GYN.  I opened it and saw this:

Your BHCG just came back and is 10. This is not negative but is very low (could be negative on a home test).  I would talk with your IVF doctor about this value. You will need to get another one drawn in 2 days to see if it has gone up or down.”

My mind drew a blank.  I didn’t expect to see a low number.  I expected either a decent number or a zero.  Somehow, I didn’t prepare myself for a low beta.  I remember telling Bob the other day that I’d rather it be zero than a chemical pregnancy.  He asked me why because to him, it makes no difference.  I don’t know why.  I know that people say that it’s a good thing to know that I can get pregnant, but the possibility of the embryo trying and not being able to sustain life inside me is a big heart break for me.  I suspect that beta was probably a bit higher a few days ago, and started to drop on 12dp5dt already.

I am very thankful for my OB/GYN, someone that I have never met in person.  My previous OB, with whom I also had never met, left the practice so I got assigned to this new OB.  She has been more than helpful and caring.  She ordered my beta for me STAT, returns my emails promptly, and answers any questions that I may have.  She told me already that this week she would be out of the office and told me to call the advice nurse.  I didn’t expect her to write me an email personally so quickly.

When I read the message, I was sitting in my dark office as a parent was observing my colleague’s therapy session from an observation window next to my desk.  I searched for my cell phone, walked next door to my empty therapy room, and gave Bob a call.  He had an intuition that I would call him before 10am so he waited for my phone call.  I told him what happened.  Bless his heart.  My husband was calm and said that, Okay we’ll talk tonight and we will regroup.  We hung up.

I went back to my office initially feeling okay.  I think the shock hadn’t reached my brain and my heart yet.  I sat there and started updating people.  I emailed my nurse and asked if I could stop all the meds as well as when I could see my RE to discuss what happened this cycle.  I have so many questions for him.  Unfortunately, I was instructed to continue all the meds and get a second beta on Wednesday.  My nurse offered me an appointment to see my RE on Wednesday at 9:30.  I had a client scheduled for that time and I also had my presentation for pregnant ladies scheduled for noon.  It was just impossible to take that appointment without moving things around.  So I declined.

After that, I stared at my computer screen for another hour not being able to think.  Sitting alone in my office trying to prepare for my clients for the afternoon, I was on the verge of tears.  I just didn’t know how I could sustain myself through the afternoon.  All I wanted to do was to see my husband and hug him.  So I made a decision to take care of myself.  I asked my front desk staff to cancel all the kids in the afternoon, packed my bags, and left work.

I started tearing up in the elevator.  By the time I got to the garage, tears came down.  I cried and cried when I pulled out of the driveway at work.  When I got home, I sat in the car in my driveway howling aloud.  I needed to cry.  And I did.  I just didn’t think that I could hold it in until night time.

Seeing Bob’s face was the best thing that happened to me on Monday.  I love my husband.  Despite being sad and angry himself, he always has a way of cheering me up during crisis.  Every time tragedy strikes, I realize once again that I married the best life partner one could ask for.  For that I am grateful.   We enjoyed a nice, quiet lunch together.  I was glad that the results came back so early that I could leave and get together with him.  He told me that he was dazed and heartbroken after he got my phone call, but still had to get himself together to drive down to work.  I really felt for him.  His dream of holding his own baby is once again delayed.  I would be angry too.  But he put himself and his feelings aside and took care of my feelings first.  I am very grateful for him.

The rest of the day, I was by myself and was having all sorts of emotions: disbelief, anger, disappointment, devastation, loneliness.  I knew that the best place to be would be in prayers and to be in God’s comfort.  However, I just couldn’t.  On this one day, I could not come to God.  I could not acknowledge Him.  I could not talk to Him.  I could not pray.  I was angry.  Why is our journey so hard?  I have no answers.  Nobody will have an answer for us.  But I still ask.

Bob told me to start thinking about what to do if Lucy doesn’t work out, that we should start looking into another donor.  He and I believe that we’ll be parents some day.  Just not today.  That night, I wrote the new donor coordinator at the clinic (as the former person with whom I dealt left the job already).  I got the answer that 1) our donor still has a batch of frozen eggs available and 2) I could be put back on the waitlist for a donor in which we were interested for a fresh cycle.

I have so many questions for Dr. No Nonsense, my RE.  Why did our cycle turn out like this, with one day 5 early blastocyst and only one day 6 blastocyst left?  Why didn’t the embryos develop well on day three?  Was it because of the sperm?  The eggs being frozen?  Did my donor have this kind of fertilization report and blastocyst rate during her previous fresh and frozen cycles?  Or our pure bad luck?  Are there any other tests necessary to check Bob’s sperm?  Is it my uterus?  Can we do anything differently next time to better prepare my lining?  Is it a good idea to purchase the my donor’s second batch of eggs so that if Lucy works out, we can have some frozen embryos for a chance of full biological siblings?

