saving your budget & your mental health while trying to get pregnant, part three

all right, here’s where we get to the good stuff. pregnancy & pregnancy tests. i have a lot of feelings.

chemical pregnancy a chemical pregnancy is a very early miscarriage. these are incredibly common & are usually due to a chromosomal abnormality in the blastocyst which prevents it from developing properly. basically what will happen is that you’ll get some positive pregnancy tests, maybe even blood test confirmation, but the hormone levels don’t go up/start dropping, or your pregnancy tests turn negative again. remember what i said about how most people have a 20% chance of getting pregnant in a given cycle? chemical pregnancies are the reason for the low numbers. a lady has about a gazillion eggs & a dude makes about a germillion sperm–not all of them are going to be grade A quality. if a defective sperm fertilizes a good egg, or a good sperm fertilizes a weird egg, that embryo probably isn’t going anywhere. if you frequent trying to conceive messageboards a lot, you will see lots of women with signatures talking about their “angel babies” that passed away at like 3 weeks, six days. these are chemical pregnancies/early miscarriages, & the only way they were caught is because the lady was trying or suspected she was pregnant & was testing early. in the average lady that isn’t trying to make a baby happen, her period will come as usual & she’ll have no idea that there was ever a fertilized egg in there. (this is also why all the obnoxious GOP legislation about how “life begins at conception” & “fertilized eggs are people too” is so bogus. there’s no way to tell that an egg has been fertilized or that conception has happened. you have to wait until the blastocyst implants & starts generating pregnancy hormone before any test, even a blood test, will know it’s there.)

pregnancy tests okay. this is where a big chunk of the “saving your sanity” part comes into play. but first, some thoughts on pregnancy test brands.

there are A LOT of options out there. but the budget-conscious lady is going to want a test that provides the most accuracy for the least amount of money. may i once again suggest wondfos by formosa medical? you can get a bag of fifty off for like $15. & once you have contracted baby rabies & are desperate to get pregnant, you are going to be using A LOT of pregnancy tests, so do yourself a favor & order a bag right now. & don’t be coy & just order ten. you know that’s not gonna cut it.

i like wondfos for a lot of reasons. they’re dirt cheap, they can detect ten units of HGC (that’s the pregnancy hormone–& ten is WAY lower than pretty much any pregnancy test available in a drugstore), & they don’t come in a lot of packaging, so they’re better for the environment. when i say “pregnancy test,” you probably picture a plastic doodad with a cottony bit to pee on. they come two or three to a box & cost between $7 & $20. wondfos are tiny little plasticky strips, each in a little foil pouch with a tiny bag of silica to keep the test from getting all weird in humidity. they show up on your doorstep in a big ziplock bag. no muss, no fuss, when it comes to all the unnecessary coverings & wrappings. they’re dipsticks, so you pee in a cup & then dip ’em for three seconds. the result will come up within five minutes. if you think you see a line, you can dip another right away because they’re like 15 cents each or something. hours of fun!

tests from the drugstore come in three varieties: pink dye, blue dye, & digitals. digitals are great because they give you a clear answer–no squinting to see if there’s a second line. but they don’t usually detect HGC until it’s at a pretty high level–over 100 units in a lot of cases. so it is entirely possible to get a false negative on a digital, just from testing too early.

blue dye tests are widely reviled in the trying to conceive world. they are usually less expensive than pink dyes, but they’re notorious for evaporation lines that can function like false positives. they work great if you’re actually pregnant–i used them when i got pregnant in 2008 & they couldn’t have been more accurate. my blue dye at five weeks came up blazingly positive in literally all of two seconds. but if it’s early days, they can be heartbreaking. in my experience, they almost ALWAYS evap, which means a very thin line appears where the test line should be. it might even be unmistakably blue. (a calling card of an evap is that it’s gray or colorless.) but if it’s not as thick as the control line, it’s an evap. & it sucks to see that little sliver of blue when you just want a positive result. you can make yourself crazy, squinting at it to see if maybe it’s thicker than it looks.

