This post was written in tandem with my post on 5 Tips For Staying Sane During the Two-Week Wait (TWW). If you have already read that post, you can skip the introduction sections below and go straight to the 5 TWW Pitfalls section.
What is the Two-Week Wait (TWW)?
For many women, the notorious “two-week wait” (TWW) can feel more like two months! If you’re not familiar with the term, the TWW is the timeframe between ovulation and when you would expect your next period to start. During this time, you have already passed the window of potential conception and are anxiously awaiting a possibly positive pregnancy test!
Why is the TWW so tough?
These two weeks are so exciting and full of anticipation, but they can also be stressful and seem to drag on for eternity. If you’re anything like me, your mind might fill with questions like:
- Was the egg successfully fertilized?
- What is happening in my body?
- Is this symptom I’m having a sign of pregnancy?
- Is there anything I’m doing that could inadvertently prevent implantation?
- When can I start testing for pregnancy?
- Should I feel hopeful or brace myself for disappointment?
I can sympathize with these emotions all too well as I am currently in the TWW of my sixth month trying to conceive (TTC) my first child. Now, I am fully aware that six months is not a long time at all to have been TTC in the grand scheme of things (most experts say it is perfectly normal for healthy, fertile couples to take up to a year or even longer to get pregnant, and there are many women who have struggled with infertility for years). Even still, just like the TWW itself, these six months have felt like a lifetime!
The good, albeit surprising, news is that I have learned very gradually over the months how to stay as calm, patient, and SANE as possible during these two weeks each month. Or how to try to, at least (am I right?)! I have come to realize that my body was made for this and knows what it’s doing, so there is no sense in me essentially wishing my life away in two-week increments when I could be enjoying life and embracing the TTC journey!
My Personal Experience
Before I get into my five pitfalls for staying sane during the TWW, I want to emphasize something very important. These pitfalls are things that have personally complicated each TWW for me and are very much based on my personal experience. I realize each person approaches the TTC process and its accompanying emotions differently, and you may very well prefer a different mindset than I do. My hope is that these pitfalls simply give you some potential ideas of things to avoid. I would love to hear your personal experiences as well as any additional pitfalls you’ve noticed. Please share them via the comment box below!
5 TWW Pitfalls
Engaging in the activities below during the TWW can be counterproductive and debilitating. I have admittedly fallen into all of these “traps” myself (continuing to do some of them month after month). I can honestly say, however tempting they are, they’re not worth sacrificing your sanity for!
I want to emphasize that I completely understand that it is a real struggle to avoid doing these things. As I said earlier, I am currently on my sixth TWW, and this is the first month I have successfully been able to avoid these. So far, at least…
1. Tracking or obsessing over symptoms:
There is one very sad and disappointing truth I have learned over the past six months. PMS symptoms and pregnancy symptoms are SO SIMILAR. It can be very hard to tell them apart. While some women claim to have very early pregnancy symptoms, that is actually less common than you would think. (It’s important to note here that I am not a doctor and am only speaking from personal experience and my own research.)
During your luteal phase each month (the time between ovulation and the first day of your next period), your body operates under the assumption that it is pregnant until it realizes you’re not, and then your period starts. Many of the PMS symptoms you experience leading up to your period each month (even in non-TTC cycles) are due to the hormone progesterone. Progesterone helps support implantation and the development of an embryo and is present whether you are pregnant or not. What can be especially confusing is that the increase in this hormone can manifest differently for each person and can even manifest differently between cycles for a given person. Very sneaky, right?
It’s also important to note that you are naturally much more in tune with your body during the luteal phase when you are TTC because you are on the lookout for anything different and hoping for a sign that you are pregnant. You may think you’re noticing a new symptom, but it is very possible that you actually have that symptom every month and are just now noticing it.
I have spent several previous months (five to be exact) obsessing and meticulously tracking every symptom I’ve had during the TWW – every twinge, every sneeze, everything – and getting especially excited when a new symptom would show up. “This is the first month I’ve had this symptom! That must mean I’m pregnant!” Each time I identified a new or promising symptom, I would then promptly scour the Internet, sometimes for hours, looking for the one person who had that symptom and then found out they were pregnant. Only to be absolutely crushed a few days later when I got my period and realized I wasn’t actually pregnant. Please do not fall into this trap!
