A post on my foray into pregnancy tests (after a 5 year hiatus) was simply too irresistible, so here it is. For perfectionists like myself, every detail of these delectable little test strips lends itself to hyper-analysis, examination, and obsession.
I can admit it: I love to pee on those things. Or in a cup and then dip them in. It's just so...exciting.
My quest began about 5 days prior to the start of my expected period. Right away, you can see the problem here, right? That's TOO EARLY. I know there are tests (that cost more than my monthly lunch supplies) that tout themselves as able to detect pregnancy up to 5-6 days prior to a missed period. But, really. Simple common sense tells us that this won't work for 100% of the population, especially considering women aren't always able to pinpoint exactly when they ovulated. So, why waste $20 on such an experiment, when waiting another 5 days or so will make a test work that costs a mere dollar?
Human nature, that's what. We're NOSY and CURIOUS. We can't wait. As for me personally, well, I'm nosier than the average person. Plus, I chart my cycles as part of NFP (Natural Family Planning, I can post on that another time; definitely tmi :) , and have done so since I got married, so I know with approximately a 3 day window of certainty when I ovulated. Type A personality lends itself REALLY well to NFP, let me tell you. Knowledge is power.
So, even though I didn't want to buy one of those fancy schmancy tests, I still wanted to dip my toe into the pregnancy test pool, and thought I'd do a little research. Let the fun begin.
Google Search #1 - PREGNANCY TESTS
There are lots of them. Lots and lots. Are you also a pee-on-a-stick-aholic? You simply must check out www.peeonastick.com. Fabulous stuff. Anyway, this site reminded me of the holy grail of pregnancy tests, that I used many of around the time I conceived Hank: Dollar Tree pregnancy tests.
Ok, this is like those library instruction classes that I teach :) If you remember nothing else from this post, take this one point away with you:
Google Search #2 - DOLLAR TREE PREGNANCY TESTS
Not Family Dollar (where everything is decidedly not a dollar), or Dollar General, or The Dollar Store. Dollar Tree. This is *very* important. These tests cost $1, and they WORK. They are not fancy, but they are as sensitive and accurate as a urine test you'd take in a doctor's office. Simply put, they are *awesome*.
Immediately, I hustled out on my lunch hour and headed to the local Dollar Tree, where I bought 4 pregnancy tests. I could feel the teenage clerk's bafflement as he rang me out.
"Who needs FOUR pregnancy tests?!"
Freaks do, ok?
I lovingly brought them back to the office, where I coddled them into a desk drawer, next to an expired test I had left over from earlier. With much restraint, I made myself wait until the next morning before my inaugural pee. Every day draws (hopefully) your hormone levels higher, making it easier for the test to detect them.
The next morning, I hurried to the quietest ladies room on the floor with one of the tests tucked into my purse. I was SO excited. It was still 4 days prior to my expected period, so I knew it was still early, but I was hopeful. I administered the test, and paced around the stall while I waited the requisite 3 minutes for the results to display.
These are simple tests that simply display a control line (shows you that the test worked properly) and then may or may not display a second test line to show that it detects HCG, human pregnancy hormone. With Hank, I remembered a dark line showing up right away, but that was a day after my expected period (had lost track of time, since I was in NYC the weekend before visiting my friend Irena, drinking wine and eating lots of soft cheese :) , and plus, I later realized that Hank was conceived early in that cycle. Aren't you glad I'm telling you all this? Anyway, this time, I knew it was still early. I was just hoping for a sneak preview.
3 minutes go by, and I snatch the test up. I don't see a line. I'm disappointed, but I know that if you test too early, you can get a negative if you really are pregnant. I'll simply have to wait another day or so. I walk out of the stall, and the test catches the natural light from the window.
Hark! What is THAT?! I bring the test right to the window and examine it right up to my face. Is that a purplish shadow in the test line area? I move it in every possible contortion, but I can't tell. I do think that I see something very faint there, but it's impossible to be sure. I hurry back to my office where I continue to examine it in my own window. Nothing has changed. Pretty soon, the 10 minute result reliability window has passed. I have to wait until the next day, but that doesn't stop me from looking at it all day, in 10 minute intervals.
The next day, I went through the same ritual. Test is administered. Nothing comes up right away. I pace. After 3 minutes, I bring it right to the natural light. *huffy sigh* Nothing is looking very obvious, but once again, I swear I see a faint purplish shadow in the test line window. But it's SO faint, it's possible I may be imaging things and creating a hysterical pregnancy right then and there. What to do... What to do?! I contemplate accosting one of the students tucked away in a study carrel out on the floor and demanding to know if they see a line, but then think better of it. Don't want to nurture that FREAK label twice in two days.
I take it back to my office and obsess some more.
Google Search #3 - POSITIVE PREGNANCY TESTS, and then refining spin-off - POSITIVE DOLLAR TREE PREGNANCY TESTS
Here progresses a lunch hours worth of Google images of positive pregnancy tests from varying points in a cycle. Reassuringly, some of them, from before a woman's expected period, look kind of like mine. Hurray! Certainly, I'll need to followup for the next several days, but maybe this is it... Wait, what's this?!
Google Search #4 - FALSE POSITIVES
This is rare, but apparently does happen. Paranoia mounts. I examine the photos closely. Oh, this could be related to WHAT?
Google Search #5 - EVAPORATION LINES
This is the holy grail of pee-on-a-stick-aholics. The potential for relentless obsession lies right here. Evaporation lines are simply shadows that dry on the test strip where a line *would* be, making it appear slightly darker, but it's not actually indicating a positive. Oh SIGH. Now what?! That could easily be what I'm seeing. Plots...
Hum, I have that expired pregnancy test. Since I wouldn't be using up a new one, why not try that and see what happens?
I do. I see little. Which leads to...
Google Search #6 - EXPIRED PREGNANCY TESTS
This one is simple. You shouldn't use them. They dye may not interact anymore. Rats.
I continue my forays until I uncover a new source of fretting.
Google Search # 7 - CHEMICAL PREGNANCY
When you get an early positive result, but then appear to get your period. It's actually a miscarriage, since an egg was in fact fertilized and implanted. Great. Now I can worry about this too.
I wait an agonizing 48 hours, during which time I do the last 2 Dollar Tree tests with first morning urine, supposedly the more potent in terms of HCG. Each time, I see faint, FAINT lines. *glares*. I suppose that's a positive, since they tell you that the line colors can vary when positive, but people, I need more reassurance here. It's not the tests' fault; it was still BEFORE my period was late, and they tell you to wait until after your period is due. I suppose this is why those tests are only a dollar; they conserve on dye.
The last of those 2 days, the day before my period was due, was a Sunday, and as I sat at Mass, I burst into tears *3 TIMES* during the singing of the Prayer of St. Francis. It just...moved me. Hum. Move evidence. In fact...my breasts hurt. A lot. But still! That could be PMS :(
Finally, I broke down and forked over $12 for a generic pack of 2 digital tests. Ahhh, sweet digital. These are the wonderful tests wherein the display windows reads "Pregnant" or "Not Pregnant." Pretty self-explanatory.
The next morning, my period was due. I hustled into the bathroom with my first morning urine all saved up, and activated the digital. I paced while I waited for it to work, and then:
It was bliss. And now the new worries begin...
Google Search # 8 - EARLY MISCARRIAGE SYMPTOMS
*frets* But really. I take my prenatal vitamins religiously, I'm eating healthy and staying active. And I pray for my unborn baby daily. What else can I do? It's out of my hands. But I pray that in 7 months, my arms are filled with a beautiful new Baby Catholic Librarian :)