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“I took a pregnancy test and got a negative result. Could I still be pregnant?”
In short, yes.
This usually happens when you took the test too soon. For the best results, you’ll want to take the test no sooner than the first day of your missed period, and take it first thing in the morning.
And although uncommon, it is also possible to take a pregnancy test later than your missed period and still get a negative result…even when you’re pregnant. It happened to me. Here’s my story:
The first month
When my husband and I decided we were ready for kids, I stopped taking birth control and started tracking my cycle
The first month after I stopped taking my pills, I waited the 28 days for my cycle to start again and it didn’t come. 29 days….30 days….And I was thinking to myself, “Holy cow! That was really fast, am I pregnant? There’s no way.”
I took a pregnancy test: Negative.
At 32 days my period finally came. It was my first period post-birth control, so it wasn’t a surprise to me that it was a little wonky. I had always had very regular periods, with or without birth control.
The second month
The second month of my cycle, I was late again. And the app I was using, Clue, takes into account the length of your previous cycles and makes predictions about when you’re ovulating and when your period will start. Based on my previous period, it didn’t have me scheduled to get this next one for a few more days.
I was at work the next day, it was a Friday, and I was in a meeting right before lunch, thinking about this dream I had the night before. It was wild. I was on this cruise ship, but was drowning. Like, Titanic style. I was thinking about the dream because it felt so real. I literally woke up thankful for my life because I thought for sure I had drown and died on this dream cruise ship. And as I was thinking about this dream, I suddenly remembered my best friend telling me about her crazy pregnancy dreams.
She had three kids and that was how she knew she was pregnant with the third, because of a crazy dream she had. As soon as I remembered her telling me that I was thinking, “Could it be? No way. People have crazy dreams all the time, right? It doesn’t mean they’re PREGNANT.”
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so as soon as this meeting was over, I ran to the local grocery store and bought a pregnancy test. One of those boxes that come with two tests.
As soon as I pay for the thing, I ran to the bathroom and ripped the box open. I ran into one of the stalls and took the test.
The faulty test
I’m sure you are all familiar with how pregnancy tests work, but in case you’re not:
- There are two potential lines you’ll see when you take the test. One of them is the test line. This one ALWAYS turns pink, it’s how you know the test works. The other one may or may not show up.
- If only the test line shows up, you’re not pregnant.
- If both lines show up, you’re pregnant.
It’s that simple.
So I peed on this stick and waited and waited and waited…..and waited….nothing. Literally nothing. Not even the test line came up.
I had to go to back to work and all the nerves and excitement got in my head so I didn’t have to go again for HOURS after that.
I left work at the end of the day and went home to make some Korean food, which I had been seriously jonesin’ for. And while I was out getting the ingredients I passed by the liquor store and I thought to myself, “I should definitely get some wine.” A little part of me was like, “Should you? You could be pregnant….” But, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry, so I went ahead and bought that bottle of red.
I got home and made my Korean food and again wondered if I should open that bottle of wine. I ultimately decided that I should. So I drank a glass because somehow in my mind I reasoned that I wasn’t OFFICIALLY pregnant until a test confirmed it. So wine first, then test. Plus I still didn’t have to go.
The second test
FINALLY I felt the urge to pee. I quickly found the 2nd pregnancy test that came in the box and went to the bathroom. SUCCESS…this one worked. The test line showed up.
I was sitting there waiting for the verdict….waiting….waiting…and I didn’t see anything
….or did I? I couldn’t tell.
My bathroom was kind of dim, so I took it out to my kitchen. I was holding this test at 20 different angles, holding it up to the light and I still just see the faintest shadow of a line. It was so faint that I honestly wasn’t sure if it was my eyes deceiving me or just the spot where the dye was, but hadn’t turned pink. Still inconclusive. So I took the test outside because at this point it was still daylight. And for the life of me I COULD NOT tell if there was a faint line or not.
