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Okay IVF girls, here's the scoop as I learned it today from the doc himself. Forget the googling, forget the note-taking, forget the comparing. Just read...you'll feel better. Promise.
Many of the following tidbits may apply to "regular" pregnancies as well, but the focus is for IVFers.
1) symptoms waning/fading:
Contrary to several sources on the internet citing that a pregnant woman who suddenly loses symptoms during the first trimester should be very concerned about an impending miscarriage, none of us in fact need be concerned. At the onset of pregnancy when the initial hormone levels begin rising, the body reacts a certain way. As it settles down, feeling better is just that- your body adjusting appropriately and becoming used to the hormones. Throughout a normal pregnancy symptoms will come and go without warning. A healthy body will strive toward homeostasis and it's best that your body feel good - you'll eat and rest more and the fetus reaps the benefits. Symptoms may be reassuring, but they are overrated and pretty much serve just to make a pregnant woman miserable. Your symptoms can be non-existent while your beta is tripling. There is no correlation between the hcg and symptoms. Having symptoms does not make one woman "more pregnant" than another.
2) IVFer symptoms waning: At the onset of your pregnancy, your body was still coping with supernatural amounts of follistim, lupron, fading hcg, rising hcg and copious amounts of progesterone. Many IVF women become sick upon a positive beta, especially if they have some mild hyperstim going on along with it. I was bedridden for 4 days because my body's chemicals were <em>raging</em>. These weren't symptoms of pregnancy; these were symptoms of my body coping with an incredible hormone surge. My hyperstim was too mild to cause the sickness...that was all about ODing on hormones. This, I found out today, is very COMMON. Many women will overreact to the hormones initially, feeling very pregnant at the onset - bloated, nauseous, crampy, etc. When that goes away you're just feeling better. That's it. It doesn't mean you're no longer as pregnant as you were in the beginning.
3) but this isn't like my last pregnancy:
No two are the same, stop comparing, it's fruitless.
4) the hubbub about hcg:
HCG is only important at the first and second beta. The first level should be high enough to suggest viability (my clinic uses over 50) and the second should demonstrate a good increase. There is no magic number which ensures viability and conversely, a 51 should not cause alarm. After that, beta numbers mean little, if anything. Because the range of "normal" is so huge and individual pregnancies create hcg at varying rates throughout the first trimester, they can't (and aren't) relied on for anything but additional data to help assess situations. They serve as a benchmark. Interesting: a dropping beta does not always mean a miscarriage. My RE says he's seen all sorts of crazy hcg levels come in and lots of successful pregnancies come out of levels that other, less experienced reproductive people write off as doomed.
4) Ultrasound benchmarks are just benchmarks. Mother Nature will do things in her own way, in her own good time. Yes, there are limitations and at some point you have to make a determination as to the viability of a pregnancy. But just because someone sees a heartbeat at 5w5d and you don't, that doesn't mean your embie won't show the week after with a solid heartbeat and great measurements. It doesn't mean your embie growth is lagging or "behind." It means it's doing things in its own time and can be just as viable and healthy as the super-embie whose teeth came in at 7w. And, oh yeah - hard as it is, as freaked out as you may be, don't encourage an early ultrasound unless something is really wrong. You'll just do what I did today: push the issue for clarity and instead raise more questions.
IVFers SPOT. You should probably expect to spot. A normal IVF pregnancy will spot. This is because the endometrium is so plump and cushy now and then bits of blood and tissue will squeeze out. It's actually, ironically, a good sign - means your endo is one darn happy place for baby. Of course spotting is not always good and should be monitored. But normal pregnancies secret all sorts of colors of fluids at given times and that doesn't mean it's time to call the fat lady from her dressing room. Generally, pink/brown/beige, watery or mucousy - it's all okay, in moderation of course.
There may be more, but my brain is fried. I'll update as I remember. If anyone else has any IVF pregnancy myth-busters to share, please post. I hope this can help some of you out there.