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Coping with THE WAIT

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a blog by Ellen Glazer, September 16, 2010

Women going through IVF often ask me: “How can I cope with the nearly two weeks from transfer to pregnancy test?” Indeed, most find that although the first part of the cycle is hectic, with frequent blood tests, ultrasounds and daily injections, it is the second part — the helpless waiting and wondering — that is more stressful. Most infertility patients get very good at “doing something” and are not so good at waiting.

So how do you cope with the long — seemingly endless — stretch of time following transfer? I have found that people develop a variety of coping strategies and that one size does not fit all. Here are some of the approaches that some of the folks find helpful some of the time …

  • Stay productive. Those who subscribe to this approach want to avoid “wishing time away.” They find home projects to do or immerse themselves in something else, ranging from their work to learning a new skill. Those who work on something around the house have the satisfaction of knowing they are able to do something “for our future.”
  • Stay un-productive. Those who subscribe to this approach feel that the best thing they can do is to “relax, remove pressure and provide an optimal environment for implantation.” They meditate, do gentle yoga, sleep, eat well and generally “pamper themselves” in the hope/belief that this will facilitate successful implantation.
  • Focus on “the next step.” Those who subscribe to this approach feel that the best thing they can do is to assume that the pregnancy test will be negative. This feels like a strategy for minimizing disappointment and keeping their “eyes on the prize.” Sometimes the next step involves a second opinion, sometimes a different treatment protocol or a move to another clinic.
  • Consider “Plan B.” Those who subscribe to this approach are comforted to know that “we will be parents.” Rather than counting the minutes to this pregnancy test, they begin to explore another path to parenthood. Many know that if the cycle doesn’t work, they will do another IVF, but it is reassuring and feels proactive to explore other options.
  • Laugh all the way to the clinic. Those who subscribe to this approach often use it in conjunction with another. Laughter feels good, is known to be health promoting, is a way that a couple can come together and a way of keeping all in perspective. One couple I know went to a video store that was closing and bought about 50 comic DVDs. They passed the second half of their IVF cycle reaching into a bag of DVDs, pulling one out at random and letting it delight them (or not).

In short, whatever works, works. There is no easy way to pass the time from transfer to pregnancy test but having a plan reduces feelings of helplessness.

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