I had no idea what to do. Or how to feel. Was I happy? Was I panicking? Overreacting? Hoping to see a line? I had no choice…I had to take another test.
The third test
I went back to the grocery store and bought like 6 more tests. And a card for my husband….just in case. And Sunny Delight because…ya know….Juno.
I was chugging the Sunny D and waiting until I need to go again. Luckily, the grocery store had one last box of the pregnancy test with a digital display that just tells you “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” So I decided to take that one.
I took the test and it just has this hourglass that was flashing. FOR-EV-ERRRRRR. And all I could think was, “Great. Another faulty test.” After ages and ages it finally read…pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. I cried and was so happy. I wanted kids and much like many women, was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to have them.
I’m a very anxious person and thought for sure that if I wasn’t very careful, this baby would just fall out without me knowing or something. Or thought that maybe I had dreamed the whole thing up or that the test gave a false positive (which isn’t a thing, by the way). When I called my doctor, they asked:
“Did you have a positive test?”
“Are you sure?”
“Have you had any bleeding?”
“Okay then you’re pregnant.”
But I still took a pregnancy test about every other day, just to make sure. I didn’t feel pregnant. I felt great! No morning sickness, nothing. I didn’t look pregnant (Obviously, it was so early). Eventually the pink line on my tests became very obvious, which I was so thankful for.
I quickly realized how costly it was becoming for me to be taking multiple pregnancy tests every day and I convinved myself that I was, in fact, pregnant. And that everything was going to be okay and I needed to just calm down.
So I laid off the test for a few weeks.
The final test
A couple of days before my first prenatal appointment, I decided I should take another test, juuuuuuuust in case.
I took the test AND…it was negative. I kid you not. One pink line.
I proceeded to lose it. I was crying, called my doctor freaking out. I just didn’t understand how I could be pregnant one day and then a week or two later not be!
So I called the doctor who again asked me the same set of questions:
“Did you have a positive test?”
“Yes! But that was a few weeks ago!”
“Have you had any bleeding?”
“Okay, then you’re still pregnant.”
And I was like, “But the test was negative!!!”
And I’ll never forget this. The doctor told me, “You’re going to spend the next 9 months worrying about your baby, and then another 18 after that. Just relax.”
So obviously I did not relax. But I did feel a little better that the doctor wasn’t concerned.
The doctor’s appointment
My prenatal appointment was 2 days later and at this point I had convinced myself that something had gone terribly wrong, because there was just no other possible explanation for this test being negative. My husband and I went back to the exam room for the ultrasound. The doctor pulled out the ultrasound machine and I was just a wreck at this point. 100% prepared for the doctor to tell me my pregnancy wasn’t viable or I was never pregnant to begin with. And then I saw it…this tiny flickering blob. And I had done enough research to know before she even told me, that was a heartbeat.
That moment was so emotional for me. I cried and felt so much relief…and fear. And love. How was I possibly going to be a good enough mother? How was I going to protect this baby well enough? I already loved him or her soooo much.
Let me tell you…that doctor I spoke to on the phone was right. The worry never went away, it just changed. I never found a reason to stop worrying. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Since my son was born, the worry has just gotten worse because I love him soooo much. He’s 6 months old and I still check on him multiple times a night to make sure he’s breathing. Is that normal? I have no idea. It could be postpartum anxiety. Or it could just be that I care so much about that baby boy that I spend every second of the day and night making sure he’s safe and happy. That’s motherhood.
Why the false negative?
So why was did that test come up negative? I still have no idea. There are a few theories:
- Maybe I took the test too late in the day and my HcG levels were too low.
- Maybe I drank too much water and my urine was diluted.
- Others have told me that if you have TOO MUCH HcG the test won’t work. It’s called the hook effect.
I really have no explanation. But I have met other women who have had similar experiences, and even met one woman who has never had a pregnancy test give her a positive result, even though she’s had multiple healthy babies.
The moral of the story here is…you know your body. Don’t ever hesitate to call your doctor if you suspect anything is going on, regardless of what a test says.
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