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The Two Week Wait: Hope vs. Fear
A blog by Amira Posner, Healing Infertility, May 12, 2015
"I am half agony and half hope." Jane Austen
The two week wait following fertility treatment typically is a period filled with hope and fear, optimism and dread. The first week is sometimes easier, but by day 23, it is difficult to resist not buying that pregnancy test. I am often told by women that they are afraid to feel hopeful in the two week wait. I completely understand. It's an emotional roller-coaster.
With scientific precision, many women attempt to track their most minute to minute physical and emotional symptoms in the two week wait, abbreviated as the TWW. During this period, many women find solace in the act of sharing. There is an entire website devoted to the topic (twoweekwait.com), where women exchange symptoms, questions and photos of pregnancy tests, helping one another evaluate if that “positive” second line is in fact there, or if it is a figment of the poster’s imagination. One thing for sure, it’s a time of uncertainty and second guessing.
It is no wonder then that many women experiencing infertility fear that by being positive and hopeful, they are setting themselves up for disappointment should the cycle be unsuccessful. This is especially true for women who have experienced multiple failed cycles. As a therapist, I address this question time and time again. I have also experienced it first hand. What I learned is that the answer isn't cut and dry. Our ego, inherent physiology and past experience will always play a factor in how we experience the TWW.
Creating a balanced perspective is an effective way to approach the two week wait and tug of war between hope, agony and fear. You may feel that you are being realistic by not getting too excited about the possibility of a positive result. You may feel you are doing yourself a favour in the interest of self-preservation. I am sure you may also enjoy fleeting moments of pure joy, thinking, wow, what if it actually worked?
There will always be a part of you that will challenge your joy and hope. After all, haven't you noticed that voice in other areas of your life? This experience is similar to what some refer to as Ego. It is that scary scepter of fear, questioning the experience in a negative way. Hope whispers "pregnant until proven otherwise,” but you can hardly hear it. But here's the thing: you can tell hope to speak louder. You control the volume of both hope and fear.
A balanced perspective lays the foundation that allows hope to feel comfortable. Hope is an integral factor that helps individuals and couples cope with the ups and downs of infertility. Re-framing the yearning from “getting pregnant” to building a healthy, balanced mind and body during preconception, can make us feel empowered in a time of instability and insecurity. A balanced perspective can create an internal state of calmness and clarity that can lessen the anxiety, fear and general unknown about what the future holds.
Mindfulness is an excellent vehicle for creating this balanced perspective. Becoming more aware of the two opposing voices, hope and fear, is the first step in changing how we internalize them.