The two week wait after you’ve had your embryo transferred can be the best and the worst part of the entire IVF process. On one hand you are nearing the end of the treatment so you could potentially be pregnant very soon, you’re no longer getting poked and prodded at the clinic every couple of days and you get 2 weeks of rest to nurture and care for your little ‘embaby’.
On the other hand, there is literally nothing you can do except wait. And that in itself is torturous.
I had seen a lot of information on my infertility community about do’s and don’t for the two week wait and I was determined to do anything I possibly could to increase our chances of the embryo attaching to my womb and resulting in a positive pregnancy test. I made the following list, some of which was advice from our clinic and some from my online infertility friends, which I strictly adhered to:
- No heavy lifting
- No hot baths
- No rigorous exercise but keep active to help the blood flow
- No hoovering
- No walking Roman on the lead
- Eat a healthy, nutritious diet
- Keep my tummy warm, but not hot (no hot water bottles)
- Drink plenty of water at room temperature
- Go for leisurely walks
- No fizzy drinks
- No tuna or other fish containing mercury
- No shellfish, no pate or nuts
- Eat lots of protein
- Avoid eating watermelon, pineapple, papaya or banana (too cold)
- No spicy food
- Avoid putting laptop on thighs or stomach
- Do not sleep on my front
- Do not eat ginger, garlic or onions
- Wear socks 24/7
To be honest the hardest thing for me was the rule about no baths. Throughout a normal week I spend a lot of time in the bath, usually before bed, and over the years it has become my sanctuary. I watch my iPad, light some candles and just chill. It also really helps me sleep so having to go two weeks without a bath was difficult, although I was willing to do just about anything to make sure this worked so if someone had told me to eat a tree I would probably have done it. Also, just to point out that I do have a shower every morning so I wasn’t unwashed for two weeks!
Throughout the first week I could definitely feel things happening inside my tummy. The clinic had said it was perfectly normal to experience cramping, slight spotting and movement. This was just the embryo embedding itself into my womb. I did some IVF-specific medication most days that focussed on visualisation of what was happening in your womb. I was absolutely shattered but this was a common occurrence through IVF, so I made sure to get plenty of rest, did things that made me happy and chatted with my friends and family every day.
I can say with some certainty that for that first week, I felt really positive that things inside of me were going to plan. I could just feel it.
At the start of the second week I experienced some light spotting, which I knew was to be expected so wasn’t worried at all. By the Tuesday however the slight spotting had turned into more blood than I have ever seen. Dave came home from work to find me convulsed in a fit of tears in the living room, so incredibly scared and confused.
I phoned the clinic on Wednesday morning who said it sounded as though the cycle had failed. They gave us a 1% chance that the embryo could still hold on throughout that level of bleeding and told us still to do the test on the Sunday as planned. I was however, able to have a bath, which was a huge relief.
The rest of that week is a bit of a blur. I cried more in those days than I think I’ve ever cried in my whole life. I went to sleep crying, I woke up crying and I couldn’t believe I still had tears left in me to fall out.
Despite how horrific it was for me however, a heartbroken Dave still had to get up and face work every day. How he got through the rest of that week I will never know, but I do know that my husband is the strongest and bravest person I have ever met, comforting me at every turn, putting on a brave face for my benefit whilst still having to do a normal day at work every day knowing that the last few months had been for nothing and our dreams of parenthood were slipping further and further away.
As of now, we are healing. The clinic tell us that we are grieving but how can we grieve for something we never had? Despite feeling something in my tummy that first week, I can’t think of it as a baby. If I think of it like that, it makes everything so much harder. Ultimately, we are heartbroken. And I am angry that my stupid body didn’t do its job and hold onto our little embryo.
Physically, I still feel pretty bad. The clinic told us it will take 4-6 for my body to get back to normal and at the moment my ovaries are still three times the size they should be. I get extremely tired doing the least little thing and of course our emotions are all over the place. However, for the first time in months I have started going out again, catching up with friends and taking some much needed time as a couple. We have booked a holiday for three weeks time, which we sorely need and can’t wait for.
We are at present waiting for an appointment from the clinic to go in and discuss what went wrong and changes we can potentially make for our next cycle. I always thought if our first go failed, we would go back as soon as we could and start again. However the reality of that after suffering a failed cycle is not so straightforward. The thought of putting my body through another treatment cycle is almost more that I can bear at the moment, and I can perfectly understand why some people never go back after one cycle. IVF breaks your spirit to the point that you question whether having a child is really worth all this. Unless you’ve been through it you can never explain to someone the physical and emotional impact you go through. I describe it to people as a car hitting me several times then just rolling over the top of me for good measure.
When we start our next cycle, we want to make sure that we’re in the right frame of mind. We want to go in with a positive attitude and hope that things will turn out different the second time. Although we are nowhere near that stage yet, we are getting closer every day and hope to get a date in the diary soon for starting our next attempt in welcoming Baby Reid into our hearts and home.