Optimistic at Age 42 – One Year Later
After trying to conceive for over 1½ years, SJC shared an update from her family, one year later. This is the follow up to her initial account of her and her partner’s fertility journey trying for a second child. We recommend reading the first part of her inspiring story, Optimistic at 42, if you haven’t yet had the chance.
Embarking on a third IVF cycle
And so my story continues.
In September 2014, we went ahead and transferred all three frozen embryos. While Dr. Cheung was a little hesitant at first (due to the ethics involved in multiple embryo transfers and potential multiple births). He was ultimately supportive because 1) I was 42 years old, 2) this was my third IVF cycle, and 3) I had already transferred 9 embryos, with no sustained healthy pregnancy.
Something feels different
This time I felt ever so slightly different. I’m finding it hard to put a finger on what was different, but maybe looking back now I just wasn’t thinking about the experience so much. I had been through it a number of times, so much like learning to drive a car, there is less to think about once you’ve had a good amount of practice.
“There is a saying “be careful what you ask for”, and in that moment my mind flashed back to Dr. Cheung’s optimism about triplets.”
For this transfer, I continued with all the same recommended supplements and I followed the “fertility diet” which was now part of my normal routine.
Nine days after my frozen transfer I had a positive pregnancy test. But yikes, was it ever positive. I looked at the hCG number and panicked – 256 that’s really high. There is a saying “be careful what you ask for”, and in that moment my mind flashed back to Dr. Cheung’s optimism about triplets. I quickly dismissed this idea but did seriously wonder about the possibility of twins. I have a number of friends with twins, and while I know they wouldn’t have it any other way, I have to admit that I look at their situations and think “Please God, don’t pick me”.
“I was reminded yet again that fertility matters are, to a large extent, out of our control and so my job was to remain open to the mystery.”
Three days later the numbers had done a lot more than double. hCG was 1868. I contacted Dr. Cheung and asked him if he’d ever seen such high numbers in a singleton pregnancy (as that was my sincere hope) and he calmly stated that there is a wide range of hCG levels even in at the same gestational week, and that while twins was certainly possible, it was too early to correlate hCG levels alone with twins. Based on this feedback I was reminded yet again that fertility matters are, to a large extent, out of our control and so my job was to remain open to the mystery.
A few weeks later, my partner and I met with Dr. Cheung for our ultrasound. If you recall, it was at this stage during my first IVF cycle and positive pregnancy that we learned the fetus had no heartbeat.
“My mind fluttered between these two worry thoughts, but I tried to focus most of my attention on my most desired outcome – one healthy heartbeat.”
This time, I had two worry thoughts. First worry thought – what if there is no heartbeat like last time? Second worry thought – what if there are two heartbeats? My mind fluttered between these two worry thoughts, but I tried to focus most of my attention on my most desired outcome – one healthy heartbeat.
To our delight, we heard just that – one healthy heartbeat.
Looking back as we welcome the future
So what can I offer to those of you who are reading my story? I’m sure many of you, like me, want to believe that pregnancy is possible. And for many of you, it is. Is there anything you can do to optimize your chances? Of course. Do what you can in terms of supplements, nutrition, exercise, and mind-body therapies.
“You can do all of the “right” things and not get pregnant. You can do all of the “wrong” things, and get pregnant. It doesn’t always make sense.”
However, at the same time, I think it’s really important to then let go of the outcome. Release your desire to the universe, because we truly are not in control of fertility. You can do all of the “right” things and not get pregnant. You can do all of the “wrong” things, and get pregnant. It doesn’t always make sense. I think that’s what I’ve learned.
And we now have a healthy baby girl!!