One of the most exciting days for a surrogate is Transfer Day. It's probably been months of tests, contract negotiations, ultrasounds, medications, getting to know the Intended Parents (IPs), and dreaming. Finally the day comes when you will travel to the fertility clinic and have an embryo (or two) transferred into your uterus.
And then you wait.
When my husband and I conceived our own children I never had to experience the "two week wait." I never counted ovulation days or even remembered when I was supposed to get my period. I never gave conceiving much thought at all. In both instances I just felt kind of off and then remembered that it had been quite a while since I menstruated. In both cases I walked into the convenience store, picked up one box of home pregnancy tests, and went home to see what was up. And in both instances the positive came quickly and without question: I was pregnant.
After I went to the fertility clinic for my embryo transfer earlier this month I expected to feel something, anything. Sore boobs? Cramping in the uterus? Food craving? Could this be it? Could this be a pregnancy symptom? Or is it all in my head? In actuality I felt pretty normal. I was in and out of the clinic in 15 minutes and all I wanted to do was pee on all of the sticks. Of course, it was too soon. Most surrogates won't get a positive home pregnancy test (HPT) until at least 5 days after transfer. But that doesn't stop them from testing just a day or two later.
Apparently many surrogates will buy loads of HPTs and start testing at day 3 after transfer, morning and night. They keep all the tests and start comparing lines from the various days. They like to make sure the line is getting darker—a sure sign that hCG levels are rising. They will line up all the tests and mark how many days past transfer they are with a permanent marker. They will even upload pictures of their tests so that other surrogates can weigh in on whether the test is truly positive or not. These are true professional pee stick readers. I'm impressed by their ability to detect even the slightest hint of a line on a HPT.
I have even posted pictures of my lines for other women to discuss and ponder. I am totally that surrogate.
Of course there are some surrogates who have great restraint and choose not to test at all. They don't want to get their hopes up or down, so they wait until first beta. This is the day approximately eight to ten days after transfer when you go in to have your blood drawn and hCG levels checked. At this first blood draw appointment they confirm the pregnancy. You then return a few days later to make sure hCG levels are rising. Ideally they want to see your numbers doubling every 48-72 hours. Usually after your third beta appointment if all the numbers check out you are declared officially pregnant. Wow! Talk about a process!
I really thought I would be one of those level-headed surrogates. Surely I could wait until my first beta appointment to see what the official numbers were, right? I wouldn't waste money on multiple (expensive!) tests. If I did test, I could certainly wait until five days after transfer. I mean, it's not like anything would show up beforehand anyway. But I was wrong. So very wrong. I made it to day three. On the third day the box of pregnancy tests I had hiding in my underwear drawer started calling my name. I have purchased a grand total of four boxes of HPTs since my transfer day and compared lines. I have even posted pictures of my lines for other women to discuss and ponder. I am totally that surrogate. But it really helped my own peace of mind, and now I understand the obsession. I understand the anxiety. I understand the hoping and wishing and praying for a positive.
I have never prayed so much over a pregnancy. I have never had so many of my friends and family praying over a pregnancy. There is so much invested in this. I want this so badly for my IPs. They are amazing people who I admire and care for. I don't want this transfer to fail. I don't want to miscarry or end up with a blighted ovum or chemical pregnancy. I never worried about this before. I trusted the natural process of life and had confidence in my body. I still have confidence in my body and trust that the doctors know what they're doing, but knowing how much my IPs have been through to get to this point makes me a little more nervous about everything.
So as exciting as it is to see a positive pregnancy test, I don't think it will feel fully real until I see that squirmy baby on the ultrasound screen with the heartbeat flickering fast and full of life. Grow, baby, grow. We all want to meet you.