What to expect when you’re in the 2ww

There are a lot of 2ww’s when you are suffering from infertility.  Here I am referring specifically to the progesterone-supplemented 2ww – the one that comes after a medicated IUI or an IVF, where you know there really might finally be something happening down there and you are thoroughly brain-addled from the hormones that you are on.

First and most important: when you are on progesterone you cannot know based on your symptoms whether or not you are pregnant.   OK, this seems kinda obvious when you have been around the block, but the first time I was on progesterone I was sure I was pregnant: my boobs hurt like heck, I felt kinda nauseous sometimes, I had all kinds of funny feelings “down there”, this is just like what people described when they were pregnant!  Success at last!!  Well, the joke was on me.  Because the sad, evil fact is: progesterone replicates all the symptoms of pregnancy.  And many of the symptoms of getting your period.  It is the sucker double-punch of infertility.  So repeat after me, every time you feel a funny poke, twinge, cramp, or bout of nausea:  “It is just the hormones.”  You just can’t know if it means anything.

Here is how I wish I could report that I spent the 2ww’s: two weeks of basking meditatively in the knowledge that a potential new life had moved into my belly – a new life that might or might not take, but in any case was there now.

Here is how I actually spent the 2ww’s: “I don’t feel so good… it’s just the progesterone… but wait, something smells, do I have the super human pregnant smell power?  Shoot, my husband smells it too… in any case it’s just the progesterone… it’s going to bite when I get that negative pregnancy test… don’t be so negative, I making myself miserable for no reason, there’ll be plenty of time to be depressed if the test is negative… hey, does that mean maybe the pregnancy test will be positive? [stamp stamp stamp (hope being stamped on to avoid crushing defeat later)]… it’s just the progesterone… dang, cramps!  I hope my uterus is not killing the babies!… get a grip, girl… I wonder if there is something good on TV… hey, look at the cute bunnies in that commercial!   [round of total hormonal crying begins]… *#^$#^%@&# progesterone!!”

Man, I can’t even stand to be around myself.  My poor husband.  But if there is something even worse than being around me, it is being me!  Poor me!

There were a couple of strategies I used to attempt to maintain some tiny shreds of dignity and sanity during the 2ww.  Maybe some of this might be useful for you.

1. Have your Plan B in place.  Getting a BFN is bad enough.  Getting a BFN without knowing what you will do next – for me, that would be total hell.  I never wanted to be in a place where you were mourning a failed cycle with no idea of what you wanted to do next.  That is not a good headspace for planning your next move.  Having Plan B ready means a BFN does not mean total, complete, unmitigated disaster – you have something that you are ready to move on to.  I am now in the 2ww of my last DE cycle, if this doesn’t work we are moving on to adoption.  Not only that, we know exactly the kind of adoption we want to do and we have our agency picked already.  The day we get the BFN is the day I call the agency to place our deposit.  And it has made handling the uncertainty of this cycle so much easier – because it’s not an uncertainty about whether we will have a baby, just about the route that baby will take to us.

2. Do not calculate the due date that you would have if you were to become pregnant.  If you actually do get pregnant, there will be plenty of time to find out.  But if you don’t get pregnant, what you are doing is calculating at which day in the future you plan to get really depressed about the fact that you could have had a baby by then.  I really prefer just not to know.

3. Do not believe you are pregnant. Just don’t.  Don’t don’t don’t.  Assume the worst, if you turn out to be pregnant then it will be a pleasant surprise.  Or, if you can manage it, just don’t assume anything at all.  The times when I really believed I was pregnant for whatever reason – because of symptoms, or because I was using fresh young hip donor eggs – I was completely crushed when things turned out otherwise.  Not that I was ever so peppy when I got a BFN or yet another unviable pregnancy, but it really made things worse if I had truly believed.  For me, I just couldn’t afford to have that kind of hope anymore because I knew the kind of depression it would turn into.

4. Remember that you are pepped up on hormones and stress, and don’t expect yourself to be able to live up to your usual standards.  So you cry at the drop of a hat?  So you lie on the sofa all day because you felt a cramp and are scared you are going to lose the baby?  So the house hasn’t been cleaned and dinner hasn’t been cooked in days? So you are watching trash TV and eating junk food?  So what?  It is totally normal to be slightly insane.  And it’s only two weeks of your life. Let your sweetie or other loved ones wait on you hand and foot, if they are willing.

Do you disagree?  Did you find other things helpful?  If so, please add your suggestions in the comments.



  1. Katie said

    Hello, Nishkanu.

    Thank you so much for this post! I am on day 3 of the crazy 2ww! While I am more calm than I have been in previous cycles, I am certainly having my moments. I will not pee on a stick, I will not pee on a stick, I will not pee on a stick! I promise, well, as much as I can promise anything right now. Actually, I can promise progesterone insanity.


  2. mafaldaknowsbest said

    Thanks for this! Yesterday was my transfer day. You are so right with the 2WW perspective. My huzband has asked me to promise we won´t pee on sticks before BETA day. But I wonder if I´ll cave and do it anyway. How completely insane we become. All best with your journey and thanks for your incredible story..

  3. Tamsin said

    This is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo true. Thanks for doing this. I am on currently on Day 7 of our 4th ICSI cyle and I woke up with the ‘half-way there depression’ of it hasnt worked again.

    All the things you put in the Dont-Do section, I did on my 1st cycle and NEVER again will I calculate the baby due date as like you said its just sheer depression when you reach that date!

    I hope you have been sucessful in your adoption journey.

  4. joanna said

    Thank you, your points are so educational for me! I shall try to remember them, though not sure how well I can follow them. I’m only at stims and already the household chores lying around not done are eating my nerves :p

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