By Bina Benisch, MS, RN
November 8th, 2015 at 3:34 pm
It seems interminable.
You’ve finally made it through your IVF stimulation. You’ve survived your injections and all those early morning monitoring visits…not to mention being poked and prodded for blood and vaginal ultrasounds. You’ve undergone your retrieval procedure, sweated out the fertilization results, and here it is – the day of your embryo transfer. Or, if you’re doing IUI, you’ve made it through your insemination.
What a relief! You can finally relax…. NOT so fast!
The next 10-14 days can seem like an eternity when you’re waiting for your pregnancy result.
Your emotions may ride that roller coaster … slow ascending hope, with glimmers of joy at the prospect that this time you actually may be pregnant … only to be violently interrupted by thunderous pangs of fear that this may not have worked, and then falling into despair.
How do you regulate your feelings and create a sense of balance so that you’re not held hostage by every emotion and negative thought that grips you? Here is your mission for the next 10-14 days, should you choose to accept it:
- Create a list of leisure activities that you and your partner have always enjoyed doing, and set a plan into action. Yes, there are jobs and responsibilities, but schedule some “special” time together for these activities… whether it’s watching movies together, outdoor activities, date nights, music, or working together on a project that embodies a sense of satisfaction. Not only does this help keep your relationship close – which in itself is emotionally enriching – but it may distract your attention and maintain some perspective on your life so that you are not feverishly focused on your fertility status.
- Talk to your partner about your feelings. There are no pat solutions which will stop your anxiety. However, making room for all feelings – even the darker ones – and knowing you will get through it as you ride this wave, will relieve the stress of suppressing these feelings. This will also keep the lines of communication open between you and your partner.
- Restructure your thoughts! This is not to advise Pollyanna or positive thinking. Let’s face it, the last thing you need is to be told to “be positive” or “relax.” It’s extremely difficult to feel “positive” when you’re struggling with infertility. However, take a moment to look at the thoughts you are telling yourself – the thoughts that are causing your fear and anxiety to escalate: “I know I’m not pregnant.” “It probably didn’t work this time.” “What if it doesn’t work this time?” “What if I never become pregnant?” These thoughts and statements are not etched in truth, and are only fear-based. Better thoughts… which may be equally true, but are not fear based…are: “I could very well be pregnant.” “The possibility that I will become pregnant is just as much a reality.” Don’t fear that allowing yourself to entertain these hopeful thoughts will cause greater disappointment from a negative result. You will be disappointed or devastated either way, whether you’ve been fearful, anxious, and negative, or you’ve had the perspective that you may very well become pregnant. Here is a mental framework that is absolutely realistic, true, and can go a long way to helping you maintain peace of mind: “I am doing everything in my power to become pregnant, and therefore, I can emotionally let go for now, and leave this in the hands of (God, the universe, my doctors).”
- Selectively avoid situations that you know will trigger your fear or anxiety. Learn to say “NO”. People will forgive you for not attending a family function, social event, or any situation where you find pregnant people, or people with babies, or people who will ask you when you are going to have children. YOU come first at this time in your life. YOUR emotional health takes precedence.
- Nurture yourself. Whatever that means for you. Massage, Reiki, reading, movies, shopping, yoga (not hot yoga), — what do you find to be a relaxing, self-nurturing activity?
- Remember proper breathing. Slow, deep breathing will cause a physiological reversal of the body’s stress response. This will reduce anxiety and stress. Learn to practice breath work every day.
In essence, have compassion for yourself. Talk about your feelings with your partner. If you find it difficult to restructure your thoughts, practice the mantra that you have done everything in your power, and now it’s time to let go. This takes practice, but you can do it if you take on this mission for self-balance, peace of mind, and equilibrium.