Urination Fascination: Home Pregnancy Tests, Infertility, and Halle Berry's Stash

10 years ago

Perhaps this will reveal how outdated the magazines are at our house, but we're making our way through some October issues of People magazine (in my world, Eddie Murphy has yet to get married therefore, he still has two weeks of wedded bliss ahead of him!), which is where it was reported that Halle Berry announced on Oprah that she saved 35 negative home pregnancy tests when she was trying to get pregnant.

Those who are not actively trying to conceive probably can't imagine how one ends up with 35 urine soaked sticks inside a drawer, likening it to keeping a human head in the freezer. But I could easily see how it happens. You saved the first negative stick because it was the first month trying to conceive. You don't really know why you saved it, but you did because that first time felt momentous. You collected about 8 sticks during the first month because you began peeing the second First Response Early Result (lovingly known as FRER) gave you the go-ahead on the direction sheet and some days, you peed more than once because you just happened to save up four hours worth of urine and there should be some good use for that much fluid intake and leg crossing.

The next month, it simply became a reflex because you saved the ones from the month before. This time, you went easy on the FRER, only peeing on two because you weren't even sure if you ovulated. You noticed a distinct lack of cervical fluid--fluid you had never been aware of prior to this point but were now obsessed with because you had already worked your way through Toni Weschler's book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Not that you're worried or anything.

The next month, you dropped four pee sticks in the drawer. You had timed it well and your period was late--three days late. Snow white.

By the fourth month, the peeing-on-a-stick (often abbreviated POAS) record became spotty. Some months, one or two sticks were added to the drawer. Other months, your period came before there was time to peel off the wrapper. Still others, you peed on one or two even though you knew you had a beta scheduled for the next day.

Along the way, your husband found your stash of urine-soaked sticks and he begged you, for the love of G-d, to get them out of the bathroom because it made him throw up in his mouth to think about the fact that he was brushing his teeth just inches away from a pile of festering plastic soaked in bodily fluids.

You reminded him that urine is sterile.

You googled that fact later on to make sure it was true.

But you couldn't throw them out because you entered into such deep magical thinking about those pee sticks about how your positive would only come if you held onto them indefinitely. So you kept adding them to the drawer, shifting them this way and that way to ensure that the drawer closed.

That's how you ended up with a drawer of 35 pee sticks.

Pee sticks have long been a topic of conversation in the infertility blogosphere. Weekly, people post pictures of their negative or positive sticks, ask for opinions on judging the darkness of the line, question the occurrence of evaporation lines on Dollar Store home pregnancy tests. A quick jaunt through my blogroll brought me to TheNewLifeofNancy and the test she took this week despite being on birth control pills for her upcoming IVF cycle.

See, my boob hurts. Not my boobs. My boob. My left one. Enough to go to the doctor (which, by the way, couldn't find out the problem, so I have a boob ultrasound coming up). And what did she ask me? "Is there a chance of pregnancy?". Uh, no. Then, I puked my guts out Saturday evening. Felt terrible all night. Okay on Sunday and then again on Monday. I had to take the day off I was puking so badly. Laid around like a slug. And what did like 4 people ask me? "Are you pregnant?" Every time someone asks me that, I want to punch them. No, I'm not pregnant. And even if I were, these would ~not~ be my early pregnancy symptoms. But yet I POAS.

Trucking on to someone currently in an IVF cycle, I read Tobacco Brunette's disappearing and reappearing positive.

I snack on my food, read the NYTimes, and periodically (often) stealthily remove the pee stick from my purse to glance at the nearly invisible, but still very much there line. After about an hour, I pluck my new friend from my bag to find the slightly positive HPT has become negative. I mean, it is white as snow in the place I'd sworn I'd seen a positive sign all day. I panicked, but then thought, "It's just the light in here. The sun is shifting in the sky. It'll be there when you leave." Ted called me to be picked up not long after the line disappeared and I headed outside, where I held the stick up the sun and STILL there was nothing there. No second line...AT. ALL...I'd pee again when I got home. And I did. This time instead of using the test that indicates success with a blue plus sign, I switched things up a little and used First Response, which tells you you’re knocked up with two pretty pink lines. I got a second line. It's not visible from a distance of more than 2 feet, but can be seen with the naked eye. In fact I can see it right now in my bedroom with just the light of the computer and a small reading lamp. I wish my camera was working so I could show you it's here and then if it disappears again, you can all assure me I'm not crazy. So, two lines for now.

A beta of 192 confirmed the truth of the pee sticks for her days later. Lastly, This, That, and the Mother Thing had a post this week about a month in the life of an infertile woman, which, of course, contained many lines devoted to pee sticks.

Wake up and pee on a stick with no expectation of success, which, ironically, in the past meant a real possibility of success but now means you are not freakin' pregnant. Despite all reason, stare at the FRER HPT in 3 different light settings to see if the faintest of faint lines is detectable. Occasionally, tear the test apart to see if the line you see is "real" or an evaporation line. Decide after tearing the test apart that's as white as the driven snow, that it's perfectly acceptable to not feel guilty over a big fat glass of wine. Continue to whine, also.

My own stash? Not nearly as impressive as Ms. Berry's. But a little surprise for any house guest who cares to poke around our bathroom drawers.

So, are you a toss or save sort of girl?

Melissa is the author of the infertility and pregnancy loss blog, Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters. She keeps a categorized blogroll of over 1100 infertility blogs and writes the daily Lost and Found and Connections Abound, a news source for the infertility blogosphere. Her infertility book is forthcoming from Seal Press in Spring 2009.

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