Here's the thing: When it comes to pregnancy, there's a whole lot of waiting that goes on. And it kind of sucks. Besides the whole nine-month-wait for the baby to come, there's another annoying delay, commonly known as the dreaded Two Week Wait — before your body officially registers that yep, you're knocked up. Taking a pregnancy test that early can result in super fine lines that don't always answer the one question you want answered: Am I effing pregnant, or what?! Well fear not, because there's apparently a solve for that, should you ever need it. Women are photoshopping their pregnancy tests to show more definitive results; and though the rest of the Internet is just picking up on it, it's apparently a trend that's been going on for a couple of years now.
Confused? You're not alone. But let me back up a bit first and explain the science behind it all: When you first get pregnant, your hormone levels are understandably all out of whack. In order for any at-home test to truly show whether or not there's a baby in there, it needs to pick up on your human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) levels, which are only detectable about 10 to 14 days after sperm meets egg. Often, those little pink or blue lines aren't so easy to see, which is why that first early pregnancy test can sometimes result in a major case of the squints. And that, as you might imagine, can make you go slightly insane.
Of course, you can always wait a few more days to take a more accurate test, or take a bunch more to be sure; or schedule an appointment with your doctor to get a blood test for the official word. But hey, all of that involves more waiting, and too much suspense. And let's be honest, we Millennials don't exactly do that well. Hence, the creation of test "tweaking" — a hack apparently designed for adult women who have the patience of a toddler. (So in other words, me.) Tweaking to enhance the visibility of super faint lines also allows moms-to-be to share their positive pee stick photos with the world, presumably so they can properly announce their pregnancy on social media when it comes time. Because you know, it's not official until their's a Facebook status update.
And for those who aren't wizards at Photoshop? Not to worry — there are plenty of apps for that. (Because, of course there are.) One of the more popular tweaking apps is Early HPT+ which will run you a cool $1.99, but tweak your pregnancy test in seconds. This Babycenter article even tells you how to hack your pregnancy test photos yourself using free editing sites like Pixlr and PicMonkey — and it's surprisingly easy. You could of course, also pop into an online forum somewhere and have someone else do it for you. Women all over the Internet are volunteering their services on public message boards, so that you too can make your pee stick Instagram-ready.
Though the whole tweaking craze has been making the rounds on community sites like Babycenter and The Bump for awhile now, BuzzFeed alerted the rest of the world to the trend just yesterday, and Twitter was quick to respond with a fair amount of confusion.
But BuzzFeed even chatted with an expert on the whole phenomenon, who was quick to point out the main (and most obvious) issue with it: it's not exactly official. "We don't really know yet how accurate the tweaking is," said Dr. Scott Sullivan, an OB-GYN and the director of maternal-fetal medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. "Of course it could be wrong. It might be that the technology or the tweaking itself might not be right." Other small but significant "glitches" could come into play, too, he notes — for example, a faint line could be the result of some rogue pee drips or even dye run, and not really a true indicator of pregnancy. Needless to say, enhancing them to show a true line could only serve to set someone up for heartache later on.
And then there's the upsetting but all-too-common reality of chemical pregnancies, which account for 50-75 percent of miscarriages, according to the American Pregnancy Association. These losses often come and go with barely any symptoms, sometimes just resulting in a bit of bleeding. Often, women don't even know they've miscarried — but for those who may be testing frequently, and tweaking their results, the loss may be impossible to ignore.
Micah Farmer, a mom of one who commonly tweaks pregnancy tests for women, shared one such experience with BuzzFeed, saying "I did have a few very early losses that I discovered from tweaking tests. Unfortunately, if I hadn’t been testing early, I likely wouldn’t have known that I was pregnant, so testing before your missed period comes with its warnings."
But despite its obvious fallibility, it doesn't seem like the pregnancy tweaking craze will be letting up any time soon. And part of that may have a lot to do with one unavoidable truth: we Millennials don't exactly like to wait (like at all); which is probably why the trend itself is most common among younger, first time mothers. "When you so desperately want to see a line, your mind starts playing tricks on you," Farmer explains. "Unfortunately, if you already see a line, tweaking only makes it worse. I like to joke that I can pull a line from any test, so it’s always nice to see if anyone else can pull a line as well to confirm the craziness."
Hey, at least that's one way to trouble-shoot?