Home Pregnancy Tests Are Not For the Faint-Hearted

Home pregnancy tests and I got off to a bad start at the beginning of last year. As I explained in great detail in my post A New Level Of Ditsyness I had an unplanned pregnancy scare when The Princess was ten months old – all because I’d kept the positive test from when I fell pregnant with her and re-used it, twenty months later, without realising that it wasn’t a fresh test. Gross. And dumb. But it was my first test and I was excited.

Just liked I’d planned falling pregnant with the Princess down to a T, I wanted to plan and be mentally prepared for a second pregnancy. After countless cocktails on my solo trip to New York when The Princess was fourteen months old, I downloaded the Period Tracker app, went off the pill and tried to imagine life with more than one little monster.

After several months and no missed periods, I started toying with the idea of giving up wine for that unknown time of the month when you might be pregnant but you don’t know it. I also heard a theory that some (not all) women should avoid caffeine when trying to fall pregnant. No coffee, no wine, a certain amount of sex on certain days… this was starting to get more complicated than I had realised…

And then, all of a sudden, deep in earnest conversation with the BFF visiting from Cape Town, my I-phone started playing an unrecognisable jingle, flashing lights, vibrating and scaring the living daylights out of me. It was a message from Period Tracker:

ONE DAY OVERDUE!

After my false alarm seven months earlier, I decided not to rush off to Lancet Laboratories for a blood test. The number of days between my cycle hadn’t been exactly consistent, according to Period Tracker, so I figured that one day overdue was no reason to plan the nursery yet.

Because I’d heard that it’s most ideal to do home pregnancy tests in the morning (something about your HCG hormone levels being highest then), I waited until the next day to dig into my stash of home pregnancy tests. And yes, I made sure that the tests were sealed in foil this time. To this day, I don’t understand how the designers of these tests expect a full bladder to be emptied onto a tiny plastic stick that’s about 1cm wide and 2cm long (I’m talking about the surface area you’re supposed to pee on). You then have this critical “no pee” zone that you need to avoid at all costs, else your test is inconclusive. Here’s what my test looked like:

If you ask me, this test looks sort of positive – I say “sort of” because the colour of the test (“T”) line is so much lighter than the colour of the control (“C”). I therefore wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be “sort of” happy to be “sort of” pregnant or if I was supposed to “sort of” not really get my hopes up. Maybe seasoned pregnancy test users would have better luck interpreting this crap excuse for a test but I had no idea what to make of it.

Naturally, I only had one of these useless instruments in the cupboard. The logical thing to do would have been to head to a pharmacy when the shops opened at 9am or to send The Husband. The Husband, however, was out cycling all morning and The Princess and I had breakfast plans at 9am and anyway, if I was indeed pregnant, I figured that the fetus would be in need of food, as was I.

Breakfast turned into brunch and then it was time to hightail it home for The Princess’ day sleep. By now, The Husband was home and it would have been the perfect opportunity for one of us to go to a pharmacy… HOWEVER… I’d been promising The Husband that I would get my butt onto a bicycle for several months now and that very day was the day that this event was due to take place. I’d even been to his cycling store during the week to “get fitted” by the experts who’d near- mutilated his bike in an attempt to make it comfortable for me. The Husband was bursting with excitement and it was just one of those things I could not pull out of.

But I devised a plan in which I wouldn’t have to pull out of the ride AND we could buy some pregnancy tests. We’d cycle past Dischem at the Blubird centre and pick one up there. Simple.

Not so simple. We pulled up outside Dischem only to discover that on Sundays, it closed at 1pm. Next stop: Clicks at Melrose Arch. Also closed on a Sunday afternoon. Surprise! The pharmacy at Melrose Arch: closed down when Clicks opened its pharmacy. I was sure there had been a pharmacy in the Evermed centre near the corner of Corlett Drive and Atholl Oaklands: also closed down, (no doubt when Dischem moved in over the road). And so we chugged home from our urban cycling adventure sans pregnancy test.

We then rushed to make our afternoon plans in Westcliff. On our way home, I thought we’d stop at Clicks in the Rosebank Mall which was part of a heaving centre so it was sure to be open. Not at 17:10 on a Sunday, however. And then it was supper, bath and bed-time for The Princess during which time The Husband drove to The Wedge in Morningside (which appears to house the only late night pharmacy in Sandton and surrounds).

Finally, he came home armed with three pregnancy tests. These tests weren’t comparable to the R25 Dischem tests I’d been using. These tests looked like they meant business:

Although it was now 8pm and not apparently the ideal time of day to be taking a pregnancy test, I went off to pee and see.

It was negative. The first Clearblue test’s key showed that two dark blue lines in the shape of a cross (similar to the cross on the Swiss flag) meant that you were pregnant and one horizontal, dark blue line meant that you were not pregnant. My “negative” line was more of a sky blue than a dark blue but there was absolutely no second line crossing this line so it looked pretty much negative, rather than “sort of” negative.

Thus far, I had one sort of positive test and one pretty negative test. I assumed that meant that I wasn’t pregnant. I decided that this caused for a sympathy glass of wine. It looked as though I wasn’t pregnant after all. I had lost interest in the stash of expensive tests The Husband driven north to procure.

Until my bladder began to fill up, that is. Then I decided that if I had to pee, I may as well pee on one more stupid Clearblue stick.

At first I didn’t notice anything different about the second Clearblue stick, but when I had to wait the requisite few minutes for the test to show a result, I couldn’t help but sneak a peak, even though a watched pot never boils… And then I saw a digital screen with a little flashing egg timer. So this was the Rolls Royce of pregnancy tests… (If you look carefully at the picture of the two Clearblue boxes in the picture above, you can easily notice the difference between the two tests but at a glance, it’s like trying to quickly distinguish between chunky and smooth cottage cheese – the packaging is so annoyingly similar…).

After the Rolls Royce had finished thinking, it flashed its result in actual, legible English language words:

PREGNANT 1-2 WEEKS

Finally! A test going out on a limb with a declarative result! And so, in the space of a day, I went from being possibly but inconclusively pregnant, to most probably not pregnant, to probably pregnant. The Husband and I were partially elated and partially unsure that we should be, even after the fourth and final Clearblue digital test announced, once more, that I was 1-2 weeks pregnant.

First thing the next morning I called my new gynae to say that I’d had two positive pregnancy tests out of four and so I thought I was pregnant. His receptionist told me to go and get blood tests done which I dutifully did within the hour. I was to call his rooms a few hours later to confirm the test results.

When I called, stating that I wanted to know what the blood tests had revealed, the receptionist sounded both bored and skeptical. Not a good sign. These were her words:

“Um… Let’s see here… Ja… Okay…Yes…So it says you’re only just pregnant.”

OH      MY       GOODNESS! I understand the risks inherent in early pregnancy and Period Tracker tells me exactly when the first day of my last period was so I know exactly how pregnant I am. ! I just want to know if I should currently be thinking of myself as a pregnant person or not!

Needless to say it took me a day or so to get my head around the notion and a full two weeks before the nausea set in.

Now I am about 15 weeks and am sporting what I would call a seriously distended belly. This is the one time I actually would like friends and strangers alike to inquire as to whether or not I’m pregnant but since my stomach popped just post the Christmas holidays, people are understandably wary of putting their foot in it.

2 comments

  1. Hey!

    I’ve just moved to Joburg and am in Sandton too 😀 Been struggling with many invalid tests before I read about the ‘Rolls Royce’ of tests on your blog. Husband, dutifully went to the Wege and Voila.. guess I’m pregnant!

    Since I’m pretty new here, was wondering if you could share your Gyenac’s contact details. Thanks! Anna

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