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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Pregnancy and Parenting » You've Seen Stories Online of People Who Didn't Know They Were Pregnant...

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Author Topic: You've Seen Stories Online of People Who Didn't Know They Were Pregnant...
Heather
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...and got negatives on tests, had doctors say they weren't, etc. We hear some of our users tell us these stories are all over the internet.

We know they are sometimes, but the idea they are ALL OVER THE PLACE, everywhere you look, is one that's news to us.

So, if you have been seeing these, can you clue us into where? Who is posting them? Where are they being posted?

Inquiring minds want to know. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Clara Taylor
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Hey Heather. I guess this might be a useful post. You know I'm probably the current biggest "victim" of those stories (or the guiltiest of reading them). Here are some links to stories that really made me go crazy with worry;

I. Women who were/are pregnant but who never showed hCG on blood or urine tests:

http://en.allexperts.com/q/ObGyn-Pregnancy-issues-1007/f/Pregnant-HCG-detected-possible.htm

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090807135712AA3Y1qr


II. Women who had periods but were still pregnant:

http://voices.yahoo.com/3-ways-pregnant-still-period-10158965.html

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/conception/170538-possible-to-be-pregnant-with-period/AllOnOnePage


III. A paranoid site where women post pictures of HPTs and vote whether they think it shows a positive or a negative (most "negatives" are still somehow voted positive) - this made me stop trusting my own eyes:

http://www.countdowntopregnancy.com/pregnancy-test-gallery/


There's tons more, these are just examples. Most times, everytime somebody asks the question "is it possible...?", there is somebody else saying yes and telling the story of somebody who was pregnant against all medical evidence.

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Heather
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Specific links to look at, even! Thanks for this, Clara. Really want to look into this more in order to better help people combat and and also avoid this stuff.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Clara Taylor
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You're welcome! I really hope this helps other people. Reading those stories was the main trigger of my anxiety disorder. While I know perfectly that you shouldn't trust everything you read on the internet, I guess anyone who happens to stumble upon those will feel at least disturbed. Especially the part where people say they see "positive" lines on HPTs when they just aren't there at all! Oh, and not to mention the "I was still pregnant against all medical evidence and all current science and technology" stories.
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sparkledust12
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I agree I have read these stories also and they do nothing to help get over the fear of a pregnancy scare. The HCG was the biggest fear for me, I don't understand how it can not be detected but they were still pregnant. It's worrying, but after what Heather and Robin have told me, I don't think this could be the case with me.
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Heather
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When y'all have read these, can I ask how you found them?

In other words, I assume you did a search to get to links like this? If so, what search terms were you using?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Clara Taylor
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In my case, for the hCG stories I searched for something like "negative blood test but still pregnant" on google.

The craziest theories can be found... "some women just don't produce hCG", "my hCG never made it into my blood stream", "hCG just doesn't show up in my urine" etc.

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sparkledust12
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What did you think of these after reading them Heather?
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Heather
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Well, I only have some initial thoughts and feelings, but I'm happy to share. I'll just toss'em out there pretty candidly, since I'm not sure what you're looking for in asking me about them.

From where I'm sitting, it's very easy for me to see a lack of credibility in pages like this.

They're not people who have education or work experience in reproductive health. No one is even using actual names, just handles. People are also saying things that clearly sound like fabrications, like a doctor, for instance, refusing a patient any prenatal care (and no mention of financial obstacles, etc).

And with this one, as an example -- http://en.allexperts.com/q/ObGyn-Pregnancy-issues-1007/f/Pregnant-HCG-detected-possible.htm -- there WAS an answer from someone credible, who made clear this stuff isn't sound. So, I'm not sure I get dismissing that and putting people without credibility first? I mean, if this is something that's about a HUGE deal in my life, why on earth would I put any stock in something from "wannaBe1974," who, for all I know, could be a 12-year old kid bored at home?

I also see some things in some of these anecdotal posts that give me some hints about the whys I don't think the poster, or others, are putting together if and when these situations are real. Like, there's one in one of these from someone saying they had some spotting, so didn't realize they were pregnant until they were almost five months in. But that same poster, in the same posts, says they were at the pub almost every night drinking. So, when I read this, where I go is, "Yes, we know that people with addictions, like alcoholics, are often so disconnected from their bodies and lives they can become oblivious to even something like pregnancy." I don't think, "Oh god, she couldn't have known!" I think, "She likely didn't know because a) she sounds like an alcoholic, and thus, was probably oblivious to a lot a whole lot of the time, and b) there are likely a ton of things she didn't do to find out, because of a) he sounds like an alcoholic, and thus, was probably oblivious to a lot a whole lot of the time."

