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Archive for July, 2010

Over many years and many cycles, I started compiling a list of things to help maintain sanity while enduring the excruciatingly long 2ww (2 week wait – the wait from when you have an IVF transfer until when you can test).  

The good news is that often if you are doing IVF abroad as part of an IVF vacation, you are still relaxing and then traveling home for at least the first part of your wait.  But then you get home, get unpacked, and bam!, it hits you.  The embryo obsession.  So, here are some ideas for the rest of your wait. 

I’ll share what I have – and feel free to add your own ideas.   The goal is to have enough non-stressful things going on that you don’t get obsessively focused on “am I?” or “am I not?” pregnant. 

Things to do to distract yourself during the 2 Week Wait:

  1. Drink 96 oz of water every day!
  2. Limit yourself to XX number of minutes a day to think about your embryos, then say STOP and distract yourself – visualize the embryos snuggling in for a long hibernation (around 9 months)
  3. Plan activities to distract yourself – such as:
  • Play games (board games, card games, video games, crosswords, sudoku, solitaire)
  • Do some crafts (knit, crochet, sew, beading, stamping…)
  • Art therapy: write a song or an essay or a book or draw a picture…
  • Organize your photos into albums
  • Organize your CDs
  • Listen to your favorite music or meditations on CD
  • Read something light and funny
  • Watch a video or go to the movies (take DH to a drive-in if you have one)
  • Listen to stand-up comedy
  • Chat on the phone, email all your friends
  • Go to acupuncture
  • Sit on a park bench and people-watch
  • Go for a long drive
  • Go for a walk in the botanical gardens
  • Make a list of things you’ve never seen in your town (stores or tourist sites you haven’t been to) and then go see them
  • Visit with nature (beach, lake, forest, mountains, waterfalls…)
  • Walk a dog (yours, a friends, or volunteer at a local rescue)
  • Get a pedicure
  • Retail therapy
  • Cooking therapy (there’s gotta be something you love to make or would like to try)
  • Invite a friend over for tea (decaf). You can include a fruit salad that just happens to have fresh pineapple, for the bromelain…
  • Spend an hour at your local bookstore or library
  • Visit a planetarium
  • Research a place you’d like to vacation
  • Go out to brunch
  • Go for a picnic
  • Go to a club and listen to live music
  • Pick berries
  • Plant some flowers
  • Sunbathe at a lake, beach or in your backyard
  • Go camping, build a campfire, roast some marshmallows
  • Watch a sunset
  • Go to church or wherever else your spirit can draw strength
  • Walk to an ice-cream shop
  • Go to a comedy club
  • Visit a museum or art gallery
  • See a play
  • Watch a live sporting event
  • Play mini-golf 

Surely, you all have some to add to this list?   I look forward to hearing your ideas!

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After talking with lots of women experiencing infertility or pregnancy losses, and going through the journey myself, I have become convinced, that once we finally are pregnant, many previously infertile women often experience a sort of infertility post traumatic stress disorder. 

I do not in any way wish to minimize the PTSD caused by other tragedies and losses, so please do not be offended. But, for patients experiencing infertility or even secondary infertility, miscarriages and pregnancy losses, I believe some of the same PTSD concepts can be used to help us cope and maybe move on. 

Infertility PTSD doesn’t strike all infertile women, and certainly doesn’t affect everyone the same way. But I think it is not uncommon that once a previously infertile woman conceives, there often remains a sense of fear, anxiety and stress around waiting for the bad news that might come, or waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.

Rather than join the ranks of the happily pregnant women, we sometimes miss out on the early joy of pregnancy because we are so fearful of something going wrong, or are waiting for the possibility getting bad news, that we simply can’t allow ourselves the space to just enjoy being pregnant. 

I think this manifests itself in a variety of ways.  It may mean that you just don’t tell family and friends for a period of time (I’ve even heard of people not telling until the baby is born!). For some, it is just hard to wrap our head around the fact that we really are pregnant and need to start planning and acting like a pregnant woman.  For others, they may choose not to even think about buying baby books, shopping for the nursery, or signing up for online baby resources that track the pregnancy progress.

I think the saddest part is that in experiencing this stress, we often miss out on feeling the true joy of some of the early pregnancy milestones – simply because we are so traumatized and afraid that every appointment will be the one that brings the bad news. 

I have certainly personally experienced some of this.  At my second ultrasound, I told the doctor to please just check for both heartbeats first, then he could go back and do measurements, etc. – because I just couldn’t hear or comprehend anything he would say to me until I knew both twins still had good heartbeats. 

Then, I was so scared when my husband started telling friends about the pregnancy. I kept thinking about how MANY people we would have to face and talk to about it if something bad happened – because I remembered how hard that had been during a previous miscarriage.  So, I let that fear prevent me from fully enjoying the excitement of telling our friends. 

Although I am sad in retrospect that I missed out a bit on the early pregnancy joy, I am now happy to say that some of my old confidence has returned, and I am beginning to get excited about the pregnancy and the joy that lies ahead. 

I am pretty certain that there will be times that my confidence is rocked, but hopefully I will be able to return to the mindset that the future is bright and there are many reasons to be optimistic.  After all, are the losses really any less painful just because we anticipated them or worried they may happen?   I think not.  So, why ruin the time we have by worrying about what might go wrong – I’d rather focus on the likelihood that things will go right! 

And for anyone currently in the midst of this – know that you are not alone!  If you can, try to find someone who can relate – it may be a therapist who specializes in fertility, or a friend who has been through a similar circumstance. I can assure you, that it is in the sharing of your thoughts (both good and bad) that you may be able to start to overcome the fears and anxiety and move to a place of hope and anticipation.

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