The two-week-wait (2WW) is the waiting period between fertility treatment and a pregnancy test. The two weeks you have to wait to find out if you are pregnant or not.
Most everyone undergoing fertility treatment will tell you that the two-week-wait is an absolute rollercoaster of hope and fear. Having gone through fertility treatments your fear of failure can be sky high. Add to this a range of hormone treatments and you have one incredibly stressful and emotionally exhausting period of time. In fact, possibly the longest two weeks of your life, ever! Inevitably we all start analysing every sign and symptom, jumping on the internet to find out what these could mean, and wishing for the day we can take our pregnancy test.
The following words from a lady named Tracey Montgomery cleverly summarise how many women feel: “The moment transfer is done is when the games begin. Mind games. This is known as the Two Week Wait and it’s my personal version of hell. This is a two week period waiting to see if IVF has worked. It’s exhausting and many shades of torturous. Your emotions will swing from one extreme to another. The pendulum is never steady, your emotions never safe. Your heart and head compete for space. It’s not possible to treat the two weeks like any other two weeks and to not think about it. To suggest this is crazy talk. That’s a bit like being told to “relax it will happen” or “maybe you should take a holiday” or my personal favourite, and yes, these words were uttered to me “just put your legs up in the air after sex”. Don’t. Just don’t.” (see: https://babyhintsandtips.com/two-week-wait-surviving-ivf/)
Here are 8 tips to help you to look after your wellbeing during the two-week-wait and endure the impatience (did it work, can I test?), anxiety (did it work, what if it fails?) and sadness (what if it fails, do we have the strength and finances to do it again?) you may experience:
1. Try not to overanalyse pregnancy symptoms
First you need to remember that you have just undergone serious stimulation of your ovaries and are probably still taking various hormones. Your body has just been through a lot, especially if you had an egg retrieval, and it’s going to take some time to feel 100% normal again. Sometimes the twinges, cramps, and soreness you are feeling are really just regular twinges, cramps and soreness. Trying to read into every signal from your body will only contribute to your anxiety and stress and it is just about impossible at this stage to determine if these are pregnancy symptoms, PMS, or the additional hormones. The sad and hard reality is that PMS and symptoms of early pregnancy are almost identical as both cause an increased production of progesterone.
2. Avoid obsessing on the internet:
With literally hundreds and thousands of articles abound on the internet it is easy to get caught up on reading everything and anything that might be related to you. Dr Google is in fact not a medical expert with years of education and experience. Nor are 99% of the people you will meet in various chat groups and forums. While such groups can offer great support and comfort, don’t take their comments as sound medical advice. Too much time obsessing on the internet can make the two-week-wait feel like two months, and relentless pondering is highly linked to anxiety and depression.
3. Seek support:
Whatever means of support you have found that works for you, stick with it. This may be seeing a therapist or counsellor, attending a physical support group, or being a member of an online forum or support group. It is important to have people to prop you up through the tough times as well as the good times.
4. Decide in advance whether or not to take a break from social media:
As luck will have it, just because you are slap bang in the middle of an emotionally exhausting two-week-wait, you will see a pregnancy announcement from someone who only had to look at their partner in order to conceive. Ok, that’s a bit drastic, but do you want to see pregnancy announcements from others during this time? Try to decide in advance if such announcements will be uplifting or crushing, and make your decision based on how you think you will react. If they are going to add to your stress and anxiety levels it may be best to take a break from social media.
5. Keep busy:
Anyone waiting to hear important news will tell you that time slows down to a snail’s pace. The only way to help time go by faster is by keeping yourself busy or by finding something to distract yourself – anything that keeps your mind off the two-week-wait. Ideas could include: working more, taking on a creative project, reading a highly engaging book, tackling a complex jigsaw, scheduling daily dates with friends and family, starting to watch a binge-worthy series, or learning a new hobby. The goal is to find something you enjoy, that makes you feel good, and keeps your mind occupied.
6. Schedule two-week-wait thinking, talking, and journaling time:
As you progress through the day jot down the notes, questions, and thoughts, etc that come to mind about the two-week-wait. Later you can use allocated time to sit and talk with your partner about these, and use the opportunity to listen to their thoughts. If you find yourself slipping off during the day and obsessing about the two-week-wait, rein yourself in and get back on track with keeping busy. It might be a hard habit to get into initially, but you will be very grateful to yourself for sticking to it.
7. Practise relaxation techniques:
If you would like to learn relaxation techniques it is best to have acquired the skill before you are in an anxious state. Many people find that meditation, yoga, deep breathing, visualisations, acupuncture, or setting daily intentions work for them.
8. Understand nothing you do will make a difference:
At this point there is nothing you can do to make a difference to the outcome of the pregnancy test. It really is best to continue life as normal and not make any radical dietary or exercise changes.
Implantation bleeding or your period?
Implantation bleeding occurs in approximately 30% of pregnancies and is caused by the embryo attaching to your uterus. It is easy to mistake it for a period – so don’t panic. But, also remember only 30% of women experience this – if you do not go through implantation bleeding it does not mean you are not pregnant. Try not to think or stress about this either way.
Some final thoughts
It is important to acknowledge that this is a stressful period and even more so because you have absolutely no control over the situation. Feeling stressed, anxious, or impatient is appropriate and completely normal. Stress will not affect the outcome of the treatment, but it is important we are kind and gentle to ourselves. Be prepared to take it one day at a time.
Avoid early and repeated pregnancy tests:
It is best to wait for the appropriate time to test and avoid early or repeated testing. Our fertility nurses at Westmead Fertility Centre will inform you the correct day to take your pregnancy test based on your personalised treatment plan.
Two weeks is a long time to wait not knowing what is going on inside you – is there a little life growing or not. It’s not easy, but try and stay as positive as possible. The situation is absolutely out of your control now, and the less anxious you are the more bearable life will be.
Remember, at Westmead Fertility Centre, our patients are welcome to see our fertility counsellor free of charge. If you have not taken the opportunity to speak to a professional about your feelings this might be an ideal time to do so.
All content should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have.