Early Pregnancy Testing Is Basically Self-Inflicted Torture

by Kelly Park
Originally Published: 
pregnancy test, woman taking pregnancy test, woman in bathroom, woman on the toilet
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We went about it just like we thought you are supposed to. We decided it was baby time and used an ovulation predictor kit until we saw a happy face. Then we got busy. The next step was to take a pregnancy test to confirm that I was, indeed, pregnant.

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Sound pretty straightforward, right?

There were a lot of pregnancy tests at the drugstore, and I was embarrassed about being embarrassed to be hovering over them all, trying to decide which one to buy.

So many choices. (Why are there so many choices?) After a thorough examination of each product, I made my decision (based on the box’s color scheme) and headed home.

As soon as I walked in the door, my pregnancy test started talking to me.

“Well, hello there, new friend. Why don’t you take me out of the bag and look at me? Put your mind at ease by confirming that you are pregnant. We both know that you are. Let’s make it official. It’s really simple to do.”

I decided immediately that the test was right. Plus, like any Type-A overachiever, I love a good test. So off I went to the bathroom, test in hand. Instructions, who needs instructions? I’ve seen enough rom-coms to know how this works. You just pee on the stick and wait. So I did.

And I got a big freaking negative sign.

My shock and surprise were genuine. I really expected a positive test. I reached into the garbage can for the directions. I read them in English, French, and Spanish — not once, but twice. That’s when I discovered my error. You need to use early morning urine.

Of course! I needed to try again in the morning! (Thanks for nothing, rom-coms.) So early the next morning, that’s what I did.

The result was the same: not pregnant.

I wasn’t pregnant after all. Or was I? Maybe I could be? Maybe I should take another test, just to make sure. I allowed this scenario to repeat itself, in many different ways, again and again.

You see, I suffer from what I like to call EEPT, or excessive early pregnancy testing. It’s a condition I diagnosed myself with to explain the compulsion that made me think of reasons — all of which were completely devoid of any truth or common sense, and were always against my better judgment — to continually test to see if I was pregnant before it statistically made sense to do so.

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If you have ever tried to get pregnant, you are likely familiar with the two-week wait (2WW). This is the period of time between when the deed is done (or assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination takes place) and the start of your next expected period.

Home pregnancy tests are most reliable when testing takes place after this wait. But some pregnant women are able to test as early as six days before an expected period. I desperately wanted to be one of those women. After all, this wouldn’t just mean a baby, it would mean six fewer days of torturing myself by calculating phantom birthdays, six days where I didn’t stress out wondering if this was finally the month, six days where I could give myself a break from the litany of unhealthy behaviors that were consuming my life. It sounds like an exaggeration, but six days seemed pretty significant to me.

Really, though, rather than reducing my stress, my pregnancy testing habit only brought on a whole new level of self-inflicted torture. During the 16 months it took to conceive my child, I developed an internal report with some fantastic reasons why I should buy an expensive stick to pee on and then throw out.

It started quite innocently with thoughts like this:

– These tests are kind of expensive. If I buy the two-pack, I probably won’t need to buy them again.

– It says on the box that up to 79% of women can test early. Perhaps I am one of these women! I have two tests! – My early testing chances today have increased from yesterday! This means I should totally try!

And progressed to the borderline unreasonable justifications that included:

– While I am here buying tests, I may as well stock up.

– I have all of these extra tests around. I may as well try an early test today – just to see. – I’m going out with the girls this weekend. I should probably check – just to be sure. For sure, for sure. – What if this test was negative because it wasn’t super early morning urine? I should try again tomorrow, super early.

It didn’t take long before my testing obsession really went off the rails, and I started thinking things like:

– Does that look like a plus sign? A faint plus sign? A squinter?

– Perhaps the plus sign isn’t the way to go. This test has two lines. That should be more obvious. – Could this be two lines? A faint second line? A squinter? – Perhaps this month I will be one of the 79%!

Finally, my internal dialogue devolved into total nonsense, like:

– What if I just let the test process a little longer — just another hour or so?

– I feel different. I am moody and tired. This must be pregnancy. I must be pregnant. There is no way that all of this emotional turmoil is really just me. – I should probably find a cheaper test. I am buying too many. – Stupid generic-brand test. It might be a false-negative. I shouldn’t buy the cheap tests, only expensive ones from now on. – Gee, these expensive tests really are expensive. If I buy the two-pack, I probably won’t need to buy them again…

And then, 16 months later, the day finally came. An early morning, perfectly pink, very obvious, no-doubt-about-it plus sign. Oh, that’s what it should look like, I thought to myself. Just like the instructions said. Just like any reasonable person would imagine. Just like it goes down in rom-coms. I told my husband the happy news, and we both said good riddance to timed intercourse (which, let’s face it, made us almost as happy as the actual pregnancy). It was then that I realized the key to taking a successful pregnancy test: You need to actually be pregnant.

Think you might have EEPT? My suggested treatment for this condition is to just say no to early testing. You’re more likely to get a clear result you won’t have to question. Plus, pregnant or not, you’ll feel a whole lot less stressed. Unless perhaps you are one of the 79%!

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