my Self

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Fort St John, BC, Canada
My husband, David, and I had been trying to have a baby since November of 2007. After 'letting things happen', we got the amazing news that we were pregnant in June of 2008. Sadly, that pregnancy ended at 9 weeks with a natural miscarriage. After two more chemical pregnancies, we turned to fertility treatments in 2009. That decision was a disaster, with lousy medical care and poor monitoring. In December of 2009, we made the huge decision to move onto IVF. Things fell into place like magic and we began treatment on January 15, 2010. After a blighted ovum in March, we did a successful FET in June, only to endure another blighted ovum in July. We kept up and underwent another IVF in September/October of 2010 with the arrival of our son, Brogan in July of 2011! After our lovely success (finally) we decided to undertake yet another IVF treatment and hope for a sibling for our little red headed boy. Well... so far it's worked. Our story continues below!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bitch of A Nurse - Bouncing Back

I'm not sure why I did it.  But I did.  Since we really aren't telling many people we're pregnant (again) because we know we *might* lose it (again), the few people who do know what's going on in my uterus are prone to my bursts of happiness, exciting news updates and general stints of unnecessary blobs of information.

Mostly, those people are the ladies I work with, my sons' girlfriends and my friend, Leah.  

So when we got yet another fabulous beta on Monday, I was kind of overflowing with awe and excitement.  I could not imagine my numbers being five digits long.  And they were.  I was thrilled and overwhelmed...with good reason!

I couldn't help myself, I dialed my clinic in Burnaby and asked to speak to one of the nurses.  She answered the phone (I politely had waiting until near the end of the day, when the clinic is quiet).  I let her know that I had been getting additional betas because I needed the reassurance.   Now, why did I even think I needed to justify my actions to her?  It's my body, my pregnancy, my history, and honestly, I can do whatever the hell I feel like without her permission.  Yet, I found myself tripping over my words, telling her that I had gone around the clinic's protocol and *gasp* gotten more betas *gasp* on my own accord.

I could tell she was unimpressed.  Even when I told her that my 27dpo beta was nearly 20,000.  She was tight lipped (or I imagined she was) and frowning slightly on the other end of the line.   There was a feeling of having to explain why I was happy.  At this point I was feeling stupid and awkward to the core, like when you are 15 and you get enough guts up to talk to the cute boy at school and as soon as you start to speak you realize how utterly dorky and obvious you appear.

"We've just been through so much this year," I explained, "I just want to have a heads up about what to expect so we are prepared..."


"We had such low betas last time, and they were slow as well..  I know that it's less likely that we are going to have another blighted ovum with such good numbers this time around," I stammered, hopefully.


"Isn't that right.......?" My voice... tiny even to myself.

Finally she spoke.  I wish she hadn't.  

"The reason the clinic does not do beta testing after the fourth week is it is really not useful information.  Anything can happen before the ultrasound and there is really nothing that additional betas tell us.  We do two betas so we can confirm a pregnancy and then we wait until the ultrasound to make sure it's viable."


"But I know that blighted ovums are associated with lower betas for the most part.....  my betas are so good... I just wanted to have some reassurance that things might be better this time..." Now I actually sound whiny.  And I'm hating myself for even calling her.  I'm hating myself more for listening to what she's saying.

"As I said, those numbers don't tell us anything," she continues, after letting my pathetic little beg go unnoticed, "we must wait until the ultrasound so we can determine viability.  Betas vary too widely after four weeks for us to be able to tell anything from them."

"Oh, okay." I said.  "I'll just wait until next week then.  Thank you...."

"Was there anything else?" She asks, sweetly.  

"No, I just wanted my numbers noted in the file," I replied, weakly.

After hanging up, it felt like everything around me was falling.  There was a sense of unreality sinking in.  Who was I to get my hopes up?  What made me think I had a right to enjoy one moment of this?  To feel true hope, true wonder at what was happening, to experience part of this journey without the constant feeling of a razor poised neatly at my throat?

I realized that what she said was true.  While low betas are certainly associated with blighted ovums, there are reports (I've scrounged a few) from women on forums (nothing medical that I can find) of women having what sound like normal betas and still having blighted ovums.   I spent several hours working quietly at my desk, sinking into the nurses' words, letting them soak into what had been a happy, positive mental attitude for the past few weeks.  The reality of what the nurse said was like a dark, bloody stain on my day.... on my hope.  

Then, like every other time I've been brought to my knees in the past three years, I started to get pissed off.  I didn't want to be ignorant and have false hope, but I didn't want to take one person's opinion and run with it like it was some kind of golden truth, either.  Just because she has her degree does not mean she knows more about this particular subject than I do.  She sure doesn't care about it as much as I do.  And she sure doesn't know what I know, or what it's like to be in my body, with my past and my attitude and my tenacity.

This is a link to an article that was given to me by a person who works at a well respected clinic when I spoke to him about my betas and fear of another blighted ovum.  Basically it is a study of IVF patients who were monitored and they confirmed a direct link to low betas and blighted ovums.

The levels I have been getting with my betas are normal/high for a healthy singleton pregnancy.  They are average for a healthy twin pregnancy.  These betas are not slow, they are not low, they are nearly ideal.

