In my pre-infertile life, I used to think that once you had a positive pregnancy test, it meant you were pregnant. In the 17+ years since that time, I've learned that that's not always the case. Well, you are technically pregnant, but it doesn't necessarily mean you have any chance of getting a baby out of the whole deal.
I'm not talking about the cases in which you have good betas (say 150 on 14 dpo - days past ovulation), but rather the time when you get an iffy 24, when it should be well over 50. So - should you be happy? Is it time to announce it? Not really. The first thing that happens is that you're asked to repeat it 2 days later. And then what happens when you get a 32? It's going up, but it's not doubling. Another repeat... 2 days later. 59. Almost doubled, right? And it can go on and on. Sometimes it's just a 'chemical pregnancy' and sometimes it isn't, but the low, non-doubling beta is rarely a sign of a healthy pregnancy.
Back in November 2001, I had a pregnancy like this. 14dpt - days post transfer - I had 29. 2 days later, it was 34. Then it continued to almost double, to double, etc. And eventually, an embryo appeared on the ultrasound screen - exactly the size it should be, with a beating heart. It kept growing and slowly I started to think that I might end up with a baby after all. (Strangely, I never really looked at the other hormone tests I did, all of which had values that were not normal for pregnancy.) The pregnancy was a mess. I had a big hematoma (blood clot) in my uterus and had periodic bleeding, but the fetus continued to grow. Around 11 weeks, I had the nuchal translucency test & it was fine. About a week later, I was put on complete bed rest because of heavy bleeding that continued to get worse. The doctor said it was just the hematoma finally draining itself. He was wrong. I started to cramp badly and the pregnancy ended right around 13 weeks.
The signs had been there all along - the low beta, the non-doubling beta, bad hormone tests, heavy bleeding, the hematoma (which never got smaller than the fetus)... After all the bleeding and the uncertainty, I must admit that there was a sense of relief that it was finally over.
Frequently when I read other people's miscarriage stories I find myself forgetting that it ever even happened to me. The times when I do remember are actually when I read about the low, non-doubling betas. And then I feel like I don't know what to say. Should I tell the truth? Should I keep my fingers in mittens? Sometimes I want to say - just pray that if it's going to end, that it end quickly - that you don't have to go through 11 weeks of uncertainty & losing blood only to also lose the baby in the end...
Looking at the queries I get for FertilityStories, a lot of women are wondering what happens when the beta is low or doesn't double...
How low was the lowest beta with which you successfully went on to carry a baby? How many days past ovulation / transfer were you? If you ever had a low or non-doubling beta - what would you have wanted to be told?