Last week I wrote to you about patience on the fertility journey, and how important it is for our well-being. As you know, this journey can really take over your life.
Nowhere does this run more rampant than the dreaded Two-Week Wait.
We’ve all been there. Two weeks of sheer torture, after either confirming your ovulation, having your IUI procedure, or your transfer if doing IVF (in the case of IVF, though, it’s a little bit less time but still equally torturous). Time ticks so slowly, it’s like it stands still. All we can think about is wondering if we’re pregnant and examining every aspect of our bodies to figure out if we have pregnancy symptoms.
I’ve been there too. During my first month of TTC I obsessed and symptom spotted like the best of them, with a friend I met in an online fertility support group. After documenting all of our symptoms and tirelessly examining our basal body temperature charts, intently studying each temperature and wondering if we had triphasic charts, I was convinced we were both pregnant. Until, our temperatures dropped and we both got our periods.
After that month, I knew I couldn’t go through that again. I’d worked myself into knots during those two weeks, and didn’t even the prize of a pregnancy at the end.
Around this same time, I was working in the field of aviation for the US government and attended a training class on investigating aircraft accidents (plane crashes). This is the same training that all FAA accident investigators take when they enter the job. They have to undergo LOTS of training and in many specialized areas, but I took the basic entry training that they all take. For two weeks in residence I studied actual aircraft wreckage to learn about different types of aviation accidents and what could possibly cause them.
The underlying theme of this training, and of any investigator’s approach to getting to the bottom of any plane crash is this:
You don’t know what you don’t know.
In the aviation world, this means that you don’t speculate. Until you have all the data and facts, you don’t even hypothesize on what the cause of an accident might be. The stakes are too high.
I was still a newbie at the whole fertility game at the time I went to this training – I’d had 2 months of TTC and my first miscarriage – but I knew that this same approach could be applied to the two-week wait.
There are lots of symptoms that could be thought of as early pregnancy symptoms, and they all seem to magically appear during the two-week wait. However, many of those same symptoms are also common during PMS, so you could be experiencing them because your period is coming.
But – you don’t know what you don’t know.
You don’t know if you’re experiencing pregnancy-like symptoms because your period is coming or because you’re actually pregnant. Or maybe even some other reason altogether.
Here are some common pregnancy-like symptoms and possible reasons other than pregnancy that you may be experiencing them.
Cramps: Could be gas
Sore/tender breasts: Could be PMS, or even the medications from fertility treatments themselves can make our breasts feel tender
Frequent urination: This is a great way to confirm that you drank enough water today!
Fatigue/tiredness: Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night because you were up all night wondering if you were pregnant
Extreme hunger: Perhaps you’re not eating enough – did you eat breakfast? You know I’m a real stickler on the importance of getting a good breakfast.
Bloating: On the other hand, maybe you’re eating too much. Lay off the donuts!
Heightened sense of smell: You might need to clean out your fridge or take out the garbage!
Unusual cravings: Again, maybe you’re not eating enough, or maybe you’re dehydrated. Stress is also known to cause cravings because eating is one thing we can control when we feel out of control over so many other things, like the fertility path. Symptom spotting is also really stressful!
Nausea: Oh boy, this is another one that could be caused by SO many things. Here are just a few – you might have acid reflux. That sour taste in your mouth from stomach acids makes a lot of people nauseous. Or, are you sleeping enough? Sleep deprivation can cause hormone imbalances that can cause nausea. You know I’m a real stickler about sleep too. Anxiety and stress (again, maybe from all that symptom spotting) have made me feel nauseous on more than one occasion. Or, maybe you’re actually ill.
Bad mood/irritability: Maybe you’re just grumpy. Symptom spotting can make us grumpy. Waiting through the two-week wait can certainly make us grumpy. People like me recommending that you stop symptom spotting can really make a person grumpy!
Okay, my list of symptom causes is a little tongue-in-cheek but the point is crystal clear: if you think you’re experiencing pregnancy symptoms during the two-week wait, it could be that you’re pregnant. It could also be any number of other things. The first real symptom of pregnancy is your missed period. And it takes at about 2 weeks to know if you’re going to miss your period or not. There’s just no way around that.
Until that time, you don’t know what you don’t know.
You can spend the two weeks obsessing over every twinge, every feeling, every physiological action in your body. I can almost guarantee that if you choose this option, you’ll drive yourself – and probably everyone around you – nuts.
Or you can spend the two weeks basking in the joy that is your life, nourishing your body with good food, healthy movement and quality sleep, and nourishing your spirit by spending quality time with your loved ones, and doing the things that you love to do and that make you feel happy to be alive. By choosing this option, you feel better – and if you’re pregnant, you’re giving your baby the best possible start in utero to a healthy, happy life by living such a life yourself.
The choice is yours.
This post is also available in: Arabic