No matter how many months you’ve tried to get pregnant, the last two weeks of the cycle bring the same mixed emotions. Hope surges, crests and plummets with each passing day after ovulation. It’s the Flashback rollercoaster ride that repeats itself month after month.
Whether you try to get pregnant on your own or with the help of a fertility doctor, surviving the two-week wait until confirming a pregnancy takes resolve, humor and military-caliber discipline to master the art of relaxation.
Hearing someone tell you to “not stress” is counter-productive. If you had an on-off switch, you would flick it, right? Inducing the relaxation response takes some trial and error, so begin now discovering what works best for you. Try building some feel-good activities into the last two weeks of your natural or assisted reproductive technology (ART) menstrual cycle.
What relaxes you?
Maybe it’s an evening walk with a friend, neck or foot massage, warm bath or chick flick. Researchers link yoga, meditation and acupuncture with stress relief, so you might incorporate these into your monthly regimen. Or, try tackling a new novel at the start of every cycle. Set a date to get together with friends for a book discussion after your pregnancy test to give yourself something to look forward to after the results.
You may associate aromatherapy with a store in the mall, but there exists a very strong case for the benefits of finding a scent that you associate with positive memories. Your olfactory processing center sits directly next to the area of the brain associated with memory and emotion. That’s why when you smell vanilla, for example, it takes you back to baking with your mother. Test what scents elicit positive responses by smelling candles, essential oils or lotions.
Now that you’ve scheduled stress-relievers into your waiting period, it’s time for the pregnancy test. Make a plan for how you’d like to receive the news from your fertility nurse. Some patients choose to have the message delivered to a home answering machine and prefer not to have the conversation at work.
No surprises here.
Worrying won’t get you pregnant. In fact, it’s not healthy for you or a developing fetus. If you’re reading this article, you’ve already jumped on the menstrual cycle — that out-of-control vehicle that takes you on fertility’s wild ride. Take proactive steps to remain calm during the two-week wait and try to focus on the destination you’re heading toward — a healthy pregnancy and baby. If it doesn’t happen this month, it means you are not pregnant for now …however next month is another opportunity.
Knowledge is Power
Know the steps your body takes to prepare for and sustain a healthy pregnancy.
1) The Menstrual Phase (days 1-5) begins with the first day of your period and signals the start of another cycle.
2) During the Follicular Phase (days 1-13), your brain and ovaries work together to grow follicles, each containing a single egg. The ovaries signal the uterus to prepare for a pregnancy by thickening the uterine lining.
3) Next, a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) signals the egg’s impending release during the Ovulatory Phase (days 10-18). Ovulation typically occurs on day 14, though this can vary if you have more frequent or less frequent periods than every 28 days. The egg then progresses into the fallopian tube, where it should meet sperm and fertilize before its entry into the uterus.
4) Your body should ideally produce progesterone to support a pregnancy and embryo development during the final Luteal Phase (days 15-28). If embryo attachment occurs, the pregnancy tissue will begin producing human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), the hormone that results in a positive pregnancy test.
Pregnancy symptoms during the luteal phase include increased urination (due to hCG); fatigue and bloating (associated with progesterone); mild nausea (from increased blood volume); and a slight rise in your body temperature. Of course, many PMS symptoms mimic pregnancy signs, so try not to read too much into every twinge and change.