no progesterone tested from tuesday’s blood draw. they’re all apparently still giddy over last week’s 51.6.

and my beta? 17,969. dr l likes it. i like it. the last time i had blood drawn around this time it was in the 14000s somewhere.

i’m still feeling a little emotionally flat, which has s worried. perhaps, however, it’s just off-setting my physically not-so-flat belly. which really, really, really wants some chocolate.

and my brain? it really, really really does not want to dig, although i truly do appreciate the suggestion, carlynn. for example: last fall i responded to a query for women to write up their stillbirth stories for a study. i tried. i hated what i wrote, decided to revise it and couldn’t, so decided to scrap the whole thing and gave up. then two weeks ago the lead researcher contacted me to say “hey, you know, if you didn’t send anything yet, you still can.” i said great! gimme a week and i’ll have something for you. i thought i was ready to give this another go. and every night i consider working on it. and every night i realize i can’t. so when she emailed this morning to politely ask where my materials are, i had to tell her: i can’t revisit this. i think i can and then i find out i’m wrong. i just can’t. (but everything’s fine, right?)

and while i write this i want to cry. so i guess i gotta go dig, like it or not. shit.

i had bloodwork done yesterday, and for some reason i was expecting beautiful, normal numbers when i got the report today. like maybe in the low 30s for my progesterone level, and somewhere in the teen-thousands for hcg. god knows where i got these expectations or what i was doing wasting my time with them.

my progesterone is a whopping 51.6. am i the only one to be scared by that number? i know the docs like the progesterone level to be over 15 — with ruby i think it was 31 or so — but this? i find this bizarre. and bizarre, well, these days bizarre alarms me.

my beta hcg, on the other hand, is a sorry 2257.

now, no matter the online charts i frantically refer to, this number falls in the normal range. sometimes it’s at the low end; other times, it’s square in the middle. and i know — I KNOW — that the number is not nearly as important as its rate of increase. I KNOW THIS AND I DON’T CARE. for some reason, the fact that it’s not higher has me petrified. even though dr l says it’s perfectly fine and he’s very happy with it and i should just come back next week as we initially planned.

anybody want to wager how many hpts i waste between now and then?

aaaaaaarrrrrrrrggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….

test #1, cd28:

v40test_1.jpg

test #2, cd 31:

v40test_21.jpg

test #3, cd 34:

v40test_3.jpg

now, i can’t say anything about the math, which makes no sense. i started prometrium on day 20 b/c i usually ovulate around day 17. but according to the opks (days 12-18) i didn’t ovulate at all. now, the amazing epo phase hit around day 11, so i may have missed the window with the opks. but if i *had* o’d that early i would have expected the test to show up positive much earlier. and if i hadn’t o’d, well, the prometrium should have prevented it.

so as usual i have no idea what’s going on with my body. except that it’s trying to build a baby. and i’ll do everything i can to help it out.

and i have to quit looking at test #1, because when i stare too much i start to see a damn 2nd line.

i’m determined to keep 72 hours between my tests (the deadbabymomma’s version of a hairshirt), so in the interval, some more history:

spring 2005

earl’s delivery was very easy, but my recovery from it was hell. i had only started wearing maternity clothes 2 days before she was delivered, so my shape and size hadn’t changed much. i had gained 8 pounds total and they were all in my belly, so i figured they would slide off easily and i would quit looking pregnant and boy, wouldn’t that be great because then people would quit asking me when my baby was due. ha. for the next three months i lost and gained back those same 8 pounds roughly every week. i still needed my maternity pants. that sucked.

but that was nothing compared to the bleeding. my post-partum bleeding had practically stopped after 2 weeks when i saw my ob, which he considered great news. but instead of actually stopping it kept going and going…and going. my uterus, like my weight, was totally out of whack for the next 12 weeks. yes, that’s what i said: twelve excruciating weeks — 94 days — of non-stop bleeding.

nine weeks into this ordeal i went back to the doctor to ask, tentatively, if what was happening was, you know, normal. he smiled his smile at me and said “no, not really,” which i heard as “good god you insane woman why didn’t you call me four weeks ago?” he put me on a 5-day course of progesterone to stop the bleeding.

it didn’t.

one week after i stopped the progesterone, still bleeding, i started another 5-day course of progesterone. to stop the bleeding. which it didn’t do.

but the third time worked. only by now my doctor had decided that the best thing to do, since i was obviously in distress and had to fight tears every time i sat in his office and saw all those pictures of living, full-term babies and their exhausted but elated parents all over his walls, was for me to get pregnant. and since my cycle was obviously not reliable, he decided the best way for me to conceive was using fertility drugs. and he thought we should start NOW because not only did he think it would be nice for me to be pregnant before earl’s due date came around (it was still two months away), he himself was leaving on vacation soon and thought ideally i’d be pregnant before he left. that way he wouldn’t have to monitor my meds from afar.

his decision was confirmed when he started staring at my ovaries and saw those tell-tale “pearl-like” strands of eggs, all underdeveloped, in both ovaries. he had been treating me with progrestone based on the diagnosis of luteal phase defect; now, he told me, i had polycystic ovaries. this would make it even harder to get pregnant. the meds were definitely a good choice for a woman like me.

