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You CAN be a Little Bit Pregnant

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a blog by Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW, June 25, 2010

We’ve all heard it, that old adage, “You can’t be a little bit pregnant.” It’s one of those age old truths . . . or is it?

Anyone going through infertility can tell you that infertility turns the adage on its head and reminds you, all too often, that you CAN be a little bit pregnant. I've found that there are three kinds of “a little bit pregnant” that torment women and men going through infertility.

They are:

    1. The chemical pregnancy
    Who ever heard of a “chemical pregnancy?” Not anyone except someone going through infertility treatment and, even then, people usually only learn about it when it happens. “We’re sorry,” the nurse at the other end of the phone line says, “the test was positive, but the numbers are low and it’s probably ‘just’ a chemical pregnancy.”

    So what does that mean? Are you pregnant? Were you pregnant?

    Is a chemical pregnancy a “real” pregnancy or just a nasty tease?

    Best I can tell, it's truly a way of being “a little bit pregnant ” and for a very short time. For some people, it'is encouraging. It means something happened, there was the faint beginning of life. For others, it simply adds to confusion and frustration.

    2. The days after embryo transfer
    Another way that people feel a little bit pregnant is when they have embryos transferred and are awaiting a pregnancy test. Nothing is official, but you have had one or two (or even more?) real, live embyros transferred to your uterus.

    So are you pregnant then?

    No one will say that you are, but anyone who has had embryos transferred is hoping upon hope that they are finding a place to stay in your uterus feels it. As you wait and hope and cheer the tiny embryo or embryos on, it is hard not to feel “a little bit pregnant.”

    3. The early days and weeks of an on-going pregnancy
    And then there are the hours, days and weeks following the news of a positive pregnancy test. Your fertile friends trot off to CVS or Walgreens, buy a home pregnancy test, pee on a stick and get a “yes” or “no” answer. You, by contrast, have a blood test and it yields a number.

    The number needs to double in 48 hours and then double again. And so it begins, the experience of being “a litte bit pregnant and a little more pregnant and a little more after that.”

    You go from watching numbers double to looking for a yolk sac to looking for a fetal pole to seeking a heart beat. Each step confirms that you are a little bit more pregnant.

    I always remind people who are waiting it out during the early hours and days of pregnancy after infertility, that they are no less “really” pregnant than their fertile friends; it’s just that the series of tests makes it seem like a little, and little bit more and . . .

So yes, you can be a little bit pregnant. Sometimes that's all it is — at least this time.

Thankfully, many people go from being a little bit pregnant to being parents. They go from counting the minutes until their next blood test or ultrasound to having to stop for a moment and think, “Am I 24 or 25 weeks along?”

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