Get what I mean?

To me, when I'm looking for serious information on the net about something seriously and potentially life-changing, a) it's usually only to support another, sound source of information I have already gotten elsewhere, and b) I'm still going to take anything that's clearly anecdotal, and from someone whose credibility I can't establish, with a very, very small grain of salt.

For instance, let's say my dog seems to be sick. I'm not going to the internet first. I'm calling the vet first. If the vet says we need to be seen, I am finding my way there, even if it means a five mile walk. If they say we need to wait, then I may use the net, but again, I'm only going to be looking for credible information I know was fact-checked by someone, and I'm also going to be rabidly avoiding sites I KNOW have no one but users paying attention to them, like yahoo pages, for instance.

Now, this may, in part, be generational. I grew up living in the library as much as possible, and learning how to research well as part of even my childhood education. There wasn't an internet, so there's that, but even then, there were print publications you learned to screen as being more or less reliable.

Too, though, I strongly suspect that some of what happens when people read this stuff and take it to heart is that y'all aren't seeing the misinformation or iffiness, because it's not really the content you're connecting to, but the fear. In other words, you're connecting to collective fear (and that very much is generational -- big-time for this generation, just like it was for the generation in the McCarthy era, as another example).

When we're panicking, right, our logical minds tend to shut down. So, even with the skills to screen for credibility, my guess is those skills and that kind of critical thinking have totally left the building.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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sparkledust12
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That all was very helpful, thanks Heather! You just described exactly what I did when searching for answers. I too saw that first link you posted about the HCG never being found in all those answers on there - and panicked at the thought that this could be me. And I still think on some level this is why I am associating other things that I'm experiencing with this instead of thinking rationally about it.
I didn't look for any credibility at all, I just read what was there and believed it I guess. Enough to get me convinced that this could happen to me as it looks like, from first glance that it IS possible by how many people are posting details of their 'unique' stories.
It is still scary to me, but you just broke it down a lot better.
I definitely just read it, and assumed that it must be true because someone had taken the time to post their story without thinking of the possibility of missing information etc.

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Heather
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I'm glad that was helpful for you: I was hoping being candid wouldn't come off as being brusque or insulting.

I think maybe something else to keep in mind is that I think it's very safe to say that when most people put anything on the internet, they're really not thinking of other people much, save how having an audience or interaction might serve them personally.

In other words, the folks posting this stuff likely have no thoughts at all about what they're posting -- and what they're leaving out -- and how they're posting per how it might impact someone like you or Clara who are panicked and scared. I feel confident not a thought has crossed their minds to the effect of, "What I post here really matters because it could scare the crap out of someone else." I also know that most people don't have an issue with telling personal stories online that aren't the whole story (heck, most people don't have an issue with that in any part of life). People who read what they post, after all, are strangers, right? They don't know you, don't care about you: these kinds of posts aren't about or intended to be sound education or information, they're more about someone else's catharsis or seeking validation.

I suspect they also might be about what I just mentioned in your other thread, about some folks just looking to manufacture some drama -- not intending to be jerks, just not being self-aware at all -- because they are bored or lonely or unhappy in some way.

This is all my armchair analysis, mind, and I obviously could be wrong, but that's me general sense of things.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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sparkledust12
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Haha no of course not, honestly anything you could through out there the better! I much prefer reading what you have to say compared to any of these sites!
That also makes a lot of sense, your analysis is pointing out all the rational things that my mind can't seem to do at the moment, so it's nice and reassuring to read!

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Heather
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Glad to be helpful. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Maybe it's helpful to say, I never Had read stuff like this, and I'm also someone with zero pregnancy-fear... and reading this stuff freaked Me out. I don't have any hands-on personal experience (say, in a healthcare profession) to disprove it, so even I started to wonder. I had to repeat in my head "Heather said this stuff isn't true" about twenty times to make it go away. I'm also generally fairly analytical and sceptical! This stuff is truly toxic.

I guess on the face of it, it seems improbable or odd that people wouldn't tell the truth or would be so inaccurate about their own bodily experiences. I would expect to doubt anyone's opinion or supposed knowledge of anything else in the world, but not so much their own experiences. Heather's explanations make that make a lot more sense, though. So, I'm finding Heather's detailed rebuttal and explanations helpful, so thank you Heather, and thank you sparkledust for asking.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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I think one of the things to add to all of this, though, is something my mother recently said to me which is that she was perpetually amazed at how in touch with my body I am. And for sure, it is something I have put a lot of effort and energy into in life.

