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.