Any woman actively trying to conceive, and especially women who have been trying for a long time, will tell you that the two week wait (TWW) is the longest two weeks of their lives. And the TWW seems to get longer with each passing month! While this concept might seem strange, obsessive, or trivial to women who had no problems conceiving or to women who don’t want or aren’t ready for children of their own, I think every woman should learn a little bit about what this struggle looks like. Maybe it will make you more grateful for your crazy kiddos, or maybe it will encourage you to know that there are a lot of other women out there who know exactly what you’re going through, even if it feels like no one around you does.
So many people don’t know what it looks like or feels like to experience infertility or trouble conceiving. It is emotionally taxing. Every month that a second line doesn’t show up on a pregnancy test or that your period starts, it is absolutely devastating. At a minimum, it means another month of charting temperatures, checking your cervical fluid, and timing sex. For many, many others, it means scheduling multiple doctors appointments every few days throughout your cycle, including multiple blood draws, ultrasounds, trips to Walgreens to pick up prescriptions, phone calls with fertility pharmacies to order more trigger shots and hCG, crunching numbers to make sure your budget can handle all of the procedures that have to happen that month (since your insurance doesn’t typically cover fertility treatments), and ohbytheway you’re still trying to do LIFE in the midst of all of this – working, grocery shopping, cooking (and incessantly trying to eat only good, whole, nutritious foods to make sure that you’re priming you’re body in case THIS is finally your month), running errands, keeping up with the house, etc.
It’s really exhausting, and your life starts to feel like it revolves around trying to get pregnant. THEN, on top of that, even some of your closest confidants who know of your struggles continue to tell you to “Just relax. I’m sure it will happen soon.” I’m sorry, but that advice sucks. Relaxing is not possible when you’re charting everything from your temperature to which vitamins you ingested that day, and trying to squeeze in yet another transvaginal ultrasound between afternoon work meetings. It is stressful. I will caveat this by saying that, even amidst the craziness, there are still widely varying degrees of just how much you get into a tizzy over the process. I try my hardest to err on the side of “oh yeah, we’re just enjoying the moment and it’ll happen when it happens,” but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that while I’m saying this my subconscious is like I don’t know if I can handle this anymore. I might seem as cool as a cucumber, but really I’m just externally psyching myself up in a self-guided attempt to provide willful, mental support to my system. I’m placebo-ing myself. It does help, but no matter how casual someone may seem about their infertility, it is not casual. It is all-consuming.
Getting back to the actual two week wait, after you’ve made sure to time the proverbial Baby Dance (BD) correctly, you anxiously tick of the days of your luteal phase, taking your temperature every morning and hoping that it stays up (your post-ovulatory temps should be roughly 0.5-1 degree F higher than your pre-ovulatory temps). The day that it dips signals your period is coming, and the hope and excitement of each preceding day is wretchedly dashed when that temperature drops. But, there’s a nagging voice in your head that it’s not over til it’s over and you hope that maybe the batteries in your thermometer are dying or that the low temp was just a fluke and that it’ll spike back up the next day. It’s not until “Aunt Flow” arrives that every shred of hope fades. And when that happens, for me, it’s usually followed by one really sad, really hard day. Crying, feelings of inferiority, hopelessness about every becoming a parent. It’s awful. By the time your period is over and you’re ramping back up for ovulation and trying again, the despair turns back into hope and anticipation. It’s really amazing how resilient our minds and bodies are to having our hopes dashed so often, especially one as big as conceiving, but anyone who’s experienced infertility knows this cycle of hope and despair is so, so true. It’s the most ridiculous emotional rollercoaster I’ve ever ridden, and not one I would ever willingly ride.
There’s been a lot of blog posts written on ‘how to keep yourself busy during the two week wait’ and ‘how to cope when everyone seems to be getting pregnant except for you’ and ‘what to say to someone going through infertility’ but I’m not putting this post out into the universe as a means to guide your though infertility or how to deal with a loved one who is. This is just a post to share how women going through it feel in hopes that perhaps it inspires a little empathy or compassion.
In some ways, I truly am grateful that I’m experiencing difficulties conceiving, because it has thrown into very sharp relief just how precious the miracle of life is. It has also helped me focus more intently on who I want to be as a parent and how Kevin and I want to raise our kids. Unrelated to child-rearing, infertility has especially helped me with my pride. It has stripped me of it. Infertility has made me humble in ways I never have been. We’re always told not to take things for granted, but that phrase becomes so much more powerful when one of the most biological processes and biggest desires of your heart isn’t workout out for you. When I decided to start vocalizing the fact that we were having trouble conceiving, I thought I’d only tell my closest friends and family members, but the longer this process takes, the more open I’m becoming. Not because I feel the need to tell the world a sob story, but because I want to share the process to help others cope, understand, and yes, even to help find some clarity and light throughout the journey.
I still want to be a mother more than anything in the world, and I know that my time is coming.