She said that for a few reasons, but one is that she's worked in healthcare her whole life and she knows, like I do, how often people just really are NOT in touch with their bodies, or misunderstand the experiences they are having with them. Add that to things like complex sexual lives or relationships, conflicting feelings about sex, how much people don't understand reproduction already, how many people lack the ability or intelligence to read directions on things....and so much more, including carelessness about others, IMO, and sometimes outright intentional misinformation, but I'd say it's fairly easy to grok how we can wind up with people posting things like this.

And that's part of why when we gets folks that comes here SO freaked about a pregnancy who are SO VERY OBSERVANT, hyper-observant, about their bodies, about every spot or period, who have taken test after test, and we know this isn't BS, because we know y'all (and also some of us have the education to know what's for real with this stuff and what isn't), that it's pretty easy to know there's no pregnancy.

I've said it other places, but I'll say it now, but when you work in-person and do see people who really didn't seem to have any clue about pregnancies for months, there are typically the most UNobservant people you will ever meet, physically and emotionally. They are people who, for one reason or another, are usually earnestly intensely detached from their bodies or lives in some way, be that drug addiction, abusive relationships, depression, medications that change massively how their bodies work, etc.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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sparkledust12
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@Redskies - that's where I was coming from with reading this stuff and automatically thinking that because they had taken the time to write their stories then it must be true, why else would they say it. And looking down the list it is made to look like a fairly common thing. It is really quite scary. But I'm glad I asked, and Heather has made it seem better for me. I'm trying to hold onto the facts from now on. I've done all I can do with testing and what not. I have to try and believe that .

@Heather - I think it's fair to say many people arn't in touch with their own bodies even in everyday life. I know I wasn't, until all this scare thing came about. but since then as you know I have noticed and taken note of every little thing. Some of what I am experiencing I think is stress/anxiety related and therefore phsycological physical symptoms, but other such things, had I taken note before hand, maybe some of the stuff would have happened/been there previously. It's just because I wasn't worried then, that I didn't feel the need to take any notice.
Back in a simpler time, that I miss!

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Heather
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One other comparison that might help with this stuff, btw, would be pages where people are telling stories about birth control.

Because if you looked up, say "pill failed," you would find pages of pages of so many people saying they got pregnant on the pill, it doesn't work, etc.

And yet, know what's going to be harder to find? "Pill didn't fail" pages. Even though, for the vast majority of people who have ever used the pill? It hasn't failed. But those previous pages you found sure wouldn't give you that idea.

Horror stories, of any kind, of and amount of fact or fiction, will always be more plentiful than Yay! stories, especially with stuff like this.

On the other hand, if you did a search for "I KNEW I was pregnant and got a positive result on a pregnancy test when I took it which was how I knew," guess what? You would find WAY more people, WAY more, talking about that. (Even if that particular search chain didn't get you to those stories. The point is, some of this is about horror stories, but some of this is also about what you guys looking for this are expressly seeking out, and where you're going to look at it.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Clara Taylor
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I just read this discussion through and found it extremely helpful.

sparkledust12, I also read your thread and I am/was in the VERY same boat as you are now. Like you, I let an at-first legitimate pregnancy scare take over my life, even after a pathetic number of negative blood tests, HPTs, ultrasounds, doctor's opinions... Pretty much like Heather said, three main things are/were contributing to feed my fear;

1) the internet stories. I went crazy from day 1 browsing for stories and asking on Yahoo whether the folks thought or not that I could be pregnant. Big mistake. They have no way of knowing. Then, after the first couple of blood tests came back negative, I still went online to find that it could be too early on. I got my period yet read that some women still have "periods" while pregnant. I had more blood tests done. Only to come back online and read those stories of women who didn't produce hCG at all! I did some 30 HPTs. The internet still said that HPTs could be innacurate. I had 4 ultrasounds done. But still read some silly stories about "the ultrasound machine not being sensitive enough to see a small embryo", "the technician not being skilled enough", "the lab mishandling my bloodtests"....

2) being over-attentive with my body. I've always been that way and I'm a serious hypochondriac. I'm the kind of person that will rush to the ER thinking she has a brain tumour if I feel slightly dizzy from lack of sleep. As for the pregnancy concern; I checked my breasts compulsively for changes in consistency, enlargement, soreness, nipple discharge... I also checked my belly in the mirror like crazy for possible bloating or enlargement. One day I woke up a bit hungover and totally panicked about the possibility of morning sickness. I'd attribute every possible symptom to pregnancy.

