Monday, 25 November 2013

The POAS Diaries

Shortly after we listened to Misery's voicemail; Husband, anxious to demonstrate how fluent he is in infertile-speak, exclaimed "You got a BFP!" That was my cue to see for myself. I had no urge to POAS during the lead up to beta day. As Gypsy Mama recently described, I couldn't bear the sight of another negative pregnancy test; which would also be followed by tortuous hours of second guessing and holding out for the eventual beta HCG. Now I could succumb to my curiosity. I ran a test and left it out on the counter while I was getting ready to go out to dinner. I didn't time it, but I estimate that I came back to check it about 5-7 minutes later. The slightest hint of a line was present. Honestly, I wouldn't have been surprised if it were negative, as most tests only detect levels about 25 and mine was 36. I also should have thought to collect my urine when I first arrived home and had at least a three hour concentration, thanks to rush hour traffic. I told Husband that it wasn't so much a Big Fat Positive, as it was a Barely, Faintly Positive.

Ah, but once you start, you can't stop. I decided to test again the next morning, expecting to see a bit more of a defined line with a first morning sample. I kept an eye on the clock this time. We teach our medical assistants that a positive result will usually show within a minute, and that you shouldn't read a test after a full three minutes. Although most of the patients we test in our office are actually past due for their cycles. Am I even considered late, as my RE had me test rather early? My iPhone app thinks my period is two weeks late. I need to enter a fake date to put an end to the reminders.  At the three minute mark, my test looked completely negative. I think around 5 or 6 minutes, I could start to make out the blue line, and yes it did look a little darker than my previous test. Accordingly, my HCG increased to 65.

Saturday morning and I tested exactly 24 hours later. This time I used the stop watch feature on my phone to time. The control line appeared within 30 seconds.  Three minutes -totally negative. Five minutes -still totally negative. Eight minutes -nothing. 10 minutes -maybe barely something. I started running a second test. The second test also appeared negative after ten minutes, but I could start to appreciate a faint line on the first test, which had now been sitting out for nearly twenty minutes. I know the limitations with urine testing, but I didn't feel that I could justifiably consider myself to be pregnant when standard protocols for urine pregnancy testing would interpret my tests as being negative. I'm still an impostor. I'm only pregnant on paper.

I didn't share any of this with Myrtle. While it pains me a bit to exclude her, I decided that it's best to keep her outside of the circle of trust for now. I know she has no comprehension for the science, nor my perspective. She peed on a stick once, got a positive result and had a gorgeous, healthy baby girl. I had to explain to Husband that she never had serial HCGs drawn; it's not routine practice for fertiles. I'm not excited. I'm cautious. I'm realistic. It just doesn't seem logical that we could be a first time IVF success, that yields not only a (true) BFP, but a single, chromosomally normal fetus (who will later escape my threat of pre-eclampsia and arrive into the world at term and healthy). I'm not naive.

It just doesn't feel like this is meant to be 'it'. Maybe I've consumed too much of the Day 5 Embryo Kool-Aid and I have too little faith in our day 3 embies. Despite my RE's attempt to offer reassurance to the contrary, I still regarded this transfer as a Hail Mary pass. I viewed it as a 'practice' transfer before we could proceed with our voted more likely to succeed day 5 blastocysts. Then again, if our day 5 blasts are so great, why didn't they look better on day 3? Who is to say that our day 3 over-achievers wouldn't have made it to day 5? I'm still so skeptical. I question if I'm just trying to prepare myself for a bad outcome or if I intuitively sense that this isn't going to work.

I'm managed to make myself emotionally numb; as if I've administered an epidural to my brain. I want this to be it. I am hoping that this is the one. Yet, if it's not, I want to know as soon as possible. Fail fast, fail cheap. Well, not cheap in financial terms, but before we make any emotional investments. If you're not meant to be our baby, please do me the favour of declaring this as a chemical pregnancy. Do not fuck with me by progressing to week six or beyond only to devastate us with the discovery of absent cardiac activity. Thus I can look at these low betas and barely, faintly positive tests with both concern and relief.

Hi, my name is Jane and I'm addicted to POAS. [Hi, Jane!] At first I was just curious to POAS, just to see what would happen. Before I knew it, I was POASing every day...

I know there is no information to be gleaned from determining how long it takes for a pregnancy test to become positive. Although in theory, if my hormone levels are increasing, then the test should be positive quicker and the line should be getting darker. I need to keep reminding myself that I am so early compared to when most other women test. I just felt that I should be collecting data, even if were irrelevant. On Sunday morning, (12dp3dt) I could barely see a line after ten minutes. It was a little more noticeable after fifteen minutes and present, although still very light after thirty minutes. I know this merely indicates that my beta is still pretty low, which I already knew. In the interest of the scientific process, I decided to re-test in the afternoon. Familiar scene: negative after three minutes, negative after five, negative after ten. Still negative after twenty...thirty...forty five hour later and not even a hint of a blue line. Like any junkie, I needed my fix, but this time I needed something stronger. I went out to the pharmacy to pick up a digital test. Still pregnant according to the display. Time to stop testing for today, as like any addict, I needed to hide the evidence of my habit before Husband came home. Of course, I would lie if he were to ask if I had POAS'd.

Monday morning (13dp3dt) hours before my beta draw, the test was still negative at 3 minutes, but a faint line appeared around five minutes. After 10 minutes, the line had not become any darker. I also ran my other digital test. It took over two minutes for the monitor to declare that I was still technically pregnant.  I shared with Co-worker that I felt completely prepared if I were to learn that this was a chemical pregnancy. "Why are you obsessing over these pee sticks?" she asked. Why? I wanted to pee on a stick, see two lines and declare myself to be pregnant like any other woman. I still feel as if I'm literally grasping at straws; pathetically squinting to identify a blue line in a manner similar to looking at those 3-D posters. Ultimately, as I know from my prior experience, these faint blue lines may be all I have to show for my pregnancy and I want to capture them while I can.

