Wow. This is intense.
So intense I’m not even going to preface it. I’m just going to tell the story.
Saturday, March 9: 21 slow, easy miles. So this is the day my period was supposed to start. I know my luteal phase is twelve days; it has been since I first determined what is was three years ago. And on every occassion but one, I have known the day I ovulated, counted out twelve days, and started my period on the thirteenth day. (Unlucky 13?)
I also know from “testing out” in previous cycles with a booster shot that I start testing negative again the day before I’m supposed to start my period. Sad a moment as that always is, it does help us keep from getting our hopes too high, as we know the chances are very slim (though not improbable) of me being pregnant that month.
I was supposed to do a harder run Saturday morning, and I was feeling over my cold enough to join my neighborhood training group for a tough 20 miler through a very hilly area of town in preparation for Boston. Yet in an abundance of caution – and granted, obsession – I decided I should do a pregnancy test before doing a harder run.
It was positive.
Granted, it was a faint positive, but it was a second line nonetheless. A second line on cycle day 13, which I have never had. I called DB into the bathroom with a long “Ummmmm ….”
He was skeptical at first. Yes, I see something, but is that really a positive? I explained how pregnancy tests work – that a line is a line. It may a faint line, but a line is a … LINE. Yes, we needed the line to get darker over the next week, but it was, indeed, a line.
We then proceeded to examine the line in sunlight and under various lights in the house. Then we put the test back in the bathroom, had some coffee, and went back.
There was still a line.
Now, let’s back up for a minute.
It was certainly an exciting moment, and definitely something we hadn’t seen before. But we did not, not for one second, think that we were pregnant. We figured it was a test error, or that my cold affected getting the hcg out of my system, or any number of things. There was the tiniest glimmer of hope – but that was all.
So I let my friends know I wouldn’t be running and got some work done around the house instead, planning to go slow, easy and closer to home later in the day. Later that night we had pizza and root beer instead of my planned sangria as a consolation prize. (I allow myself alcohol the first three days of my period during treatment cycles; once we start the shots again, I cut the liquor.)
Sunday, March 10: 5 easy miles in 60 degree sunshine. Hadn’t planned to run, but the weather was too gorgeous to pass up. Did another test since we had one in the house.
There was still a line.
It hadn’t gotten darker, but hcg doubles every 24 to 36 hours, so that didn’t mean anything. That the line was hanging on gave us a second glimmer of hope. Technically, the nurses didn’t want to hear about a positive until that Thursday, but we were grateful for every hour that there was no sign of my period. I had some dull cramping, but that’s not at all uncommon for the first six weeks. And the crazy thing was – I didn’t feel like I was getting my period. At all. I never had PMS. I never got the insane salt cravings. Instead, I was wildly thirsty for water, which never happens. I was just drinking constantly. I was wearing two sports bras to run and my poor damn boobies had reached the point that I was afraid to even take the sports bras off. And the oddest thing of all – I just felt calm. Oddly calm. Normally, I am on pins and needles and can barely focus when we get to this part of the cycle. But I was just … calm. I felt this bizarre sense of peacefulness.
That night, we accidentally discussed a very stressful work situation that we had promised not to bring up over the weekend. I jokingly said “stop, stop, stop, the maybe baby doesn’t like stress.” This lead to DB starting to hum Smokey Robinson’s “Baby Baby.” We immediately changed the words to “Maybe Baby” and amused ourselves to no end.
Monday, March 11: Two back to back spin classes. No pregnancy tests in the house, so I skipped it. No sign of my period either. It now hurts my breasts to even WALK down the stairs in the house. I am absolutely ravenous, and become obsessed with the idea of a gigantic piece of carrot cake with soft raisins in it, covered with about an inch of cream cheese frosting. I don’t know if this is something real, pure imagination, or something known as “symptom spotting.” All I know is that from time to time I have all the normal naughty food cravings that any girl does, and I brush them off. I can’t brush this off. I seriously need to gorge myself on carrot cake and bring it up no less than three times to DB.
He does not ask me in the morning if there was a test or a period. We do not speak of it once. We have now entered the “ignore it and maybe it’ll stay” realm.
Just before bed, he says “So … maybe baby?” We crack up after both trying not to bring it up all day and start humming.
Tuesday, March 12: Eight morning miles with the neighborhood group followed by Pilates/core class. Run feels fantastic – best one yet since Rocky Raccoon. Line on pregnancy test is still there, but unchanged. Since I’m using inexpensive ones, I know they can vary in strength. If only I could afford a bunch of digital ones, but my blood isn’t that rich.
I slept horribly last night; I woke up no less than three times because I was sleeping on my boobs the wrong way. The pain was enough to wake me up. I know I am not imagining this; it feels like I slaughtered myself in an upper body workout. It is the most intense breast soreness I have ever felt.
There is no sign of my period except the same dull cramps I’ve had since Saturday. We need to make it one more day – since I’m flying to LA for work on Thursday, I’m going to call the nurses a day early, on Wednesday, for the blood test.