Another reason I historically had for being tempted to closely track symptoms is I thought it would be so interesting, for whatever month I do become pregnant, to go back and look at the early pregnancy symptoms I had. The problem with this is, as I mentioned above, many symptoms you’re feeling this early are actually due to high levels of progesterone, which are present whether you are pregnant or not. Additionally, any symptoms you experience during the TWW will still be fresh on your mind by the time you find out you’re pregnant, so you will still be able to think back and document them at that time. In my experience, the added stress, obsession, and uncertainty from tracking and documenting TWW symptoms prior to confirming pregnancy is not worth it!
2. Making plans:
One of the most exciting things about potentially being pregnant is thinking about how everything will play out in the coming weeks and months if you are. What will your baby’s due date be? How and when will you tell your family and friends? This can be really fun to think about, but as you make hypothetical plans, they can begin to feel like confirmed plans. One month, I realized that if I was pregnant, we’d be telling our parents around the July 4th timeframe. I decided we’d use a play on words to announce the pregnancy to them. Something like, “We’re expecting a little firecracker!” It wasn’t until I got my period that month that I realized just how attached I had become to the idea.
The truth is, you will have plenty of time to think about due dates and announcement ideas after you confirm you are pregnant. If you are set on thinking about announcement plans while still TTC, I would personally suggest limiting it to ideas you can use any time of the year and not something that is dependent upon getting pregnant during a particular month (like my 4th of July idea). Saving the plan-making for after confirming pregnancy helps prevent me from getting attached to becoming pregnant THIS month and also gives me yet another thing to look forward to once I become pregnant. (As if I would need something else… are you kidding me? I would be pregnant and in total bliss!)
However, one legitimate reason for calculating potential due dates would be if you are trying to avoid your baby being due at a specific time of the year. For example, maybe it’s very important to you to not have a baby around Christmas, and your baby’s due date would be December 25th. Or, maybe you have unavoidable plans to be out of the country when your baby would be due, and you would not feel safe traveling around that time or giving birth in another country. In these cases, you may decide you’d rather hold off on TTC this month and pick back up next month.
I would just caution against letting this become a habit to where you are skipping several months here and there in hopes of achieving your “ideal due date.” Before starting TTC, my husband and I initially thought it would be nice to avoid our baby being due during the summer months. However, we will be entering that window soon, and we have absolutely no intention of skipping any of those months! Pregnancy is, by nature, very hard to plan for, and if it’s important to you to get pregnant quickly, you will likely want to take advantage of as many opportunities to get pregnant as is reasonably possible.
3. Testing early:
Ohhhh, the temptation! If you’re anything like me, you want to find out you’re pregnant at the EARLIEST possible moment and not a second later. This can be extremely tricky. Most sources say that implantation usually occurs 6-12 days past ovulation (DPO) and that it can take 2-5 days after implantation to get a faint positive result on a pregnancy test.
What can be especially confusing and disheartening is that you will hear of women who got a BFP (big fat positive) at as early as 6 DPO. Many women, and I’ve been guilty of this myself, might take that to believe they aren’t pregnant if they get a negative result at 6 DPO or even at 12 DPO. But, if you go back to what most sources say, it’s very possible to not get a positive pregnancy test until around 15 DPO or later.
Fertility Friend has gathered some surprising data around the relationship between DPO and positive pregnancy tests. They found that the average DPO for the first positive pregnancy test is 13.6 DPO (way later than all those 6-10 DPO BFP’s you may have heard about). Check out Fertility Friend’s findings here. Countdown to Pregnancy has also published some interesting pregnancy test statistics by DPO and by brand. It lets you search by your DPO and/or pregnancy test brand of choice to give you an idea of your chances of seeing a BFP if you are in fact pregnant. Check out Countdown to Pregnancy’s statistics here.
