Partner’s Post: Poppyseed

When a person becomes pregnant without the intervention of a fertility clinic, the medicalization of conception is largely absent through the first trimester. My therapist dismisses my obsession with signs and symptoms that fluctuate by the minute and charts of numbers that are never even measured, let alone documented, when pregnancy is achieved “the usual way” (her words, not mine). Back when she had children, she says, HCG numbers were not a thing.

I understand that a great deal of the world has far more life experience in this regard, but it was everyone’s first time once, and I highly doubt that even my all-knowing therapist was as blasé about her first pregnancy as she seems to expect me to be about A’s. Is that condescension I detect? Or am I just painfully self-conscious and projecting?

Part of me wishes that we hadn’t shared the news with anyone on day 14. As the internet continually reminds me, the first three months are defined by uncertainty. Miscarriage rates are astronomical. I dread the humiliation of having to renounce the announcement. “Oh, sorry, I’m just a naive idiot who believed that a blood test at 13 days actually meant something.”

I feel as though I’m perceived as a naive idiot. I feel as though I’m being watched and judged by everyone who knows. I feel as though out of earshot, I’m being mocked and PartnerA and the poppyseed are being pitied.

I’m incredibly insecure. There are good reasons for that. But I’m not here to write about myself. I’m here to write about the poppyseed.

The first and second HCG blood test numbers were higher than average — 155 (13 days) and 536 (15 days). The nurse half-joked (and half not-joked) about the possibility of two poppyseeds, given the high 13-day number and the notable 15-day leap. That’s a good sign.

A less good sign: spotting. Day 15, blood. Intermittently, days 15 through 18. At this point, it (whatever ‘it’ is) is the size of a poppyseed. Which is to say, a poppyseed that could have easily been passed without detection.

I went with PartnerA to the fertility clinic this morning for her third HCG blood test. I didn’t have to. I could have slept in on this chilly Saturday morning. In fact, PartnerA encouraged me to stay in bed. But I know that presence demonstrates support and support is important, right? It felt important that I be there with PartnerA this morning.

We spoke to DrText for all of two minutes as he dashed between patients. I’m not sure what I expected, but he was more pessimistic than I’ve ever seen him. The Google and many a blog reader reassure that spotting is common. The Google asserts that first trimester blood occurs in 30% of pregnancies and 15% of those go on to avoid miscarriage. The Google would have one believe that first trimester spotting is relatively shrug-worthy. After all, what can you do? Nothing.

This morning, DrText offered PartnerA no such Google-like reassurances, though. Instead, he gently explained that a miscarriage is the result of a poorly developed sperm or egg or both, and that should miscarriage be the result of this cycle, know that it was nothing that PartnerA did or did not do that caused it.

Hm. All of this before 9:00 AM. Also, perhaps a tad premature to prepare oneself for the end before it’s even begun. Should we not at least await the results of the third HCG blood test?

In my non-official assessment, only today’s HCG number (day 19) will tell us if the poppyseed is even still present. If the number goes up from 536, that’s good news. If it goes down, well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Truth be told, for all of my hesitation and anxiety (borne of my own tumultuous childhood), I would be very disappointed. Honestly, I’m rather excited about that potential poppyseed.


One thought on “Partner’s Post: Poppyseed

  1. Here’s the thing: a positive pregnancy test (be it blood or urine-based) doesn’t actually guarantee you a baby in nine months. But, the odds of a positive pregnancy test leading to a baby are substantially more (I’ve read so many different statistics I don’t know what to think, but let’s at least say that the odds are better than even) than the odds of a negative pregnancy test leading to a baby (approximately zero). So, you’re at least better off than you would be if the cycle hadn’t worked. Which is so painfully obvious that it hardly seems worth saying, but I’ve been telling it to myself a lot, so I thought maybe it would be of some use to you as well.

    In terms of Dr. Text’s negativity, it may be worth bearing in mind what a lot of his experience probably is. The majority of straight people, at least (and judging from the forms they made y’all fill out, that’s probably a large part of their practice), don’t go to a fertility clinic unless they’re having problems. So, I think that his patients are probably more likely than your average bear to have problems getting, and *staying*, pregnant. So, spotting in a patient who has had recurrent miscarriages (which is the sort of thing that might send you to a fertility clinic), is probably a lot more ominous than spotting in someone without fertility issues, who just needed access to sperm. If you talked to a general practice OB, you’d probably get something a little bit different by way of perspective. Does that make sense?

    As for your therapist, frankly she sounds more naive to me than you do. I know my mother told me one time that when she got pregnant with me (her first child), it never really even occurred to her that miscarriage was a possibility. She knew they happened, in theory, but didn’t connect it to herself. She was pregnant, she would have a baby, end of story. And she did. Her second pregnancy ended with a miscarriage around 8 weeks, and I think it affected her pretty strongly. She said that with her next pregnancy (which resulted in my brother), she relaxed some after the first trimester, but she never really felt safe about pregnancy again. If your therapist really didn’t obsess about the details early on in her first pregnancy (which, she may well just not be remembering), it’s possible she was just more like my mother. I don’t think that implies any particular wisdom in letting whatever happens, happen, I think it just sounds like not being conversant with statistical reality.

    In short (which I can so rarely manage to be), enjoy the excitement, as much as you can.

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