Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Test of Today

When you have your blood test to detect levels of HCG in your body (known as a beta), there are three things that can happen. You can get a negative, which is 0 at my clinic. You can get a positive, which for many people is at least 50 and as high as several hundred on the first beta. Or you can get a low positive. A low positive, any number under 50, means that you are pregnant but it might not be viable. You could end up with a chemical pregnancy, where your first number is low and then your second number is lower, or nothing--indicating that your pregnancy is ending or has ended. Getting a low positive is an odd little trip to limbo land. It's positive, so you can celebrate the fact that you are pregnant. But it's low and likely not viable, so you have to start coming to grips with the fact that it's most likely temporary and you get the good news that you can get pregnant, but the sad news that at least this time you probably won't stay that way. You do not get a "congratulations" call with a low positive. You get a matter-of-fact "it's positive" but then it ends with "I'm so sorry" because it's likely that the next beta will be disappointing. It can be like a delayed tragedy--with a negative you mourn immediately, but with a low positive you have to wait to mourn and not truly get to enjoy the fact that you are actually pregnant.

We got our call last Saturday. I had Bryce answer the phone, which seemed like a good idea but then quickly got dicey. All I heard was "This is Bryce. Yup, you can talk with me today. Ok. Ok. What does that mean?" I felt like I needed to wrest that phone away and find out what the heck was going on, immediately. I said "What? What is it?" and Bryce put the nurse on hold to say, "remember that situation you said was bad, that wasn't a negative but wasn't good?" Oh, shit. Apparently, we had a positive (hooray!) but that positive HCG number was 12 (crap on a cracker). 12 is bad. I asked the nurse if she had ever seen numbers like 12 survive into a viable pregnancy. The answer wasn't so reassuring--yes, but very rarely. Like 2 or 3 in her time, so I shouldn't get my hopes up. I decided right then that my mission was to be one of the lucky. I decided that my response would be (albeit teary at first), I AM PREGNANT. I may not be pregnant tomorrow, but I am pregnant today and that's never happened before, so I am going to go with that.

This is a test of my new attitude that I've been actively working on throughout this whole cycle. I've been all about celebrating something today, living in the present and not wasting time worrying about tomorrow or next week or 9 months from now. It was hard when it meant trusting in a trigger timeframe that seemed early and ill-advised to me (it wasn't), or getting through the two-week wait with my sanity intact. But now it was going to be really hard. Could I actually be happy in a pregnancy today, knowing full well that the odds were colossally stacked against it continuing? Could I see all the positives in our situation and refuse to acknowledge the negative until faced with it?

I am finding that the answer is...yes. Both Bryce and I decided that we were going to keep up all our rituals and then some. We were going to say "I'm pregnant" as much as possible because who knew how long it would last. We were going to light candles and do our Flying Wish Paper and read picture books to my belly and envision warm orange creation light enveloping the tiny babyling and securing it to my uterus. We were just not going to entertain the possibility that it wouldn't survive.

Our second beta was on Monday. We were wrecks all day, because while we could revel in being pregnant, we were basically sitting on a ticking time bomb of possible bad news. "It's going to be good," I said, over lunch at Pa.nera (in the crazy thought that maybe we'd get the call together). The call didn't come. I went home and lit my red candles and set up the elephant on the coffee table and read my book and then just fell asleep on the couch. At 2:34 my phone rang and my heart just about stopped. And then I got my 12 had bucked up and risen to a 26! It had doubled. That's what I was told was the most important piece by books and support group people...that the numbers go up by doubles at least. Holy guacamole, we were still pregnant! I had to do a retest on Wednesday. But all I could think was, I get to be pregnant for two more days. It was a huge win. I think I made the nurse uncomfortable with my exuberance (26 is still under 50, still low for the timeframe, don't get too excited) but I thanked her for a good news call because I am still pregnant and it doubled and that's amazing. I cried so hard with joy and amazement that our strong belief and faith in our little nugget was bolstering it up. I called Bryce and we just were beside ourselves. We had made it another day!

Now the question was, what would happen on Wednesday? Could I make it through the next two days until Wednesday's call, still celebrating being pregnant today? You betcha. We could say "I'm pregnant" and feel a little less like fakers, like we were barely pregnant. We had doubled. We had a fighter on our hands! Wednesday came and I discovered that the trick to getting an earlier call was to go in for the blood draw before 8:30 when the courier is still there. I wore the same owl shirt and orange underwear that I've worn to every major event in this cycle. (I do wash it in between, and I did buy 4 more pairs of orange underwear so I don't have to do panicked laundry at 10:30 at night like I did Tuesday when I realized my lucky outfit was dirty...) This time the call came at 11:30ish. "Well, the numbers went 74." HOLY SHIT! That's nearly triple! I didn't cry that time though. I was thrilled, but it's a little scarier now. We definitely have a tough little nugget, but now we have more to lose should things go south. I was told once again that the numbers were still low for the timeframe and to be cautiously optimistic. To which I say BLAH BLAH BLAH. If it goes away, it will be a day other than today. And today, I am still pregnant.

I have always wanted to be a miracle story. I have always wanted to beat the odds on this thing, and it has seemed that time and time again we have just fallen on the crap end of the statistics. But this time, I really believe that it's our turn. I believe that we are being given our opportunity, and our attitude will make all the difference. We just refuse to believe that our numbers will go anywhere but up. Do we know all the possibilities for loss? Absolutely. Do we want to entertain them? NO. Whatever will happen is going to happen, and I would far rather spend these amazing first days of being pregnant for the first time in a state of joy and amazement than constant stress and a turbulent sea of "what ifs." I am doing my best to enjoy this miracle each day that I have it, knowing that it might last the whole full-term, 40 week pregnancy and result in a baby, or it may go wrong, early. Our next test is Monday, which is scary because it's 5 days in between and those numbers have to be pretty high by then to keep this momentum going. It's a crapload of uncertainty. I could spend my days in fear, but I choose to believe in the miracle. I choose to revel in the fact that I get to make it to 5 weeks on Saturday. I choose to laugh hysterically when Bryce says, "I love you, mother of my baby!" not because I don't believe it but because I'm just giddy with the reality of it. I am an expectant mother. My baby is the size of a poppyseed, but that poppyseed is our child. And that child is in me. It's just crazy. Crazy wonderful. I have never loved today as much as I do now.


  1. Jess, I read your blog faithfully. Tonight I cried for you, but they were years of joy. I know that things are not certain, but I agree that you have to celebrate things as they are today, and you deserve that celebration. Many happy baby sticking thoughs are being sent your way.

  2. Thank you, Shellie! We are very excited and a little scared, trying to keep the balance at the happy hopeful place! Just a general note: because it's so tenuous, I need to write about it but I don't yet want to share it globally (so no link to Facebook). Hopefully soon we'll be confident enough to share but it's just too touch-and-go right now. :)