I never liked waiting. For me waiting around is a waste of time and energy, but the two week wait is not something you choose. You just have to be patient or try investing that energy into something else, like taking a trip or trying out a new activity.
Patience and understanding are especially important during this time because the outcome will decide how our lives are going to continue.
So what exactly happens during the “2 week wait”, the two week waiting period between the treatment (embryo transfer or insemination) and taking a pregnancy test?
Normally, without the help of ART (assisted reproductive technology), the fertilised oocytes travel from the fallopian tubes to the uterus three to five days after fertilisation. That is the same number of days that the fertilised oocytes spend in an incubator in the embryology lab. After completing its journey, the fertilised oocytes implant themselves into the uterine lining. Approximately 10 to 11 days after fertilisation, the embryo starts producing hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), and it reaches a detectable level around two weeks after implantation. This is the reason why the waiting time is called a “2 week wait”. If the pregnancy test is taken before the two weeks, it could show a false result.
Some couples are lucky enough to have a larger amount of oocytes collected for fertilisation. This usually results in a larger number of healthy well-developed embryos that can be frozen and stored for later use in case the first IVF cycle fails. Unfortunately, me and my wife do not have this opportunity, so we are trying to be optimistic and keep our fingers crossed for the best possible outcome for our two embryos.
So what can we do during this dreaded 2 week wait?
One of the hardest moments during the 2 week wait is to resist taking a pregnancy test. Most women are extremely impatient and two weeks of waiting around is torture for them. However, taking a pregnancy test before the two weeks are up can result in an incorrect result. For example, the trigger shot that the woman takes before the oocyte retrieval contains hCG. This hormone can stay in her body for quite some time and the pregnancy test can show a positive result, even though she is not really pregnant. This will lead to false hope and a huge disappointment. It is easier said than done, but it truly is best to wait two full weeks before taking the pregnancy test. My wife wanted to take a pregnancy test one week after the embryo transfer but I was able to talk her out of it. I don’t remember exactly what I said but I tried to be rational, comforting and supportive.
During our treatment we talked a lot about IVF. It was a huge part of our conversations for many weeks and we studied a great deal about it, too. Now, I try to avoid all topics related to IVF or ART and concentrate on other things. We tried to stay busy and do all kinds of activities, such as baking, hiking, even taking a weekend trip, to shift our focus.
I have remained (for the most part) realistic during this waiting period. I kept telling myself that we will have to accept whatever the outcome will be and then try to move on.
My wife, on the other hand, was quite emotional during this time. She was absolutely sure that the treatment worked. She did not take a pregnancy test but she truly felt like we were going to have a baby and become parents. I did not want to bring her mood down but I did not want to get her hopes up either. I tried to stay calm and level-headed during those two weeks, but I assured her that no matter what the outcome, I will be there for her.