Okay, seriously? This blogging thing kinda kicks my butt. Maybe one day I’ll be blogging more “real time” instead of blogging the past. But I suppose in order to do that, I would have to post more than once every four months. Eh, we’ll see how it goes!
So, because of the hormone testing they had done early-on, and because my progesterone levels were “good but not great” post-ovulation, one of the treatments they had me try was HCG injections. After ovulation, I would inject a small amount of HCG over 8 days. HCG is the hormone your body produces when you’re pregnant. The thought is that the increased HCG would cause my body to actually produce a higher amount of progesterone, thereby helping prevent an early miscarriage due to low progesterone. Aside from self-administering injections (I could write another whole post on my changing relationship with needles!), the worst part for me was that having HCG in my system would prevent me from taking an over-the-counter pregnancy test. The presence of the injected HCG in my urine would cause a PT to give a positive result even if I wasn’t pregnant. In order to get a true read of whether I was pregnant, I would have to have blood work done to measure the HCG, and then do it again 2 days later to see if the level had increased. It’s a minor thing, but it made me sad that I wouldn’t get to have the stereotypical experience of taking the test at home and showing the two little lines to Darren.
I had to go off the HCG in preparation for my laparoscopy in November, though, and we never went back on it. Once it looked like my issue was structural rather than hormonal, there seemed little point to paying for the injections (they weren’t covered by my insurance). I can’t say I was sorry to leave those needles behind.
Dr. D had always stressed that if the post-peak phase of my cycle ever went more than 2 days longer than it had before, I was to take a pregnancy test. If that pregnancy test was ever positive, I was to call the office right away. My post-peak phases tend to be pretty short – 11–13 days, generally. Darren has always filled out our Creighton chart before bed each night, so I wasn’t even always aware of how long my cycle turned out to be. After that last appointment, where they determined that it wasn’t really worth it for us to pursue further treatments, we were still charting but somewhat half-heartedly.
In March, my parents came to visit. They always stay in our guest room, so between having houseguests, work, and everyday life, neither Darren nor I was paying much attention to my chart. I realized mid-way through March, though, that it seemed like maybe my cycle was going a bit long. I asked Darren one night what cycle day it was, and how many days post-peak. He answered that it was cycle day 32, and that I was peak+15. I did quick, very complex math (“Yup, longest post-peak was 13 days, now we’re at 15, that’s 2 days longer”) and said, “Well, I guess I should take a pregnancy test tomorrow morning?”
I got out of bed and dug around for the box of pregnancy tests I bought a few years ago. I had taken a few pregnancy tests back before we even started Creighton or NaPro Technology, all of them being negative. For some reason, I had bought another box of tests, but I never even opened it. I think it’s an odd sort of mercy that my cycles had never really gotten to the point where I was taking PTs every month and being faced with the negative results. So I pulled out my box of unopened PTs, unwrapped the plastic, and noticed that the test expired in October of 2009. Huh. Well, they were what I had, so I went and placed them by the toilet so I could take my test first thing in the morning.
My attitude toward the whole thing, as I settled back into bed, was mostly nonchalance. I didn’t have any expectation that the test would be positive, and so I really didn’t want to take it at all. Those few tests I had taken early-on were miserable! I didn’t want to once again have the experience of watching the test and waiting for that second line to appear. However, it sort of seemed like we were at the point where we didn’t have a choice. Doctor’s orders, you know!
My alarm went off at 5:45, and while Darren was still asleep, I went and peed on the little stick. I had decided that I wasn’t going to torture myself by watching the test develop, so I left it on the back of the toilet and went to comb out my hair before my shower. I really tried to give that test the 3 minutes ordered by the instructions. I gave it as much time as I could, then went back to the toilet and picked up the test.
Two lines. Two pink lines. TWO. LINES. Ohmygosh, two lines!
I put the test back down on the back of the toilet, hopped into the shower (still have to go to work, obvs), and burst into tears. The test was five months expired! What did that even mean? I cried hot tears all through my shower, and could only pray, “Please, God. Please, God.” Over and over. Over and over and over. I think my tears were happy ones, and my feeling was hopeful, overall. After all, this was more than I’d ever gotten before, and more than I ever expected! A positive pregnancy test!
I continued getting ready, brushing my teeth and whatnot, and the whole time I was googling on my iPhone “expired pregnancy test”. The message board consensus seemed to be that the sensitivity of the PT deteriorates over time, but that if you actually got a positive result on an expired test, you were probably pregnant. !!!!!
I woke Darren around 6:30 to tell him the news. I normally wake him around 7 when he walks me down to the car, but I knew that I would cry when I told him, and I didn’t want to ruin my makeup. Priorities, people! I woke him, told him, “It’s positive!” and showed him the test. He was happy, but subdued. He told me later that he wasn’t sure whether to believe the test, since it was expired. We hugged, and I cried some more.
I knew that, per the doctor’s instructions, I needed to call the doctor’s office right away. Once they opened in the morning, I called and told them that I got a positive result on an expired test and that I planned to buy more tests that night and test again just to be sure. The receptionist told me that I could just come into the office, and that they could test me there. I made an appointment for noon that day.
We had to figure out a way to get Darren out of the house for the appointment (he works from home), since my parents were staying with us. I didn’t want to get their hopes up needlessly (“Darren is going to the doctor with Shelby. I wonder what for?”). He made up some story about needing to take some additional documents to our tax guy, and I picked him up at 11:45.
Once we got to the doctor’s office, I re-did the pee test, and then waited for what seemed to be a really long time for the tech to come get us. Finally, the door opened, and she called my name. As we walked back to the exam room, I asked her, “Do you know?” She nodded. I said, “Is it positive?” She said, “Yes!” She took my weight and my blood pressure (which turned out to be really high and kind of freaked the doctor out, but it was just from the excitement), then left Darren and I alone to wait for the doctor. Ohh, we could finally believe it! The reality hit both of us (Darren especially), and we both cried. He told me how happy he was for me.
The doctor came in (not Dr. D but a different doctor) and congratulated us. She tempered our excitement a bit, though, by reminding us that our goal now was to make sure that we didn’t miscarry. She could see from my chart that my low progesterone levels put me at risk for miscarriage, so I would be starting progesterone injections that day. The initial dosage was 200 units 2 times per week. I wouldn’t be able to self-administer these (they go in my hip), so I could either come into the office or have Darren administer them. The thought of Darren giving me a shot kinda ooked me, so I decided that for the time being, I would go into the office for them. By my LMP, I was 4 weeks 2 days pregnant. It comforted me that we knew so early and were able to start the progesterone treatment right away.
And so! We had finally been given what we had hoped for for so long – a little tiny life, made up of the two of us!
Still to come: telling my parents, progesterone, and my feelings from the “other side” of infertility.