They DO mean something.  Low betas mean something.  High betas mean something.  They might not tell us if there is a heartbeat, or twins, or if our baby has eleven fingers or amber eyes, but for crying out loud, they DO tell us something

The nurse was wrong.  She was wrong with her information and she was wrong for how she told me what she thinks is truth.  All I really wanted, I realized, was for someone else to say..."Hey, those numbers sound promising!" or "I understand how worried you are, it's just another week until your ultrasound, meanwhile, I'll make a note of this in your chart.  How are you feeling otherwise?"

I'm not an idiot.  I know there might be no heartbeat.  I know there might be nothing at all.  But I also know that I am more likely, MUCH more likely, to have good news this time than any other.  And I am smart enough to know that the best thing I can do for myself, my husband and this baby is to have a calm, positive attitude and above all -  hope.  

I don't know why the nurse did what she did.  I guess it's just office protocol to not offer any 'medical' opinion unless it comes from a doctor.  I guess hope and kindness might fall into that category.  Maybe she's been through that conversation before and had it turn out horribly for the patient, even after good betas.  Who knows.  

Here's another reason I'm hopeful.  I have such bad round ligament pain that there just has to be something growing in there.  When I cough, sneeze, stretch, or move suddenly, I get a tearing, ripping pain through my abdomen.  Directly around my uterus.  I've never, ever experienced this before.  It feels like I've done two hundred sit-ups.

I'm also experiencing constipation.  Ew, I know.  But this is just biological stuff we're discussing here and my dignity went out the window right around the time I had my twentieth vaginal ultrasound.  I swear I've had more people look up my skirt than a college co-ed with something to prove.    The thing about me, is I've never had issues with my bowels.  I watch those yogurt commercials with a kind of smugness.  No issues here, ladies!  Okay.  *now* there are issues.  If you're wondering what having a little sweet pea nestled in the uterus has to do with bowel movements, it has to do with the hormones being released.  

"In early pregnancy, constipation occurs because the body has created more progesterone, which in turn slows digestion in the intestines. In fact, it’s actually considered one of the first symptoms of pregnancy."

Okay.  Maybe it's not that bad, but if you're not used to it, it's horrid.  And, the picture really made me laugh.  Looking at it makes me laugh again!   Had to share.  Can't laugh at yourself you are doomed to live a sorry ass life.  

Moving on up.  Breasts.  Pretty to look at, pleasant to hold... well.  Not anymore.  The holding at least.  If David looks sideways at my boobs he's getting the evil eye from me.  My terry cloth bathrobe feels like sandpaper on my nipples.  At night, the aching of the entire breast wakes me up.  They feel, at best, like they've gone ten rounds with some idiot who has a fetish for twisting nipples and rough groping.  Ugh.  

And, I'm losing weight.  I'm not hungry.  I'm slightly nauseous from time to time, but hardly every hungry.  Nothing sounds like it will taste good.  I'm not interested in food.  I've had a few bouts when I am suddenly 'clear' and really hungry, and gobble whatever I can get to, but usually I'm pretty apathetic about food.  Not that I can't stand to lose a pound or two.  I've dropped 15 since January (and that's during treatment, people!!), but I'd rather have been another 15 lbs lighter at the beginning of this pregnancy.  I'm not complaining.  

Emotionally I'm feeling good.  I got over the bitchy nurse thing and realized my clinic's job is not to make me feel better, it's to make me pregnant better.  And they are good at that.  I'll go to my friends, family and internet forums for a pat on the back and a kind word.  


  1. ...and kind words you shall get!!! F- her and her needless comments. you're right to want a congrats or a how ya feeling... her dose of "reality" was inappropriate in light of what you've gone through. it blows my mind how some people in this field can lack so much in the empathy department. but let it go...keep thinking positive sonya! this is your time and there really is no room for negativity. you deserve to bask in all of this...your betas LOOK AWESOME and i know what you mean... they DO mean something...all of my blighted ovums were slightly indicated with suspect betas. yours are amazing this time around..your symptoms are appropriate...and you have so many people pushing their positive energy your way. "one out of 6 embryo transfer baby" is right beside me---1 week old today--- and i am STILL in awe that i got pregnant with him. i am certain in 8 months you will be feeling the same gratitude i feel toward my IVF dh... my fertility friends...and real life support system who have built me up when i thought things to be were impossible. don't let anyone rain on your baby parade!!! xoxo

  2. DON'T let that rude nurse rain on YOUR parade honey. I am sure she was just covering her behind and they are told to tell all patients that. You would think after all that you have been through, she would show more compassion. Some people are like that. I think your beta #'s have been awesome and that you should CONTINUE to be SUPER EXCITED!!!!!!!! You hold your head up high and proud because you will be delivering a baby in a few months!!!!! When is your ultrasound next week? I can't wait to hear if there is 1 or 2 HEALTHY babies in there. CHIN UP PREGO LADY!!!

  3. It is so hard dealing with a medical person who seems to display a severe lack of compassion. It looks like you've sorted some of it out though and are remaining positive which is great. I hope the ultrasound wait flies by for you!

  4. I can't believe your nurse reacted that way! It's her job to make you feel comfortable. Sigh! I'm sorry you had to go through that. How much longer until your ultrasound and you can shove it in her face that you've got a beautiful heartbeat (or two, or three)?

  5. Have absolutely no problem whatsoever with you 'bursts' of happiness! They make my day :)