• Mon, Dec 30 - 1:00 pm ET

The Pregnancy Test: Before And After You Have Kids, It Always Sucks


Pregnancy tests are the worst. If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s like purchasing a box of disappointment. If you’re not trying to get pregnant, it can feel like a game of Russian roulette. Any way you slice it – the pregnancy test sucks.

It took us almost five years to get our first pregnancy to stick. Five years. We started trying when I was 33 and didn’t have our first child until I was almost 38. It never occurred to me that I would have a hard time getting pregnant. When you spend your whole life avoiding something, it’s easy to think that when you stop avoiding it, it will just immediately happen.


Unfortunately, it didn’t really work that way for us.

There were charts, positions, lunar cycles and just about every other thing you can think of. And of course, there were many, many pregnancy tests. Had I known you could buy them in bulk – I would have. Each purchase was akin to buying a lottery ticket; I had so much hope for something that was beginning to seem about as likely as retiring on a yacht by 40.

When I was trying to conceive I was always convinced I was pregnant, and always took the test too early. I was also always convinced I saw a line. Always.

Me: Do you see it? I see a small line. It’s like, the lightest pink color. Do you see it?

Him: No. Absolutely not. There’s nothing there. 

I began to hate those damn tests. They were a constant, expensive reminder that I still didn’t have the kids I wanted so bad. When that positive test finally came, I actually kept it in a drawer for a couple years – thinking it would be a keepsake. I know it’s gross – I really can’t explain why I did it.

Fast forward two years after we had our first child to the pregnancy test experience I had when I unexpectedly realized I had missed my period. We weren’t trying for kids. I was convinced I would never have another because it took us so long to get pregnant with our first – but we were still using birth control. One time we were less than careful. One time. I’m not even kidding. Six weeks later I was walking to Target, being talked off the ledge by my sister.

Me: I’m screwed. I can’t remember the last time I had a period, I feel like shit, and I would stab someone for a pack of Rolos. I’m definitely pregnant. I’m going to pick up a test right now.

Sister: You’re not pregnant. Don’t worry. I mean, you should totally buy the test but you’re definitely not pregnant. 

When I was trying to get pregnant, I was buying the most expensive tests that basically guarantee to detect a pregnancy that hasn’t even happened yet:

First Response! We can detect a future pregnancy the MINUTE you start even thinking about having sex. Believe us and pay twice as much for our test!

Perusing the aisles for the pregnancy test I didn’t want to take was quite the opposite. I was broke, stressed and already a little underwater with all of the responsibilities that came with having our first child. I picked the cheapest option and some Rolos and headed home.

I sat on the toilet fumbling to open the package of pregnancy tests with one hand, and firmly gripping the Rolos I had just purchased with the other. You’d think that would have been an indication as to what the result would be. A faint line began to appear. One line. Not two.

I bought the cheapest test I could find, didn’t wait the requisite two minutes and immediately convinced myself I was in the clear. I gathered all the wrappers from the Rolos and the pregnancy test, started crumpling the box in my hand and as I paused to drop the test in the trash – I saw the second line begin to appear.

I sat down, finished the Rolos – and tossed the test in the trash.

Like I said, taking the anticipated and wanted pregnancy test is a little different than taking the one that’s a surprise. But they both suck.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • http://www.gamedevwidow.weebly.com/ FaintlyXMacabre
  • Bethany Ramos

    You couldn’t have described this agony any better. I am done with kids but am still taking paranoid preg tests until my hormones and period balance after breastfeeding. So… there’s almost no way I could ever be pregnant again, but I always do a Rocky punch dance of relief when the test still says negative. Whew.

  • alice

    i take paranoid preg tests so regularly that i buy them in bulk from the dollar store. YES. the dollar store. there’s nothing more reliable than a $1 pregnancy test.

    these are so cheap that you don’t even pee ON the stick. the test provides you with a plastic eyedropper, so you pee in a mug (that belongs to your coworker, since you totes take all your preg tests at work) and then eyedrop your urine onto the test.

    i have over 40 of these in my office.

    the dollar store is across the street.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      I had NO IDEA the dollar store has pregnancy tests!!!

    • alice

      it’s a Dollar Tree, actually. AND: you can buy them online as long as you buy minimum of 6. http://www.dollartree.com/health-beauty/family-planning/Pregnancy-Tests-One-Step/591c608c608p7347/index.pro

      hehe they have 108 positive reviews.

