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Tweaking Pregnancy Tests

I just learned what tweaking was this week.  It’s taking a photo of your pregnancy test and then manipulating the contrast in Photoshop to see if you can discern a positive too faint to be seen by the naked eye.  There are groups dedicated to doing this for other women.  There are apps that do it.

I would have done this.

I mean, I would have sent a photo of my pregnancy test, or I would have tweaked it myself at home, playing with Photoshop until I found my line.

Because I know myself.  I would have kept doing it until I found a line, until I found the right combination of contrast or colour inversion or whatever other tricks I could try to find the line.  And when there was no line to be found, I would have continued to push buttons.

I’m not proud of this fact, but I own it.  I tested early and often.  I tested with multiple brands.  I tested with dozens of superstitious beliefs in hand, convincing myself that if I did X, Y, and Z, that a line would appear.

I’ll admit that I cried reading about it.  I don’t even know why I was crying — because I remembered hating myself so much when I would waste handfuls of peesticks every cycle or because my heart hurt for everyone still testing?  Maybe because I dove into the comment section (why, Melissa, why?) and read the judgmental words and wanted to scream at all of them, “I GET THIS.”

Because I get this.  I get that it’s not healthy but I get this.  And I would have done this.


1 KeAnne { 07.08.15 at 8:06 am }

And i’m immediately transported back to my early days of IF on Babycenter in 2005-2006. I saw sooooo many tweaked pics

2 Karen (River Run Dry) { 07.08.15 at 8:32 am }

I would have, too. I DID. Early on in our trying years, at least. It’s why I had to swear off pregnancy tests altogether until I knew I had a positive beta. Too much hope, and the crash hurt too much.

3 Marianne { 07.08.15 at 8:45 am }

I have totally done this, there is a hpt gallery online somewhere where you can post your pic, tweak it or not, then vote on whether it is bfn or bfp. It is actually really helpful to be able to surround yourself virtually with other POASaholics instead of being lonely in the bathroom.

4 Charlotte { 07.08.15 at 8:54 am }

I might have done this, too. Although Reading the article, I do wonder about the validity of it. Is this actually enhancing something that is already there, or manipulating it to make it appear that something is there, when really it is just a BFN. I don’t know if getting a tweaked positive result would have actually helped me feel any better;I almost feel like the anxiety would be worse. And flipping through some of the threads, and basically having a “tweaker” tell you yes or no, I don’t think would have been good for me.
The warning in the article about early losses is a very real concern. Tweaking seems to overall offer a lot of false hope.

5 Jaime { 07.08.15 at 9:32 am }

I think I would have done this too. I’m the type of person that needs immediate answers, I can’t stand waiting and if it took Photoshop to get a for sure yes or no, I would probably do it.

6 nicoleandmaggie { 07.08.15 at 10:27 am }

Trying to tell the difference between the line caused by the chemical they put on the stick and an actual pregnancy test drove me nuts. My big crazy thing was peeing on opk to see if they would get darker. After I got pregnant (post-miscarriage) I had to get rid of the pregnancy tests because I drove myself crazy whenever the color would get lighter instead of darker (I also learned a lot about how much hp there is in my pees during the morning — the second pee would give the darkest line).

7 Katherine A { 07.08.15 at 11:05 am }

I am SO glad I didn’t know about this in the midst of ttc/getting diagnosed/going through treatment. I completely get it and would have done it if I had found out about these sites. I will cop to taking apart a pregnancy test once to see if I could get a closer look (because surely there was a line there…) and taking them into bright sunlight/holding them up to the light bulbs over the bathroom sink. Also doing the thing where I’d keep them lined up in chronological order on the bathroom counter to check if there was a line/getting lighter/getting darker. That particular one drove my husband nuts…

8 Sue { 07.08.15 at 11:42 am }


I didn’t have a phone or digital camera, so I’d just walk around the house with all the different lights, natural and light bulb, angles…

It was a great challenge not to test too early or often, talking myself through dpo,– and god forbid the RE ordered the booster shot….

Thinking about it now brings back the consumption and desperation (auto correct said “despair”). Even when I knew the signs weren’t there.

Wow. Flashback.

(Having gone back to my dissertation, I’m digging out notebooks, and efey so often come across a page venting, and talking myself down from POAS. I even came across a page calculating hcl doubling time, after I got a low-ish, doomed positive. It was the third one, 8th cycle. Two months before what we decided would (autocirrect: roulette) be our last try (we had just enough meds left). The last try, the one that gave us the boys. (Those lines appeared early and got more and more beautiful each say leading up to the amazing 16dpo beta. I have the notebook pages kvetching as I waited for that, too.)

9 Ann Z { 07.08.15 at 11:43 am }

Oh man, I remember all the tweaking of tests on fertility friend. I absolutely hated pregnancy tests and would never do them unless I absolutely had to. But I get it. I get the need to find hope somewhere and the need to find something at all that you had some control over, when you’re dealing with something where the control is stripped from you.

