Waiting. Constantly waiting for medications, injections, blood tests, ultrasound scans, medical procedures…waiting to conceive. The list is endless for those undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization). The emotional roller coaster you endure to find out if all that waiting will bless you with a miracle baby culminates with the IVF two week wait.
It’s excitement, anticipation, nervousness, and anxiety all wrapped up in one. To try your best not to be stressed in such stressful times can be difficult.
After your procedure is done, it takes two weeks to determine if the transfer and implantation was successful. Will I be pregnant? What if it doesn’t work out? What do I do now? All these thoughts and questions are bound to enter your mind and disrupt your sleep and daily life the next two weeks. How do you survive and thrive during the IVF two week wait?
Two Week Wait
Why wait two weeks? The two weeks is called the luteal phase, considered the final phase of IVF. It is the time between embryo transfer and the pregnancy test. These two weeks would be equivalent to the part of a 28-day cycle that happens between day 15 and day 28 of a woman’s cycle.
Progesterone and/or estrogen medication is working in your body to help produce the same levels of hormones that would occur naturally in the early stages of pregnancy. These hormone medications help prepare the lining of the uterus for implantation. Once transferred, the embryo needs to implant itself into the uterine lining, around day 20 of the cycle, and then continue to grow into a fetus, for pregnancy to occur.
It takes about 10 days for all traces of the hormone one used as the trigger shot to be cleared from a woman’s body. This is why it is critical to wait 14 days to make sure the new pregnancy is producing enough of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) to be detected in a blood test. This is the most accurate indication of pregnancy to test for hCG levels.
The hormone medications given to you to optimize your body for pregnancy may be having an impact on you emotionally and physically. You may be feeling all the symptoms of an early pregnancy.
You may feel emotional and be more prone to tears, anxiety and irritability. You may also experience some cramping, spotting or light bleeding, abdominal bloating, fatigue and breast tenderness.
While all these feelings and symptoms can be stressful to an IVF patient, they are normal to have and do not indicate whether one is pregnant or not. However, any extreme symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately.
What Not To Do
1. Don’t take a home pregnancy test before the two week mark as they can deliver false results, both positive and negative. One reason for this is that the hCG injection given to mature and release the eggs, and as a booster, can give a false positive urine test, which can only add to the emotional roller coaster if you don’t get initial accurate results.
2. Don’t stop your medications. Continue to take your medications as prescribed by your fertility specialist. Call the clinic if you need refills or have any questions.
3. Don’t isolate yourself. Lean on your partner for moral support or seek support from your network of IVF warrior friends. There is no need to feel alone or isolated in this journey.
1. Follow your doctor’s orders and most likely it will be to limit your activity during these next two weeks. Avoid carrying heavy objects and doing strenuous physical activity. And no sexual intercourse at this time as well.
2. Eat nutritious foods and stay hydrated with water. For some experiencing nausea, it may be difficult to stomach some foods at this time. Try eating several small meals within a day instead of eating bigger meals. And make water your beverage of choice.
3. Get your needed sleep of 7-8 hours. A well rested body can function better. Limit your tech use before you go to bed and when you first wake up so you get better sleep.
4. Ease your stress levels. I know that sounds easier said than done when all you’re thinking, dreaming of, praying about, and hoping for is a positive pregnancy test result. Do some guided meditations or journaling to ease your stress at this time.
5. Watch a funny movie, read a good book, or just enjoy some fresh air outdoors. Do what works for you and makes you happy. Time may not go faster, but you certainly will feel better while waiting.
I know I enjoyed being a couch potato and binge watched several shows during my IVF two week wait. I loved that I didn’t have to cook, clean, or do laundry during this time. My husband was catering to my every need! Maybe I milked it a little bit, but definitely no guilt or regrets here.
Keep Surviving and Thriving
This may seem like the longest two weeks of your life. Waiting to hear the news of your pregnancy test and eventually a heartbeat. All the emotions you are experiencing are normal and it is okay to seek support for comfort. You are not alone and don’t be afraid to ask your questions.
You are stronger than you think you are. Everyone’s IVF journey is unique and special.
I’ve experienced the IVF two week wait several times since I endured several cycles. I was fortunate to experience two positive test results that progressed, but that is not always the case. Three other times that I have had positive pregnancy test results, I’ve also had 3 early miscarriages. Those were heartbreaking. To finally hear life changing news after a two week wait and then find out weeks later during the first trimester that they no longer detect the heartbeat is devastating.
If you need to stop scrolling Facebook or Instagram to ease your anxiety, then do that. If you need to not interact with people who may say hurtful things about your infertility, then do that. If you just need a break from work or household chores, then do that. Do what will help you through the next two weeks and beyond.
You are an IVF warrior and you will survive and thrive during this two week wait – I believe in you! Take care and stay safe!
What helped you survive and thrive during your IVF two week wait? Would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below.