Baby Fat: Ovulation Tests Are Totally Accurate at Being Inaccurate
I always think of my friend Angie when I use ovulation tests. Angie and I met last summer, learned we were both planning on getting pregnant soon and instantly became friends. And as soon as we each started trying (same month!) we started swapping the most intimate details of our sex lives and menstrual cycles like only women simultaneously trying to get pregnant do. Usually over text message.
But unlike my situation, Ang’s sperm was not on tap. At least not at her house. Angie and her wife were teaming up with their longtime friend Jack to make this baby. And when I heard of their plan the first thing that popped to my mind (after “Yea!” )was “Ech, logisitics!”
It’s one thing to fit a bunch of scheduled “procreating sex” into busy week with the man you love who sleeps in the same bed as you. It’s quite another to drive in Los Angeles rush hour traffic from one end of the city to another multiple times per week. I think Angie might want a baby more than me.
So for someone in Angie’s situation, ovulation tests were a “must have” to make sure she was hitting the fertility window correctly – and not losing her mind with that commute.
(I think Angie and her wife would appreciate it if I mentioned that she and their “baby daddy” didn’t actually have sex during these meet ups. Apparently you really CAN get pregnant from not actually having sex. But you have to have a specimen cup and a syringe on hand to make this happen. So don’t worry ladies, we are all still safe from immaculate conception…for now.)
The first few months of trying she was all over those ovulation tests like you can imagine only a Type-A woman would be. She wisely opted for the test that gives you the maximum amount of info. She’d find out if she got a BLANK FACE (not so fertile), BLINKY FACE (getting close…) or SOLID SMILEY FACE (Go! Go! GO!) in the morning and could call Jack to let him know if he should expect her that night. Life saver!
Except for when she only got BLANK FACES right before her sperm was going to Palm Springs for a long weekend. And a SOLID SMILEY FACE when it is still there. Or when she got a BLINKY FACE five days in a row and was frantic trying to figure out if it’s worth another after work “drop in” when they both had separate dinner parties to get to.
ANGIE TEXT: “I mean, we’ve done this 5 days in a row, I think we’re good right?”
STEPH TEXT: “Umm….yeah? Yeah totally! I think you covered your bases well. Right?”
ANGIE TEXT: “This fucking egg better drop ASAP.”
These texts went back and forth for months as two non-experts tried to read the tea leaves of this ovulation business – and waited for our SOLID SMILEY FACES! My tests were also totally inconsistent, but again, logistics were on my side – when in doubt “Just have sex!”
Then Angie and I both had a bombshell dropped on us. Mine from my gynecologist, her from her acupuncturist. Apparently you can get a drastically different reading from the morning test if you also test again at two pm in the afternoon. (Caveat: you have to hold your pee for four hours ahead of time for an accurate test result.) So that immediately cancelled me out of the second round of testing since I generally need to pee every 11 minutes.
So Angie added this two pm practice into her routine (at work) and whatever game plan she created with Jack in the morning usually got shot to shit with what she learned at her lunchtime pee. It was a hectic time of the month to say the least.
But as much as Angie and I have enjoyed cursing and bashing the ovulation tests, you better believe we are both still like zombies walking up to purchase them each month. That said, neither of us are putting much stock in them anymore and are just generally going for the “more is probably more” approach. The last straw was when my new doctor said they really don’t give the full picture anyway and you can still ovulate past getting the SOLID SMILEY face. (I nearly fell out of my chair.)
But these tests are addicting and give you the slightest sense of control when nothing else with this process seems to be within your control. And that’s worth something. That stupid inaccurate digital smiley face is oddly semi-reassuring you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, when you are supposed to be doing it. And if I’ve gained nothing else from those tests, it’s that Angie and I are closer because of hating on them – which is a nice bonus.