You are here
A blog by Megan
Swanek, March 8, 2018
As I sit here, ready to publish this, I am 16 weeks pregnant. After 4 IVF procedures and only one baby girl earth-side, it's still hard for me to believe that we are pregnant without even trying. Sure, this happens to people; there are always outliers, but I never expected this to happen to me. Ever.
We had just paid for what would be our 5th and final IVF at CNY in New York. It was planned for the same month I am now due: August, 2018. I had tried and tried to get some IUI procedures set up while we waited, and a doctor (Dr. Robert Anderson with Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine) refuse to see me, stating that IUIs "Will not work for you." (More about this horrible experience in a future blog post). While I appreciated the honesty that it was not statistically likely, to be refused treatment was devastating to me. Especially because it came right on the heels of my 4th failed IVF which was right after my pregnancy loss at 14 weeks (but we found out at 17 weeks). In spite of the doctors' refusal to help me, I somehow held steadfast to the belief that neither doctor was God, and only He could say whether or not it would work. Looking back, I really had a feeling that I could still get pregnant. That was why I wanted to continue IUIs while we waited for IVF.
On December 6th, I was at a regularly scheduled appointment with my OBGYN, listening to him tell the patient in the next room, through the paper-thin walls, that she should not delay getting pregnant until she was 40. Wishing I could talk to her myself and echo that sentiment, it reminded me that I needed to try and schedule an IUI with the only other doctor covered by my insurance. As I emailed his nurse, I got my planner out to count my days, because I figured it would be soon. Hmmm....30 days!? I'm always 26 or 28. I never have 30 whole days between my cycles. Never.
When my doctor came in, I told him about my plans for CNY next summer and at the end, mentioned that I was late. Quite confident I was not pregnant (he knows my history and my low AMH levels), he smiled and said "Stick to your original plan" without even asking how late I was, and sent me on my way.
I texted my husband on my way home and asked him to pick up a pregnancy test. He must have thought I was crazy, but did so at my urging to remove any "false hope." Instead of waiting for morning, I took it right away. And right away, a double line appeared. Instead of in the past, after embryo transfers, when I keep looking and willing a line to appear, a strong line appeared right away. All I could do was start laughing. We had just paid CNY in NY in full the week prior...almost $10,000.
I came out of the bathroom, laughing, presenting the evidence to my husband who just said "No, no. You can't be." I could not believe it either. Immediately, I felt as though this was a miracle. That night, and every night after, we began praying that it would last. "Well, at least we have a chance" I said. At least it's a shot. I am not usually a person who dwells in fear, but after the loss of our previous pregnancy, I was beyond afraid this would end the same way. I tried to turn to God in my fear, to strengthen our bond and to let Him shoulder my burden of worry. When I had trouble sleeping, as I have in my other two pregnancies, I would get up early and do my readings and reflections from my Catholic planner.
By the time you find out you're pregnant, you're already two weeks pregnant. While I appreciate what seems like a credit of time, waiting over a month for the first appointment in which a heart beat could be detected felt like torture. In the mean time, I was able to confirm the pregnancy through two blood tests. The first was positive, and gave me a beta number. The second, we would look for the beta number to double each day and be high enough to show that the embryo was growing. More torture. I remember Baby A and I were at The Great Wolf, and while I was enjoying my time with her immensely, the fear of the loss of the new-found hope was ever present.
For this reason, I followed my husband's lead on not telling anyone. I wanted to shout this crazy miracle from the roof-tops, but then felt bad with the thought of getting people's hopes up, only to loose it the following week. Or, to have it end up being a chemical pregnancy and never get a heartbeat.
For my previous two pregnancies, I was with an IVF clinic and closely monitored. Although my doctor wrote me the same prescription for crinone and did do blood work, the first ultrasound would not be necessary and therefore, not covered by insurance. We opted to pay out of pocket, and set the appointment for December 21st. While I was hoping for the best, I prepared myself for the worst, and tried to remind myself that we would have all the joy of Christmas to focus on if there were to be no heartbeat. But oh how I hoped for one, imagining how much more magical Christmas would be with the thought of this pending baby.
When we saw that heartbeat at six weeks, right before Christmas, I cried with joy and my husband breathed a huge sigh of relief. This tiny little heart beating meant it was not a chemical pregnancy. But our risk of miscarriage was still high, and we were by no means in the clear. The next hurdle would be another ultrasound after the first of the year, when we returned from Oregon.
Again, there was a heartbeat and we were overjoyed! But with the joy comes rising hopes and that nagging, ever-present fear that this great gift from God will slip quietly away. Before the loss of my last pregnancy, I didn't realize that you could have a miscarriage with no signs or symptoms. In fact, that time we didn't even realize she had died until three weeks after the fact. My morning sickness was much more intense with this pregnancy. Every day, my husband would ask me if I was feeling sick, and both of us would feel uneasy all day when the answer was no. It was the only sign we had that everything was okay.
The next critical appointment was the blood test for chromosomal abnormalities (Down's syndrome, trisomy, etc.) at 10 weeks. I was shocked to learn that my chance of this baby having a chromosomal abnormality was 1 in 52. Just a few years ago, it was a more manageable 1 in 200. These new odds sounded too horrible to wrap my mind around, so instead I repeated the reverse to to myself: "That means that in 51 out of 52 pregnancies, everything is fine." Somehow, this sounded better. We got the call on January 22nd that everything was normal and I updated my status: God is good. I truly felt that He was. While the nurse had the gender too and I was beyond tempted, I asked her to write it down in a sealed envelope so my husband and I could open together that Saturday at dinner.
We had a sitter come to the house for the second time in Baby A's two and a half years. She was indifferent to us leaving, giving me a big hug and kiss before running off in the back yard to play with Ms. Jaime. We drove to Morton's Steakhouse and arrived just as they opened, with the linner (lunch + dinner) crowd. We were overjoyed with the results of the envelope, which I will reveal in a separate posting.
I had a neural translucency (NT) ultrasound on February first and we were able to see the baby in great detail. Miraculously, everything looked fine, even the developing brain. Even though I was just 12 weeks along, every part of the perfect 3 inch body was formed, and this seemed reassuring. But again, we remembered that I had this same NT scan on our baby girl right before she died. And that time too, everything looked perfect.
Still reluctant and afraid, we sent out an evite "Food + Friends" to announce the pregnancy almost a month later, on February 25th, when I would be just starting my 16th week and firmly in the second trimester. The next few weeks were still treacherous, probably more so than the first few. It was so difficult to wait from February 1st until our next appointment on February 21st. While most women are happy to enter the second trimester at 14 weeks, instead it brought more fear and uncertainty, since that was when we lost our little girl, and because our hope was now higher. In order to get through, we purchased a doppler on Amazon that we used periodically for reassurance that the tiny heart was still beating. I used it last night in fact. I began to prepare for the party, and started to look forward to it.
People don't generally do pregnancy announcements as a surprise, because you run the risk of unintentionally upsetting those who have battled infertility or had a miscarriage that you don't know about. I would never intentionally spring the news on someone who had suffered a loss or had struggled with infertility in a group setting. To do so is just cruel. However, since I fit into both of those categories just last year, I felt that our announcement could instead bring hope to anyone who may be secretly struggling. Miracles do happen, and I cannot wait to hold this one in my arms. This baby will always be a reminder to me that God is in control, and things happen in His timing, not mine.
Oh, and yes, we did get our $10,000 back.