By: Reina Zatylny MSW, RSW
The Two-Week Wait – that is, the time from intercourse or insemination or embryo transfer until your blood pregnancy test – is one of the most difficult times of all during treatment. Because we’re here to help throughout your journey, we sat down with three of TRIO’s experts and asked them for medical advice, coping strategies, and lifestyle tips designed to make the two-week wait a little bit easier. We hope you find this both useful and comforting. As always, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org, or your doctor’s office if you have questions, concerns, or feel that you need extra support during this or any other phase of your treatment.
Reina Zatlyny MSW, RSW, one of TRIO’s counsellors, offers coping strategies to help with the emotional aspects of the “dreaded” Two-Week Wait
Going through the process of fertility treatment is like swimming across a pond. You’ve left one shore (started your treatment) but haven’t yet reached the other shore (finished your treatment) and you need to figure out how to stay afloat. As a fertility patient going through treatment, staying afloat means remaining healthy, confident, and empowered. You can do this by pacing your physical, emotional, and spiritual energies, and challenging your negative thoughts so that you aren’t overwhelmed by everything you’re going through. As you get closer to the end of your fertility treatment, you might expect that things would get easier and that you’d feel excited and relieved. In fact, the last two weeks before a pregnancy test can be the most challenging. This is sometimes referred to as the D2WW: The Dreaded Two-Week Wait because it can be fraught with some of the following complex and conflicting emotions:
Anxiety: “What if I’m not pregnant?”
Excitement: “I really do look and feel pregnant.”
Loneliness: “No one understands what I’m going through.”
Exhaustion: “I’m so tired of feeling a lack of control.”
Fear: “After everything I’ve been through, and all my efforts, it all comes down to either being pregnant or not. I’m scared that I won’t be able to handle the disappointment.”
Worry: “What if everything I’ve done isn’t enough, and I’m not pregnant?”
Helplessness: “Whatever I do, I can’t stop thinking about the end result.”
Denial: “I just know that I’m not going to be pregnant. I’ve had disappointing results in the past. Why should this time be any different”
Confusion: “I’m looking and feeling pregnant. Am I really pregnant or is this the result of the hormone medication?”
Taking control of your mind, body, and spirit during this time can certainly be a challenge. Let’s consider some ways to help you to cope better and feel more empowered.
Supporting mental health and wellness
In order to enhance the energies of the MIND, it can be helpful to divert some of your brain energy from thinking about fertility to other areas. For example, you might want to consider:
- Reading for pleasure and learning new things, instead of just reading information about fertility provided by “Dr. Google” and “Dr.Youtube.”
- Helping others. The act of giving to others can help you feel purposeful and good about yourself. It also gets you “out of our own head.”
- Developing a creative pursuit such as painting, cooking, writing or crafting.
- Balancing your day. Allow time to think about the possible outcome after the two-week wait, and consider the “what if’s”. But it’s also important to “tame” your mind so you aren’t always thinking about your fertility.
- Consider using guided meditations and relaxation apps such as “Calm” and “Headspace”
In order to strengthen your body, try to celebrate all that your body has already experienced and survived during your fertility treatment.
Enhancing the mind-body connection
Consider enhancing your physical strength and your connection to your body by:
- Taking naps and going to bed earlier. Elevated progesterone levels make you sleepier, so try to sleep more. This will also help improve your mood.
- Being aware of where your body holds its tension (e.g., neck and shoulders). Find strategies for relieving stress in the body, such as giving yourself a gentle massage with some mint or lavender lotions.
- Engaging in moderate, but not high-intensity exercise. Try fertility yoga or walking. Getting out of doors also helps you to get “out of your head.”
- Attempting activities that promote the release of endorphins, a.k.a. the “feel-good” hormones, such as listening to music, or eating your favourite foods like dark chocolate.
Connecting with your spirit, which is the essence of who you are, can help you feel stronger and more balanced. Try to be compassionate and patient with yourself!
Connecting with others
Connecting with others who are also going through infertility and who “get it” can help you to feel less alone. You may want to consider:
- Joining TRIO’s online support groups. These groups provide a “safe place” to express your feelings and thoughts and learn from others’ experiences.
- Engaging in complementary activities such as acupuncture, which keeps a gentle blood flow, calms the mind, and provides a sense of well-being.
- Participating in activities that can promote peace of mind, such as keeping a journal to help you to express your thoughts and emotions, praying, and talking with a trusted friend, family member or counsellor.
- Recognizing your inner strengths and being compassionate with yourself. Think about all that you have experienced along your fertility journey and all that you have learned about yourself. Whatever the outcome of your pregnancy test, you “own” all your growth and strengths. They belong to you, and no one can take them away from you.
In addition to coping strategies for the emotional aspects the Two Week Wait offered here, please also read our article offering answers from a fertility specialist, and our article offering practical tips from a naturopath.