This is the ninth installment of Barren Advice. You can ask questions that are fertility or non-fertility related.
Barren Advice is posted each Tuesday. If you have your own question for Barren Advice, click here to learn how to submit. Please weigh in with your own thoughts in the comment section and indicate which question you're addressing if there are multiple questions in the post.
Today I had my embryo transfer for my first IVF cycle, after 6 years of TTC, several years of alternative treatments like acupuncture and herbs, 8 prior assisted cycles including 6 IUI's, 1 miscarriage. Normally I am very good about refraining from urine pregnancy tests and waiting for the blood test results. This cycle, though, my husband and I will be travelling during the week when I was scheduled to have my blood test. Because of the difficulty of finding a lab to do the blood test in our destinations, the RE decided to postpone the blood test until I get back, almost a week after I was originally scheduled for the test.
My question: Should I do a urine test on my own, or wait for the blood test?
Pros of testing myself:
-During my one pregnancy which led to miscarriage, each day that I was pregnant was among the happiest of my life. I wouldn't want to miss out on any joy that may be coming to me, especially after the hundreds of days of non-joy over the past 6 years.
-If the urine test is positive but then I miscarriage by the time of the blood test, it might be good to know about the miscarriage for diagnostic purposes and the next IVF cycle.
-2WW becomes 3WW! I am patient, but there are limits.
The big con:
-Our week and a half of travel involves visits to multiple family members including staying in their houses. No family members know anything at all about TTC, IF, etc. We do not plan to announce a pregnancy, if there is one, for at least a couple of months, due to a combination of miscarriage concern and weird family dynamics. If the test is negative, I would have a hard time concealing my disappointment and/or making up an excuse about why I am so upset. If the test is positive, neither my husband nor I have a good enough poker face to hide our excitement. We don't want anyone to know anything at this point, but I'm not sure if I would be able to keep positive or negative test results a secret.
I know that you and most of the rest of the IF world are far less secretive than I am, but we definitely want to stay in the IF closet. That said, if you were in my situation would you test or wait?
There are going to be people who write in the comment section to wait and they will also have good reasons. And therefore, I'll start this off by saying that you should read through everyone's thoughts and then weigh each one, choosing the one where you have no argument to make inside your head to the contrary. My advice is going to be to test.
Unless you are the type who can truly compartmentalize, you will still be experiencing emotions over infertility and the cycle regardless of the outcome. Sometimes, the waiting is the worst part. No one wants to go into a cycle thinking that it won't work, but it sounds like you have looked ahead and know what happens next, therefore, though a negative will sting like the dickens, you do have a goal of picking yourself back up and giving yourself emotional Benadryl even if you don't necessarily know how you will reach that goal from this vantage point. I think having that in your pocket, knowing you will get there even if it is simply a matter of putting foot over foot for the next few weeks, is a huge source of strength. By which I mean that you should notice your own internal strength that you can plan for the future, accept multiple possibilities, and have the sense to think ahead. Those facts alone point to a person who has internal fortitude.
Why test--for the very reason you state as a pro in your question. I believe wholeheartedly that we should grab happiness where we can. Some would rather not know about a chemical pregnancy, and in some cases I agree that ignorance is bliss. But in most, I believe when you are going to be unhappy anyway, to grab the five minutes of happiness passed your way. To turn it down gains nothing--it doesn't lessen the unhappiness on the other end. If the cycle doesn't work, you are going to be sad. If the cycle does work and it turns out to be a chemical pregnancy, you are going to be sad. If the pregnancy continues for a bit, whether or not you tested will have no impact on how you feel later on with whether you reach term or not because new information will be added to that emotional path. So, in terms of immediate reaction, I would take 5 minutes of happiness and 71 hours and 55 minutes of unhappiness over 72 hours of unhappiness. But that is just me. Some feel that the sadness on the other end is even worse when you swing down from great heights. But, in my world, sadness is sadness and the shade of it doesn't really matter.
There are plenty of non-conception reasons you might be sad or anxious or in a bad mood and needing space. Problems at work, a fight with a friend, debating a career change. You may not be able to hide the feelings, but you may be able to explain them away.
And if it is positive and you're giddy, there are excuses galore you can use. You can pretend you received a call from a friend who is pregnant which allows you to gush about "her" pregnancy (and later gives you the opening: "remember how I told you about my friend that day..."). It could be something good happening at work or just that you're in a sunny mood in general.
I hope that is what happens on your trip--that you're too happy and people get suspicious that something good is happening.
In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert closes off the first section--Eat--with an explanation for why she took four months out of her life to only seek happiness. She explains: "But I felt a glimmer of happiness when I started studying Italian, and when you see the faint potentiality for happiness after such dark times you must grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt--this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight."
I read into your question that you want to feel okay with testing. That you want someone to tell you that it will be okay if you test--that you will get through the day regardless of whether you are circling the bottom of despair or bubbling over with happiness. You will get through the day. It may not be perfect. It may be messy and emotional and full of excuses--but I don't think that a day where you don't test will look that much different. Infertility doesn't simply hang out, sipping a cappuccino while you navigate a visit and wait to test. Those emotions--those fears and hope and excitement and anxiety--are there anyway. At least test and see what you are facing.
No really, the beauty of a blog advice column is that you get to weigh in with your two cents too. Let the questioner know if you support the advice, add to the response, or dispute it completely. I would love people to add to my argument, but I'd also love to hear the opposite side: why she shouldn't test.
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