      “2 kids $2″ is my new favorite online review

    • ktbay

      Those little bastards are accurate too. I got a positive test at 3w5d even my OB was impressed.

    • Rebecca R

      Me too. I had been buying the 3 packs of the First Response for the 5 years my husband and I had been trying, and then one night at the Dollar Tree I picked one up because I felt weird and the SECOND the urine went across the paper both lines lit up.

    • keelhaulrose

      After I hemmed and hawed and denied the absence of two periods I finally bought an expensive pregnancy test to get that little annoying nagging voice off my back. It came back negative. My husband, not totally convinced, got me a dollar store test. It came back positive. So I was talked into going to the doctor to see which was accurate.
      Apparently the cheapo test was. The expensive test was tricked because I was already in my second trimester (that one was a bit of a shock), and the early pregnancy hormone had gone down. But that buck test wouldn’t be fooled.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      This knowledge would have saved me HUNDREDS of dollars.

    • keelhaulrose

      I’ll lend you my husband if you want to save money. I love my man, but he’s really tightfisted. Hasn’t met a dollar he didn’t want to save, or find a way to do something on a cheap. Don’t take me up on my offer if you ever want a new phone, however. He’s still got his six year old phone, and he only upgraded after his Nokia brick finally went.
      I married Red Green. If you don’t know who that is, consider yourself lucky (I find it funny until I’m living it).

    • IknowRedGreen

      Don’t skimp on the duct tape.

    • Katherine Handcock

      Yes, I would agree that Red Green is HILARIOUS…from a distance. In real life, not so much.

    • keelhaulrose

      It was really funny, until I found the homemade dirt bike using a dryer motor. And I got home early one weekend, just in time to stop him from painting his old van (one of his four barely-functioning, if all vehicles) like the Possum Van. I wish I were joking. He planned on taking that thing to car shows like that!

    • Bethany Ramos

      At Walmarto, they are $0.88!!!

    • http://anniedeezy.tumblr.com/ Annie

      When I worked at Dollar General, that was our #1 most shoplifted item, and that was so fucking depressing. Whenever I had teenage girls at the register with the cheap ass ones, I’d always shell out the five lousy bucks for the slightly better one because god, that’s awful.

    • JLH1986

      I worked at Family Dollar. It was so bad we had to keep them at the counter because people would steal them…and condoms. Go figure. Apparently the pregnancy test thieves needed to wait around for the condom thieves.

    • Natasha B

      I had noooo idea the dollar store sold PG test! And here I was shelling out $15 :/

    • My2bits

      That’s where I have bought all of mine. And, interestingly enough, when I went to the doctor for my first visit with my son, they used the exact same test. :-)

  • Muggle

    I’ve never had a positive pregnancy test (yet, I’m on a parenting website). When I was 16, not sexually active, and only taking them for the super-heavy-duty acne drugs, I didn’t think anything about pregnancy tests. Once I was past 18 and sexually active? AARRRGGGGHHHHH it’s nerve-wracking.

    I know I’m going to be that chick who goes into hysterics as soon as the test comes out positive. Even if I was trying to get pregnant.

    • Natasha B

      My younger sister was on the acne drugs for awhile, when she became sexually active she had ME pick up the tests for her and she peed on them at our house lol. I did have to get her the plan B once, but she’s got all the BC under control now.
      Yeah-even if you’re trying to get pregnant (like I was) you still freak the freak out and sob hysterically on the bathroom floor.

    • G.E. Phillips

      I dream of a day where I’m looking at a positive pregnancy test and my first reaction isn’t, “Oh, fuck, what am I gonna do now?”

      I hope I’m not being insensitive to those who are struggling to conceive. But being pregnant when you didn’t want to be is pretty terrible. I’ve gotten pregnant on the pill (without missing a pill) twice.

    • ktbay

      As a person who spent a great deal of time TTC, even my initial reaction was “What the fuck is this shit?!”

    • Kay_Sue

      My first son was unexpected. My second was planned. I had the same “Oh shit, what the fuck is this? What have I done?” reaction both times. The second time just faded a wee bit quicker, lol.