so just skip the blue dyes. but a word of caution about pink dyes: they evap too! lots of ladies swear by first response early result tests, which are spendy. they’re like $13 for a box of three, but they say they detect pregnancy earlier & some women swear up one side & down the other that they don’t evap. THEY DO. TRUST ME. my understanding is that the company recently changed the way the antibody is applied to the test & now they evap like a motherfucker. i’ve even had full color bright pink evaps. basically, if the line lacks obvious color, is not as thick as the control line, or doesn’t have consistent color all the way through (ie, is patchy/colorless anywhere), throw it out & don’t look back. it’s for your own good. wondering if that test could maybe somehow be the start of a positive will only crush your spirit & destroy your dreams.

another budget option is tests from the dollar store. yes, the dollar store! they’re only $1 each, they’re pink dyes, & they’re reasonably accurate. but a word of caution: once they have dried, they evap like crazy. it seems like they always show a shadow line & again, you can drive yourself to the very brink of insanity looking for color. if you decide to experiment with dollar store tests, heed the time limit & throw those suckers out after three to five minutes. & don’t go looking in the trash for them later.

with digital tests, do not be tempted to take them apart to look at the test strip if you get a negative result. just accept that it’s a negative. digitals almost always have two lines inside. IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE PREGNANT. sorry, it just doesn’t. many a woman has been driven to despair by taking apart a digital test & seeing two lines.

all right, when to start testing? listen up, because i am only gonna say this once: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS BEFORE YOUR BODY IS MAKING PREGNANCY HORMONES. here’s a little science lesson: the egg is released at ovulation. if you’re lucky, it will be fertilized shortly thereafter. it then must travel down the fallopian tube to the uterus. this journey can take anywhere from five to fourteen days. once the blastocyst has implanted, it sends a message to the body to start secreting HGC. it usually takes at least two days for enough hormone to be coursing through a person’s system for her to start feeling anything. this means that the absolute EARLIEST that a person could have pregnancy symptoms would be like seven days post-ovulation. i’m sure we have all met women who had unprotected sex one time & started crowing the next day about how they feel so exhausted & nauseated, they just know they’re pregnant. THIS IS NOT SCIENTIFICALLY POSSIBLE. it doesn’t matter how sensitive you are to your body’s rhythms & hormones, you will not experience pregnancy symptoms until your body is making pregnancy hormone. there’s nothing to react to until then! if you are feeling tired & nauseated two days post-ovulation, there is a very simple diagnosis: baby rabies. you want to be pregnant so badly that you’re psychosomatically manifesting the symptoms. sorry, but it’s true.

now, i am a big fan of testing early & often. actually, i hate it because it makes me insane, but i do it anyway. during the two week wait, i seriously spend at least a few hours a day staring at pregnancy tests, looking for lines. it’s ideal not to mimic this behavior, & i am working at getting myself under control. but it is true that some women find it calming to take a pregnancy test whenever they want. as long as you can be strong & just throw the test out if it’s negative, you should be okay. but it’s unwise to start testing before seven days post-ovulation. even seven is pushing it. it’s better to wait until nine if you can. if you’re still getting negatives at fifteen days, you can rest assured that you are most likely not pregnant. occasionally a woman will have a very late implantation–i’ve heard of nineteen days, 23 days…i’ve even heard of women that never got a positive test & finally had their pregnancies confirmed via ultrasound at like eleven weeks. these women are outliers & you will go insane if you think about them too much. if you’re getting negatives at fifteen days post-ovulation, start working to accept that you are not pregnant & get ready for your next try.

personally, i like to chart through the two-week wait. if your temp starts dipping at around 13 or 14DPO, you know you’re probably out of the game. pregnancy generally makes temperatures stay high or they even spike to a whole new level after implantation. when this happens, it’s called a triphasic chart. just don’t stress about it too much because lots of women get pregnant without triphasic charts, & some women with triphasic charts are not pregnant. just try to take a lot of deep breaths & try not to stress too much over every temperature, or twinge, or desire for a nap. keep your eye on the prize: a baby. a positive test is just one step along the road to a baby.


Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

10 thoughts on “saving your budget & your mental health while trying to get pregnant, part three

  1. This is incredibly informative. I am trying to suppress the baby rabies at the moment for various reasons, but I have a few friends who are TTA and going through hell. I’ve been shutting the hell up and just listening, but perhaps I will point them here.

  2. This is good info. Thanks for sharing! Now, I’m gonna go read through all your baby-related posts!

    I’d never heard of baby rabies but I’m pretty sure I have it! XD I’m not trying to get pregnant yet, but I’m pretty sure that when I do, I’ll have trouble conceiving… I’m pessimistic like that.