I learned this the hard way and made things way more emotional for myself than necessary. My first month TTC, I took a pregnancy test every day from 8-13 DPO and had this horrible sinking feeling every time I got a BFN (big fat negative). But each day, I would realize it was still early and would build up hope again only to be crushed when I eventually got my period.
In my experience, it is easier on the emotions and sanity if you hold off from testing until AFTER your period is due (or as long as possible, at least). In my first five months of TTC, the longest I made it before testing was 13 DPO. My period, on average, is due at 15 DPO, so I should really be trying my best to hold out until 16 DPO. I have every intention of making that happen this month. Wish me luck!
I want to note that this is definitely a personal preference. You may be better than me at taking the emotion out of it and might be able to test every day of the TWW without going on an emotional rollercoaster. If so, go for it!
If you are not able to wait until your missed period and do decide to test early, I would highly recommend using the First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test. It is known for being one of the most sensitive pregnancy tests out there, so it is more likely to give you an early positive result if you are in fact pregnant.
4. Watching pregnancy shows or vlogs:
There are so many great shows and videos out there about TTC and women finding out they’re pregnant. While these can be very informative, it can be a bit of a slippery slope. For me, I would get completely sucked into it. I would spend hours watching videos of pregnancy test results, TWW symptoms leading to pregnancy, and more. I found that more often than not, they would only cause me to be more obsessed and worried.
No matter how many months it was taking women to get pregnant, it would somehow result in me thinking something was wrong with me. I would see many videos of women who got pregnant the first, second, or even third month of trying, and I would think, “Oh no, I’m already on month X – I’m taking too long… Is something wrong with me?” Or, I would see videos of women who have been struggling with infertility for years, and I would instantly start thinking about every possible thing that could be wrong with my reproductive system and convince myself that we would find ourselves in a “worst case scenario.”
It is a wonderful thing to educate yourself about your body and how to improve your chances of getting pregnant! Just remember to limit your attention to the resources that are positive and constructive and that truly educate you and benefit you in some way. Take everything else with a grain of salt because everyone is different, experiences vary widely, and you are on a unique path and journey!
5. Overthinking every mistake:
It is perfectly natural to want to be careful with your body after ovulation and potential fertilization. It’s also perfectly natural to be concerned about something you did during the TWW and wonder if it has adversely affected your chances of pregnancy. Whether you accidentally ate deli meat or forgot to take your prenatal, you may find yourself regretting certain actions or inactions (however innocent).
While it is very smart to be careful, try to avoid obsessing over any one activity or mistake. Just remember, women accidentally get pregnant all the time while living their normal (and sometimes, not so safe or healthy) lives. Your body is amazingly strong and resilient, and it will lock in that pregnancy when the time is right!
Every previous month so far of my TTC journey, without fail, there has been at least one thing that happened that I obsessively worried about. Some examples of my “mistakes” include accidentally:
- inhaling some very potent second-hand smoke
- taking a double dose of prenatals
- eating old chicken
- being in a position on the couch that caused my dog to step on my uterus
Looking back, me worrying about these things affecting a potential pregnancy seems somewhat irrational, but the concern was very real at the time! If this is a pitfall you struggle with as well, let this serve as encouragement to be forgiving toward yourself and to try to keep things in perspective.
Luckily, nothing has happened yet this month that has caused me to be obsessively worried, and I have my fingers crossed that it stays that way. I think I have finally started trusting that my body can overcome any slight hiccups. You should try to remind yourself of that as well! Take reasonable precautions during the TWW, but don’t let yourself stress over every little thing you wish you had done differently.
When you want a baby more than anything (whether it’s your first, third, or tenth), it can be so hard not to obsess over every detail of the process! These are the top five things I personally avoid in order to stay sane during the TWW, and it is my sincere hope that some or all of them can be useful to you as well. Remember to focus on activities and mindsets that keep you happy, healthy, and calm. Take care of yourself, and don’t stop living your life while you wait for those two beautiful lines on a pregnancy test. Although, I truly hope you see them very soon!
If you’re also wondering what things you SHOULD do during the TWW, check out my post on 5 Tips For Staying Sane During the Two-Week Wait (TWW).
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