Today I’m officially past the halfway point of my Two Week Wait. (For the uninitiated, this is the time between ovulation and being able to tell if you got pregnant during said ovulation). It is a time of great neurosis for women dealing with infertility. I have spent precisely half of the last two years of my life in a Two Week Wait, and I am not a fan. It was particularly awful in the early days – obsessing about potential pregnancy symptoms and using up pee sticks like they were going out of style – but after the passage of months, then years, I now kind of mostly assume I’m not pregnant and try not to torture myself. I try not to drink, but, as drinking is a gray area during this time, I usually drink and then have guilt. Otherwise, business as usual.
The Two Week Wait after a major fertility procedure, however, is an entirely different story. These are the Waits in which you’ve invested a large sum of money, a good deal of time – and worse – a significant measure of hope. You’ve surrendered your flesh to be needled and probed and inflated with dye and have bid adieu to your dignity and modesty all in hopes that this time – this time it might work.
Launching into my second Superovulation IUI Two Week Wait, I googled how to cope with it and found much of the advice to be profoundly unhelpful. Stuff like, “Don’t think about it,” and other impossible suggestions. So I’ve decided to share my own coping techniques with you. These are not doctor-approved or possibly even psychologically sound, but they are the best I’ve got.
1. Make a paper chain advent calendar thingy. Every year as a child on December 1st I would make a chain with twenty-four alternating red and green links and one yellow (gold) link at the end. I’d break off one link everyday until it was *gasp* Christmas! (I was not good with waits even as a child.) At the beginning of my last IUI Wait I decided to try to see it time as a time of anticipation. Something to be fully experienced and even celebrated. In that spirit I made myself a paper chain. I didn’t go with red and green this time, but I did put pink and blue stripes on the last link. (And then the next day I drew black line through it to symbolize uncertainty because otherwise the pink and blue looked cheeky.)
Every morning, I broke off a link and sat and prayed and asked for something to hold onto that day. A true thing, a beautiful thing, or, on more difficult days, a cry for help to carry with me and anchor me throughout the day. I wrote each day’s anchor on its broken link. I kept them all and would look them over when it got rough.
It actually was a pretty special time, and it was exactly what I needed. This round, however – perhaps partly owing to the fact that I got my plus sign and had my special moment and then had a bunch of really really sad moments after and might be a little disillusioned – I’ve made a quality decision to be distracted…um, rather than present. Which somehow sounds very wrong. At any rate, here’s my best advice so far from this round…
2. Go paddleboarding. If possible, here:
And if possible, sit on your board in the middle of the cove with your legs dangling in the water next to someone who will grab your paddle and pull you in for a kiss.
3. Do acupuncture and guided meditation. I was raised among rednecks. Acupuncture was not something we’d heard about (but it would have given us all a real hoot if we had). People who meditated were crazy and also going directly to hell. So when I lie on a massage table with needles in all my meridians and Circle and Bloom’s guided meditations pulsing through my ears, I feel the judgment of my six-year-old self. But the acupuncture does help. And I love the way the guided meditations correspond to the exact day of your cycle and tell you precisely what your body is doing and say good things over your body. It’s good to have life spoken over your body, especially when so many bad things are being pronounced over it all the time.
4. Zumba it out. Preferably with friends. Preferable still are friends who can laugh at themselves. A word to the wise though – the ads make Zumba look like this,
but in real life it perspires more, is less attractive and has far less abdominal definition. It is essentially a place to go sweat your face off, make a fool of yourself (if you share my level of athleticism) and laugh it off. I recommend it.
5. Start an exclusive, smarty-pants book club. A friend and I are reading Isabel Allende’s Casa de los Espiritus in Spanish and discussing themes of matriarchy and machismo over tea on Saturday mornings. It makes us feel cultured and cerebral. Ok, she is cultured and cerebral. It makes me feel cultured and cerebral.
6. Do a major hair change. It will (hopefully) make you feel fabulous, and it will give you and everybody else something to talk about. It’s amazing how much people are willing to fixate on a haircut, which makes it a very useful diversion. Incidentally, today I went from quotidian blonde to saucy redhead. (My husband was not keen on the idea of me going red, so when I got home from the salon I made sure he didn’t see me until I came into his office half naked and bearing chocolate chip cookies – to provide a positive mental association with the new haircolor. It totally worked.)
7. Don’t tell people you did the procedure. Unless you want to update them all along and tell them right away if you’re pregnant or not. Rookie mistake.
8. If you’re a person who prays, pray. Even if you’re not, consider it. I had forgotten until recently how utterly humanizing it is to take a moment to sit in a presence that knows you infinitely and loves you without any edits. Even if it’s just a moment out of a day, sit and ask to be loved. It’s something I’ve foolishly taken for granted, but it’s one of the great marvels of existence.
9. Find a really wonderful therapist. After hitting a really low point in January I realized that I was going to have to change some things (many of the activities listed above are a result of that realization, as was swallowing my pride and asking around about counselors). A friend recommended someone to me who has turned out to be amazing, and I am so thankful to have her in my corner. I realize this is not easily done or attainable for everybody, but if you can, do.
10. Have a back-up plan. I’m already researching cocktail lounges for my epic bender in the event of a negative test result.