Most people think pregnancy tests are either positive (BABY!) or negative (BOOZING!) but not only are they wrong, they are missing out on a very exciting pastime in the gray area. Me, I'm a pregnancy test hobbyist. Some ladies dabble in sewing or cocaine, but I'm big on the sport of taking pregnancy tests of all brands, at all times, and peering at the results with the resolve of a seer. It's like reading tea leaves. This hobby is half dye on a pee stick, half esotericism.
Sometimes you take a pregnancy test and it is totally blank. Zip. From start to finish, there's nary a stroke of dye or speck of dust in the results window. Completely blank tests are reassuring or heartbreaking depending on your life situation, but they are boring. I threw one of these in the trash the other day and that's really saying something because I like to think of a pregnancy test result window as an evolving story that lapses over several days. A test can be blank at first, then develop exciting lines that can be read in a number of hopeful or terrifying ways.
(To anyone sane reading this, officially a pregnancy test result should only be read in the manufacturer-suggested time frame. Any marks in the result window after the allotted time are meaningless*. I feel required to say that for the teens out there who may be reading. Also, you cannot get pregnant from grinding at a school dance and/or third base.)
I appreciate seeing absolutely zilch on a pregnancy test sometimes because it really frees up my day. I will stare at an ambiguous test for hours. It's like TV to me to look at a pregnancy test. I literally got bored the other day and thought, "I'll pee on a stick while the kids play" that is how fun I think it is.
And now for the exciting part: The various ways to interpret a test!
1. A slightly faint line in the results window that is so obscure, it is impossible to tell the color. Officially a pink line (or blue, depending on the brand) means "pregnant" and a gray line means, "this is where a pink or blue line would go if you were pregnant but there's nothing definitive just yet." These are captivating! It is a common practice to photograph these results and exaggerate their properties in Photoshop, then invite friends to get in on the game. It's a regular crowd pleaser.
Even though I do not want more children at the moment and maybe never, I find myself rooting for this line anyway. I could have just given birth two weeks ago and be up to my eyeballs in screaming kids with my sights set on a vacation in six months and I will still subconsciously root for a pink line on a pregnancy test. Note: This does not equate with a desire for more children. I liken it to rooting for a horse at a race. Just because you want it to win doesn't mean you want to take the horse home with you and breast feed it for 12 months. In fact I unexpectedly thought I saw a pink line not too long ago and right after high-fiving it, I cried and admonished my life choices. Whew, that was a close one.
2. Evaporation lines! This is a result in the test window that is blank during the manufacture-alloted time frame and then magically shows up an hour later. These are tricky and in my experience, a much bigger indicator of actual pregnancy. That's where nerves come in. Officially, these are supposed to be meaningless but the two times I have actually been and remained pregnant long enough to carry a baby to term, I have gotten these elusive evaporation lines first. Let's call these "maybe sticks".
3. Disappearing positives during the allotted time. This never happens to me, but I know it happens to other people. We hobbyists have a club. It meets in high school bathrooms at 4:00PM where we discuss french kissing and burn books. No we don't. But we do have a Bible!
4. A straightforward, pink or blue positive result that appears in the correct time frame. These indicate pregnancy. In most people, this strongly correlates to giving birth nine months later. However over 50% of early pregnancies end in miscarriage, most of which occur just days after implantation and if you're an early tester (that is to say you are testing well before a missed period) this test result is just as ambiguous as the others.
Over the course of being married five years, this has happened to me three times. You just gotta brush it off, girl. If you were hoping for a baby, I can tell you it can and does happen eventually for most people. If that pink line was a surprise after a boozy weekend, well, don't go canceling your lipo appointment or demanding your husband get snipped just yet because unfortunately, this test result may be meaningless.
There's nothing like a crisis to help you sort out your feelings, folks, so if you're in the pregnancy test game I'm here to help you obsess. Photos of ambiguous pregnancy test results may be emailed to me at HighGlossChicago@gmail.com.
UPDATE 9/30/13 - I have been fielding pregnancy test emails from this post for nearly two years now and I am happy to do it, so keep it coming. However! I get the same question over and over, so I may as well hash it out here. If you are taking a blue line test, ONLY read the result within the manufacturer-allotted time frame. I just don't trust blue line tests. They are too squirrley. The evaporation lines look exactly like positives and half the time they're missing a side or a piece anyway. Stick with pink dye tests and let me at 'em.
Oh, and I'm 8 months pregnant with our third child so my level of expertise is now in the PhD zone. Carry on.
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