Am I pregnant?
These days, medical scientific advancements allow us to know that we’re pregnant from the very first day of a missed period – and sometimes before. However, some expectant mums start feeling tired or sick or emotional even before the earliest point at which they can test.
If you are trying to get pregnant, knowing about the very early signs of pregnancy that you might experience may help reassure you during the anxious two-week wait between ovulation and a missed period.
Below, one mother describes the time at which she first thought she might be pregnant.
Two blue lines
I remember vividly the first time that I thought I might be pregnant.
My partner and I had been trying for a while but hadn’t got anywhere so I stopped using the ovulation tests and working out my most fertile time right down to the last millisecond because it was kind of depressing. We were young enough, both being 27, not to worry too much about fertility problems, so I reasoned that it was probably best not to get too fixated tracking dates too much.
In August 2015, we went travelling abroad for three weeks and I had been a bit anxious because I didn’t want to have my period while we were away (hot country, lots of swimming and beach activities, etc). It looked like my period would be due roughly five days after we got back which looked helpful, so I marked it in my diary and thought no more of it.
The first week we were away, everything was fine and normal, we were concentrating on relaxing and having a fantastic time sunbathing, swimming and drinking cocktails. But gradually, into the middle part of the holiday, I started feeling a bit off. Not ill, exactly, but a bit listless and weepy about silly things – like the time I cried after seeing a stray cat on the street.
I also went right off wine, I just could not swallow it, which was very unusual for me. And my bikini top started being uncomfortable – it was bought brand new for the holiday so I knew it was exactly the right size. My partner wondered if I’d eaten something dodgy at one of the street food places we’d been to, and I was beginning to agree with him.
Then I opened my eyes one morning and thought “I’m pregnant.”
I couldn’t remember exactly which day I was on in my cycle, but as I thought back through how I’d been feeling over the last few days it seemed pretty clear to me that something was going on:
- Bigger, sore breasts
- More emotional
- Going off alcohol
- Feeling more tired than I should
- Strange metallic taste in my mouth
My heart was thumping and straight away I wanted to test. But there was one big problem – we didn’t speak the local language and had no idea how to ask for the nearest chemist, never mind describe a pregnancy test. Plus any test that I took now would have to be an early response one.
With no other option I grabbed my phone and started ransacking the internet for early pregnancy symptoms. I read that although most women wouldn’t experience anything until after their period was due, some expectant mums felt sick from as little as seven days past ovulation. Others swore blind that they felt different from the moment they conceived.
I was so excited that I could be pregnant! My mind was whirling as I tried to remember the dates we’d had sex, it was so frustrating that this was one month where I had no idea where I was in my cycle.
But all was not lost. Somehow, and I don’t know how he did it, my partner went out a day later and returned brandishing something in a plastic bag.
I didn’t understand the words on the packaging but the illustrations were clear enough. I ripped off the packaging and headed to the bathroom. Two minutes later I came out.
“I don’t know how it records a positive result,” I cried. “How do we know?”
More by luck than judgement, we worked out that a line needed to appear in the second window within five minutes for the test to be accurate. We waited anxiously, staring at this bit of white plastic which quite literally could hold the answer to our prayers. I checked the leaflet and saw the measurement ‘10mIU/ml’.
“That means it’s a sensitive test,” I told my partner. “So it shows up even early results.”
Having read up on pregnancy test kits a few months earlier, I knew that, certainly in the UK, pregnancy tests went from 10mIU/ml (milli-international unit per millimetre) to 40 mIU/ml – the lower the number, the more sensitive the test, so the earlier it would show positive.
“What’s it looking for anyway?” my partner asked.
“It’s called hCG,” I told him. “The pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin. This test will show whether there’s any in my urine, and if there is then that means I’m probably pregnant.”
After a very tense wait, we peered at the test stick. There was one window with a clear line and one window with a very faint line.
“What does that mean?” he asked. “That you’re not?”
“No.” I took a second, hard look. “I think that’s a positive result!”
“Even though it’s faint?”
“Yes, a line’s a line. If I re-test in a couple of days it should give a much stronger result.”
For that test though, we decided to wait until we were back in the UK, when we would be certain about the full instructions and more certain of the results. And, hopefully, then be in a position to see a GP if necessary. But for the moment it was enough to just have our hopes and dreams – and that tiny faint line.