i’ll make the shameful confession that i had a hard time wrapping my mind around this. i wasn’t infertile — i’d been pregnant four times in less than two years. how were drugs going to help me? i needed help keeping the babies i’d conceived, not conceiving in the first place. i was still learning the ropes of my “new normal” as a the mother of a dead child. i was. not. ready. for my new normal to include infertility.

but i liked my doctor and while i was his patient i dutifully did everything he told me to. so i started clomid and then upped the ante with gonal-f shots. he didn’t like the looks of my lining on day 17 or so, but decided a few days later that it was time “to have relations.” which we did (me & s, not me & the doc), also (and sadly) pretty dutifully. we really thought we’d get pregnant — remember, doc, conceiving is not our problem? — but we sure as hell didn’t like being told when and how to do it.

i know there is a lot of research (some real, some really bad) about the ways our minds influence our bodies. when it comes to fertility i believe some of the hard science — like since the hypothalmus has a both a role in fertility and in regulating stress, then *actually* reducing various kinds of stress can improve fertility. (in this, i really really trust alice domar and not well-meaning fertiles who tell us just to relax. SO not the same thing.) anyway — when i’m being rational, i do not believe that having a bad attitude about sex, or medication, or about life in general, can prevent pregnancy. (too bad, though, ‘eh? there would be WAY fewer unwanted babies in the world were that true.)

and yet. yet there was a part of me that june that thought i was somehow to blame when i didn’t show up pregnant. i mean, i had taken the meds! i had science on my side, for godssakes!

sometimes i miss those long-lost days of innocence. of thinking things might be easy, or predictable. of easy diagnoses and sure-fire treatments. not that they did any good — more on my pcos status in another post, i promise — but still. it was easier to hope with stats on your side. i miss that ability to hope.

mindfulness meditation only works when you remember to use it. to pause whenever you feel your body’s systems start to rev up and remember to really think about what’s going on, to breathe deeply, and to face what is happening with an open mind.

 i have been trying these last few days, i really have. i was disappointed at the negative test but relieved to start cramping. i was pleased at the idea of an endometrial lining that had never seen 2007. but underneath all that, i kept hoping, as many of us do despite ourselves, that the test was wrong. so i wasn’t really calm, or mindful. i had hopes. i had hopes that felt close to expectations. and we all know how bad that can be.

two days after stopping prometrium, when i still hadn’t started bleeding, i started doing a wee bit of research about progesterone withdrawal bleeds. my memory (never that great to start with) was that it took at least a day and maybe three, but not really any more that that. dr. google neither confirmed nor denied, but i read enough to know that i could be expected to wait 7-10 days before really worrying (whatever “really worrying” actually means). so i was ready to wait. and to calm the hell down revisit my mindfulness.

s asked about the cramps, which had stopped, and about any spotting, which i would have normally expected but which hadn’t started. he asked whether i should test again. i reminded him that dr h (the doc who brought us m) usually asked me to wait 5 days between tests. s thought maybe three days was a good window. i was happy to hear somebody besides me say that; i always feel such a fool when i keep testing and the results are the same.

i was prepared for it to be negative. so when, bleary-eyed and half-awake i peered at the stick and saw what i thought was a shadow of a first line, my heart leapt. and then the strong second line came. and then i couldn’t see the shadow of the first line. i turned the stick to catch different light and screwed my eyes up real tight but nope: no first line.

i tossed the stick in the trash and went back to bed.

a few hours later s asked whether i’d tested. yes, i told him. it was still negative. ok, he said. and he left to buy coffee.

i got up and grabbed m and the dogs to go for a walk. on my way downstairs i saw the pee stick, half-sticking out of the bathroom garbage. i always feel self-conscious about those damn things sitting around — what if my mil drops by?! — so i grabbed it, lifted the trash lid to re-deposit it, and gave it a closer look.

two lines.

it’s hard not to worry that the first line is too faint. that it appeared later than the 3-minute window (which i DEFINITELY did not wait for) as the result of some chemical reaction that has nothing to do with my body’s production of hgc. that i quit taking progesterone for three days and so have doomed the pregnancy. or that some piece of 2007 is still lurking in my body and is out to get to me.

but still: two lines.

happy day!

i mean, they suck, but at least they are definitive.

big leap of faith there, ‘eh? they so often don’t mean what you think or want, or they mean exactly what they mean but at the wrong heartbreaking time. but this time i’m taking it on faith that they mean i didn’t test too early and i’m really not pregnant.

not where i want to be, but since i can’t be where i want, i’ll accept where i am.

and a huge shout out to my readers — i was very touched to see my blog hits spike on the day i reported the test results. my busiest day ever! you’re the best.

i am waiting for a faculty dinner to begin, and have left the conference hotel to check out the downtown library. so here i am, posting using my 15 minutes of free internet access instead of reading books. alas.

while thus squandering my time i peeked at some blogger-friends’ updates, and am stealing this from my fun-loving friend the squab. perhaps this can count as my celebratory drink for the day.


recipe for a pregnancy addict


3 parts bravery
2 parts attractiveness
1 part mischief

splash of happiness
shake hard, serve ice-cold