What to think about when you’re thinking about peeing on a stick

So, you had your IVF cycle, and now you’re in the hell that is the 2ww.  And (a) you are sure you are pregnant and/or (b) you can’t stand the not knowing, so you’re thinking about doing a home pregnancy test.

I have for you a cautionary tale.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not philosophically opposed to POAS (peeing on a stick).  My personal belief is that one should always POAS before the beta, because do you really want to have a heart attack every time the phone rings on beta day, bust out into tears while talking to the nurse, and then have a hysterical crying jag right before some important meeting because the nurse chose that time to call?  I don’t think so.  No, you want to have privacy and plenty of time after finding out the result to either celebrate with your sweetie or to lean on each other’s shoulders as you plumb the depths of some serious depression.  But in my opinion the POAS should happen as close to the beta as is possible while still leaving the necessary private dealing-with-the-news time.

Let me tell you how I came to this conclusion.

On my very first IVF cycle, I had realized the necessity of the therapeutic pre-beta POAS, and the time I selected for it was the Sunday before my Tuesday beta.  That was late enough that I could be confident of the FRED results, but left plenty of time, if necessary, to mourn with the sweetie before the workday began on Monday.  I POAS’d, and it was negative.  And mourn we did.  For several hours.  Then we somehow scraped ourselves together and made it through the rest of the day.

Tuesday morning for some reason I decided to POAS again – I guess under the theory of you never know.  And for sure you never know, because this time – this time it was positive.  And I had never, ever in my life seen those two pink lines.  Time for a celebration!  Woo-hoo!  All the crying and moping around had been for nothing – what a waste of time and emotional energy!

Then on Tuesday afternoon I got the call from my clinic.  My beta was 48; the clinic’s cut-off for a viable pregnancy was 50.  It was the start of low beta/low doubling hell, which dragged on for weeks – long enough that an RE at the clinic suggested that he give me a shot of methotrexate to “help the process along”.  Fortunately, I had recently discovered A Little Pregnant, so I knew what “help the process along” was a circumlocution for, and how completely not safe it would be to have a methotrexate-induced abortion while my husband was out of town and there was no one to take me to the ER if necessary.  I miscarried naturally the next week.

If there is something I learned from this series of events, it is that peeing early doesn’t give you any certainty. You can have a negative even though you are pregnant.  Worse, you can get a positive and actually be pregnant but it is irrelevant if the pregnancy does not stick around until beta day, or only shortly thereafter.  And at this point in my reproductive history crap pregnancies that yield positive sticks are a dime a dozen.

Note: after this experience Mr. Nishkanu also begs me in heart-rending terms not to POAS early, when I am tempted in a moment of weakness.

Sadly, I have actually come to the point now where, as awful as it is, the 2ww beats what inevitably seems to come after it – the horrible pain of mourning and the slow hormone-addled depression and anxiety which comes after almost every IVF cycle.  At least in the 2ww you have some hope, even if it has been horrifically beaten down by fear.  I have come to the point where I don’t want to POAS, and I don’t want my beta either – I’d rather just wait and see if my belly ever gets bigger and put off the seemingly inevitable pain.  That’s not practical, so I stick with the POAS at the last possible minute.

Now my story doesn’t have to be your story.  Obviously there are a lot of people who have better outcomes.  But also there are a lot of people who use POASing in different ways to manage the stress of cycles, and who find that peeing early is better for them to deal with the anxiety of the 2ww.  So figure out if this assvice fits you before trying it on.

p.s. Just after I finished drafting this, Mr. Nishkanu said to me, “I think we have been using the wrong strategy with the pee tests.  I think we should have started with the pregnancy tests really early and done one each day.  That way it wouldn’t be such a big shock when you actually do it.”  So much for the consistency of our household philosophy.



  1. peeveme said

    I just found you via Colliope’s blog. I’m always happy to make the e-quiantace of a DE mom (I hope this works for you).

    Wow you are a true veteran. I use to wait until the day before beta…but now I pee early and often (like your Dr mentioned). No one way to do it. Basically you do whatever you have to do to survive. That may change depending upon your mood.

    OK…now I gotta go catch up on you older posts to get up to speed.

  2. clare said

    I waited for my beta here because the POAS sticks aren’t that cheap here. My clinic lets you choose to get the news on the phone or in a letter that you pick up. On beta dat, I told the receptionist that I opted for the letter approach. WHen the nurse called, I just said that I didn’t want to news ont he phone. It was really empowering to choose the time and place to get the news. We picked up the envelope and went ot a beach we love bare rarely visit. That really hard moment was not at all associated with my home, desk, car, or even the phone I use everyday. It was separate and that helped enormously in the weeks to come. I can go back to that place if I want to, but it does surprise me during day to day living.

    • nishkanu said

      Wow, that is so cool. I have never heard of the letter option.

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