Either you are pregnant, or not, right? Ha. If only it were that easy. I’m continuely amazed that anyone ever manages to have a baby given how lousy the human body is at reproducing itself. There doesn’t seem to be any proofreading when it comes to cell division which leads to lots and lots of mistakes. Thus, most fertilized eggs never result in viable pregnancies. For most women, they don’t even realize they are pregnant until things are a few weeks along, which is a blessing because they don’t know how many times they are pregnant for only a few days. They just think their period is a few days late. Those of us who obsess over getting pregnant know the moment it happens, which means we know far too early and there is still plenty of time for things to go wrong. And 50% of the time, it does.
With IVF, it is not considered a successful pregnancy until a heartbeat is detected, which is about 7 weeks in. Which is really 5 weeks because in the world of pregnancy dating you get credit for two weeks before conception. So you could all potentially be 2 weeks pregnant as soon as you get your next period. I’m just saying…
Here’s what happens after IVF: 14 days after egg retrieval, you have a blood test. Anything over 5 is technically positive, but by 14 days after egg retrieval, the level should be above 50. It can be all over the map though, and that’s what is frustrating about this first blood test. It doesn’t really mean anything. It means the embryo implanted and grew, but it’s not necessarily indicative of continued growth. That’s why two days later you have blood test #2. The number should double over 48 hours, which shows that the embryo is growing appropriately. You’re still not out of the woods yet though. They embryo has to keep growing and be able to develop organs if it is going to make it. That is why about 2 weeks later you have an ultrasound. At this point you want to see something growing, and hopefully see a heartbeat. And if you do… success! And only a 15% risk of miscarriage at this point.
Even if you make it this far, there’s still risks of course. But you have to make it this far to be considered a success.
We made it to blood test #2. The level did not double, which means the embryo stuck, grew for a few days, then encountered some error in division. Too many chromosomes, not enough chromosomes, whatever it was, it prevented the embryo from dividing any further. Blood levels stopped rising, and as of this morning are now declining. Now we plan for frozen embryo transfer #1. That’s what is nice about having our back up embryos on ice–we don’t have to go through the whole IVF protocol again. We just put back another embryo and hope its chromosomes divide properly. I don’t know when this will happen. We have to talk to the doctor, look at our schedules, look at our budget. But this will happen one day, one way or another! And we’re doing ok with all of this, really. The road is just a bit bumpier that we ever expected it would be.