  3. so excited to have found your blog, you don’t even want to know how many times i’ve tried to google both “punks and infertility” and “anarchists and infertility” at 3 in the morning trying to find some people going through all this shit with which I could relate in more ways then the infertility part. Excuse me while I go continue to read through your archives

    1. that’s exciting! i too have been wanting to find other punks & weirdos that are struggling with infertility! seems like most of the punk/weirdos i know who have kids just got knocked up on accident & rolled with it. i literally don’t know any who struggled to conceive. i’d love to know more about what you’ve been through!

  4. I know, talk about isolating, between all my friends and their oops babies, my friends who don’t ever want kids and can’t imagine who anyone would and my midwife/doula friends who are all about doing things all naturally it’s hard to find people to talk about this stuff with. I get frustrated when people tell me to just relax and take chaste tree berry extract/apple cider vinegar/chia seeds/etc and don’t get me started on Christine Northrop, the next person who suggests her book to me is going to get a copy of Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom thrown at their head.
    Right now we’ve been trying to get knocked up since June, I received a diagnosis of PCOS in February but kind of already knew that before it was official and had tried to address it with the help of a midwife and herbs and tinctures(which helped me get my menstrual cycle to be regular-ish but as far as my charting was going I was/am still not ovulating. We just got insurance in January so I went to the Dr. for the first time in forever and they started to look at things. The gyn I started to see tried to do a saline injection sonogram and failed miserably in March because they couldn’t get the catheter into my uterus because there is something! in! there!, maybe my uterine lining planning a revolt of some sort, maybe some polyps who knows, since they couldn’t get the saline into my uterus, they couldn’t really tell. So right now I have to go May 1rst for a hysteroscopy and possible d&c and polyectomy. By luck, the gyn who had an available appointment when I called I ended up with one who is into infertility treatment and so I’m hoping that if all goes well Tuesday we’ll be able to figure out a plan. My partner still needs to go get his sperm counted but has been putting it off. At this point I am a doula and aspiring midwife who can’t get pregnant and would LOVE if the Dr. would at least give me clomid. Luckily our insurance covers infertility treatments, unluckily there is a 5,000 dollar per person deductible, all of which will be spent on this surgery.(the hysteroscopy isn’t a choice since there is a strong family history of people dying young of endometrial cancer in my family) So after this we will only have to pay co pays… and the monthly payments towards this surgery.
    Trying to convince my partner that IUI and IVF isn’t as creepy as it sounds… ok it’s a little creepy but at least worth it if that’s what we have to do, I think? Ha, apparently I had a lot to say albeit very disjointedly.

  5. i’ve been reading your blog for awhile (i used to read your zines), and i just had to comment to say how insanely helpful these posts are. i’m ttc now and it’s so helpful to have this to reference as opposed to, like.. yahoo answers, haha. thanks so much for writing this!

    1. if i am only more helpful than yahoo answers, maybe i am doing something wrong…haha, just kidding. glad i can be of service! if you’ve read more recent posts on the blog, then you know that things worked for me & i am in fact pregnant. feel free to holler if you have any specific questions along the way that i didn’t answer here! & also, i do of course remember you from zine stuff.

  6. Okay, I know this is super old, but I just adore you. You say exactly what I feel in exactly the way I think – you’re realistic and brutally honest and I love it. Definitely just spent the last hour or so reading your blog (including recent ones, which I was so excited to find!) because I Google searched “super faint positive 7dpo” and your wondfos popped up – I read, and immediately had to keep going. I too had an abortion years ago and have now been ttc for almost 2 – I have struggled to find anything about ttc after abortion, and although you only briefly mentioned it that entry (I’m on my way to more!), I immediately felt my sense of loneliness disappear somehow. ANYhow, thank you for being you and sharing yourself with the world!! 🙂

    1. Yep, I had an abortion in 2008, I started trying to get pregnant in 2011 & succeeded a year later, & then I got pregnant again by accident & had a miscarriage last summer. So I have run the gamut as far as pregnancy experiences go! LOTS of people go on to have planned pregnancies after abortions; we are by no means alone on that front.

      Good luck on your TTC journey, & thanks for the nice comments on my blog!

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