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8 Tips for Surviving the 'Two-Week Wait' When You're Trying to Conceive

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How do you survive the dreaded two-week wait whilst trying to conceive, without being overwhelmed by anxiety, frustration and worry? 

For those uninitiated into the world of (in)fertility, the dreaded two-week wait (or 2ww) is the time between ovulation and your expected period. It’s a period of time that often becomes synonymous with high levels of anxiety, frustration and worry for couples who have been trying to conceive for any significant length of time…

Waiting Is Hard 

The two-week wait can be difficult for any couple to handle. Understandably, once you have decided to try and get pregnant, it’s easy to feel impatient for results. But for couples who find themselves in the middle of infertility and treatment cycles, the wait can be even tougher. What if it doesn’t work? Can we afford to try again? And will we even want to, if it doesn’t? How will we cope emotionally?

It can be really hard to know how to manage your expectations during the two-week wait; trying to hold things lightly and not over-obsess, but without just burying or ignoring your emotions either.

And if you’re under fertility treatment and taking medication that reminds you of your situation constantly or requires you to already act as if you are pregnant, those emotions can be even more heightened. Because how can you ever really relax, switch off or forget about it all, when there’s always a physical reminder — another pessary, injection or pill to take each day?

8 Tips for Surviving the ‘2WW’

Whether you’re in the middle of treatment, trying to conceive naturally, or simply know someone who is and wonder how you can help support them, here are some two-week wait survival tips that I’ve learned over time. They probably won’t take away all the anxiety, but hopefully they’ll make those dreaded 14 days a tiny bit more bearable.

1. Try to stay busy. 

Whatever helps to occupy your mind during these weeks is a friend. Sometimes distraction really is a good thing. So plan some fun things into the diary to try and take your mind off the wait; organize date nights, plan a short getaway, go to the movies, order that new book you’ve been meaning to read and make sure that you don’t spend long periods of time on your alone…

2. Practice gratitude.

One of the best ways to help prevent your mind from over-focusing on your next pregnancy test result is to actively practice gratitude for what you already have. Yes, your situation is really tough right now, but don’t forget all the positives you have in your life too.

So practice gratitude daily. Either speak out what you are grateful for or write it down as a list. What has been good today? What are those small blessings could you easily overlook? And what are the big blessings too? Your partner, your loved ones, your friends, your home…

3. Step away from the internet.

It’s so easy to get into a pattern of trying to second guess what your body is doing, but try to stop obsessing over potential symptoms. Stop googling every twinge and ache, because doing this will only make things worse!

Is it period cramp, or embedding pains? Is it PMT or pregnancy hormones? The truth is that no amount of second guessing or reading about other people’s experiences in online chats will help you one iota.

So why not just relax about it all, and settle in for the two-week wait?

I’ve been through four early pregnancies now, and every single one has felt different. There’s been times when I’ve felt so sure I was pregnant but turned out not to be, and times when I’ve felt nothing unusual at all but got a positive too.

4. Resist the temptation to take early tests.

I know there are lots of kits on the market that promise 99% accuracy up to five days before your period is due, and of course I’ve used them too. But really, what is the gain?

I know there’s some school of thought that you can start taking fertility treatments sooner if you get a positive sooner — but you also risk getting a false negative and putting yourself through unnecessary heart ache and disappointment too.

Yes, curiosity can drive you nuts, but if you’re bulk-buying test kits or you find yourself compulsively testing and re-testing every month, even before your period is due, then maybe you need to take a break. It’ll be better for your mental health and for your wallet if you do.

 5. Try some relaxation techniques.

It’s also important to try to proactively manage the stress and tension, as opposed to just ignoring and letting it build up. I’ve done this before, but ended up not sleeping well or even ended up adding to my problems by developing neck and shoulder pains.

So try to plan in lots of relaxing activities; take some hot baths, get a massage, or try yoga, acupuncture, meditation or relaxation classes. Seek out some activities that you might find relaxing too, like coloring, playing music, reading, knitting, baking, gardening, hiking… or whatever it is that you like to do!

6. Journal, talk and process.

Do you find yourself more on edge during the two-week wait, bickering with your partner more or suddenly blowing up emotionally? It’s hardly surprising with all that extra emotional stress you are both carrying!

So try to proactively identify and name how you are feeling each day by writing down your thoughts in a journal, or by talking about it with your partner. Keeping yourself busy is a good way to manage your impatience during the two-week wait, but avoiding your emotions is never a good thing. It’s likely that your partner will be feeling on edge as well, so talking will also help to reduce the stress on your relationship too.

7. Be kind to yourself (and your partner).

Look after yourself by practicing lots of self-care. Eat well, try to reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake (or better still cut it out completely), get plenty of fresh air and try to take lots of exercise too — since all of these things help to guard against feelings of overwhelm or becoming very down.

Looking after yourself is so important in this whole process, and it comes with the bonus that if you do end up with a positive result after your two-week wait, you will also be getting your pregnancy off to a healthy start too.

8. Make a clear plan for test day 

This may sound a little strange, but make sure you have a clear plan in place for the day that your period is due, when you intend to take a pregnancy test or for when your clinical test results are due. And then stick to that plan.

Don’t just take a test on a whim, and never do it in a rush or right before you are due to go to work or out somewhere socially either. Allow yourself some time to process the news first — whether it is good or bad.
And plan to do something fun later in the day too. You may not always feel like it at the time, but I promise that it will help. Test days are often the worst, especially if you just stay at home and mope around, if things don’t go as you hoped.

I hope some of these tips are helpful for you too, in what is such a difficult season of life. Good luck!

Getty image via Matthias Lindner

Originally published: September 29, 2020
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