MicroblogMondays: Ups and Downs of an Early Pregnancy

Remember my friend of whom I was jealous because she got pregnant with her own eggs?  Well, she has been going on an emotional roller coaster ride.

Her second beta doubled nicely.  Her 5-week ultrasound showed a beautiful early pregnancy in her uterus with a gestational sac and a yolk sac.  So this is the kicker.  A famous doctor who treats her autoimmune issues ordered beta for her every other day until the heartbeat ultrasound.  Any normal people would just wait for the 6-week ultrasound after the two early doubling beta and the great 5-week ultrasound.  (And most times they just go straight to the 6-week one and skip the 5-week one.)  But no.  My friend’s autoimmune doctor wanted one every other day.  The beta on the day of her 5-week ultrasound (on a Friday) was around 4200.  Beta three days later (on a Monday) was only around 5000.  The doubling time was 300 hours.  It should be 72 to 96 hours at that level.  My friend panicked.  I mean, I would too.  But did it really mean anything at that point?  Her doctor ordered another beta the next day which turned out to be around 5800.  Doctor was happy with the results but my friend was still panicking.  Her doctor told her to repeat her beta again the next day, two days before the 6 week 2 day ultrasound.  I was adamantly against it.  What is the point of going again and again?  At this point, the best indicator would have been the scan, and not some elusive beta level that doesn’t tell you much.  Why go to the lab and spend 30 to 45 minutes and then torture herself waiting for the results?  It just didn’t make sense to me.

My friend absolutely drove me nuts though.  She and her partner decided together that the beta on Wednesday would not help her situation.  But that whole day she messaged me and wondered if she should have gotten the beta done.  She went back and forth with her decision, regretting not going one minute, and then agreeing that it was wise to wait for the scan.  Her thought was, if it was going to be bad news, she’d want to know.  And if it was good news, then she could feel better going to the scan.  But what if the news was inconclusive?  Where would that leave her?  But I know that she needed the support, so I reassured her repeatedly that it was the right decision for her not to do the beta.  But I have been so mad at her autoimmune doctor.  Does she even care about her patients’ emotional well being?  Does it really help to know the beta level so frequently after confirming an in utero pregnancy?  Because there is really nothing one could do but to wait.

My poor friend was at her scan with her partner last Friday.  She was so nervous that she was crying lying on the table while waiting for the nurse practitioner (who was the one who did all of my scans at my former clinic).  Her heightened nervousness even prevented her from seeing the heartbeat on the ultrasound.  At 6 weeks 2 days, she was measuring 5 weeks 5 days with a heartbeat of 81.  The nurse practitioner wasn’t concerned about it at all and said that at this early point a few days of lag should be okay.  And since she was measuring at 5 weeks 5 days, the heart might have just started beating.  When my friend sent me a text, she didn’t sound very optimistic about it.  And when I saw the heart rate, I didn’t feel very optimistic for her.  But who are we to say that this is not going to turn out to be fine?

That was Friday morning.  We happened to have a citywide power outage in our area that morning.  I was allowed to go home early and have a long weekend by 11:15am.  So instead of going home, I decided to join my friend who was sitting at the clinic waiting room to wait for her work phone call after noon because she had no power at home.  I thought that I could join her for lunch afterwards and she could use some support.

My friend’s emotions were all over the place.  She of course did some google search and it was not looking good.  She consulted with an RE who has supported her in the past couple of years who said that the three-day lag of the pregnancy plus the low heart rate made him a little bit concerned.  Her clinic didn’t say much and just told her to get another ultrasound in a week, and her autoimmune doctor was happy with the results.  But my poor friend was a mess.

(Side note: I visited with my former nurse while I was at my former clinic. It was a bit emotional for me to go back there while expecting twins via surrogacy.  It was so sweet to see my nurse being so happy for us.  I didn’t try to visit with Dr. No Nonsense, my former RE, because he did after all abandon me about a year ago after promising to call me to discuss the next steps but never did.  My nurse admired all the photos I showed her and was just so thrilled.)

At lunch my friend cried twice.  She wanted this so much and just wanted to have good news all around.  But when do we ever get to have a smooth-sailing journey?  From Friday to today, my job has been to remind her NOT to goo.gle because it does her no good.  While there are going to be success stories online, there is bound to be stories that ended sadly.  Their stories are not her story.  Why scare herself?  So every few hours, I write her and make sure that she does not google.  She was feeling angry and asked me why she had to suffer.  These are questions that nobody can answer.  So I told her that it could turn around.  She declared to me, “I think it will go badly” referring to the next scan.  But I told her not to play God and not to give a verdict even before anything happens because it may not happen.  I told her what I read in a book, that we try to make ourselves feel better by declaring things that are negative, that are not true.  But in reality, we don’t know what tomorrow will hold and how things will turn out.  But we jump to conclusion because we want to prepare ourselves for the bad things that may happen.  The truth is, there is no preparing.  If her pregnancy ends in a loss, it would still hurt like hell.  But by declaring the untruth, she is denying herself in that moment the joy of being pregnant.  She is pregnant at this point.  And this is the fact.  The fact is no one knows what will happen but God. So we should not play God and should hold onto the facts.  It is okay to cry.  It is okay to feel sad.  But putting herself in the situation of researching online and declaring that things will end badly is not going to help her a bit.