I go to our local gourmet grocery to pick up the fish for our dinner. We’re out of the spice rub we use on fish, so I pick up a bag. Standing in the grocery line, I smell spice in the basket so I get out of line to get a different bag. When I take the bag out of the basket to find the hole in it, the smell gets stronger. Except there’s no hole in the bag. So I’m not making that one up either.
We discuss nothing. We move on around it. Cautiously hopeful, but stuck in limbo.
When I’m cleaning up before bed and using the bathroom, there’s a single spot. That’s all there is, and that’s not uncommon either. But I have a bad feeling, and to protect him, I tell DB the fun’s about over.
Wednesday, March 13: OFF. Had planned a workout of some type, but it doesn’t work out that way. The line is fading now. They have all been faint but visible; this one comes close to requiring an act of faith to see. Shortly thereafter, the real cramps begin. They are not dull “this could go either way” cramps; these are painful, you know what’s coming cramps. My period starts at about 9 am. We did really well. We allowed ourselves hope, but we had not committed to this. We had truly believed in nothing more than maybe baby, and that helped so much. It stung, but we weren’t completely devastated.
By about 2 pm, I am in excruciating pain. I have taken four ibuprofen and it’s still not taking an edge off the cramps. I used to have horrific cramps before I went on the pill, so it’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before and I’ve noticed that my cramps tend to be worse when I’m on a treatment cycle. But these were intense. I had to grip countertops if I was standing up, and I was lying on the couch curled up in a ball. My uterus was an angry little thing that afternoon, and it took hours of plying me with ibuprofen and crackers to get me functional again.
Called the nurses and made my required appointment for the following day.
Thursday, March 14: Eight early morning miles with the neighborhood group. Took sheer force of will to stare down the ongoing cramps and run instead, but with three appointments and a evening flight, it was the only chance I had to run. Good company that morning and I was grateful to have gone.
That afternoon, I had the dreaded “day two ultrasound.” Infertility patients go through a lot, and we do so as willingly as possible in the hopes of acheiving a pregnancy. But we also lose a lot of privacy and dignity along the way; men and women both. For most women, the worst of it all is the day two ultrasound.
It’s exactly what it sounds like, if you’re putting it together. You have just started your period, but you’re required to have an ultrasound to check for cysts before starting your next round of shots. Shots typically start on day three. Which means – yeah. It’s about as embarassing and awful as it gets.
Driving to these ultrasounds, there’s always the totally irrational voice in your head telling you that maybe you don’t really have your period. Maybe it’s actually implantation bleeding. You think about your one or two friends who swear they had heavy bleeding that suddenly stopped after a day and – surprise! – they were pregnant. Your rational mind knows that they’re going to find absolutely nothing and wish you better luck next month, but as always … hope springs eternal.
A resident was with my doctor. I told them both that I really thought we were there. Told them about the symptoms and the early but faint positives. Doc says that the shots can “confuse” things a bit, but let’s have a look.
Uterus looks good, but empty. All that’s left now is to make sure we don’t have any cysts so we can keep moving forward; if you have cysts, you get canceled for a month. Left ovary is clear. Right ovary – well, I see it first. The cyst. The huge cyst.
But nothing could have prepared me for what the doctor said next.
“So,” he says, a bit slowly and kind of carefully. “What we’re looking at here is the evidence of the early pregnancy. This follicle here was producing the extra hcg, which explains the symptoms you were having.”
It wasn’t a cyst. It was the 21mm winner of the follicular challenge, the corpus luteum that had never committed suicide.
He gave me a minute, and then told me that he knew it stung, but that it was very good news. He said listen to me, this is very good news. We know that you can get pregnant, and that’s the greatest obstacle. He reminded me that this is the second time we’ve lost a blastocyst, which leads us further down the path of fixing the problem: figuring out how we hold on to the pregnancies. And that it’s so much easier to figure out how to hold on to a pregnancy than how to get someone pregnant in the first place. It probably means progesterone supplements, and it may mean there’s a slight luteal phase defect – but we’re getting CLOSER.
He sent me off to the nurses for my next round of instructions, and looked me in the eye and said “we can get this done.”
We digested the heavy mix of sadness and hope as we flew to LA. “Maybe Baby” was never more than that to us – a maybe. But to learn that “Maybe Baby” had actually been in the house (so to speak) for those four days – that just took a few hours. Yeah. That just took a few hours.
Friday, March 15: OFF. I was cleared by the doctors to run the LA Marathon on Sunday because of where I was at in my cycle. I was there for work and scheduled to pace, but I had a back-up pacer ready to take my place had I been pregnant or told not to run. Because I would only be four days into my cycle and still early in the follicular phase, my doctor was not concerned provided I didn’t race or push too hard. 75 mg of Follistim – back on the horse, back on the juice.
Weekly totals: 42 miles, two hours of spinning, 75 mgs of Follistim. A little bit of stinging, but a whole lot of hope.