Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The cruelty of a false positive pregnancy test

For those who may have missed it, I did a pregnancy test on Sunday which came up positive. This was slightly exciting given I used the same test just two days before and got a negative. My hope was short lived though as my period turned up the next day. So this leads me to question what creates a false positive?

Now, before I go on, let me quickly recap the events of Sunday. I woke up with a stabbing pain in my breast so decided to do one more test. I used a Forelife digital test assuming they were more sensitive. After a few minutes, there was a flashing “+” sign indicating positive. I reserved my excitement and conducted two strip tests which were both negative. I didn’t get my hopes up but they were slightly raised. I decided to wait until Tuesday to test again but Mother Nature made that unnecessary.

According to the information included with the test, false positives are very rare and can be caused by incorrect timing of the test (as in holding it in the pee stream for too long), using a dirty cup if you’re collecting your specimen, interpreting the results incorrectly or a variety of infections or diseases. In my case I didn’t hold it for too long, I didn’t use a dirty cup, it only comes up with a “+” or “-“ so not too hard to tell the difference and as far as I know I don’t have any diseases. Although maybe I shouldn’t rule out “ovary tumours” as the information so helpfully suggests as a potential cause.

Given this information provided no credible reason for the false reading, I took to Google for more answers. Other possible causes include evaporation lines on stick tests, certain medications, defective tests or a chemical pregnancy.  Basically, I’m putting it down to a defective test. And yes, I did test again on Tuesday, just to be sure and it was negative!

There is a strong debate between the benefits of digital versus stick tests. Digital tests are less prone to misinterpretation as the results are clear, however, clearly, they cannot always be relied on. Digital tests are also considerably more expensive when stick tests will give you the same result. Given my experience, I’m not swayed either way. From now on, I will just make sure I have three different tests on hand and I’ll go with what the majority say!

So that brings me to the cruelty of such a response. Luckily, this was not my first experience with a positive pregnancy test result. If it was, and I got the positive only to bleed the next day, I would have assumed I had an early miscarriage. That would be a natural response for many women and one that is not necessarily correct. And I must admit, the thought did enter my mind.
It was one of those moments that made me look up and scream “How much crap do you want me to deal with here?” Having a miscarriage is bad enough. Having to go to work and see two pregnant women due the same time as me just rubs salt into my wounds – every, single, day. Getting a false positive is like adding vinegar to the salt – the sting just intensifies. At times, it just becomes too much to bare.

I’d like to think that when you have a miscarriage, a bubble automatically drops from the heavens and surrounds you in a protective cocoon. Its force field blocks all the other negative things that happen, the problems you have to deal with and all the other pressures in your world. The gods deem you are suffering enough so you get to walk around in this protective layer, knowing nothing else can hurt you. You are allowed to just grieve and heal in your time. Then, when you’re ready, the bubble bursts and you go back to dealing with life, knowing you’re strong enough to handle things. Sadly, that doesn’t happen!

Nearly five months on, I have learnt to stay alert so I can try to dodge the next meteor of crap that will come hurtling toward me. It’s so sad to realise there has only been intermittent periods of feeling protected, but nothing that lasts more than a few days. I feel like each meteor hit creates another chink in my armour and I’m worried that eventually, my armour will disintegrate into dust and I have no idea what I’ll be left with if that happens.

All I can do to combat those worries is to use my optimism to push those thoughts aside. As always, I try to see the bright side, believing if there is a bright side to be found, then I’m not surrounded by the dark. I choose to celebrate the fact my period arrived and the fact it means my cycle is FINALLY returning to normal. I’m motivated by the fact this will be our first cycle on the fertility program so here’s hoping all the pill popping over the past few weeks will pay off.  Most importantly, I take it as a signal of hope – I’m given another chance to create a life and as long as I have another chance, my dream can still become a reality!

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