Monday, June 27, 2005

Breaking News, Part II

More news from the wild and wacky world of ovulation prediction and pregnancy test kits.

Women today have more options for pregnancy testing than ever before. Ever eager to determine what women want, kit makers introduce new varieties of test kits all the time. Now you can choose tests that give results five days before your expected period. But no rush. No pressure. They still sell the less sensitive tests too. So if you’re a masochist, you can still wait till after you’re a few days late to test.

Of course, there are lots of consumer reports articles out there you can find to go over the boring stuff, like how many milligrams of which kinds of hormone have to be present in how many milliliters of pee before a given brand of test will register results. I want to discuss more important things. Like the presentation of the results.

If you're an IF veteran, you're probably already used to looking for pink lines. After months, if not years, of straining your eyes to try to determine the relative shading of the pink lines on ovulation-prediction kits, it’ll come as a real relief to graduate to pregnancy-test kits, where the key question is HOW MANY pink lines there are. One? Sorry, please play again. Two? Snake eyes! You’re goin ta Vegas, baby.

For those partial to pink lines, First Response makes a very nice product. Anecdotal evidence suggests that testing with a kit that presents results in pink increases your likelihood of having a baby girl by an unquantifiable percentage.

For those hoping for a boy, however, allow me to suggest the use of Clear Blue Easy. True, this test is a bit less sensitive than First Response. But it does have important advantages. The best part is that the results come in *blue*! AND, there’s no need to count lines with this test. Instead, you look for a plus sign or a minus sign. Plus? Your result is positive. Minus? It’s negative. See? It’s clear. It’s easy. And it’s blue! This test goes great with the yellow and blue nursery d├ęcor favored for little boys. In fact, you’ll want to be sure to buy multiples of this kit so you can generate lots of pretty blue plus signs. Then you can buy the Pottery Barn conversion kit and use them to make Junior his own very special personalized crib mobile (fishing line not included).

Of course, the kits mentioned above can be a little confusing. With First Response you have to *count* the number of lines in order to interpret your result. Kit makers realize the strain that such counting puts on the female brain. In fact, extensive survey results reveal that, on average, an infertile woman will wait just 2.5 days post-ovulation before beginning to test for pregnancy. Yet even the most sensitive tests won’t work until 9 to 10 days post-O. Recognizing that most women can’t count as high as ten, much less tell the difference between one line or two, scientists have worked to address the problem.

Clearly, Clear Blue Easy, with its confusing mathematical symbols, does not mark much of an improvement over the one-line-versus-two-line tests. Plus signs? Minus signs? Don’t they realize that women who can’t count are only going to be further frightened by symbols for computation? What does a positive mean anyway? Good news, right! Which could mean either pregnant or not pregnant, depending on what you’re hoping for… Sheesh.

Enter the good folks at E.P.T. They call their test the EARLY Pregnancy Test, even though it can’t be used until you expect your period. Apparently they mean not that you can use their test early-—you can’t—-but that it can be used to confirm an already detected early pregnancy with Certainty. Knowing how much better women are with English than math, product developers at E.P.T. now offer the “Certainty” test. E.P. T. Certainty promises you results written in plain English, saying either “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” Now how thoughtful is that? Too bad for you, if you’re not an English speaker.

Don’t even get me started on pregnancy testing for the blind. Until now, nothing has been available for those who can’t see. But hope is on the way. Because manufacturers realize how few women with the disposable income available to waste on their products can actually read in the first place. So they are now developing a new line of pregnancy tests designed to deliver results audibly instead of visibly.

Still in the prototype stage, these new tests will work like singing telegrams. Your pee stream will activate the miniature audio speakers, making the result loud and clear. Searching around for an appropriately catchy tune, drug companies are reaching back to the glory days. Remember those service announcements that aired in the 1970’s warning children not to mistake medicine for candy? Well, now that those former children are reaching the infertile years, manufacturers have decided to resurrect the “We’re Not Candy!” jingle.

