If you want to know the accurate results of the very expensive stick you just peed on, wait the full three minutes. Maybe even longer.
Both of my pregnancies were difficult to detect with store-bought pregnancy tests. I never did get a positive test, but since I was working with a fertility doctor on my infertility, my pregnancy was confirmed by a blood test. It was not the moment I had imagined — welcoming my husband home from work by waving an E.P.T. in his face, wrapping it in a gift box, or placing it on his dinner plate — based on all the television I had watched in my life. Instead of all that, I was informed by a nurse over the telephone that I was pregnant, then I ran into a private phone room at my office and called Ryan to share the news.
The second time I was pregnant also lacked an element of surprise because of the secondary infertility treatments. (Is it called “secondary infertility” if your fertility was never good to begin with?) At the end of that month’s cycle, I waited as long as I could and then took a pregnancy test.
No positive test line appeared, not even when held directly under my reading lamp. The next morning, I tried again. Still nothing. Well maybe something really faint that could only be seen in sunlight while squinting. But maybe not. I was feeling ridiculously hopeful and knew that hope may bring on hallucinations.
That night, Ryan and I were going to a wedding in San Francisco. I can’t remember who was babysitting Julian, who was turning two the next day. I’m sure one of his grandparents was staying with him and had no idea that I was peeing on test sticks every twelve hours. It was my own private anxious hell. I took one more pregnancy test before putting on my cocktail dress, even though I knew it was a waste of money and I should be waiting another day or two. When nothing showed up after a minute, I tossed the stick in the trash can and returned to primping, trying to focus on the positive: I could drink at the wedding, guilt-free. My closest friend at the wedding was quite pregnant and I really wanted to be able to tell her that I was, too. But as any of you who had a hard time conceiving know, wishing doesn’t make it so.
Right before we ran out the door for our evening event, I returned to the bathroom to put on lipstick again. The trash can caught my eye, reminding me what was inside of it. I stomped on the foot pedal of the small silver can, and peeked inside. The pregnancy test was on top and when I pulled it out, I saw the faintest line, like a tiny vein under the skin of the pH-measuring paper, flowing with my happy news.
Here we are that night: Ryan and me with our little secret.
This post was inspired by an email I received about a book called Confessions of a Cereal Mother. I have not read the book, but according to the author’s website, “Don’t throw away your pregnancy test until the three minutes is up,” is one piece of advice inside, along with “Never throw up in a cookie sheet.”
Keyword: Don’t throw away your pregnancy test until the three minutes is up