Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My First Response? EPT: Expensive Peed-on Twit

I know it is no secret that we're trying to start a family, so in a long-overdue post I shall share some insight I have into a big part of this process: pregnancy tests. I usually have an opinion about everything so it is no surprise that I would have an opinion about this.

Since we have had an ectopic pregnancy, one precaution we have to take is early pregnancy tests. Should we become pregnant again, hormone levels must be monitored because if they don't increase normally, the pregnancy could be ectopic. Therefore, we don't even wait until a missed period. Every month, at least once, I take a home pregnancy test.

I shudder to think how much money we've dumped into this precaution because as many of you know, home pregnancy tests are not cheap. Usually 2 tests cost about $14.99. Not only are they expensive, but they sum up the emotional trials of fertility in one quick trip to the can.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding taking a home pregnancy test (HPT), it is an event charged with emotion. Will it be positive? Will it be negative? Both scenarios can bring disappointment, fear, elation, devastation depending on the situation. That is a whole lot of power for something you pee on and then throw away.

While I have used drugstore brands before, I usually opt for First Response. FR claims to detect pregnancy 5 days early (they all do, by the way) and shows a positive result with two vertical pink lines, a negative result with one vertical pink line. In very early pregnancy, if the hormones are barely detectable, FR may show the faintest of the second pink pregnancy line which can confuse people. EPT offers a digital choice which displays "pregnant" or "not pregnant". I don't really think the faint line is all that confusing but because I had a coupon AND it was on sale, I tried the digital EPT test recently.

I never thought I would have a preference because really, you just pee on it, wait, look, throw it away. But I am surprised to report that I don't like the digital test. At. All. Here is why: the digital home pregnancy test lacks sensitivity. Let me explain.

As I mentioned earlier, taking a HPT is an emotional experience regardless of the circumstances. The emotion I left out in my description that definitely dominates the whole process is hope. Whatever the desired outcome, the people involved are hopeful that the test will display the results they want. While getting ready to take this last test I was of course, full of hope that it would be positive. I was also curious about the digital test since I've never peed on anything digital before. Kind of weird experience. All tests require you to wait a couple of minutes so I took the test, and waited.

It took hardly any time for me to determine that this test is not for me. I'm used to FR. Immediately after taking the FR test, the dark pink control line appears. You have to wait for the second line to appear. If after about three minutes it hasn't appeared, the result is negative. Sometimes when the second line appears it is just a whisper of a line and other times it is just as strong as the control line.

You could take the test, walk away and come back to review the results. I doubt anyone does that. I stay in the bathroom and stare at the stupid thing, willing that light pink line to slowly appear. For a few minutes, your mind plays tricks on you. Is it changing? Is that it? Could it be? Oh please, oh please, oh please.

I really believe that FR wants to make me happy. That's why the line appears slowly. It is trying so hard to deliver the results I want but sometimes it is just too hard. Sometimes, it obliges with that dear faint line and your heart leaps as only it can when holding something you just peed on. Other times, the line never appears and you throw it in the trash only to pull it out a couple of minutes later just to double check. When it is negative, I am disappointed and I kind of feel bad for the test. Because it tried.

Not so the villainous digital option. After taking the test, of course I started watching. The display screen showed an hour glass rotating in a circle. Pretty high tech. No wonder this test typically costs around $18 for two tests. It is the Mercedes of HPTs. Anyway, after about 2 minutes of watching the silly hour glass turn circles, the words "not pregnant" suddenly appeared on the screen. BAM. No second-guessing, no mind tricks, no moments of hope lifting just a little. Just direct, sudden, insensitive results. I don't feel like it tried at all. Not like FR. While the obnoxious hour glass turned over and over, this insensitive test was just hanging out, until it decided to smoosh all my hope in one quick, unmistakable, blaring display of the words "not pregnant".

Just before tossing it in the trash I kind of wanted to flip the thing off. I mean, how rude. Rather than that flippant hour glass rotating over and over could it have said "just a moment please" or "hang in there"? And what about the results? Not pregnant. Could it have considered saying, "sorry, not this time" or "you're not pregnant but you look great this early in the morning" or "you're not pregnant but at least you can have a glass of wine tonight"? And the way it appeared! I felt like I'd been slapped.

Trying to conceive is hard enough without insensitive pregnancy tests. Women are very emotional during this process without the harsh coldness of the digital display. I'll stick with my sweet pink lines, thank you very much. Because even when there is only one line, at least I feel like the test is trying as hard as I am.