My blood was drawn at 8 AM, so I had hoped that I might have some results by lunchtime. Previously, I had been called around 3 PM. It was now quarter to four and still no message. I figured if it were bad news, they would wait until the end of the day. Minutes after 4 PM, there was a voicemail message on my phone. I presumed that if the message were to 'call us back to discuss your results' or if it were my RE himself calling, it was likely bad news. To my surprise, New Girl's message revealed that my beta was now 183 and my RE was pleased with how it was rising. I needed to do another draw in 48 hours, but she had tentatively scheduled my first OB ultrasound.  Husband and I had been treating each one of these beta tests as if we were clearing one individual hurdle at a time. We've passed 3 of 4 so far, but it still feels like there is so much ground to cover before getting to our ultrasound. Thus, I'm still pursuing this challenge of getting a true, normal, positive back office pregnancy test. Alas, my name is Jane. I am addicted to POAS.

9dp3dt -Beta HCG 36

FMU 10dp3dt -Beta HCG 65

FMU 11dp3dt (top after 20 min bottom after 10)

Mid Afternoon 12dp3dt -Totally Negative

13dp3dt -beta HCG 183


  1. My sister swears up and down that she didn't see a positive pee stick until she was almost 6 weeks, well after confirming her pregnancy through blood tests. I wish she'd never told me that, actually, as it keeps my hopes irrationally up when I'm getting a negative pee stick. But who least your betas are continuing to rise. You are indeed pregnant, lady!

  2. JANE that's a great beta! I'm SO excited for you guys. I was also relieved to read this entry...because my name is Jen...and I too have a POAS problem that developed in the past week. I have a stash of 5 used tests strips that I'm keeping hidden from my HB in my bathroom drawer. I periodically look at them and compare. I hadn't been a big POAS before I too am treating them like tea if they can tell me the future. Beta #2 for us is tomorrow....I'm truly terrified. Closer than we've ever been....but yet so far away. Wishing you ongoing happy betas!

  3. Yay for 183!
    I'm kind of tempted to say that it's unlikely to be twins with those betas, so you might get what you were wishing for after all... fingers crossed for a good ultrasound!

  4. I was 17 days past a trigger (clomid +TI cycle) and got a whopping beta of 37. I proceeded to lose it. While pumping gas. Alone . On thanksgiving. That sad little beta is now almost 1 1/2.

  5. I believe 183 at 13+3 is good! My first beta was at 10+5 and it was 268 for twins! I am sorry that they had you do that first one so early because a lot of worry and confusion has followed. Try to imagine how you would feel if you had only done the third beta! Probably pretty optimistic!

  6. Yay! Congrats to you and the hubby both!

  7. Great beta!!! So happy for you, and hope the doubling continues.

    I hate POAS, only because my experience hasn't been positive (yet). It can be both a blessing and a curse, can't it?

  8. Yay for 183!!

    It might be time to put down the pee sticks.... :-)

  9. So happy you have rising betas to show for. Imagine just depending on the results of those pee sticks. So happy for you!

  10. I am so ignorant when it comes to the numbers and science. But this sounds like good news! Fingers crossed for you!

  11. What?! I completely missed your last post! Not sure how that happened, but I'm SO excited and hopeful for you! That actually seems like a good beta for how far along you are. I made myself stop peeing on sticks once I knew my betas were rising appropriately. WAY too much stress analyzing whether each was darker, and by how much, and how long they took to turn positive, and what they looked like 30 minutes later, and on and on.
    Now the looooong wait until the ultrasound!

  12. 183 sounds like a great number to me!

    I would have totally been like you, peeing on a stick everyday. I am just so happy for you that your beta keeps rising and your Dr is happy with the numbers. Looking forward to more good news from you!

  13. I am immediately FIRING my reader, because your posts often don't show up until several days to a week after you've written them, then they are far enough down that I miss them and what the heck because I missed that YOU ARE PREGNANT!!!!!!! Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Dump the pee sticks if possible, my friend. Do another in a week to see that satisfying solid line.

    I'm so excited for you! It's your turn!

  14. Yay for great betas!! I don't blame you for being addicted to POAS, not in the least. It's a terrifying time. I'm truly wishing the best for you, and sending tons of good vibes your way! YOU'RE PREGNANT!!

  15. Yay, good beta!! FX it keeps going up and up!

  16. Jane - what great news!! I'm sending positive thoughts for you that the time until your ultrasound passes quickly...then you can see the little bean and breathe a bit easier. Hopefully you'll get your socks soon (they went in the mail a couple days ago) and they can keep you warm on this journey!!

  17. Ahh, I was so worried about what the ending of this post would be, but it ended with great news! I'm so happy for you and crossing my fingers for the last beta and then of course, the u/s. I don't blame you one but for being an addict. I think a lot of us find ourselves in that boat. It's also difficult to believe and accept that it will hold true. My Hubby wouldn't even acknowledge our pregnancy until I was almos 10 weeks. It was just his way of protecting himself after experiencing a mc prior. For now, I say a big fat congratulations and offer lots of hope that things just keep progressing so nicely!!!

  18. Don't knock the 3 day embryos. I have living proof that they work.
    Nothing wrong with wanting to see a regular positive pregnancy test like a regular pregnant person. I still have mine in a bathroom drawer and will look at it whenever I get something from that drawer. It's nice to remember that feeling of seeing a positive test for the first time.