3) underlying problems in one's life. When all tests kept coming back negative and it became rather clear that I couldn't be pregnant (as far as current scientific knowledge is concerned) I began to wonder why I simply couldn't disconnect and breathe in relief. As the weeks progressed and all I could think of was "pregnancy", "abortion" and then "babies", I began to seriously suspect it was my mind playing my own enemy. I'm currently in therapy and even before I started, I already knew some of the factors that kept me in that circle; being unhappy with my current life, being socially isolated, having some relationship problems, having massive issues with my parents' judgement... all of that was feeding my worst-case scenario fears: ending up with a baby in my arms and failing miserably at everything that it entails.

Now I'm working my way out of this, it's not immediate, I *still* check my belly in the mirror, my breasts, I'm still kind of terrified my period might not come this week... but overall, I'm a lot less panicked that I was two or three weeks ago. I begin to see a way out.

As for my best interpretation of those stories, in which I initially believed just like so many other women did, I have to second what Heather said. The same goes for those TV series with names along the lines of "I didn't know I was pregnant". The common link between all those ladies is the utmost lack of attention towards their bodies. I can believe in little baby bumps that almost look like some extra flab, I can believe in missing your period for 3 months yet not even wondering why, I can believe in not paying much attention to morning sickness... but I can't believe in suddenly passing an unexpected baby while sitting on a toilet!

As for the medical details (noting that I'm no healthcare professional at all), I could begin to see some inconsistencies in those stories and I'm sure I'd find even more if I was an expert or if I had access to those actual medical records. Here are some examples that I remember reading online and debunking myself;

1) A woman wrote that she'd gotten a negative HPT that day, then went to get an ultrasound and she was 6 months along. Possible explanation: HPTs are designed to detect hCG in certain doses, consistent with the beginning of a pregnancy. Meaning, if your hCG count is VERY high, it can "confuse" the test and give you a false negative or other innacurate result. I actually read this on the ClearBlue digital's leaflet. I guess this might apply to some other brands as well. So for very fussy people like me, better get a blood test.

2) Somebody wrote that they were pregnant yet the doctor couldn't see it on an ultrasound. So they went to another doctor the very same day and they were 8 indeed weeks pregnant. Possible explanation: they didn't specify the kind of ultrasounds they had done. If the first doctor did a transabdominal ultrasound, he could have missed an pregnancy since it would be a little too early to be detectable that way. Assuming the second doctor did a transvaginal ultrasound, an existing pregnancy would have been pretty much clearer to him than to the first doctor.

3) Somebdy wrote a story about the peculiar pregnancy of their mother/grandmother/aunt. Assuming all of those are significantly older than the poster. Possible explanation: Technology in the 40s,50s,60s,70s or even 80s is not the same that we have today. Especially when it came to pregnancy. [My grandmother (born in the 30s) had her first pregnancy diagnosed by having a nun feel around her belly with her bare hands and "listening" to it using a strange phonelike object.] And so wasn't the access to the information that we have these days. So no wonder those stories might contain some very suspicious details.

4) Miscalculated date of conception. I guess this would be the most common mistake. We only ovulate once a month meaning we have a range of 8 or so fertile days. The dates depend from woman to woman and unless you carefully write down the *day* in which you had sex, you have to give the dates some flexibility. There can be discrepancies of more than week when it comes to the date of possible conception, if you've had sex more than one. Or... on one cycle. Many of the stories I read are consistant with women having gotten pregnant in, say, April's cycle, and not March's cycle, as they initially thought. So that might be a reason why they say they "still had a period" and "only tested positive maaaany weeks after sex"...

5) Psychological disorders. I saw in many forums women say they were *sure* they were (whatever) weeks/months pregnant yet no one could properly diagnose them. They had all blood tests negative, they had doctors say it was impossible that they were pregnant, they had ultrasounds... yet they not only doubted it but *affirmed* they were still pregnant and very far along. In many cases, they reported all well-known pregnancy symtoms, significant weight gain and the growth of very-prominent belly bumps, feeling the "baby" move, contractions, breast discharge similar to milk... Now those are some serious psychological disorders that actually result in the mimicking of pregnancy symptoms and physical changes. However, we can probably all agree that a (presumably) 6th month ultrasound showing no baby = no pregnancy.

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Heather
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Lookit all of you! [Smile] I am loving where this thread is going.

