Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dangerous games

I’m officially obsessed with hcg levels. Despite every caveat I’ve read on every webpage I’ve visited that’s said “you can’t read much into hcg levels in early pregnancy,” I’m doing the opposite. I’m trying to read all I can into my two hcg levels, and trying to predict what Thursday’s level will be (assuming everything looks okay). I have set up levels in my mind that will make me (somewhat) happy, and those that will terrify me to my core.

It’s an emotionally dangerous game.

Interestingly, though, despite most doctors’ insinuation that you can’t glean anything worthwhile from early hcg levels, it appears that at least a few studies have found links between early hcg levels and the long-term (or at least first trimester/20 week) viability of the pregnancy. For example, one study seems to have found that, for IVF patients, those women who did not have a level above 100 at 16 dpER were most likely not going to have a viable pregnancy at 13 weeks. (For women whose pregnancies were not viable, the average hcg level at 16dpER was 56 and at 18dpER was115.) And, the average hcg for women who had viable pregnancies at 13 weeks was 169 (16dpER) and 401 (18dpER), respectively, for singleton pregnancies, and 348 (16dpER) and 798 (18dpER), respectively, for multiples.

Another study found that women with hcg levels greater than 200 at 14 days past embryo transfer (they didn’t specify in the part I could read whether it was a 3-day or 5-day transfer) were much more likely to have viable pregnancies at 20 weeks than those who did not. (Of course, this study also found a 19% miscarriage rate with their IVF patients. A frightening, if not altogether surprising, number.)

What I found perhaps most interesting about these articles, though, is that they really squared with the experience I had with my miscarriage. (Granted, an n of 1 is anything but statistically significant, but whatever…) My first beta level was taken somewhere between 18-20 dpo and my level was only 125. (I’m not sure exactly how many dpo it was, because that was in the days before I charted, and it was the month before I got the ovulati*n monitor—ahhhh, remember those naive days?) And, while the number did more than double between the first and second number, had I been armed with this information beforehand, I think I would have known better what such a low beta at almost 5 weeks portended and not been quite as surprised when beta #3 dropped back down to the level of beta #1.

Of course, since I’m far more jaded than I was way back in the day, I’m hardly taking these articles to mean that everything is going to be just fine. I know better. I’ve watched as far too many women—irl and in the blogosphere—who have run into problems that had nothing to do with these early beta numbers.

And, that’s why this is such a dangerous game.

Speaking of dangerous games, hubby and I started playing another extraordinarily dangerous one this morning. It’s called the “start talking about what life might be like next April assuming everything goes according to plan.” We found ourselves wondering over breakfast whether my mother would indeed be willing to take on some of the daycare responsibilities (as her mother did for my brother and me when I was little), and wondering where we’d have to cut down on expenses to make ends meet.

And this game is more terrifying than the first because it means that hope has officially taken up residence in my heart and is measuring for drapes. I can’t escape her now. And we all know what that means. On the one hand, if everything does go according to plan, it’s wonderful. But, if it doesn’t…well, then it’s just devastating.

Two more days until beta #3… Two + weeks until we could even hope to see the heartbeat (I think)… And eight weeks until we’d be out of the all-important first trimester.

I’ve never wanted to fast forward through the rest of the summer so quickly in all of my life…

13 comments:

Sarah said...

well, the games are not dangerous in and of themselves, because they have nothing to do with the outcome. the outcome is going to be whatever it's going to be and there's nothing you can do about it and it's not possible not to have all these thoughts swirling around in your head so you might as well give in. the best i was ever able to figure out was to try to have a lot of distractions (do you remember when i was planning four parties four weekends in a row? this is why!), and to try my best to have exhaustingly long days in the hopes that i might be able to get some sleep once in a while (that one didn't work out so much). hope you find some fun ways to pass the time between the milestones!

serenity said...

I couldn't have said it better than Sarah did. Information isn't dangerous - it's what you take to heart from the information that will hurt you.

And hon. Hope can be a good thing. At the very least, take heart in the fact that it DID work for you. Which means it could again, if all goes to shit.

That's about the only thing that is keeping me going. (Well, that and the complete and utter shock that this is actually happening to me.)

It's all about little steps. One step, one milestone, hell, one HOUR at a time.

And I'm right here with you hon...

*hug*

Kristen said...

I played the same dangerous game with my pregnancy. I would compare my numbers to other women and then freak myself out if I wasn't as high or as fast of a doubler.

I agree with the PPs who say to find some way to distract yourself. Someone once told me that if I were to m/c, there was nothing I could do to stop it so I should just take things day by day, hope/pray and do my best to enjoy myself. I know, easier said than done. But comparing myself to others never made me happy.

I doubled in 53 hours from beta 1 to 2 and then in 48 hours from 2 to 3. And while that was perfectly fine, I still felt like $hit when I'd see people doubling in 20 hours. Damn numbers...

I can't wait to see you pass all your milestones with ease.

XOXO,
Kristen

Mands said...

I don't know much about hcg levels, but I really hope that come next April, those issues will be a reality for you.

Diana said...

WOW, very interesting. I hope I forget all of this by the time I get a BFP!

Amy R said...

Gosh Sticky, and I thought I was obsessed with the numbers games! Statistics can be very evil...I spent part of today reading about stats if IVF with MF issues, t-shaped uterus issues, good/poor responder, under or over 35 y/o etc. And no stat is wonderful. So I obsess and worry and obsess all over again. I'm glad you wrote all this on your blog today and I'm glad I read what Sarah wrote in her comment to you. Its so difficult to realize and believe that what will be, will be.

Hugs to you :)

Bumble said...

Yup, yup, I know just how you're feeling. I remember working out what they *should* be and the very minimum I'd be satisfied with. I was so petrified of hearing something lower, but it didn't happen. They exceeded my hopes by 2000. So please try not to worry if you can help it (he he). These little beans are stronger than we think and they seem to just plod along and do what they're supposed to even if we worry about it. In the meantime, I'll be praying for an amazing level at your next one, just to set your mind at ease. I hope the next 8 weeks (and 30) sail by smoothly and quickly for you.

Baby Blues said...

Exactly why I opted not to get my beta taken. If it doubles, it doubles. Gold standard for viability would still be the heartbeat during ultrasound. And so I wait. But the wait is driving me crazy!

tipsymarie said...

Agree with all of the above. You would *think* worrying would stop once pregnancy was established, but no! It brings on a whole new set of fun things to obsess over.

I think it's almost impossible to stop the natural urges of planning for the baby. You can't turn off the joy because of what might go wrong, your brain won't let you.

Kate said...

I know what you mean - I have never wished for time to move faster than I do now. I hope your numbers go up and up!

Here I am said...

Hi-
I just came upon your blog and I'm in the same boat-- just got a positive preg test this weekend and am currently waiting by the phone for the results of my first beta. I want to puke- I am SO nervous. Ugh-- anyway, thanks for being out there! And I'm praying for you too!

hopeful to hateful in 28 days said...

I feel you on the fast forward! Hoping your beta shows beautiful numbers today!

Kelly said...

I'm waiting by my computer checking your blog incessantly! Praying your numbers go way up today! I know they will!!! :)