Surviving The two week wait: 8 Tips for keeping your sanity during this time.
Surviving The two week wait: 8 Tips for keeping your sanity during this time.
You’ve had you your IVF treatment, had embryo’s transferred on day 3 or day 5 and now what… well you wait! Yes, that’s right you now must wait 2 weeks (actually 9-11 days from transfer or 14 days from retrieval) to find out the outcome. At the start you think 2 weeks that’s not long, but it’s all absorbing all encompassing and by day 2 you’re already wishing your life away to know the answer, so how can you ensure that you’re surviving the two week wait and not going insane?
What happens during the two week wait
It can feel like a mean trick the body plays knowing that we could be pregnant but no way to know for sure. So, what happens, well in natural pregnancy you normally implant approximately 8 days post ovulation, but in IVF the date of implantation is slightly changed due to the date of transfer. So, in early pregnancy the body creates a hormone called HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin) and these low levels are detectable in some women between 8-10 days post conception. To better understand hCG and pregnancy let’s look at the normal ranges which can occur within pregnancy.
As you can see in the chart to the left. The range of hCG levels can vary hugely, even in the very early weeks you can see that the difference between minimum and maximum hCG is 10 times. On average your hCG levels will
increase by about 55% every 48-72 hours hours for the early part of pregnancy. However, there does appear to be evidence suggesting that the increase percentage is proportional to the starting level e.g. if you have a higher level of hCG early on the percentage increase is lower. This is further complicated in IVF cycles as a hCG injection is used to mature the eggs and can cause very early false positives on home testing during the two week wait.
When should I do a pregnancy test during the two week wait?
The simple answer is this, do what you need to do to keep your sanity. However, be aware you could be in for an emotional rollercoaster. Many people really struggle with not doing home pregnancy tests during this period, for example Rachel couldn’t wait and started testing after about 9 days after embryo transfer. During this time, we went through tests where we weren’t sure whether there were two blue lines, we went through a false positive and many negatives. This really was challenging on the emotions to the extent where we would go from joyous, to tearful in the course of 24 hours. However, by day 13, the day before our blood test we were fairly sure we had a big fat negative on our first round, which unfortunately was the case. Remember that your hCG injection will mean testing early after embryo implantation will possibly give a false negative. So, if you need to, feel free to test but try not to put everything into the outcome of those lines, wait for your blood test for more certainty.
Tips for surviving the two-week wait
Tip #1 – Don’t obsess over every change in your body, mood and feelings.
I know this is like asking a cat not to be a cat. But try to think about it logically, you feel different every day of the week the hormonal balance in your body changes on a regular basis. Couple this with the many sites which say things like ‘9 signs you are definitely pregnant’ it can be tempting to read into every cramp, hot flush and mood swing you will experience during this time.
The two week wait is a time of high anxiety and uncertainty which can also have physiological impacts upon you and further complicate the am I pregnant or not. So simply understanding and thinking about the ‘signs’ you are picking up are unlikely to mean any specific outcome can sometimes be enough to reduce the anxiety.
Tip #2 – Keep your mind and body occupied busier the better.
Henry Van Dyke was famously quoted as saying that time is too slow for those that wait. He’s right these two weeks, if you’re not keeping busy will really drag for you.
So, what can you do, you could work every hour in the day but the additional stress is not likely to help either. So what can you do?
- Have a date with your partner
- Have a girly evening
- Get round to that to-do list around the house that’s been whizzing round your head for months
- Arts and Crafts
- Start a hobby or learn a new skill you’ve been wanting to
- Write about your IVF experiences
- Do an online short course about something
- Read about others infertiliy experiences – A list of fertility books you should read in 2020
It doesn’t matter what you chose to do, just take these 2 weeks and fill them. You’ll be surprised you might even find it seems to run in normal time
- Tip #3 – Make sure you have support from those that understandDon’t underestimate the emotional turmoil that you may go through during the two week wait. Infertility, IVF is a very emotional subject, you need to find people who understand are able to support you. You can look at
- Online support groups – Facebook has a number of these
- Infertility and IVF Support groups in your local area
- Finding a professional counsellor or therapist who specialising in fertility BICA (British Infertility Counselling Association).
- Speaking to friends and family.
