Half Pregnant During the Two Week Wait

They’ve implanted the embryo and I wonder why it’s not doing anything.

“Shouldn’t it kick or something?!?” I ask my husband, as I lie back on the table moments after the transfer.

What does it feel like to be a minute pregnant? Two minutes? Three? Does it feel like you have to pee?

I am desperate to feel something stirring, to know that this has worked. It didn’t the last time.

While the entire IVF process is tumultuous, the two-week wait is the hardest part. The first half involves painful injections in the butt and stomach along with daily blood tests and ultrasounds, but it is imbued with a sense of hope. There is this energizing feeling that you are aggressively trying to get pregnant. The second half of the process feels much more defensive: you’ve been impregnated and you are now trying not to un-pregnant yourself.

So here I am again in the two week wait, both pregnant and not pregnant with Shroedinger’s baby who may be killed by the very taking of the pregnancy test. I can’t bear the thought. I just can’t conceive that again we could be left with nothing after all that expense and hardship. I’m stuck in Dr. Seuss’ Waiting Place…

…waiting for an embryo to grow
to develop a glow
to not feel so low
for my belly to show
so I know
there is a baby in tow.

I am just waiting.

The problem with this waiting, besides the crippling uncertainty, is that you have to proceed as if you’re pregnant, so you refrain from hot baths and glasses of wine and all the other good things that relax you. You are stuck living in this conception purgatory, knowing the odds are IVF won’t work but remaining hopeful that, in your case, it did.

I had adopted a very que sera sera attitude during the two-week wait of our previous cycle, but that was our first round of IVF. The first round is typically unsuccessful. This is the second: we are running low on options, funds and strength. I try and cultivate my previous zen approach which works until the spotting begins. My friend tells me she spotted during the first trimester of two healthy pregnancies and her assurances get me through the first hour post spot but, by the second, I am Google binging every pregnancy forum since before the advent of modern medicine. One blessed woman describes my exact symptoms and she is now six weeks pregnant (or at least she was in October  2005). See?! Nothing to worry about! Everything is fine! This is going to work! I then read another woman who also has my symptoms and her pregnancy test was negative. I hate her. She obviously knows nothing and shouldn’t be posting such blasphemy.

I take hormones six times a day and hundreds of supplements but I don’t know if I feel exactly pregnant. My body already looks different from two egg retrievals and two implantations with a heavily bloated uterus. I am horribly nauseous. Are those good signs? What does it feel like to be one day pregnant? Two days? Three?

Back when I  was under the quaint assumption that having a baby was only a  matter of having sex at the right time, I had swore that I would be easygoing about pregnancy, knowing that I was not the first woman in the world to have a baby. I made a promise to myself not to be one of those pregnant women, the ones who ask waiters to draw a coloured diagram of the restaurant’s cheese pasteurization process. Except now that I’ve had implanted an embryo that cost more than a down payment on our home, I am scared to take anything for granted. Everything feels dangerous. I am scared to move. I then fear I am not getting enough blood flow to my uterus and so I run around the block. I am scared to drink anything but water, scared for my 9 pound cat to sit on my lap and crush the embryo.  And things only snowball from there. Before too long, I am Googling if the cinnamon in my organic cinnamon and tea tree oil toothpaste can harm a developing fetus and then I find myself asking the 16 year old working at David’s Tea if any of their pregnancy safe teas come without red raspberry leaf, as this is known to contract the uterus during the first trimester.

My husband laughs at me, forgetting I am on a cocktail of hormones, and then has to hold me while I cry. I’ve been half pregnant for a week and already I’m an asshole.  I am no stranger to anxiety but usually I am stressing about my sluggish career. This fretfulness feels more primal, more serious and more nonsensical all at the same time. I don’t know what to do with myself. I am scared another negative result will break me. I don’t want to kill the embryo. Dear friends and family assure me that all is not lost if this embryo doesn’t take, but it feels like a part of me will be. It was the last time. There was an embryo inside of me that we hoped was our baby and then there wasn’t. I hold my breathe every time I go to the bathroom, terrified to shed the embryo. Was that it there? Is it gone already?

I stare at the sonogram picture the doctor gave me showing the little blast of white where he implanted our embryo. It’s just a puff of air but the picture feels precious to me. These two weeks and the two week wait I lived before might be the only time in my life I will ever get to experience pregnancy in any form. I am grateful for the chance. While I’m again only half  pregnant and two half pregnancies don’t make a whole, I have had the opportunity to lie back at night and imagine my little egglet. Sometimes, when the house is quiet-with my husband fast asleep, the dog snoring at the foot of the bed and I’ve finally stopped looking up implantation symptoms on my phone-I will lay a hand on my belly and imagine cells dividing and life beginning and all I hope and dream for this promise of life that I want to believe is still inside me and in those peaceful moments I get to experience everything I am so desperate for. I feel like a mother.