    • Natasha B

      My oldest was unplanned while on the pill-and had been on the pill for three years. Took about 8 tests the day after my 21st birthday, kept tossing the positive ones at the BF and hysterically screeching ‘they’re broken! This one’s going to be negative!!’
      Love my daughter to pieces and grew up fast, but an unplanned pregnancy is no fun. Even the following 3 tried for pregnancies caused a freak out.

    • JLH1986

      LOL. I would have had the same reaction if we weren’t TTC. I remember one false positive and it went something like: “Oh Fuck! What did I do?”

  • Zettai

    “When you spend your whole life avoiding something, it’s easy to think that when you stop avoiding it, it will just immediately happen.” This is me right now and it sucks!

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Ugh – I’m sorry. I know the feeling.

    • JLH1986

      Word. I just keep hoping now that we’ve decided to just see how it all shakes out (after months of nothing) it might happen. Good luck, baby vibes your way.

  • Rachel Sea

    Hate pregnancy tests so hard. I decided after my 4th insemination I wasn’t ever going to buy one ever again, I just wait for my period to show up. On the off chance it ever looks like I’m pregnant, I’ll pop down to Kaiser and take a test on their dime.

  • Asia Woodley

    Totally agree with this sentiment. At 29 married, with 2.5 yo B/G twins, I am so tight with the rhythm method. Havent had a slip up since their birth yet, *wheW* but am always in fear when taking the paranoid pee test.

    • Natasha B

      We tried rhythm. I’m due in June.

    • AP

      I hear it works best with spermicidal condoms. Rhythm + condom + spermicide = 3 forms of birth control.

    • Toaster

      I am adding sterilization to that equations for both parties. If I get knocked up with all that the kid is clearly the next Messiah.

    • Natasha B

      Yeah, come June, hubs and I are both getting all sorts of sterilized haha. 4 is enough.

    • Natasha B

      Yeahhhhh we may have forgotten the spermicide a few times. It’s ok, we weren’t not trying/trying just didn’t want the last two sooo clos together (exactly 2 years)

  • I’ve never had a negative test because I’ve only ever tested when I was several days late, but getting a positive with our planned second was just as (and in some ways even more) freaky as getting a positive with our unplanned first.

  • LJ

    I was the same way when we were trying to get pregnant. I would take so many tests. Then I stopped for a few weeks and one morning my husband called me at work to say his friend had passed away. I didn’t really know the man and I just burst into tears at my desk. I ended up going home because I was a mess. When I was in the bathroom, at home, I remembered I hadn’t taken a test in awhile. Of course, it was positive. I sat in the bathroom forever before I finally came out and showed my husband the test. We just cried a lot and smiled/laughed. It was weird and emotionally awkward. But that is kind of us.

  • Kay_Sue

    I totally feel this. My oldest was unexpected, and I sat there for fifteen minutes refusing to look at the test.

    My youngest was expected, and planned for, and I looked at the test too soon and nearly tossed it. I too only realized as it was about to go into the trash that it had a second line…

    It’s a harrowing experience either way, for completely different motivations.

  • Katherine Handcock

    Just before I became pregnant with my second, I had a (very early) miscarriage. Early as in, if I hadn’t taken on of the uber-early “know nearly as soon as it happens” tests, I would have thought this was the worst period I had had since high school. Because I knew I had been pregnant, I went through the checkup by the doctor etc. to make sure it wasn’t an ectopic pregnancy instead. The doctor said, “Oh, just so you know, it’s not uncommon to miss a cycle after an early miscarriage like this.”

    Two and a half months later, it suddenly occurs to me: wait, one cycle yes, but when was that again? Took one of those tests that tells you how long you’ve been pregnant. 3+ weeks, oops. It’s surprisingly awkward explaining to an ultrasound technician who asks you how many weeks along you are that you’re there so they can tell you that ;-) It turned out I was almost 10 weeks in already.

    It must be totally bizarre finding out even later. One of the ultrasound techs I worked with in my first pregnancy found out she was pregnant at almost 6 months, when she was in for an ultrasound for an unrelated condition that was supposedly causing her to be infertile. I can’t even imagine!

    • keelhaulrose

      I found out about my second at fifteen weeks. My first question was “how did I manage to miss a trimester?” Then I realized I hadn’t had any symptoms save for one bout of morning sickness. It was surreal how different it was from my first.
      I had a friend who didn’t know until four and a half months. She had been told would be hard for her to get pregnant, but she got lucky.

