This is a story of the only time I ever got a BFP. It's a cautionary tale for all you who use HCG in your luteal phases, and one that changed me irrevocably.
It was a cycle like any other cycle. I had been through the whole phase of emotions that come with infertility: The grief, the denial, the anger, the hatred, and I had arrived in a place of relative peace. Or was it numbness? Either way, I wasn't expecting to be pregnant, and I wasn't relishing in self-pity and misery over it anymore either. It wasn't a bad place to be actually.
I'd been taking post-peak* HCG injections for months to help stimulate my body into producing enough estrogen and progesterone to keep me from transforming into the PMS-y monster version of myself. The one prone to dense anxiety, insomnia, alarming fatigue, fits of uncontrollable rage, and a whole host of digestive issues that I had come to accept were a normal part of pre-menstruating Jess. Despite HCG's bloody expensive price tag and my aversion to penetrating my skin with needles, I was so grateful to have it because it solved my PMS miraculously: no more transient post-peak personality disorder, no more human fried-food vacuum, and no more bloating! In fact, most of the time I wouldn't have even known I was going to get my period if I hadn't been keeping a chart.
And based on my chart in October 2015, I was 17 days past ovulation with no signs of AF rearing her ugly face. Based on NaPro protocol I could have tested on P+16, (we are advised to wait one week after our last injection to allow the HCG injection to metabolize out of our system) but as I was expecting my period to come any moment, I didn't see the point. Then, P+17 came and went, and still no sign of AF. I had never before reached this day in my cycle without having some indication that menstruation was imminent. And so I entered this strange place that only women who struggle with TTC could understand. I didn't want to test and even toy with hope since I was in a stable place emotionally. But knowing if by some miracle I happened to be pregnant I would need progesterone support, I went ahead and tested on the morning of P+18. And you know what I saw? A BFP. Sure, it was faint, but knowing that by all medical standards my injected HCG should have been completely flushed from my system by P+16, I believed I was in fact pregnant. And I have never felt such a complete and immediate flash of emotion. All of the grief, fear, uncertainty, hope, joy, gratitude, and relief that one person is capable of feeling washed over me like an electric shock- to the point where I believe I nearly fell over. And I'm not exaggerating. The next few hours were a flurry of trying to reach my doctor (who was out for a family funeral) and trying to arrange a beta test- which is the NaPro protocol if you get a BFP. Since my NaPro doc is out of town, his nurse sent the order to a local clinic and I tried to go about my day while praying a mixture of pleas and praises on repeat.
On the way to my afternoon appointment, I started bleeding. Okay, relax, I said to myself. You're just spotting. But by the time I reached the clinic, I knew the truth: That AF had arrived. When a potential baby is in the mix, you can never be too sure, though. Plus, I was too embarrassed to cancel the appointment- "Oh, whoops! Just kidding!" So I proceeded through the doors, past a sea of babies in the waiting room, into the examination room where the not-napro-savvy nurse looked at me like I was a pregnancy faker trying to get attention. Part of me still held onto the hope, unearthed in the morning's excitement, that I was pregnant, and the 30 minutes it took for the test to come back were the longest of my life. Negative. Such an apt word. Negative indicates the presence of nothing, which is what was inside of my body and my soul at that point.
The numbness I'd been feeling up to that day had given in to renewed life and had now returned with a vengence. This time as catatonic despair rather than complacent indifference. I fell into a characteristic funk I'm sure each of you understands, and again had to grapple with my wounded soul and volatile relationship with God. I felt betrayed. Afterall, if my period had just come four hours earlier I never would have tested. That's all. Four hours. And I would have carried on with my life's work of slowly repairing my spirituality and finding a new place of happiness. I'm pretty good at that- I can't live in despondance for too long. But I felt duped. I felt like a child who had begged her father for a puppy for years while watching him give every other child a puppy and finally was given a puppy only to discover the puppy was a mirage and then had to watch it vanish in front of my eyes while hearing my father say to me, "Oh, you thought you were ACTUALLY getting a PUPPY. How adorable." And I felt like a fool, for I'd given myself over to joy that was an illusion.
My doctor's assessment was that I had a chemical pregnancy, but I believe in my heart it was a false positive. I know now that HCG metabolizes differently in every woman. I've read that some have experienced a BFP as late as P+21 without actually being pregnant. I wish I'd known that sooner. Thankfully I am no longer taking HCG. After this episode the pharmacy that compounded it for me went on a hiatus for remodeling of its lab, and I had a difficult time getting the drug for an affordable price, so I switched to oral progesterone. My levels seem to be holding steady in the normal range without it, and I hope that continues. It's a special kind of pain to have unspeakable joy crushed in an instant. I could have lived without experiencing it and feel no better off for having felt it. But there is a silver lining: At least I know what a positive pregnancy test looks like.
[*In NaPro speak: post-peak is my preferred lingo for discussing the post-ovulatory phase since it's been confirmed that I'm not actually ovulating.]