Am I Pregnant, or Not?
After months or even years of effort, you’ve started fertility treatments, and now you’ve started an IVF cycle. It can be disappointing to hear that you won’t know the results for 15 days. The dreaded “two week wait” can be a period of worry and anxiety, but it can also be a time of anticipation and dreaming about your future baby. Here are some effective techniques for taking some of the stress out of waiting for your test results.
Why Do I Have to Wait, Anyway?
When a fertilized egg attaches to your uterus the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) begins to be produced and shows up in your blood and urine. Home pregnancy tests use the “dipstick” to detect the presence of hCG in your urine. The results are fairly accurate for women who have missed their period by at least one week. However, when you have an IVF cycle, your fertility specialist may administer an injection of hCG to help your eggs mature. Traces of this can linger in your body for at least 12 days and cause a false positive with a home pregnancy test, according to RESOLVE, the American Fertility Association. Some specialists advise not using a home pregnancy test and waiting for the blood test for hCG which is taken 15 days after embryo transfer, or if you must, do the home test the day you go for the hCG blood test. The blood test is the most reliable way to find out if you are pregnant and how the embryo is progressing.
Emotional Support From Your Partner
Remember, you are not going through this alone—but your partner is not a mind reader! Talk about how you feel, and ask him or her to share emotions and thoughts as well. Discuss how you want to handle it if the news is not positive. Do you want alone time, do you want to do something distracting like go out to dinner, or do you just want to be with your partner? Also talk about how widely you want to share the news, good or bad. This is very early in your potential pregnancy, so explore how you would feel about questions and comments from family and friends. You may want to keep your results private or you may want the support of people you are close to, but discuss it with your partner and agree on your joint strategy.
Talk to your doctor about whether you can exercise during your IVF cycle, and, if you can, when you can start it and what type is okay to do. Moderate physical exercise like walking or yoga can help relieve stress, but get your doctor’s blessing before you do it. If you’ve had a history of miscarriages your fertility doctor may prefer that you take it easy for the first few days or weeks. Other stress reduction techniques that may work for you include meditation, taking slow, deep breaths when you feel tense, or getting a gentle hand or shoulder massage. Some people find that knitting, crocheting or some other task that takes some concentration helps them stop negative thoughts or worry.
Take Time for Pleasures
This is a great time to do things you enjoy. Get a manicure, cook a great meal (if you enjoy cooking), see a funny movie, read a book that transports you to another place or time, binge-watch a ridiculous reality show, take a nap without guilt, sing out loud, maybe indulge in a little shopping therapy if your budget permits. Give yourself a tea party. Hug your pet, or better yet, your partner. Be a warrior princess. You deserve it.
Like a Boy Scout, Be Prepared (For Pregnancy)
Your doctor probably will recommend that you get off on the right foot for a potential pregnancy by behaving as if you already are pregnant. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol. Eat a healthy diet and avoid raw or uncooked meats or fish—bye bye, sushi, for the duration! If your doctor has prescribed prenatal vitamins be sure to take them. Any woman who is trying to get pregnant should take folate, vitamin B9, as her doctor recommends, in order to prevent neural tube defects in the baby. Keep caffeine at a moderate level.
De-Stress Your Life
Do whatever you reasonably can to reduce the stress in your life during these two weeks. None of us can avoid stress completely but if you know some things or people tend to drive you crazy, this is a good time to stay away from them as much as you can. Some couples find this wait period the most stressful part of fertility treatment. It just makes good sense to limit situations that trigger anxiety.