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My paranoia is no longer analog.

Like many women, the fear in my life has occasionally taken the form of a pink line slowly coming into focus in a tiny white window. One line means I'm pregnant, two lines means I'm not. Or is it two lines means I'm pregnant and one line means I'm not?

Since its introduction in the 1970s, when home pregnancy kits promised answers at home "in two hours," products that predict pregnancy by reading levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the urine have been the source of much stress, angst and confusion among users.

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And so the introduction of a new digital pregnancy test from Clearblue, which promises "results in words," seems like a welcome development, if somewhat unnecessary.

But preparing to give the product a test run - for purely journalistic reasons, Mom - I imagine the screen flashing "you're not ready," "bad mother," or worse, "barren."

The test is advertised as "the most sophisticated piece of technology you'll ever pee on."Similar in size and execution to old-fashioned pregnancy tests, the instructions caution "not to get the rest of the test stick wet." Is it possible to give yourself a shock both physically and psychologically with a single product?

After I successfully pee on this most sophisticated piece of technology, a small hourglass flashes on the screen. While it is nice to know the thing is working, the hourglass is one of the most annoying digital images to see in a time of stress.

The only way it could be worse is if the animated paperclip from Microsoft Office suddenly appeared. "It looks like you're taking a pregnancy test. Would you like help?"

Within seconds the words "not pregnant, pas enceinte" appear on the screen. I am in the clear in both official languages.

And there is something definitive about seeing the result in plain language, not having to worry that the lines of a traditional test are malfunctioning or too cloudy to interpret.

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Still, hints of paranoia remain. In this digital age, my fear of ambiguous results has been replaced with the sneaking suspicion that, at any moment, a winking emoticon will appear on the screen.

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Urban affairs reporter

Toronto based writer of all things city related. More


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