The two weeks between ovulation and when a period is due can seem, for many women, to last an eternity. Especially for those who are trying to conceive and are desperate to have their pregnancy confirmed. But the two-week wait to either have a period or have a pregnancy confirmed can also generate feelings of anxiety and apprehension for women who are just as keen not to have a baby.
One thing is for sure though – despite all of our technological advances, having to do the two-week wait, and sometimes more, has been something women have had to do since the human race began.
Exactly what is the two-week wait?
Technically, the two-week wait refers to the luteal phase of pregnancy. This is the phase of the menstrual cycle, which begins after ovulation and lasts until either pregnancy occurs or the breakdown of the corpus luteum has begun. Of course, the two-week wait time-frame only applies to women who have the standard 28-day cycle. For those who have shorter or longer menstrual cycles, their two-week wait may be a one-week wait or perhaps even a three-week wait.
Waiting two weeks after IVF
For women who are having difficulty in conceiving and are undertaking fertility assistance, the two-week wait can take on an even greater emotional intensity. So much has been invested into trying to fall pregnant, with so much planning and control that having to then step back and be patient can present its own unique challenges. Because ultimately, that’s what the two-week wait is about. Sitting back and waiting. Nothing can be done to speed up the process and nature really does need to be left alone to do its own thing.
Some women feel that they are a failure if their fertility treatments have not been successful. They’ve put so much into conceiving that the possibility of it not being successful fills them with intense disappointment. But there are no guarantees in life. The best any of us can do is make informed choices with the information we have and avoid seeing everything in life as being under our absolute control.
Common emotions during the two-week wait
- Anxiety, worry and apprehension.
- Heightened sensitivity and moodiness.
- Nagging thoughts relating to ‘What if I’m pregnant?’ ‘How will I cope?’ and ‘What if I’m not?’
- Distraction and difficulty focusing.
- Greater awareness of body functioning – every little twinge is analysed.
- Sleep changes and difficulty ‘switching off’.
- More up and down moods and just feeling different.
- Becoming easily irritated and with a short fuse.
What will make it easier?
None of us can control time, or make it go faster or slower. But what we can do is keep busy and make sure our minds are kept active. These things can and do change our perception of how time passes.
- Make goals for the next two weeks and work steadily towards them.
- If you’re a visual person then make lists of tasks and cross them off as you work through them.
- Get yourself a really engaging book or DVD series and become absorbed in the storyline.
- Start a project that demands your attention and focus. Nothing keeps the mind on track like being physically and mentally active.
- Do some serious cleaning and throw junk out. Get stuck into one (or several) of those jobs that you’ve put off for just such a time. You’ll have something to show for it at the end of your two-week wait and the time will be used really effectively.
- Avoid interpreting every little twinge you have as a pregnancy symptom. Being aware of your body’s activities is one thing, but try not to be too obsessive.
- Avoid nagging your partner about how you’re feeling – sustaining interest can be a difficult task. It’s best to avoid tension stemming from agonising over something no one can change.
- Avoid buying pregnancy test kitsuntil the two-week wait is over. Save your money, time and stress. It is possible to have a negative test if it is done too early. This of course, leads to disappointment when there is a negative result. Wait until your period is actually due and then do a home pregnancy test.
- Chatting with other women who are experiencing their own two-week wait. If there are no chat sites you can join, why not form your own.
- If you find yourself ruminating endlessly over whether you’re pregnant or not, quarantine some time each day to do the obsessing. Allocate 10 minutes twice a day to really think about it and then consciously move on. This can really be very effective and you’ll find it frees up your brain for other things.
- Spend some time with girlfriends who’ve been through their own two-week wait. There’s nothing like sharing an experience to gain true emotional support. Be open to their suggestions and what worked for them.
- Try a yoga, relaxation or meditation class to help free up your mind. Consider listening to some relaxation CDs, going for long walks, taking an exercise class or going for a swim. Keeping your body physically active will help to redirect blood flow to major muscle groups so there isn’t the same degree of brain space to ponder.
- Make a conscious decision to let go of control. The two-week wait is just something that needs to happen. No woman has ever been able to do anything about it and neither can you; this is just the way it is.
- Externalise your feelings and thoughts on paper. Redirecting positive and negative thoughts onto a tangible form rather than mental imagery helps to make sense of them. Just make sure you don’t throw this away – you may find it helpful in the future.
Early pregnancy signs and symptoms
There are many early pregnancy signs and, depending on the individual woman, some will be present and others will not be. Some women swear that they ‘knew’ they were pregnant from the moment they conceived. Others can’t really seem to believe it until they see their baby on an ultrasound screen. Whatever your experience of pregnancy, be confident that it is right for you. As long as you are well and your baby is growing then clearly your body is doing what it needs to do.
During the two-week wait, many women don’t feel any different to how they usually do during the last two weeks of their menstrual cycle. Depending on the individual, it may simply be too early for pregnancy hormones to have increased to a level where she is able to detect any changes. But despite the science, it does seem that some women are so tuned into their body’s signals that they just ‘know’ with absolute certainty that they are pregnant well before the two week wait is over. Many describe this as a time of calm, serenity and just feeling ‘full’.
Some common early pregnancy signs
- Tender, swollen breasts. You may feel your bra has become too tight and your breasts feel heavier and fuller. The veins in your breasts may become more noticeable.
- Sensitive, tender, tingling nipples. You might find you can’t lie on your tummy without being conscious of your breasts and nipples and some bras and clothing become irritating.
- Needing to wee more frequently, but not passing a large volume.
- A metallic taste in the mouth, known as dysgeusia. This tastes just like you’d imagine sucking on an iron handrail or a coin would. This is exactly why dysgeusia is known as one of the more unpleasant early pregnancy symptoms.
- Feeling a bit ‘off’. Not exactly sick but just unsettled and queasy in the stomach.
- Your sense of smell may become more acute. You may find you’ve become more conscious of the smell of meat, your pets, something that has gone ‘off’ in the fridge or just anything and everything!
- Are you no longer desperate for that first coffee of the morning? In fact, coffee, tea, chocolate and your favourite foods seem to have just lost their usual appeal? Then you can put this down to possible pregnancy.
- You may find you’re just tired all the time. Especially after lunch and dinner. Early nights seem to be the most desirable thing in your life and you long for bed.
- Mood swings and being prone to tears. Silly little things which usually don’t even register on your radar start to eat away at you.
- A sense of bloating and heaviness in your pelvis.
- Sleep disturbances. You might find yourself being unable to relax enough to go to sleep, waking in the early hours of the morning and not being able to go back to sleep or waking up particularly early.
But I don’t feel any different!
If you don’t feel any of these symptoms then try not to worry. Many women don’t experience any signs of early pregnancy in their own two-week wait and rely on seeing a positive pregnancy test. This is especially so for women who have irregular cycles and are unclear about when they may have ovulated, let alone conceived.
But I had a period; at least I think I did…
The embryo nestles into the lining of the womb eight to ten days after fertilisation. Because of the disruption to the spongy and bloody lining, it is common for women to have what is known as an implantation bleed and to interpret this as a light period. This in her mind then becomes a signal that she is not pregnant. In the following weeks, more definite pregnancy signs then start to lay seeds of doubt that perhaps, what she had was not a period at all, but something else entirely.
Some women continue to have light periods throughout their otherwise normal pregnancy. The truth is, there does not seem to be any scientific reason for this.