All about the Two Week Wait (TWW)Nov 01, 2022
The Two Week Wait (aka the TWW or 2WW), is something I bring up a lot because I believe it’s one of the hardest moments in the IVF journey. Partly because of what it has taken to get to this stage, and partly because you’re at such a pivotal moment of the IVF process where you cannot do anything to influence the outcome. Because of this, I have my Two Week Wait Challenge available and I frequently talk about the lack of control around waiting during IVF–especially during the Two Week Wait.
My goal through this blog is to help provide you with information and resources to help you along your IVF journey, and what that means is that I end up sharing things with you that I had to learn the hard way.
Does this make it much easier when you experience it yourself? Probably not. But my hope is at least you have some clearer expectations, and if this clarity can add even the tiniest bit of ease to your journey, I’m good with that.
I went through seven TWWs. Seven. And it was the hardest part for me every single time. I lost sleep at night, I overanalyzed, and I put my life on hold.
But during my seventh and final wait, I came up with the idea for the TWW Challenge and it was through that idea that I became an infertility coach to support patients on the emotional side of the IVF journey.
What is the TWW?
The TWW, short for Two Week Wait, is the period after the reproductive endocrinologist (or infertility specialist) implants the embryo in your uterus and before they test to see if it worked. It used to be a standard 14 day wait for most people and recently some clinics have changed to doing the beta, or blood test to confirm pregnancy, as early as 9 days post transfer (9DPT in internet jargon!).
Yes, some people test at home with home pregnancy tests early, but here at KD Coaching we don’t support that as it just adds more dips and loop de loops on the infertility rollercoaster that is hard enough. So the people I work with are encouraged to hold out and not pee on a stick until after they get their blood drawn at the beta test appointment at their fertility clinic.
Why the TWW is so hard
The IVF process is a lot of pressure all around. There’s a financial impact, an emotional impact, and for many people, they only try once. That’s a lot of pressure when your desire for a baby is non-negotiable.
But the TWW is the most pressure-inducing time of the whole process. All of your research, your time, your money, each and every appointment, every shot, every tear…it has all culminated in these moments following your transfer day. And there’s nothing you can do at this point. It’s out of your hands. All that’s left to do is wait.
As IVF warriors know, waiting is the hardest part. Our brains go wild with all kinds of thoughts, both positive and negative. And two weeks is not a short amount of time. In fact, it’s 1,209,000 seconds that you’re going to spend counting down till you have answers, analyzing every thought and symptom, and holding yourself back from peeing on a stick.
It was during this time that I had the realization that I was wasting my life focused on something that was completely out of my control. And I didn’t like that one bit.
What to avoid during the TWW
It’s natural human instinct to throw your nervous energy into something when you feel a lack of control in your life. But with the TWW, I see so many people throwing their energy into the wrong things.
The Google Rabbit Hole
You may think you’re distracting yourself by going down the Google rabbit hole about every symptom or feeling you have, but this is actually keeping your brain hyper focused on the situation. You’re not doing yourself any favors by Googling because you will always be able to find evidence and support for either outcome no matter the circumstance.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel this way, but your doctors know more than Google. Don’t seek medical advice from the internet when you have a team supporting you in person.
I was definitely a culprit of this during my TWWs. When I felt a cramp or my boobs felt tender, I thought the worst. I thought “here comes my period” and concluded that the IVF or IUI round was unsuccessful.
After working with dozens and dozens of women over the past couple years I have now seen that the symptoms of pregnancy, the symptoms of your period coming and the side effects of the meds you’re on are all the same. Some women have all symptoms. Some have none. Some have a mix. And some have a different feeling with every pregnancy. All that to say that the symptoms don’t actually tell you one way or the other.
When I learned to flip these thoughts to work in my favor, I started looking at every symptom as an affirmation that I was pregnant. As I told myself over and over again that it worked and I was pregnant, my tender boobs and my hunger cravings, my tiredness all convinced me that I was pregnant.
