This period of time – the ten days waiting for pregnancy blood test results after all the hard work that led up to the embryo transfer – is all about stickiness. Our surrogate is taking progesterone to make sure her uterine lining is sticky enough for our embryos to take hold. We brought fresh organic pineapple, sliced with the core in, to our surrogate because she read somewhere that eating it right before and after the transfer procedure could help uterine stickiness. And while our surrogate was focused on making her uterus as hospitable for our embryos as possible, my husband and I watched clock hands that seem to be stuck in place. It would definitely have been easier to wait ten days if we had a number of back-up embryos to try again with right away, but we only had one viable embryo left if we didn’t get pregnant this time. I’m a proactive, type “A” kind of guy – so this period of watchful lethargy is completely unadulterated torture, particularly since the possibility of needing to start harvesting eggs all over again is looming large.
Depending on how familiar you are with human reproduction, ten days for a pregnancy blood test may either seem like a lifetime or way too soon. But the thing is that a pregnancy from IVF is actually considered over three weeks along (3 weeks and 3 days, to be exact) ten days after the transfer procedure, because the embryo is considered two weeks along before transfer. And added to that, apparently the traditional 40 week gestation period is approximated from a woman’s last menstrual period – not always an exact science. So one of the things that confused me as I furiously googled “early pregnancy tests” was that I was usually unclear whether timeframes referred to the embryo transfer date number or gestational weeks (transfer date plus two weeks). Our endocrinologist and agency are of course there as resources, but my obsessive-compulsive disorder is kicking into high gear and I don’t want to drive them crazy.
You would think that there would be conclusive, all-illuminating light at the end of this ten-day tunnel. But of course we won’t get all the answers, because we still won’t know if we have a one (singleton) or two (twin) baby pregnancy for another two and a half weeks after that! My husband and I definitely don’t want to raise an only child (because it seems so lonely), so it’d be great to know that we won’t have to go through this process (and expense!) again. But I’m starting to understand that this is what being a father is all about: worrying and waiting for the next milestone in your child’s life. Oh joy. They damn well better be cute kids who turn into adults that I can rely on for supplemental retirement income.
This week we got the news: our pregnancy is confirmed! #happydance To be honest, we were kind of optimistic leading up to the blood test because our surrogate took a home pregnancy test the weekend before and got positive results. Of course it’s a terrible idea to do that, because you don’t want to pin your hopes on a false positive result. So our surrogate didn’t tell us that she had done it at first. But as my husband and I sat at home one evening, my husband couldn’t take the suspense anymore – so he sent a “casual” text message to our surrogate, wondering if she happened to have taken a home pregnancy test. And bless her heart, she texted a picture of her positive test stick to us within a few seconds.
So the next big milestone is an ultrasound, which will happen two and half weeks from the first pregnancy blood test. By then we should see one or (hopefully) two gestational and yolk sacks, and with a little luck hear one or (hopefully) two heart beats. We do, however, have good reason to hope. Our endocrinologist told us at the time of transfer that, based on the health of our blastulae and our surrogate’s womb, we had an 80% chance of a singleton pregnancy and a 70% chance of twins. Plus our surrogate’s beta human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels from her blood test were at 520, and the baseline beta value is 100. Still not conclusive for twins yet (because, go figure, every woman is different in her hCG levels), but there’s still good reason to hope. In the meantime, you can bet that my husband and I are celebrating BIG time!