Not only that, but there are also communities devoted to photos of pregnancy tests. I joined one such community. I peed on many sticks. (In community shorthand, peeing on a stick is referred to as “POAS.”) I joined this site because I wanted to “catch” my pregnancy as soon as it happened. My cycles were irregular, and I didn’t want to miss it and keep drinking my daily couple glasses of wine. Really I was peeing on all these sticks because I am neurotic, and this Internet community was perfect for letting my anxiety about pregnancy, birth, and becoming a mother run wild. It was great to see that I was not alone.
How this site works is one person posts a photo of a pregnancy test, and the other users on the site vote on whether it looks positive, negative, or not clear. Pregnancy test results seem like they should be obvious. But in fact, there is a window of time, before the concentration of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) surpasses a pregnancy test’s sensitivity, when one can get the coveted second line, but that line is very faint. I couldn’t ask my husband his opinion; he’d say, “Well, clearly that’s negative,” instead of staring at the strips like I did, looking for that ghost of a line. Other women on the site found their husbands similarly stoic. These women understood me. They used high-contrast and black-and-white filters (built into the site’s interface) to get a better read on the tests.
I was in Northern Michigan without phone reception when I got my big fat positive (“BFP”), and so I never got the chance to get the epic “up” vote for it. I missed the chance to use the filters, the “inverse” filter with its ultramarine blue in place of the pink. I must admit, I was disappointed. I took a photo of the test anyway.
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The popular pregnancy book What to Expect When You’re Expecting now has a corresponding app as well. The book famously compares the size of the growing fetus to various fruits (blueberry, orange, winter melon). With the app installed, I received instant weekly notifications at “new fruit” time, with an accompanying animated video of the fetus’s development.
The best part was, again, the forums that were part of the app. One could join a group for women due around the same time (“January 2015 Babies”). These groups have thousands of members, in the U.S. and abroad, from the very young to what in medical terminology is known as “advanced maternal age.” There were women for whom getting pregnant was easy or a surprise, and those for whom it was a difficult journey. Stay-at-home moms. Nurses. Women who miscarried.
In the first trimester, the posts were all about the chances of miscarriage, and the color of the bleeding. People bled bright red and lost their babies and posted their “goodbyes” to “January 2015.” Then, it was about the genetic testing, which for most women is an option at the end of the first trimester. Women shared their bad results and their false positives. Next, the sex of the baby, if they knew. Some people didn’t want to find out and felt strongly about it. There was a “belly photos” thread, a workout-support thread, threads dedicated to the successes and failures of husbands. Inflammatory conversations about abortion were unavoidable. In the final months, many people went into early labor. They shared lovely baby photos or horror stories; often the threads were updated in real time (“Going to the hospital now!” or “Getting the epidural!”). Many people responded with, “Am I the only one here who is still pregnant?” Never was anyone alone.