Hi there -
I recently went through a misdiagnosed miscarriage. I found your website during it all, and it gave me hope that got me through it. I wanted to tell you my story so others are aware that low HCGs may not mean a non-viable pregnancy! Here's my story...
I'm 38 years old and have been "infertile" for 4 years. My husband and I tried 1 unsuccessful IVF cycle and then got pregnant with our 1st daughter on the 2nd IVF. 1 year after her birth we decided to try again (I'm not getting any younger!) because we really wanted a sibling for her. We had 1 failed FET (frozen cycle), then another IVF cycle which didn't work, and another FET cycle that didn't work. Our 4th (and FINAL) IVF try was in June/July. We decided beforehand it was our last try regardless - emotionally and financially we couldn't do anymore.
My last period (LMP) was June 20th. My embryos were retrieved (and thus, conception occurred) on July 2nd. Because this was IVF, there was no doubt about the date of conception!
On 7/16, 27 days after LMP (4 weeks after LMP), my HCG # was 29. The doctor told me it was VERY LOW so I was technically pregnant but wasn't looking good. He told me to continue my IVF drugs (progesterone) and come back in 2-5 days later. He said low #s are OK as long as they double every 48 hours.
On 7/21, 31 days after LMP (4.5 weeks after LMP), my HCG # was 45. It didn't even double after 4 days... and was still very low. So at this point, he told me it was a "non-viable" pregnancy and I should stop my IVF drugs. He told me I didn't have to - it was my choice, but he's never seen #s like this ever continue on. So, I stopped the drugs.
1 week later, on 7/28 I went back in for a blood test. No bleeding yet. My HCG # was 365 (5.5 weeks after LMP). He told me it was still a non-viable pregnancy and to come in next week to "follow the miscarriage through". He decided to do an ultrasound (next weeK) to see if it was ectopic since that can cause rising low numbers. I went online after this appt and found 10+ websites w/HCG ranges of healthy pregnancies. Mine were low but did fall into some of them... that gave me hope. I also found the misdiagnosed miscarriages website which also gave me hope.
1 week later, on 7/31 (6.5 weeks after LMP) I went back in for a blood test and ultrasound. No bleeding yet... and I was FEELING pregnant (peeing a lot and having wild/vivid dreams!) The ultrasound showed an empty gestational sac (and funny shaped as well.) So again, the doctor confirmed it was a non-viable pregnancy and told me to come back next week to confirm "no changes" via an ultrasound. Good news it wasn't ectopic. Then they called me that afternoon to tell me my HCG # was 645. Up again but still VERY LOW for the age the embryo. At this point I was ready to give up. I went out with a girlfriend and had a few gin & tonics and golfed 18 holes to get my mind of things. I needed to just "release".
1 week later, on 8/6, we went in for the confirmation of our empty gestational sac. To EVERYONE's surpirse, there was a heartbeat. You could have heard a pin drop in the room. The doctor and ultrasound tech were dumbfounded... not to mentioned my husband and I (why'd I have those gin & tonics???) However, the fetus was measuring 2 weeks too small so the doctor said our odds were 'better' but still not good because of the small size. They didn't take blood this time (didn't need to?) but told us to come back in 1-2 weeks for another ultrasound. The doctor told me so start up my progesterone again, just in case...
On 8/18 we went back in for another ultrasound. To everyone's amazement, the heartbeat was still there and the baby 'caught up' in size... was only a few days behind now. At this point, he said I had as good odds as anyone my age (38) and that I should go to my OBGYN now (this was the infertility doctor I was seeing). My husband and I left the clinic astounded, shocked, excited, and scared.
As of today, I'm 13.5 weeks pregnant. We had our nuchal? screening and our odds of downs and trisomy 18 are low. Everything is looking great, and my pregnancy is doing well. It's still early and anything can happen... but having made it this far is truly a miracle.
What makes this even more amazing, besides the low HCG #s, is that I STOPPED my progesterone. When you go through IVF, they "suck" out the eggs from your ovaries. Doing this also sucks out the fluid that triggers your body to produce progesterone (this is how the nurses explained it to me) so that's why IVF patients get progesterone shots afterwards -- because many of them won't produce on their own... and if they do, it may be low for some (because of our infertility.) SOMEHOW, my body knew to keep producing progesterone and support this pregnancy, even after I stopped my shots. Not all women would have been this lucky -- they would have miscarriaged a perfectly healthy fetus because of stopping the shots.
Although my doctor misdiagnosed my miscarriage, he never mentioned D&C... as a matter of fact, when I asked he suggested we let it pass naturally. So kudos to him to not rush to judgement in that regard. FYI: The clinic is now changing all their protocols because of me - what they consider healthy HCG levels (or atleast, HCGs with potential.)
I'm telling you this story for 2 reasons:
1) I hope that other women out there was obscenely low HCG #s know that it CAN happen. Odds are still slim, but it CAN happen and they should hold out hope until they know for sure.
2) I hope that anyone going through IVF that is told to STOP their progesterone doesn't until they know FOR SURE there is not a viable pregnancy (no heartbeat at 11/12 weeks.) Getting shots suck but in the long run, it might be worth it.
All in all we've went through 4 IVFs and 3 FETs. Not cheap... but luckily we've had the resources to afford it. Having a beautilful 20 month old and *hopefully* another on the way, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.