- Read our article on the emotional and wellbeing impacts of fertility treatment
One of the surprising things that we found when we started was how many of our wider network of friends and acquaintances have been through or are going through infertility investigations/IVF treatment. It shows that there is still a taboo around the subject and in general people don’t talk about it. Although in our experience once we started talking to others about our situation it encouraged others to open up and discuss their experience, we now have a mutually beneficial support network of friends and family.
Tip #4 – If you’re prone to obsess then schedule it into your diary
If like Rachel you like to diarise, use calendars (we have 4 adn you can see a small collection of them to the left) and generally organise then this might be a solution for you. I know tip one states to try not to obsess over your thoughts, feelings and changes. However, in reality we know that this is extremely challenging. So setting aside 15-20 minutes once or twice per day to obsess can help remove some of that anxiety and worry. In that time feel free to chat to your support networks, check you basal temperature chart for signs, read articles about how to know I’m pregnant or just to write about how your feeling. Then get on with the rest of your day.
Tip #5 – Be sure to have you time, relax and recuperate.
You know what going through IVF treatment is a gauntlet on your body and mind. And you know what, if you get that exciting big fat positive then pregnancy is also tough on the body and mind. So, guess what! Take this time to rejuvenate, prepare and be a little bit pampered.
To help you relax utilise the bodies amazing ability to create natural highs through endorphins: –
- Ask your partner for a massage, or get one professionally
- Take walks in places you love and feel an affinity with
- Take a duvet day… You’ll not have another for a long time
- Spend time with friends and family
- Think about, look at videos or pictures of fond memories
- Make sure that you are getting a good night’s sleep
- Listen to your favourite music
- Spend time snuggling up with your animals
Essentially your aim is to take time relax and get your body to release those happy hormones.
Tip #6 – Explore the possible outcomes and write down your thoughts
This might seem like a strange one, but we naturally wonder what we’re going to do in certain situations. You might be asking yourself:
- If it’s not successful will we have another try
- If we try again how long do we wait
- If it’s the last cycle on NHS what will you do, is private an option
- If it doesn’t work for us what other options are available
- If it’s successful how will my life change
And often our anxieties can be because we don’t always understand what is worrying us, by writing these things down you are unlikely to talk yourself out of the fear and concerns, but at least you may get some insight into the things that are really worrying you so that you can talk to those who are supporting you about these if you need to. A journal is a fabulous form of therapy for some people.
Tip #7 – Spotting and light bleeding try not to panic
Did you know that 20-40% of women in their first trimester will experience bleeding as evidenced in Norwitz ER, et al. Overview of the etiology and evaluation of vaginal bleeding in pregnant women. Now this can be a sign of miscarriage or your normal menstrual cycle starting it is not always the case and many women have a healthy pregnancy despite bleeding at some point during their pregnancy. However, it is important to immediately let your clinic and doctor know if this has happened. They will then likely examine you to determine the cause.
Tip #8 – Take care of yourself (sleep, eat and move)
Your mood and feelings can often be improved through light exercise, good food and good sleep. It’s vital during this time of high anxiety that you do things to make you feel less stressed overall. Taking a short 30 minute stroll on the beach in the country or in a park can do you the world of good, aiming to get a minimum of 8 hours sleep a night will all help with that. Staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet with some treats you love will ensure that your body has everything it needs when supported with a proper multivitamin (folic acid 400mg).
Thanks for reading, We hope you have found at least a tip or two that helps you through your two week wait. Whether you have come here as a couple trying to conceive naturally or through IUI or IVF then here are some articles that we think might help you further.
4dp5dt or 9dpo – This is the time you may be getting those pregnancy symptoms and urge to test will be really piling on the pressure, is it too soon?
9dp5dt or 14dpo –This special day of the TWW is often the hardest because it’s the day of the test, read about our experience of this special moment.
What happens after a BFP – Learn what to expect in the next 5 weeks before you have viability scan – we explore the very early stages of pregnancy
Chemical Pregnancy – Sometimes you get a boarderline hCG blood test which means you could be pregnant, you could be not. It can also mean that you had a chemical pregnancy; understand what this means and why it might just hav a silver lining
How long to wait between IVF cycles – If you do get a negative result, firstly we’re sorry. If you are going to go for more IVF treatment then deciding whether to go back to back or take a break is an important one, use this guide to help you make the right descion for you
Emotional impacts of a non successful IVF cycle – Explore the emotional impacts of having an unsuccessful IVF treatment.