I did ask Dr. E, my own RE, about my friend’s results.  This is what Dr. E said, “The hCG level stops doubling so you are totally right on monitoring especially when you see a pregnancy in the uterus.  It doesn’t provide any guidance.  I’m glad she had a heartbeat.  I’ve seen patients without heartbeat at that age and then the next day it’s there.  The heartbeat doesn’t help guide me because I like that it is present.  The one thing that bothers me is the CRL (note: crown to rump length).  With IVF you know exactly how far along a patient is…..the three day discrepancy is the only thing that has me worried.  But there is still a chance.”  Of course I am not sharing with my friend what Dr. E says.  It is not helpful to tell her any of this.  And no doctors can predict the outcome, so why share with my friend, right?  But I really hope and pray that my friend’s baby holds on tight so we will see a great scan next week.  But I think my friend will be nervous at every single scan for quite some time.  It is just the trauma that comes with trying for a long time and wanting something so badly.  Our innocence is lost forever.

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11 thoughts on “MicroblogMondays: Ups and Downs of an Early Pregnancy

  1. I have been going through something similar with my sister-in-law’s sister. She confided in me a few weeks ago that she has been frustrated with her PC because she was making her lose 20lbs and do a few other things before she would refer her to a RE. We chatted quite a bit that following week about her options.

    Well she FaceTimed me the day before Easter to tell me she was pregnant. Her beta wasn’t exactly double but I’m unsure of the exact times of the draws and I think it was only like 10-20 off so that could be normal but her Progestrone went down like .4. I asked her if they were going to test again and she said no that they would just have the ultrasound in a few weeks. It was so hard for me not to freak out for her because as someone who’s battled with infertility for so long I would be a spaz if I was her about my beta and progesterone levels.

    She announced it to Facebook this week, before her u/s, and I am just so nervous for her. But I’m realizing that it’s probably just because I’m a little jaded and because of what I’ve been through it’s hard not to freak out for other people…

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  2. I feel for your friend, and for you experiencing her pain (and reflections of yours) with her. Everyone deals with these things differently. I sometimes would be wildly optimistic and then be wildly pessimistic, and the outcome was pretty much the same each time, but for me to test out what it would feel like if things did go the bad way in some ways was helpful (although it did go the bad way every time there was a possibility, unfortunately). But there was always waffling, because I would also sit there and go, “I’m pregnant right now and maybe it will be fine.” That uncertainty can drive you bonkers. I don’t envy the constant betas, although waiting for a scan has got to be hard too when you’re not sure what will show up there. I don’t envy you supporting your friend through this very triggering situation, trying to give her advice that she may or may not listen to, knowing that innocence lost forever is a very real thing and hoping for the best. Thinking of your friend, and thinking of you as you support her.

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  3. Ugh what a nightmare. I also heard from my early beta roller coaster that once you could see a heartbeat, an ultrasound is much more useful than a beta. Beta “normals” range sooooo much at that stage

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  4. I volunteered for an ectopic pregnancy organisation for about six years, and I’ve seen so many different behaviours of hcgs and heartbeats etc that you were right to say to her to step away from Google. And I well know that feeling of lost innocence. I’m glad your friend has you to support her, even though I’m sure it brings i[ memories and concerns for you too.

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  5. I just wanted to say that you are being a great friend and so supportive, especially considering what you have been through. I haven’t blogged on it yet (still worried about jinxing it) but I’m 11 weeks pregnant today after our FET in Feb. I wanted to say that I’ve had 3 ultrasounds so far and at the 7 week one the baby was measuring 3/4 days behind and no one even mentioned it as an issue so I didn’t even focus on it. On the recent 10 week one the baby was measuring to size. I read somewhere that when they are so am a the measurement is so hard and getting it out by a few millimetres means the baby is ‘ahead/behind’ by days. Also when the baby’s heart starts beating around 6/7/8 weeks it starts off pretty slow (i.e. similar to the mother and then speeds up to peak around 10/12 weeks. I just read this on my pregnancy app this morning by chance and thought it was useful. I totally understand the fear and tendency to fear the worst (having had nearly 4 years of infertility and 3 failed IVF rounds and getting fired due to all this). But I’m trying to look at the positive side, as it’s much less stressful on me and and body, and well why not? I hope that your friend can find some reassurance tomorrow and some peace. And you’re being an amazing friend (sorry for long post)

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    • Congratulations, friend! I am so so happy for you. I hope that everything goes very smoothly for you from here on out. As for my friend, I am quite sure that she’ll be nervous until the scan. I hope that she gets good news. Take care friend! And please blog soon. ❤

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  6. Your poor friend. That would’ve been me, if I’d been in her position. She’s lucky to have you be her anchor in all this craziness. I agree with you in wondering why her doctor is having so many tests. She must think that because she told your friend not to worry that she shouldn’t or wouldn’t, just because a doctor told her not to. Ugh. My SIL is thinking about going to my RE’s clinic soon and I predict she will be just as unstable as your friend.

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  7. I know the friend you are talking about. She had pinged me about her results. We both have the same doctor and while the doctor is great treatment wise I don’t know why they insist on checking betas after hb. They told me the same and after having numerous miscarriages I refused to get any more betas done after seeing an intrauterine pregnancy. I told her the same. I think she is worried unnecessarily. Dr E has been my doctor at one point of time and I don’t agree with her that the 3 day lag is concerning. The embryo is so tiny that even 1 mm makes lot of difference at this stage. With my daughter when we first saw the heartbeat it was in the 80s at 6w3d and I thought it was going to be another miscarriage but God had other ideas 🙂

    Anyway there is nothing much she can do at this point. I hope she refrains from googling and enjoys the fact that for this minute she is pregnant as HARD as it is

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