So many questions.  But no appointment.  At night, I tried to make arrangement to reschedule my Wednesday morning client in case the 9:30am was still open.  My client’s mom was willing to switch, but the time slot with Dr. NN was already gone.   I still don’t have an appointment set up.

Then I got an email, which came at the worst timing ever.  My coworker who organized my boss’ surprise baby shower for Tuesday, December 8th, the day that I planned on taking off, updated in an email saying that since my boss was sick on Monday and would possibly still be sick on Tuesday, the baby shower had been postponed to the following Tuesday, December 15th.

I almost cursed aloud.  That means that I still have to find another excuse not to be around for the baby shower next week.

It is simply not my day, my week, my month, or my year.

I was supposed to go lead my bible study group at night.  I just simply couldn’t.  So I called out sick as well.  Instead of going, I made dinner.  Cooking is such a saving grace when life is simply too much to bear.  Standing there chopping and stirring was the most meaningful thing of the day.

Watching TV with Bob, I cried a few more times.  Knowing that this was a chemical pregnancy, the injection of progesterone was the most meaningless thing ever.  But Bob had the best attitude.  He said, let’s do it and give this embryo a chance.  And we did.

With my eyes closed, I was able to pray for the first time on that day.  Luckily, I fell asleep easily.

 

Tuesday December 8, 2015

However, I did wake up at 2:45am thinking about this pregnancy and failed cycle and couldn’t fall back asleep.  I thank God for my friends who are online into the wee hours (because they are on the East Coast and are up already).  Maddie was there to keep me company.  Then I tried to go back to sleep at 3am.

Taking a day off the day after beta one was the best decision ever, even before I knew I needed it.

After dropping Bob off at the train station at around 7:45, I went back home and lay in bed again.  This overwhelming sadness came upon me.  I wailed and wailed.  I knew I was safe to do that as nobody was around.  It was so heartwrenching to learn that a life was dying inside of me.  And I don’t have a reason for it.  There is no way to know if the embryo was euploid or not.  It was no way to know if it was because of my uterine environment.  There was nothing I could do.  This felt so helpless.  My baby’s life is my baby’s life, and its death signifies something important.  That this is the second time that I couldn’t keep a life alive.  How devastating is this?

I was really in no shape or form to go to work.  The abundance of vacation days is God’s gift for me to take care of myself.

After a bowl of my favorite ramen, I situated myself at my favorite coffee shop.  I ordered my first cup of latte in a long time.  Then I opened up my bible study lesson and prayed.  I was so glad that my bitterness and anger slowly subsided.  I could once again have a dialogue with God.  I thanked Him for being patient with me when I couldn’t pray and couldn’t talk to Him.  I asked for healing and also ability to focus on the passage.  Spending four hours there at the coffee shop helped calm me down and move me back to feeling grounded again.

Throughout the day, I felt so loved as many friends checked on me.  You know who you are.  Thank you ladies for being there for me.

While I was still at the coffee shop, Bob messaged me and asked if I wanted to take a trip during our Christmas break.  We originally weren’t going to plan a trip anywhere because we were anticipating our first ultrasound to be the week of Christmas.  Now that we don’t have such an ultrasound planned, Bob would like me to have something to look forward to.  I looked into a few options.  At first to a place about two hours away.  Bob wanted to go even farther away.  A town next to the ocean on the central coast caught my eyes again.  A friend recommended it, so I called the hotel she stayed at and asked for the rate and availability.  We are all booked and will go away for a few days to spend time with each other next to the ocean.

My behind endured what I anticipated to be the last jab of the progesterone needle for this cycle.  Bob did it with such precision that he would be ready for ten weeks of this come the next cycle.  I was defiant and didn’t change my estrogen patches.  I just hoped and prayed that my number started to go down so we could have closure and move onto the next cycle.

 

Wednesday December 9, 2015

Second beta day.  I woke up finding everything meaningless.  The beta draw was.  The work day was.  The only thing that I looked forward to was to come home and make dinner.  I needed something mindless and productive.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t escape my work duties.

My only prayer for the day was for God to give me strength as I was weak, and to sustain me throughout the day.  He answered my prayer beautifully.

There were significantly more people waiting for their blood draws.  I waited for at least 20 minutes.  I had no questions for the phlebotomist.  When I saw a pregnant woman at the hospital, I just couldn’t stand it.  I felt like I was just going through the motion today.  Arriving at work, I wanted to isolate myself.  I had a really hard time being friendly with my coworkers.  I just wanted them to leave me alone.

