The time between your insemination or embryo transfer and the pregnancy test result can be stressful. Here are some tips that may help you get through this potentially challenging period.
Once your insemination or embryo transfer has taken place, there is nothing that you can or cannot do to influence the outcome. It is out of your control. Strong emotions, feelings of pessimism, and getting upset with yourself or others will not change the outcome. You may very well have mood swings, feelings of irritability, jealousy, or anxiety. While these are certainly stressful for you, rest assured that they will not change the outcome.
One of the biggest myths in IVF or other fertility treatments is that the embryos or sperm can “fall out.” The embryos and sperm cannot fall out. The uterine cavity is not really like a container. It is more like a virtual space. The two walls of the uterus touch each other. The embryo quickly embeds itself within these walls, and nothing you do will expel this small embryo. If you cough too hard, exercise too vigorously, strain to use the bathroom; run over a pothole…(you get the idea), the embryos will not fall out. We promise!
Taking progesterone (shots, Crinone, Prometrium, Endometrin) may cause pregnancy-like symptoms. You may feel tired, bloated, and nauseous. Your breasts can become tender. All of these can be signs of an early pregnancy. During the waiting period, you will likely second-guess yourself trying to decide if what you’re feeling are signs of pregnancy. Try not to focus on these symptoms. In fact, many women have no symptoms at all and end up with a healthy pregnancy. You may even experience vaginal bleeding – this does not mean that you are not pregnant. And remember: if you squeeze and massage your breasts to assess their soreness, they will eventually become sore.
Waiting for the pregnancy test can feel like a very, very long time. You have put tremendous effort and planning into this cycle. Don’t wake up tomorrow morning and think, “how am I going to get through the next few days?” Come up with a plan of things you can do to distract yourself, pamper yourself, and make the time go faster. You know yourself best. If getting a massage is right for you, then by all means go ahead. If seeing a lot of movies or focusing more of your efforts at work or getting to home projects on the “to do list” helps you get your mind off of the pregnancy test, then do these things.
Allow yourself to be choosy regarding whom you spend time with. Feel free to avoid unsympathetic friends, overly fertile friends, and needy friends. Plan to see those who will support, entertain, and distract you. As Murphy’s Law would have it, baby showers seem to pop up at just this time. Feel free to avoid these if you feel they would be too stressful for you.
Screen your phone calls! If you have told a number of people that you are undergoing fertility treatments, then you may be inundated with frequent phone calls. If this starts to get to you, appoint a spokesperson for yourself (best friend, relative, etc…). Tell everyone that if and when there is good news to share, you will certainly be in touch.
Make a date with your partner for the night of your pregnancy test. If it is positive, it gives you a chance to celebrate. If the results are disappointing, it will give you time to grieve together away from friends and acquaintances, and plan the next step together.
Although it can be hard, try to balance the fine line between your state of mind and reality. There is no right way to feel. For some, it is much easier to cope with the days of waiting by feeling hopeful and optimistic; for others it feels more comfortable to protect themselves be feeling pessimistic. One way to make it easier is to have a “Plan B’ just in case your pregnancy test is negative. Whatever your feelings and thoughts after a treatment, make sure that you have an appointment for a consultation with your doctor.
Remember that your physician and the nursing team are available to you during this waiting time. If you have questions or concerns, don’t sit at home and wonder if you should call – JUST CALL! We are not only concerned about the medical aspects of your fertility treatment: we care about how you’re feeling and want to help you cope in the best way possible.
Dr. Klipstein is a graduate of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She is board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. She holds fellowships in both infertility and medical ethics.
Dr. Klipstein is widely published, having written numerous articles in both medical and ethics journals. She has also authored several book chapters and presented at numerous medical conferences. She is fluent in Spanish and Hebrew.