What to expect when you’re not expecting XXIV: Happiness is a high HCG

by Lord Sutch

Last post was pretty grim huh? Apparently one of my sisters read it and rang my mum because she was concerned about my mental state. And yeah I was down, but that’s part and parcel of this shitty ride. The down parts. Which can very quickly be followed by good news, which can turn crap again the next day. Good times.

We were both down because the HCG levels weren’t doubling every 24 hours like they were supposed to and this is indicative of bad things. Either a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. It can also be indicative of nothing much and everything could work out fine. We’ve discovered as we go along this journey that if it’s certainty you crave then you’re pretty much screwed. Everything comes with a caveat, everything comes with a “but we can’t be sure”.

For those that don’t know (and this was me until a few weeks ago), HCG is the hormone that supports the placenta following implantation. It’s a pretty important part of the process, it’s also the hormone that makes the second line on a pregnancy test show up. It’s the hormone responsible for more ups and downs, held breaths, and dismayed wails than just about anything else.

Your first pregnancy test will register a positive if you have an HCG level above 25. Our first level was 47. Sounds good right? But it’s not really. The clinic said they like to see the HCG level between 50 and 100. So we were marginally under the minimum. Because of this we had to go back and do another blood test four days later, instead of 10. So we went back and they wanted to see an HCG level 4x the 47, so 200ish. Ours was 140, which was 3x. We knew this wasn’t good. We knew it was a sign that things weren’t going like they should. We also knew that things can change but you can’t help but being down, we’ve spent four years facing disappointment, and so you become conditioned to expect the worst.

So with another not-great HCG result we had to do another blood test four days later which was yesterday. We went back, Kim gave up some of her blood and we went to work for a few hours. You have to do something to distract yourself because when we did it the first time and sat round waiting it was excruciating. So we worked until midday then went home. The phone-call can come anytime from 1pm. The phone-call came bang on 1.

Again the tone of the voice from the nurse who rang gave away nothing. Man they’re good at masking the news. Pleasantries aside she said she was delighted to be ringing us with good news. Kim’s HCG levels had gone from 140 to 830 in 4 days, an escalation of just about 6x. Way more than they need to for it to be considered “healthy”.

We’re in healthy range now. We’ve never been in healthy range. This was the most remarkable result we’ve had in this whole fucking time. We are by no means out of the woods, but we’re more optimistic than we’ve ever been. And while there is obvious risk that we’ll come crashing down from a great height, for now we are happy. We are content. Kim’s getting nausea pretty badly but loving it. My oldest sister said the same thing, that in a perverse way you welcome feeling sick because it means there’s something there growing. There’s a child happening.

The outpouring of support has been unreal. Both on Facebook and Twitter people have been amazing. When I tweeted the update one person said that “a nation exhales” and I love it. I love the thought that we have so many people behind us, hoping for the best for us. So thank you. Thank you so much.

I also had a friend say that if we went to ground now people would understand, we don’t have to play everything out publicly and Kim and I have talked about this. Where does this story end? I think that if the pregnancy proceeds normally then that will probably signal the end of this yarn. We started out because we couldn’t find an infertility story that talked about everything warts and all so we wanted to do that, and our other complaint was that all infertility stories seemed to end with “and now we have a beautiful baby” and when you’re at the beginning of that road you don’t want to read that.

Also, there are a huge number of mummy and daddy blogs out there. I’m not sure I could offer anything new or insightful that would be interesting to the reader.

So we will keep playing this out publicly in the short-term at least. And then we’ll see how it goes and that might be the end of our tale. There’s the possibility of turning this whole thing into a book, and we might do that and pad it out with interviews of people in our orbit – family and friends, the doctors and nurses who have been with us – so that it paints a really clear picture of what this whole thing is like.

I’m proud of having told this story. We’ve been contacted by people all over the world who have thanked us for having been so open, so raw, so honest. These are people who are going through infertility, or people who know others that are. Someone described our posts as a “lifeboat”. And while I wish that no-one had to go through this, if it has to happen I’m pleased we’re able to help.

I’ll probably put a Twitter poll up so you can all help name any children we are fortunate enough to have. I mean the online community must have partial ownership of anything we produce by now.

So maybe 2017 will end on a high for us. I’m so grateful if it does, because holy shit it’s been a shocker.


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