I promised myself that I would come back here and share my story if everything turned out ok, and I'm just getting around to it now. This is my first post on this board, but it helped me so much to read through all the stories when I was going through a rough time. I hope this helps somebody, someday.
In May of last year, I found out I was pregnant for the very first time at 26 years old. My husband and I had been trying for several months, so I was pretty test-crazy and got a faint positive at about 8dpo. I continued to test every day and watch the line get darker, and darker (I was a bit obsessed!). Within a week or two I was starting to feel nauseous all day and my breasts were aching like never before, and it finally started to sink in that I was pregnant. We were so excited! I went to the doctor to confirm, but they didn't bother with a blood test because I had already had so many positive home tests.
Over the next few weeks, the nausea and breast tenderness continued and all seemed normal for early pregnancy. Then, one morning when I was 8 weeks along according to the doctor's wheel, I used the washroom at work and noticed I was bleeding bright red blood. It was there when I wiped, and I could see it in the toilet. I panicked and made an appointment to see a doctor later that afternoon. I couldn't see my usual doctor that day because she couldn't fit me in, so I saw a different one at her clinic. I should point out that I am in Canada, and where I am we generally see our family doctor for the first 20 weeks of pregnancy before switching to an OB. Anyway, the doctor ordered a stat ultrasound and a blood hCG level. I continued to bleed bright red blood all day. There wasn't enough to soak through a pad, but there was more every time I used the washroom and it sometimes appeared to be mixed with mucous. We went into that ultrasound prepared for the the worst. In my mind, it was already over. BUT...there was a heartbeat of 180bpm and a little embryo measuring 8 weeks, 1d. MY hCG level came back around 77000. Everything was right on track, no cause for the bleeding was identified, and it stopped within about 24 hours.
That is, until a week later. I had the exact same type of bleeding occur for 1-2 days at 9 weeks, 10 weeks, 11 weeks, and 12 weeks. Because we had already seen that the baby was ok, and the bleeding always stopped, I tried to remain as calm as possible. I waited until my regular 12 week appointment to mention it to my usual family doctor. She could see in my chart that I had the ultrasound and hCG test at 8 weeks, and the pregnancy was deemed viable, but she said she was very concerned that the bleeding was continuing to come and go. She explained to me that miscarriages in the first 3 months were very common and that there was something called a missed miscarriage. At this point, when I was over 12 WEEKS ALONG, she decided to order another blood hCG test. Her logic was "We can see that your levels were 77000 at 8 weeks, so if the pregnancy is progressing normally we will see a level closer to a million at this point.". I thought this was a bit strange based on everything I had read about hCG levels, but I deferred to her and went for the test.
The next day, she called me into her office in a panic. My HcG had dropped to around 45000. Once again, she started explaining to me about missed miscarriages. She told me that something must be wrong, and if I hadn't already lost the baby it was likely that I soon would. I asked if the hormone levels could be dropping because my placenta was taking over now, but she said there definitely should have been at least some increase. She then attempted to listen for the heartbeat with a doppler, and couldn't pick anything up. This pretty much convinced her that the baby hadn't survived, and she ordered an ultrasound to "confirm" this. This happened on a Friday, and we couldn't get an ultrasound appointment until the following Monday. That weekend was TORTURE. I didn't know what to think. I was already mourning the loss of my baby, yet I still felt pregnant.
When I got to the ultrasound appointment, the technician must have been told that I was there to confirm a miscarriage because she immediately started talking to me about how common pregnancy loss is, and reassuring me that I would likely be able to get pregnant again. I was an emotional wreck. I clenched my fists and turned my head away from the screen. Then, lo and behold, within about 10 seconds of the transducer going on my belly I heard "Oh, your baby is just fine!". I looked at the screen, and sure enough there was an extremely active little baby, bouncing around in all directions. He had a heartrate of about 170, and measured 13w1d.
After that, I never experienced any further bleeding, but this experience had a profound effect on the rest of my pregnancy. I could never let myself believe that everything was going to be ok, and I was so reluctant to get attached to the life growing inside of me. It wasn't until my healthy baby boy was placed in my arms (I delivered at 40w1d) that I finally believed that everything was real and it was going to be ok. He is 4 months old, now. While caring for a baby comes with its share of anxieties, it is nothing like when you are pregnant and can't actually look and see that all is ok.
I really just wanted to share this in case it helps anyone. Once again, it goes to show that bleeding in pregnancy is not always the end of the world. More importantly, I strongly believe that hCG levels should never have been used to assess the viability of my pregnancy when I was that far along. I don't think they continue to increase exponentially the way my doctor believed they should. If your doctor is ordering hCG tests to assess viability after the first few weeks, I would definitely ask for a second opinion. Why not go straight to the ultrasound? The blood test results meant nothing and caused so much undue stress and heartache. Furthermore, if you can't get a heartbeat on the doppler at 12 weeks, this may not be reason to panic, either. It wasn't until I was about 14/15 weeks along that we could hear it strongly and consistently. I've heard it takes even longer than that, for some people.
If anybody has any questions or I can clarify anything about my story, by all means please let me know. Hugs to all of you.