The Thin Blue Line
By: John Jericiau
Waiting 10 days for most anything is difficult, but waiting for the chance to try a pregnancy test is excruciating. I started marking the calendar at day 2 post embryo transfer as I heard myself thinking things like “It’s out of our hands now” and “If it’s meant to be…” and “My life is so great already” but mostly “Please please work!” As I helped with the daily (and sometimes painful) injections into the upper gluteals of my friend/surrogate (the same friend/surrogate who helped bring our son into this world by the way), I would cringe at the sight of the bruising and inflammation and wonder what the heck was I doing to her! I wished so badly that it could be me getting the jabs. My countdown switched from days remaining until pregnancy test to number of injections left.
Alen left on a four-day business trip to Denver on day 8 post embryo transfer, and mercifully I got so busy with the boys that it was suddenly the night of day 9. I had picked up my friend from work on the way home from the boys’ swim lesson. She was sleeping at our house most nights so that we could give her the injection of medication(s) between 8-9pm each time. (The meds had to be given around the same time each day to keep the levels in the body constant for maximum efficacy.) We were almost home, and I quickly stopped in the nearby CVS to pick up milk, ice cream, and a card for our 93rd month anniversary. In a whim I found myself in the Family Planning aisle looking through the early pregnancy test kits. This was happening despite the fact that in my head I could hear the nurse at the IVF clinic warn against the use of these not-very-sensitive over-the-counter tests. This was happening despite the fact that in our previous experience during IVF cycles, including when our friend was actually pregnant with our son, we never were able to see the vertical blue line appear. But I just couldn’t wait. Plus I had a strange confident feeling ever since the IVF doctor limited our transfer to two embryos because they were so spectacular.
I showed our friend my purchase when I got back in the car, and she was eager to try it. I think she wanted a reason, and I wanted her to have a reason, to inject another day. We planned to perform the test after the boys went to bed and while I had Alen on the phone, but our friend absentmindedly used the rest room right after dinner (I actually yelled out “No!” as I heard the toilet flush while I was loading the dishwasher) so we had to hold off a bit. Finally nature called, and she took the test into the restroom while I got Alen on the phone. I tried my best to have a focused conversation with him as we waited in the kitchen for the required 3:00 for that vertical blue line, but the microwave timer was only at the 1:11 mark when we began to see what we thought was a faint vertical blue line. As I continued the conversation with Alen, our friend and I pointed with open mouths at the test piece and began to manipulate it under different light sources at different angles, but it still was definitely a faint vertical blue line. Was this really an adequate shade? We fumbled to find the directions in the box, and we found the fine print that said that a faint line was as good as a dark line. According to this, we were pregnant! As Alen and I were wrapping up our nightly conversation, I suddenly switched to FaceTime on my iPhone (similar to a webcam) and said “Oh, just one more thing! Congratulations!” as I showed him the faint vertical blue line. “Wait! Wait! Am I really seeing it?” he exclaimed as I tilted and rotated my iPhone as best I could before he was satisfied at the result.
Of course I jumped online and read all about false positives and false negatives, and decided to go to bed feeling more positive than negative. The blood test (which measures the level of the hormone hCG) was only one night’s sleep away!
Our appointment at the IVF clinic the next day was rather unceremonious. A sample of my friend’s blood and a few wishes of good luck from the staff. Now another wait. We got the test started before noon (11:49am) so we would get same day results between 2-3pm.
My caller ID screamed the IVF doctor’s name at 2:44pm, and I immediately broke out in a cold sweat. I was ready for whatever they were going to tell me. I wanted to hear that we were pregnant, and I wanted to hear that the beta hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) level was between 5-50, which denotes a positive pregnancy. Anything smaller than 5 is a negative pregnancy. Anything larger than 50 might mean twins or triplets.
I pressed the ANSWER button and before anyone could talk from their end, out of my mouth came a loud “Just tell me!” A quick reply by the nurse followed.
Beta hCG level: 156.9