Remember ladies? It went like this:
‘We’re NOT can-dy.
Even though we look so fine and dan-dy.
When you’re sick, we come in han-dy,
BU-Ut
We’re NOT can-dy.”

Coming soon to a drugstore near you, the BOS (Blind or Stupid) Pregnancy Test:

"You're NOT preg-nant.
Even though the news makes you in-dig-nant.
IF you were, you'd feel tran-scend-ent,
BU-Ut
You're NOT preg-nant."

Damn. Now I can’t get that tune out of my head.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I Am a Fertility Goddess

Well, I meant to not post for a few weeks. To try to focus on my actual life and work, not the inside of my computer. But it seems I’m addicted to the blog world. Or I miss ya’ll or something. Anyway, I managed to read about Get-up Grrl’s cat without posting, but Reprogirl’s posts tipped me over the edge. I just hadda share the latest:

See, I started feeling pregnancy symptoms on Saturday, the same day I had my first positive OPK. I had the fatigue *and* I kept having to pee a lot. I mean a LOT. And that always happens to me really early in the pregnancy. So I just went around all day peeing & peeing & thinking, wow, they really ought to improve the technology on those pregnancy tests. I mean, if my body can sense the hormonal changes this soon, there *must* be measurable amounts of chemicals in my pee. Not that I actually tested, mind you. I know those tests don't work the day of ovulation. I just walked around feeling smug and pleased with my secret, impressed with my earthy intimate knowledge of my own body.

We went to a friend's barbecue and there were infants and toddlers galore. But secure in my secret knowledge, I was fine. One idiot metrosexual with a five-month-old son in a sling actually went on and on about how it would be his first "Daddy's Day" the next day causing my highly sensitive yet wholly inarticulate husband to accidentally impale his own hand on a barbecue skewer. I almost gave my husband the good news, just to make him feel better. But I didn't want to jinx anything. Instead, I went home and had some totally unnecessary--wink, wink--conception sex, then fell into an exhausted sleep around midnight.

You can imagine my glee when I woke at 2:30 AM with the most ferocious need to pee. See, I told you! And then I peed. And the PAIN. The PAIN. It was excruciating. There was an effing barbecue skewer up my urethra. There was actual blood, people. I was up the rest of the night. And antibiotics and Pyridene notwithstanding I’ve been way too uncomfortable for sex ever since. See how well this cycle is shaping up for me?

Please, please, tell me I'm not the first person to diagnose a UTI as a pregnancy!

So, ball's in your court. What's your worst/funniest "hysterical pregnancy"* story?

*See Reprogirl June 16

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Harumph

The blog, she is feeling a mite bit peckish these days. Maybe it's the old age. Maybe it's the heat giving her the vapors. Maybe it's the utter lack of incident on the baby-making front. She don't rightly know. But she's going to draw the blinds and have a nice lie down with a cool compress. She'll be up and about again when she's able. Till then, she sends her regards. Do stop in and pay her a call if you're in the neighborhood, hear?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Breaking News

The world of ovulation prediction tests and pregnancy tests is changing rapidly. With new scientific improvements occurring every day, there are a few key things every woman should consider before selecting a test kit.

Start by assessing your own scientific skills. Did you flunk 9th-grade biology? Tenth-grade chemistry? Do you remember what a pipette is? If not, better steer clear of the kits that come with collection cups, droppers, test trays, etc. Too many steps! Too much equipment!

We know, we know, if they'd made the real-world implications of learning to pipette clear back in high school, your whole life would be different right now. You might have stopped passing notes to your best girlfriend, asked the guy in front of you for some pipetting tips, invited him over for a study session, done your studying on the basement couch, gotten knocked up as a youngin, and never reached the stage of thirty-something, fading-fertility desperation that has you squinting bleary eyed at little pearls of yellow pee first thing in the morning, watching them tremble tremulously from the end of dropper, as you think, "drop, damn it, drop, fulfill your destiny, live up to your name, drop you damn droplet...Damn!--how many drops just fell?" Education reform now. That's all I'm sayin.