People often say PUPO: Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise, but I prefer, PASP: Pregnant and Staying Pregnant.
You are PASP and you get to choose to keep reminding yourself of that.
Endless Pregnancy Tests
You’ll be tempted to pee on a stick…a lot. I’ve seen people take tests every day, even three times a day.
Don’t. Do. It!
Save your money. Save your sanity. And if you feel like you need to pee on a stick, wait until the morning of your beta test.
You’re already on an emotional rollercoaster. Countless pregnancy tests will only add to the twists and turns. With every single one of my waits, I waited for the phone call and never once peed on a stick.
You feel uncomfortable being in this place of uncertainty, which makes sense. So you think the way to feel better is to “just know already” which would mean peeing on a stick. Do you know what happens? Either there is a faint line or there isn’t. When there is a faint line, you don’t believe it, it’s not dark enough, so you say you’ll feel better tomorrow when you do it again and see the line get darker. But then you’re in this cycle of doing this day after day and never actually feel better.
If on the other hand it’s negative, you’ll talk yourself down and say, well, it’s too early for a home pregnancy test so i’ll just take it again tomorrow. And, again and again and never actually feel better.
Do you know how you feel better? You acknowledge that this is a crummy feeling place to sit in, you name it, you breathe through it, and you go do something else and wait for your beta. It feels so good when you get the call from your doctor with your beta number saying “congrats you’re pregnant”. Yes, it feels really bad when you get the other call too. I know, I've had both. But at that point you just know. And you can deal with that sucky reality and take it hour by hour, day by day.
What to use your nervous energy on during the TWW
Instead of channeling your nervous energy into your fertility status, use that energy for something good! Here are some of my favorite proven activities to help you while you wait:
- Random acts of kindness: This is my absolute favorite. By putting good vibes into the world you’re not only making yourself feel good, but you’re also making someone else feel good (which then feels doubly good for you!) Whether you do a random act of kindness for a neighbor or buy the stranger behind you in line a cup of coffee, find an act of kindness to do every day.
- Write a thank you note to people who’ve supported you: Even though you can feel very isolated and alone in this journey, you do have support. List out everyone in your life who’s supported you in some way during this process and write some thank you notes. This can be a friend, a relative, a nurse, even someone you’ve connected with online through a support group.
- Meal plan or try different foods: Whether you like to cook or not, it’s a great time to try something new. Have you been wanting to come up with a new way of meal planning? Or a recipe you’ve wanted to try? Now’s the time. Maybe stock up the fridge with some freezer meals or plan a freezer meal swap with some friends so you’re all stocked with easy meals for days when cooking is the last thing on your mind (whether from first trimester pregnancy exhaustion or from handling the grief of bad news)
- Move your body every day: This is one of those things that should come with or without IVF, but move! Take a walk, get some fresh air, invite a friend on a walk, a low impact peloton ride, do a calming (prenatal friendly) yoga class (either at a studio or in your living room). Whatever it is, just move your legs and take deep breaths.
- Organize that closet you’ve been thinking about: We all have that project that we’ve put off for ages. It could be getting rid of some clothes, cleaning out the pantry, re-organizing that kitchen cabinet. Making a photo album from last year, or more! This is a great time to cross these things off your list. Take a look at the Home Edit for some great organizational ideas.
- Plan ahead - Make a plan you feel good about for the day (or weekend) after your beta- regardless of what news you get. It’s always good to have something to look forward to.
There is no way to protect yourself from bad news, but holding yourself back from feeling hope is not the answer and it will not change the outcome. Remember that (if this is your first round) this is as far as you’ve come in this process. Take time to celebrate that, take care of yourself and do your best to enjoy this step. Because it might actually work which means this is all part of the story to your baby!
Ready to get the support you need so you can stop putting your life on hold during your IVF journey?
Learn about my More Than My Infertility program!