10 SRB { 07.08.15 at 12:26 pm }

As a person who has disassembled HPTs, held them up to all light sources, etc etc etc, I GET THIS. And I get the horrible feelings that come with getting it. Blerg.

11 Sarah { 07.08.15 at 1:40 pm }

I may have used 100 pee sticks per cycle, but I was so sure there never would be a line I never did this. I used digital so I didn’t have an opportunity to do this. I never believed I would get my 2 lines, my smiley face saying “pregnant.” I was fascinated by those who did. I was fascinated by those who believed they would get their 2 lines. I envied those women who went through the trouble to break the tests apart and take multiple pictures in multiple settings just to post them and ask if any one else saw it. I wish I had that much faith in my body do to something like actually get knocked up. Yeah I totally get it. And I still kind of envy those who go to such lengths to see their 2 lines. I get it….and all the emotions that go along with it for the “tweaker” and those viewing the tweaks….

12 torthuil { 07.08.15 at 2:21 pm }

I would never tweak a pregnancy test, because for me it would be “feeding the crazy.” But I understand the motivation. I do wonder if the women who tweak are getting the emotional support they need during a stressful time or are just increasing their anxiety this way.

13 gwinne { 07.08.15 at 2:27 pm }

Yup. I totally get this. There’s evidence in my archives (oh, say August 2010) to prove it. Not the photoshop but the lighting, and the repeatedly taking the tests out of the trash and…

I think sometimes it’s easier to put a name on it like chemical pregnancy or early miscarriage than just a plain old negative.

14 Chickenpig { 07.08.15 at 4:43 pm }

I never peed on a stick, but I still get it, and I don’t judge people who do. It’s just one of those IF things.

15 Mina { 07.08.15 at 5:17 pm }

This is like the blue/gold dress. You either get it or you don’t, but cannot understand how those who don’t cannot get it, since you can clearly see blue or gold.
I do get it. But I am happy that pregnancy tests are part of my past though. I have a friend who is going through ttc, and honest to everything, it SUCKS.BIG.TIME.

16 ANDMom { 07.08.15 at 5:23 pm }

I did this. I had a batch of super cheap tests that were giving me evaporation lines (within the time frame and all), and it was saner to put them in photoshop to try to discern color than to sit around not knowing.

Very glad those days are over.

17 Working mom of 2 { 07.08.15 at 5:48 pm }

I remember holding my bfns under different light etc. in vain. But this seems almost cruel. If you have to manipulate it that much, it ain’t positive.

18 Jenn { 07.08.15 at 5:57 pm }

I get it but agree that perpetuating it with groups and apps is cruel. I got an evaporation line once and that was hard enough to deal with.

19 Jess { 07.08.15 at 6:57 pm }

I did not even know this was a thing, and I’m glad I didn’t know when I was testing. I would stare at that stick like crazy, on the occasions where I decided to test. Because often I didn’t, because I didn’t want to contend with more hazy ambiguity than I already had…the bloodwork was always accurate. My last post-transfer pee stick had a faint positive that appeared later, or maybe an evap line…I’ll never be sure. But I bet I would have tweaked the hell out of it had I known how to do such a thing. Crazy that there’s basically a service to do it for you, though…seems like a more furtive, personal activity to me.

20 Erin { 07.08.15 at 8:03 pm }

Oh my word…Sue, working mom of 2, and so many others…how many times I held them up to different lights, disassembled them, it is embarrassing and hurtful just thinking of it.

21 Heidi { 07.08.15 at 8:27 pm }

I not only did this, but I miss doing it. I miss the chance of being pregnant.

22 St. E { 07.09.15 at 2:06 am }

I heard about this first time this week. I had no idea.

I dont think I would have done it.

23 Valery Valentina { 07.09.15 at 4:24 am }

Big hug for everyone.
What I do not understand is all the warnings against knowing about chemical pregnancies, about early losses. Why would we not be supposed to know if our eggs+seeds are working a little bit? Why not know if one of our possible future children is giving it a try? Is it about not wanting to give support for ‘something that is not a real baby’?

24 Lexy { 07.09.15 at 5:33 am }

I don’t know if I would do this personally, because even if I managed to find a line I wouldn’t believe it, but I get it. I so get it.

25 Emma { 07.09.15 at 9:48 am }

Ugh yes! This was me too! And even when I saw the second line I was scared to believe it was true for fear of another miscarriage.

26 Mali { 07.09.15 at 8:32 pm }

Interesting. Not sure if I’d have done it. I was impatient enough that I’d test early – too early probably. So maybe I would have. Just another way we find to torture ourselves.

27 loribeth { 07.09.15 at 8:43 pm }

I never did hpts unless my period was really late. But yeah, I get it. :p

Can I say that on first read of the headline, I thought you were talking about “twerking”?? lol

28 Rachel { 07.11.15 at 3:53 pm }

I get it. And a I did it.

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