The Trying to Conceive Cycle of Hope
Have you been on a rollercoaster recently? I did during a recent family trip to a theme park. I didn’t want to get on, I knew that I somehow needed to hold on to my stomach to get through the twists and turns and cope with the wild ups and downs. I felt terrified, sometimes wanting to scream out loud, occasionally had a bit of a smile on my face and got off with my legs shaking.
Wait now, I’m also talking about what it’s like trying to conceive right?
In the period of just 4 weeks it’s possible for you to experience a whole range of emotions, from happiness and excitement to utter despair.
During the years that I have worked with women trying to conceive, I have began to see that the emotions a women experience are in relation to particular weeks in her cycle. What is even more interesting is that my research found that in one week or even at one moment in time it is possible for women to experience polar opposite emotions. This led me to devise the Trying to Conceive Cycle of Hope in an attempt to help my patients make sense of these widely conflicting emotions.
To illustrate the Trying to Conceive Cycle of Hope and to explain the differing emotions felt during the cycle, I have based this on a traditional 28 day cycle. However many women do not have a 28 day cycle and may find that some of the stages last longer or shorter depending on their cycle length.
Week 1 – Day 1-7 The Menstrual Period
Week 1 heralds the beginning of a new cycle and therefore brings renewed hope for what might be. Many women report feelings of relief at the beginning of the cycle and this is especially so for women suffering from PCOS . These women may have to wait many weeks before the start of a new cycle and feel immense relief when the period arrives and the new cycle can begin.
Conversely, there may be feelings of disappointment and loss, as the menstrual period is yet another reminder that this month they have not successfully conceived. Along with these emotions come tiredness and feeling weary at the thought of yet another cycle to navigate. One woman referred to this as ‘getting ready to climb a steep mountain yet feeling totally drained and unsure if I can make it this time’.
Week 2 – Day 7-14 Fertile Time and Ovulation
Week 2 is the start of a more positive time in general. During this time a woman is gearing up for the start of the fertile time and for ovulation. She reports emotions such as excitement and expectation. Excitement comes as the first signs that she is in her fertile window and this excitement increases as the expectation of ovulation grows nearer.
This is a time full of possibility at what might be, and as the natural female hormones flood her blood stream she feels happy, attractive and ready to conceive. However some women also report dark feelings of guilt. The guilt is usually to her partner, feeling guilty that sex has become all about making a baby and the intimacy that they once enjoyed has become lost under the burden of trying to conceive.
The final emotion experienced in the second week is relief. This is especially pertinent in women with irregular cycles or cycle disturbances such as PCOS. These women find it difficult to know when or of they are ovulating and this relief comes from confirmation using a cycle monitor or ovulation predictor.
Week 3 -Day 14-21 The 2 Week Wait –Week 1
You only have to Google the words ‘2 Week Wait’ and you’ll see much discussion in forums, support groups and blogs. The 2 Week Wait equates to that most nasty and scary part of the rollercoaster! Whether a woman is going through an IVF cycle or a natural cycle, the 2 Week Wait is the most challenging time in the cycle. It is a time of uncertainty, impatience and obsession. Women admit to the micro analysing of symptoms hoping that these are the signs of early pregnancy.
At this time, women are desperately trying to manage their emotions in an act of self-preservation. They may start quietly bargaining with themselves ‘If I wait and don’t test for another week, I’ll be pregnant’ or ‘I don’t want to think about it as if I let myself do that it won’t happen’
Week 4 – Day 21-28 The 2 Week Wait – Week 2
The second week of the 2 week wait is the most challenging time. This is when hope and possibility are replaced by doubt, fear and anxiety.
If conception has not occurred then towards the end of this week women may start to notice pre-menstrual symptoms. They become flooded with anger and despair and grieve for what could have been.
The feeling that another month has gone by without success dominates and the fear that it may never happen starts to creep in. As a whole new cycle starts, the emotional roller coaster that is trying to conceive begins it’s unrelating twists and turns once more.