Right. So where was I? Ah yes, selecting kits. You are much much better off choosing the wand-style kits. Confusingly, these also come with cups. But no droppers. And no trays. At first you may want to ease into the transition to a new testing technique by peeing into a collecting cup like you're used to doing, then dipping the stick, then waiting for the results. Problem is, you still have to dispose of those little shot-glasses full of urine. And they don't offer you a chaser. Ick. Eventually, you will realize what a simple matter it is to just stick the damn stick into you urine stream, count to five, wait for the results. Voila. So simple. And those unused little collection cups? They make great paperclip sorting trays at the office.

With the sample collected, the hard part becomes interpreting the results. Almost all ovulation-prediction tests show results in the form of two pink lines. Your job is to decide which line is darker, the test line or the control line. If the test is darker, I mean if the control is darker, I mean if... Never mind. It doesn't really matter if you can remember which line is supposed to be darker, because just trying to determine if one of them actually is a shade darker than the other is going to drive you bananas. And, frankly, if you can read one of these things, you're pretty much already shit out of luck.

According to "Great at Any Age," the handy "guide to enjoying the best years of your life" offered on page 280 of the June 2005 issue of InStyle magazine, color vision "steadily improves until it reaches its peak in your thirties." My point? If your color vision is good enough to interpret one of those OPK's, you can go ahead and skip the damn test altogether. No need for a Day-Three FSH test. Your eggs are old. Your body has redirected its waning resources away from your ovaries and into your retinas.

Good luck, though. Once you've mastered the trick of peeing on a stick, one ovulation-prediction test is much like another. There's not a lot more to think about in choosing generic over brand. And, if you're very very lucky, you'll have many more chances to perfect your technique month after month.

I know I'll be working to hone my skills again this month...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Of Germination and Generation*

It’s June and maple seedlings are sprouting all over the lawn,** piercing through the mulch in the flowerbeds, springing up through cracks in the patio. Each little sapling has only a couple of leaves, rippling flags of the tenderest, yellowest, youngest shade of green. The funny thing is that the leaves are nearly full-sized. They're nearly what you’d see on a mature tree——much like human embryos I suppose, all head and little limb. They look so foolish and yet so brave, flapping and waving from their slender four and five inch stalks.

Most of them won’t make it, I know. They’ll be nibbled bit by bit by insects or browsed whole by deer, drowned in floods or withered by drought. Many will be unceremoniously mown down with the grass. I may even rip a few from the sheltering earth myself. Oh, my heart will tear a bit along with the leaves, but the eternal quest for order in the garden must be met.

And soon the whole cycle will begin again. Every year, the old Norway maple standing sentinel in the center of the lawn sends hundreds of glittering green seedpods off on lazy, dizzy, circular flights. The silent droning of their papery propellers marks the slow passing of August afternoons.

It’s such a lovely feeling, that green forest vertigo feeling you get when lying under spreading branches and looking up, watching the helicopters sputter to the ground. And what fun, once they've fallen. When I was a child, all the neighborhood kids used to gather under the cool green, collecting pods and hanging them from our ears. Earrings for little wood nymphs.

Seeing these seedlings now, I think of the tree and its seasons. How deeply do I yearn for a child to share this sense of wonder with. Yet, so very few seeds ever sprout. And how few of those spouts grow into saplings...how few of those saplings stretch into trees. Nature is profligate with her offspring, extravagantly inefficient in her spending.


I do so hope my own three spent pods may be off flying somewhere, winging their way through the blue. So, it makes my breath catch to see the shallow-rooted seedlings now scattered about, tiny and determined, nodding and bobbing in the breeze.

*Alternate Title: On Mourning My Losses yet Being Pro-Choice

** I do in fact live in Manhattan, but I also have some country access.

P.S. For those of you still following along: it's cycle day 26 here. Progesterone suppositories notwithhstanding, I've never felt less pregnant in my life.