Dealing with “Two Week Wait Symptoms” and Coping With TTC Anxiety
The two-week wait is a time of high anxiety, worry, and frustration for women trying to conceive.1 In case you’re not familiar with the phrase, the two week wait is the time between ovulation and your expected period. This is when all your am-I-pregnant-this-time anxieties emerge!
During fertility treatment cycles, the two week wait can be even more frustrating. Your fear of failure—and your hopes—are higher. There are many ‘what-ifs’ floating around. What if the cycle fails? Will we try again? Can we afford to try again? Do I want to try again?
Whether you’re in the middle of treatments or not, here are some two week wait survival tips. They probably won’t take away all the anxiety, but hopefully, they’ll make the 14 days a tad more bearable.
Stop Obsessing Over “Pregnancy Symptoms”
OK, perhaps it’s too much to ask you to flat-out stop obsessing. But at the very least, take whatever pregnancy “symptom” you think you’re having along with a grain of salt.
Many of the so-called early signs of pregnancy are caused by the hormones that are naturally present every two week wait. This is why those months when you were sure you were pregnant, because you felt pregnant, didn’t result in a positive pregnancy test.
Feeling pregnant does not always mean that you are.
Doctors don’t put very much weight on symptoms or lack of symptoms of pregnancy. So, try not get to anxious worrying about whether you have the “signs.”
Remember: women often get pregnant and have no idea for 2 to 3 months because they don’t have any symptoms at all—or at least no significant symptoms that would make them think they could be pregnant.
Ever notice how time seems to slow down when you’re either really nervous about something or anxiously awaiting a deadline? Kind of like how the night before an exciting holiday has the same number of hours as every other day, but they tick by so much slower.
The two week wait can be like this. One way to help the time go by faster, or at least in normal speed, is by keeping busy. Keeping busy may mean working more, but it can also mean planning meaningful, distracting fun. Here are some ideas on how to spend your two-week wait.
- Schedule a date with your partner or with some friends.
- Rent or go see a movie.
- Plan a day for those errands you keep not getting around to doing.
- Learn a new hobby you’ve been meaning to pursue.
- Clean out a closet or two.
- Imagine how neat the house could be if every two-week wait, you passed the time with cleaning.
It doesn’t really matter how you fill the time, as long as you fill it with something.
Schedule Worry Time
Can you really schedule time to obsess? The idea sounds crazy, but it’s actually possible. Even if you’re not consciously analyzing each sniffle as a potential pregnancy sign, it may be lurking in the back of your brain. You may pretend to not be obsessing during the two week wait. But you’re working slower, you’re spacey, and you’re generally more anxious.
One way to deal with this is to schedule 15 minutes, once or twice a day, to obsess about the two week wait, in whatever way you’d like. That might mean scouring your BBT chart for signs, or getting out your calendar and counting (for the tenth time) how many more days until you can take a pregnancy test. It might mean visiting online fertility forums to vent about your two week wait frustrations, or reading and commenting on fertility blogs.
Whatever you do, though, schedule the time. You make a promise to yourself that you’re only going to be ‘two-week-wait crazy’ between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m., and 7:30 and 7:45 p.m., for example.
It sounds like it wouldn’t work, but actually it can. Put aside a set amount of time for your worry, then move on with your day.
For example, when you’re actively cycling, you could allot worry time to take place during your injection. You can then plan on thinking through your worries as you go through the process —whether it’s in the morning, evening, or split between both.
It’s healthier to schedule worry time for a short, focused period each day than it is to worry 24/7 for two weeks straight.
Get Support from People who Understand
Having someone to talk to during your scheduled obsessing time, or any time for that matter, can help you cope. It can also help you cope with other aspects of infertility. Infertility is very difficult emotionally, and you don’t have to do it alone.
A few ways you can find support include:
- Connecting with others online infertility forums or on social media
- Teaching your friends and family how to support you
- Joining a live infertility support group
- Finding a therapist who specializes in infertility
If you don’t have a local support group, you may want to consider starting one! You don’t have to be a therapist to start a support group. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association can provide guidance on starting a local peer-led support group.
If a “real life” support group isn’t available or doesn’t sound appealing, online groups can be supportive.
Just be aware that you can easily become addicted to forums and social media support groups. You might find yourself needing to schedule time for hanging out online.
Use Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques can be of great help during this time. There are many ways to deal with anxiety, from breathing exercises to meditation. Guided imagery has been shown in research studies to help lower stress and anxiety levels.2 Yoga is another option, and some fertility clinics offer “fertility yoga” classes. Acupuncture is another option for stress relief. It may even improve your fertility.3
Here’s a list of possibilities for relaxation or creating the natural feel-good hormones of endorphins:
- Color either with an adult coloring book or just on scratch paper
- Exercise doing whatever you love, just don’t go overboard, since overexercise may harm fertility4
- Get a massage or give yourself one. With some lotion and some time, you can easily give yourself a foot massage
- Hike, swim, or participate in any outdoor activity that makes you happy
- Listen to music or play music if you play an instrument
- Organize your home—some people enjoy cleaning their home
- Paint or draw
- Read a new book or reread a favorite
- Rewatch your favorite movie or TV show
- Sew, knit, or crochet or learn how
- Slide into an epsom salt bath—just avoid long hot baths if you’re a man, as that can harm sperm
- Snuggle up with your dog or cat
- Take naps
- Walk outside in a park, around the block, inside a mall, in the woods
Write Out All Your Concerns
Sometimes, writing out all your “what-ifs” can help you get the racing thoughts out of your head. Ask yourself one of your what-if questions. Then, answer the question yourself.
The idea isn’t to talk yourself out of being afraid, but to get to the core of what you’re worrying about. It’s almost like playing therapist with yourself. You’d be amazed how wise you can be at answering your own anxieties.
It can also be helpful to have a conversation with your doctor.
Ask them about your “worst case scenarios,” and discuss how you would tackle these problems together. Knowing your plan Bs (and even Cs) can help you feel more in control throughout the process.
Go Easy on the Pregnancy Tests
Some women develop an addiction to taking pregnancy tests during the two week wait. There’s a big difference between waiting until your period is late, or even until its due, and testing, compared to someone who takes multiple tests before her period is even late.
If you’ve been purchasing pregnancy tests in bulk online because you go through them so quickly, or you’ve got a stash in your home that makes you look like a pregnancy-test-drug-dealer, you may have a problem.
The rational for taking an early test is that if you’re pregnant, you can find out quicker. Except it doesn’t really work like that.
First of all, even the early pregnancy tests won’t give you a result until a day or so before your period is late. Secondly, it’s rare even then to get a positive result early. You can get a false negative—in other words, you are pregnant but the test is negative—and feel disappointed for no reason at all.
The best option? Wait until your period is at least one day late. That means if your period is due Tuesday, you don’t take a test until Wednesday or Thursday. If you have irregular cycles, wait until your “normal” later cycle average. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment.
If you take a home pregnancy test and get a false negative, you might think you can (or should) stop taking your IVF medications—but this can jeopardize a pregnancy.
Home pregnancy tests are qualitative instead of quantitative, which means they only pick up a pregnancy once the beta-hCG (pregnancy hormone) level hits a certain number. By contrast, the blood test your doctor can do can see any level of beta-hCG.
A Word From Verywell
The two-week wait can be a stressful time for couples trying to conceive. It’s a time when you really can’t do anything besides wait and see if this month was successful.
Be compassionate with yourself. Give yourself extra attention during this time, take care of yourself, and reach out for support from friends and family. You don’t have to do this alone.