    • Sara J. Hutchinson Underwood

      I had this happen when we were TTC my second. I got a positive test after 8 months and was ecstatic, and then 3 days later got my period – so I learned the hard way about “chemical pregnancies” and early miscarriages. I got pregnant the next month and at 6 weeks had some bleeding and freaked out so badly I called my boss in hysterics at 7am because I was going to the doctor for an ultrasound as soon as they opened. It turns out it was just implantation bleeding and my son was fine, but I was freaked out the whole pregnancy.

  • AP

    I had problems with my birth control pills stopping my periods entirely, so I did my due diligence and took a pregnancy test each month I missed, because responsibility and all that.

    The first test I took had two windows, one for the “control” and one with the test result. I had not read the part of the directions explaining that and, when the control line showed up, the room started spinning and I almost blacked out in the bathroom. Thankfully, I quickly found the directions explaining that my “positive” test was actually a negative. Phew!

    Moral of the story: Directions are your friend.

  • Harriet Meadow

    When I got my first positive pregnancy test, I was in denial. My husband and I had waited for about a million years to start trying, and we were SOOOOOO ready for kids. But I’d been on birth control for like a billion years, so I didn’t think it would happen so fast. Two days before I was supposed to get my period, I took a test because we were about to go get our drink on at a friend’s party and I didn’t want to indulge if I were pregnant. It was negative. I was a little disappointed, but hey, we’d JUST started trying. Plus this cleared me to go play beer pong for the first time (yes I am a mature adult). Then all of a sudden it was Wednesday and I hadn’t gotten my period. I took a test and a line appeared, but it was really faint, so I didn’t let myself believe it. I texted my husband and said “test had a really faint line but I don’t know what that means so don’t get excited yet.” I went to the women’s center at the university where I teach and had it confirmed by a blood test, but it STILL didn’t hit me until my husband came home and we started hugging and crying with joy. Now my son is almost 8 months old, and I’m taking pregnancy tests every two weeks or so because I still haven’t gotten my period so I have no idea what the heck is going on with my body. Now THAT sucks. Thank goodness for those dollar store tests.

  • YarghMatey

    In my paranoia, I have disassembled pregnancy tests so that I can be abso-frickin-lutely certain that the glare on the little plastic window isn’t hiding a second pink line.

    I can’t be the only person that has done that more than once, right?

    • FF4life

      Take it apart hold it up to the light. Stare.

      12 hour later… Take another test. Repeat.

  • Andy

    Oh man, do the pregnancy tests SUCK. When we were trying for kid number one, after a few months I was a couple of days late and took a test. Bam, positive. Husband and I were giddy and he wanted to shout it from the rooftops, but I wanted to wait until I went to the doctor to get everything checked out. The next morning I started bleeding and lost the pregnancy-turns out, the test was a little too accurate and picked up what is known in the medical community as a chemical pregnancy. So, I bottled up all the hurt, anger and crushed hopes for four more months until I got pregnant again, and this time I flat out refused to tell anyone until we were well past twelve weeks (and I was a paranoid wreck the entire time). With kiddo number two, we decided to just let nature take its course and to not drive ourselves crazy with trying to conceive, and if it happened it happened. It happened all right-the first month we threw out the birth control. I had gone to visit relatives for the day and started to feel like absolute shit on the drive home. I stopped at Walgreens to pick up some Nyquil to self medicate with, and a little voice in the back of my head said to pick up a test to rule out pregnancy before I started the meds. I picked up the cheapest one, peed on it and went to open the Nyquil while waiting for the results, when an unmistakable second line showed up. Adding insult to injury, my husband was out of town for work, so breaking the second pregnancy news to him happened over the phone (not me being an asshole on purpose, just me freaking out and needing to get it out). Oh, and he managed to miss the birth by ten minutes because he was out of town for work when I went into labor and our son was immediately taken to NICU for two weeks. Sorry for the novel, but yes, the tests suck, the end.

  • That_Darn_Kat

    Both of my kids were unplanned. The first pregnancy, I dripped the pee in the window, turned to dump the container, turned back and “Oh shit!” It picked it up so fast, the pee hadn’t even made it all the way across the window. Same with the second, though with that one I knew, but had to wait for the 4 weeks for my levels to be high enough for the test to read.