Btw, Clara....

quote:
My grandmother (born in the 30s) had her first pregnancy diagnosed by having a nun feel around her belly with her bare hands and "listening" to it using a strange phonelike object.
Interestingly, I had never seen one of these until my mother sent me the DVD of Call the Midwife (whose brilliance I cannot say enough about, btw, it's AMAZING). It's a Pinard horn: I went bananas trying to find out because I was so curious.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinard_horn

[ 02-23-2013, 08:08 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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sparkledust12
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I LOVE Call the Midwife, not because of everything going on, but seeing how different it was then. As I've said before I like to learn and I find it fascinating!

@Clara, thank you so much for getting in touch. I too have read your threads and agree that we are/have been on a very similar journey, an exhausting one at that.
I'm very happy that like Heather can, you are now able to see some of the missing possibilities in these awful scary stories. I am trying to refrain from reading them at all as of now, as they are nothing but toxic to me.
I get what you are saying about people not being in touch with their bodies, I think it's safe to say that these scares have made US in particular very aware.
For me, for example, I have not missed a withdrawal bleed. The nurse I had back in September when I went and took EC told me to take a pregnancy test as it was likely I would still get my bleed as I was told to continue with my pills as usual, just incase EC hadn't worked for me. I panicked, and I guess have done ever since incase I am one of these women that continue to get 'period' like bleeds throughout a pregnancy.
Having said that, testing over rules all.
I, like you have taken countless HPTs - all negative. I never had an ultrasound as all the doctors/nurses I have seen never thought it was necessary (I wonder why), but I did have a blood test at what would have been 17 weeks. It came back at less than 1.2 of the hormone, which at that point in a pregnancy, well there wouldn't be a pregnancy. So even without an ultrasound I am trying to hold onto the fact that the blood test over-rules all. Now I would be hitting the 24 week mark if I was pregnant, and with the amount of testing and notice I have taken on my body, there is no way I wouldn't know.
As me and Heather have discussed, the things I seem to be experiencing, that my mind automatically associates with pregnancy, are actually due to anxiety, triggered by the scare but likely are highlighting other underlying issues also.
Deep down I know I am not pregnant, I'm trying so hard to hold onto that. I want to get back to having fun, living a normal life. I have friends that have had scares in the past, but once they've taken tests at the appropriate time, found them to be negative, they just moved on and that was that. I haven't been able too, so I am also waiting on help from a therapist to work through these issues. I'm sick of feeling so drained with it all. But it helps being here, Heather and Robin are ace. And it's nice to know there are others out there that have been through the same crap and are coming out the other side, in a much more positive space [Smile]

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Heather
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I'm so, so glad to hear y'all really digging down to the nitty-gritty of these fears, rather than just sticking to the surface. [Smile]

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littlemisssunshine92
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Yes! Thank you for discussing this! It's the worse, when you're afraid of being pregnant, to feel like you could be that "rare case" or that "1%." I have taken several hpts and all have been negative. I am now over two weeks late for my period, so somewhere around 30 days dpo, and I still have panic attacks because I keep reading these stories. I know the chances are so slim.. But I'm using them to justify my scare.. Help?
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Clara Taylor
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littlemisssunshine92, I went through the same thing! I was dead scared (and at some point absolutely convinced) I would be that 1%.

Now serious, I don't even think that 1% even exists. It exists theoretically as a way of justifying unverifiable stories. If we had access to all the medical information about those "internet rare-cases", we'd find that the real stories are not as they're being told. Some things in the human body are mathematical and alike: pregnancy is one of them! Just like you can't be pregnant with a baby tiger instead of a baby human, you can't have such a "weird", "exceptional" pregnancy! It's biology. [Smile]

If you are about 30 dpo, were you pregnant, ANY pregnancy test would show a positive by this time! The pregnancy hormone gets in your blood stream at about 9 dpo and is usually detected by an HPT at 15 dpo or so. At 30 dpo your hormones would have been more than high enough to test a positive! Your period is certainly late for some other reason. And worrying a lot is probably causing it to be *even* more late.

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littlemisssunshine92
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Thank you so much. I read your post about how it began to affect your health.. It's certanly doing the same to me. My bf and best friends are more than tired with hearing about how worried I am.. While they'll listen, they were convinced at test number 2. Ha. It's scary when your body begins to change because of stress.. I've certainly gained weight and have constant headaches. Sleeplessness, crankiness, and spiraling performance in classess.. it's all a mess. I think you're right- there's probably an underneath cause of my stress.. I know I wanted to wait until I was married to have sex. I think I need to return to that wish- revirginize. [Razz] I'm hoping that, since my next period is due in a week, I just have it as usual and can breath again.
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