After my first client, I started to feel a little better.  The on-call OB/GYN who covered for my own doctor didn’t email me my second beta like what my own doctor did.  I called the number provided for me.  I was expecting an advice nurse but instead I got a health plan representative.  Without much feeling, I asked him to check my lab result.  I doubt he knew what bHCG stood for.  He read me the value.  I thanked him and hung up.

My second beta came back at 6.

I was glad that it went down.  I was afraid of beta hell.  I know that the progesterone might have prolonged the life of the embryo.  My nurse told me that I could stop all the meds, but would like me to get a third beta done until the value goes down to zero.  I do find that an overkill.  She wanted me to get the beta on Friday, but I asked for Monday so the chances of it going down to zero would be higher.  This is the on-call OB’s response to my request:

Usually at a level of 6, we would consider that basically equivalent to negative or zero, but I can understand how others might want to make sure the level goes down further. I have placed another order for a bHCG lab to be done, and I think Monday 12/14 is fine.”

This is the plan.  We stop meds today.  I hope for my period to come soon.  The second day of my cycle, I will start birth control pills again.  Once we have that started, my nurse can work out a calendar for us to have a frozen embryo transfer some time in January or February.

I like it that we have a plan.  However, my nurse is still trying to find a time for me to meet with Dr. NN.  *Sigh*

After getting the second beta result, guess what fun activity I had planned for myself?

My monthly presentation to pregnant women at noon.

My heart was just not there.  As I prepared for it, the words on the page were jumping up and down.  I just didn’t know how I could do it today.  But there was no calling out sick.  No escaping.  That was why my prayer was for God to sustain me.  And He answered my prayer.

There were twelve pregnant women there.  I would say that my presentation today was one of my best ones.  I was clear, precise, funny, and got all of the ladies’ attention.  They answered my questions and participated in the discussion.  It was a success.  It is just amazing how the human mind could block out all of my personal tragedies and focus on what needs to be done in the moment professionally.

After that was accomplished, my day went well.  I was once again being able to focus on the kids in the afternoon.  I felt more normal.

God was really sustaining me.

And then I saw my dear friend Elisha’s post on Fac.ebook:

Sometimes I get tired. Tired of waiting. Tired of praying. Tired of being hopeful. Tired of walking by faith. Tired of being positive and joyful. And sometimes, tired of reminding myself that His plans are better than mine. But it’s in those moments when I’m tired and I just want to give up, I remember this verse…“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” ~Galatians 6:9 And friend, it’s that last part that gives me the push…the drive… the strength…and the hope to keep on keeping on. I pray tonight that it does the same for you.”

Such a wise lady.  It was exactly how I felt. Tired of all these things.  But I too hope that this bible verse also gives me the push, the drive, the strength, and the hope to keep on keeping on.  This message just came right at the exact moment I needed it.

So we move on to the next step.  We close this chapter and let our healing begin.  I have hope for the future again.

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18 thoughts on “The Last Three Days – The Healing Begins

  1. Thinking of you and still praying for you. I’m so sorry this cycle didn’t turn out like we all had hoped. I’m proud of you for taking time you needed and canceling obligations. You also have such am amazing husband and I’m thankful you have him in your life. Sending lots of love and support.

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  2. I’ve already said everything privately, but I wanted to drop by and reiterate how impressively you manage the disappointment through faith and self-care and the assertion of your needs. Love to you ❤

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  3. Still praying for you too. I went through low betas with my first two IVF cycles. It’s pure torture. It’s how we found out I have two genes that can cause a host of problems in a pregnancy if not treated, so in a weird way I’m a little grateful for my low beta torture.

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  4. I, too, am relieved that it went down. Beta hell is exhausting. At least now you know for sure. I’m so sorry. My heart just breaks for you. I’m so glad you’re going to be getting away. Let that be a time of healing and renewed hope for the next steps. Hugs!

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  5. I’m so sorry this cycle doesn’t have a happier ending but I’m glad that you recognized the need and took the time to care for yourself and feel the hurt you needed to. I know this journey is long and difficult. I hope 2016 is your year.

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  6. I’m so sorry you had to give that presentation then. What a punch in the gut. But you, of course, rocked. I admire you so much. Been in similar situations and yes it is so crazy how we are able to power on when we have to. I can’t wait to hear about your trip!

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  7. Isabelle, I am very sorry. Life has been so cruel and you so fiercely tender and graciously resilient. I am so glad you’ve taken time for yourself this very difficult week and will be going away with your wonderful husband.

    Forgive me for not remembering. Have you had the dna fragmentation test done on Bob’s sperm? I am hopeful Dr. NN will offer some more aggressive prophylactic immunosuppressive options for your Lucy cycle.

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