By: Kelly Rummelhart
You just had your embryo transfer but it will be another ten to twelve days until you go into the lab for your Beta (blood pregnancy test). Now of course you can wait until then, but most surrogates I know DO NOT . . . well maybe CAN NOT is more accurate.
In my first journey as a gestational surrogate I didn’t know any other surrogates. I had this idea in my mind that all the hormones I was taking for IVF would give me a false positive if I chose to test at home. At the same time, my Intended Parents, George and Sanj, made no mention of me testing early. So I waited, and 10 days after my 5 day transfer (10dp5dt) went into Quest Diagnostics, had my blood drawn, and then waited seven hours to hear our results. FYI, at a ten-day Beta they are looking for a level of 100 to confirm the pregnancy. Anything lower and you’ll need to go back two days later and see if that number had at least doubled. For the record, my level was 267. Which is a number that could mean twins…and for me, it did.
After I found other surrogates online, I would read their blogs and learned that you could do a home test and none of the medications would interfere with the results. The practice of home testing for surrogates has become something of a pasttime. Some surrogates will buy tons of at-home tests because they want to see the progression on a daily basis; for some it seems to be hourly! This practice is known as “POAS” or, Peeing on a Stick.
It looks as if most surrogates start to test around Day Four or Five after their transfer. Even though you know it’s pretty early, you still do it because you never know . . . you may get a very faint positive. And if there’s one thing every single surrogate I know is good at, it’s having the ability to see the faintest positive that has ever existed. When you aren’t sure if you’re “seeing things”, you post pics online for second opinions.
Of course, seeing a positive is marvelous. As women, we know that a positive at-home test is like a positive Beta- the results are positive. However, I’ve learned that a lot of Intended Parents, especially men, don’t really celebrate the positive until the Beta comes back and the lab says you’re pregnant.
In my second journey I decided to test at home before my Beta. Even though I knew it was very early, I still figured that day was as good as any. (And maybe, if it were twins, it would show up.) I got a result that looked like a very, very, very, very light positive. I took a picture with my phone and texted it to a friend for her opinion. She wasn’t sold. So I waited until later that night and tried again. That time it was darker. Still extremely light, but you could tell, without a doubt, that there was a pink line. I was pregnant. I took one more test the next morning (testing with the first pee of the morning is recommended) with a digital test. Nothing like seeing the word “PREGNANT” to help limit any doubts.
One of the things that surrogates need to realize is that positive at-home tests can show up on different days for different people, not to mention different tests can detect results earlier than others. My surro-wonder twins showed up on 4dp5dt . . . I had my early morning transfer on February 10th and tested positive on Valentine’s Day afternoon. Another surro friend didn’t test positive with her surro twins until 8dp5dt! However, no matter how much you tell yourself, “it’s still early” or “everyone is different” you still get bummed if it comes back negative. It’s like a pit in your stomach. Your heart sinks. You want so greatly for the transfer to have been successful . . . and when it looks as if it failed, you get a little bummed. In your mind you know you could still get a positive but at that moment, staring at the negative test, you start to wonder if the last few weeks’ of injections have been for nothing. Even though you, as a surrogate, know you did everything right . . . medications, great lining, bed rest, etc. The thoughts of, what did I not do right? start to enter your mind.
Another thing to discuss is whether your IPs want you to test before the Beta. It seems as if most of my surro-friends’ IPs wanted to know as soon as possible. But there are some who want to wait until the Beta.
My advice on the POAS as a surrogate (if your IPs want you to test early) . . . Don’t tell your IPs when you start testing. You already know how horrible you feel when it’s a negative, could you imagine the IPs? I’d suggest testing and once you get a positive let them know. There is no need for someone, besides yourself, to feel awful all those days that you get negative results- especially if a positive might show up any day.
Some surrogates start at Day Three, some start at Day Five or Six. Some just take one every morning, some take tons, whatever you and your IPs decide, keep in mind that one day’s negative can be the next day’s positive! Don’t give up hope until your RE tells you to stop your meds because your second or third Beta has come back with low numbers or numbers that aren’t increasing like they should. And know that as long as you did everything you were supposed to, this wasn’t your fault and hopefully the next transfer will be a success.
Kelly Rummelhart writes about her experiences as a two-time gestational surrogate for gay couples. She calls herself a “Uterine Activist” and will be the first to tell you that her uterus is an ally. Kelly also writes at Just The Stork