The "two-week wait" is the gaping space between the time you complete your fertility treatment and the time you come to the clinic to take your pregnancy test. When you're in the midst of it, those two weeks can feel like an eternity.
It’s easy to imagine the ‘symptoms’ of the wait. Overwhelmingly, your mind is fixated on one question – “Am I pregnant?”
You become hyper-aware of every physical sensation and wonder if each one is your body's way of telling you whether or not you’re pregnant. The two-week wait may feel like a form of purgatory, but you will get through it.
Here are some suggestions for not just surviving, but thriving during this trying time:
NEST AND NURTURE YOURSELF
Because fertility treatments are stressful for both body and mind, your two-week wait is a perfect time to get plenty of rest and relaxation. You deserve it! Instead of associating each new physical sensation with whether or not you might be pregnant, try relating them with either tension or relaxation. If you feel tense, where in your body are you holding that tension?
Are you clenching your jaw? Carrying your shoulders close to your ears? If so, your body is carrying stress. Nurturing yourself with rest and relaxation is not just a healthy method of lowering your stress level, but also a way to create a healthy environment for your baby. Keeping this in mind, give yourself permission to take a nap or go to sleep early. Try gentle yoga or brisk walks in place of high impact exercise. Enjoy a calming massage!
Nurture yourself by ‘nesting’ internally and externally. Make sure your diet is nutritious and delicious. Eat as though you were already pregnant! Nest externally by making certain you feel comfortable and safe in your home environment. Then, cozy up!
TUNE INTO YOUR BODY
The nature of the two-week wait is one of mystery. While conception remains a giant question mark, the inner workings of your body don't have to! Understand what your body is experiencing and let go of anxiety.
At the completion of your fertility treatment(s), your body has undergone something substantial. The goal of post-treatment medications is to promote an optimal environment for pregnancy, but they can cause side effects. You may experience many of the physical sensations you would normally experience during PMS or pregnancy: cramping, breast tenderness, fatigue, bloating, spotting or light bleeding. These are entirely normal, a natural part of the process of undergoing fertility treatment and taking post-treatment medicine.
If you feel anxious about these symptoms, practice slow, deep breathing. This simple technique can immediately return you to your baseline physiological level, and often brings a wave of mental calm. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, excessive bloating, or lower abdominal pain may indicate ovarian hyper-stimulation. In this case, contact your clinical team.
HONOR YOUR FEELINGS
The two-week wait can produce a flood of emotions to process, sometimes all at once. Your partner, a trusted friend, or a family member can be a wonderful resource to help you balance and work through your feelings. Set aside times to share what you’re feeling with your loved one. Think about what support you’ll need if the news is not positive, and ask for that support. Sometimes, just letting thoughts flow freely is enough to release nervousness and negative thoughts.
Honor your feelings by protecting yourself and thinking proactively. Limiting the number of people you tell about your cycle can be helpful if the news you're hoping for doesn’t come. Decide how you'll handle questions and share the outcome of your pregnancy test. One option that can eliminate the need to call with bad news is to let your friends and family know that ‘no news is bad news.’
Although it may be one of the most difficult tips for thriving during your two-week wait, resist the temptation to perform a home pregnancy test. Your fertility specialist will explain that home pregnancy tests, while tempting, can render either a false negative or a false positive. These tests often rely on human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels, and traces of the hCG used in many fertility treatments to trigger ovulation may be detectable by a home pregnancy test, regardless of whether implantation has actually occurred.
The pregnancy test you receive in our office at the end of your two-week wait is performed by drawing blood and measuring the hCG levels produced by the developing embryo. This is the single most reliable pregnancy test. Avoid false results. Protect your emotions.
REFRAME YOUR THOUGHTS
If you find yourself stuck on any one thought or cycle of thoughts, it can be useful to experiment with reframing. Notice the idea that you're stuck on. How can you frame it in a more positive light? For example, if you're thinking ‘this test will be negative,’ reframe the thought to something more positive – ‘I am open to the possibility of being pregnant’ or ‘it might have worked.’ Another method is to step completely outside your thoughts.
Remember that you are still an interesting person with many other things going on in your life. Take a well-deserved break from your fertility status by diving into a newspaper or a book or immersing yourself in new thoughts and ideas.
BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF
Care for yourself in your day-to-day schedule. If any of your usual activities cause you stress, limit those activities if possible, especially during the first five days after treatment. Your fertility specialist will inform you of any specific activities that you should avoid or limit, and for how long, but in general it's a good idea to favor lower-impact activities. It's also a good idea to check in with your nurse about possible travel plans.
TRUST YOUR BODY
Your body is a brilliant operating system. Return to this thought if you find yourself struggling to cultivate patience. Affirmations, mind/body support groups, meditation, counseling, and journaling are some options for letting go of negative beliefs about your body or your future. Hold positive thoughts about your body and inner landscape.
The more you trust in yourself, the easier it is to remain patient through your two-week wait!