Even though we’ve never met, I saw Kasey announce her pregnancy before she told her best friend, or her mom, or her husband, and even before her missed period. I watched her dip a First Response in a cup of urine in her bathroom at home in Arizona and saw the faint second line slowly appear. So have several thousand people who’ve watched the clip on YouTube, where she posted it.
Kasey, who uses the handle StillGlamMom, isn’t the only woman posting the results of her pregnancy tests for anyone who cares to watch. Search for “pregnancy test results” or some variation and you’ll find shots with the telltale faint pink double lines or a plus sign followed by squealing, excited disbelief, and joyful tears. Many of these WombTube videos have around 50,000 views. In the YouTube pantheon, this makes them significantly less popular than, say, Justin Bieber’s latest performance. Still, the WombTube reaches far beyond the inner circle with whom one would normally share such fraught obstetrical details.
The WombTubers are also rejecting the oft-repeated advice that you should wait until the end of the first trimester before telling people you’re pregnant, as miscarriage is the most common in those first three months. These women would rather share their joy with a virtual community of strangers than follow that cautious custom.
So who are they? From the videos I saw, they ranged in age from fresh-faced twentysomethings to early fortysomethings at the end of their fertile years. Posting WombTube videos appears to be an interest that transcends racial lines but is solidly middle class, if the bathrooms and bedrooms that pop up in the background are any indication. Many of these videos are from women who are part of the Trying To Conceive community—YouTube vloggers chronicling their attempts to get pregnant. They may feel like they’re getting some kind of support from posting these videos that they aren’t getting in their real lives.
That these videos are dominated by women doggedly trying to get pregnant explains why I didn’t see any WombTube videos of women getting negative test results and jumping for joy or even exhaling in relief, just like the pregnancy test commercials on TV. Both the commercials and WombTube share the same fantasy world where news of a pregnancy is only welcome and the darkest emotion one might be allowed to register is shock. It’s rare to find a video depicting a reaction to a negative test result at all, and the few women who post their nonpregnant status are devastated. They post these videos to prove to the world how committed they are to having babies.
I will admit that at first I thought all of these people were, well, nuts. I still might. I can’t entirely understand why someone would post her pregnancy results for the world to see, and since none of the WombTubers I reached out to would respond to my questions, I remain baffled. But as a viewer, I’m something of a convert. The emotional rollercoaster they promise is highly addictive and, since they almost always result in good news, a pleasant pay off.
Since many of them follow similar narratives, one can even create a taxonomy of these videos. Herewith, a tour of the odd and addictive world of WombTube.
The Heart Warmer: These videos usually involve a woman reacting to the pregnancy results with her husband and, sometimes, a child. In one, a pretty young woman notes that it’s 6:30 a.m. and she’s getting up the courage to look at the results of her test—in the comments box she notes that they had been trying to conceive for nine months. Once she sees that it’s positive, she starts laughing hysterically and crying at the same time. You can see her hug her husband, who is filming, in the mirror. He’s crying, too, and yet he never puts the camera down. In another, an adorable blond mom asks her even more adorable blond daughter: “What do you see? It says that mom’s gonna have a baby.”
The Money Shot: For those who don’t want to be in the videos or don’t want to get in the way of the clear star of the show—the test results—there is always the tight close up of the test turning positive. One of the most viewed test result videos on YouTube is simply filmed in a bathroom with an e.p.t. stick—and a clear view of a cup of urine. (If the sight of urine makes you uncomfortable, WombTube is not for you.) Around 1:47, we hear a woman squealing, crying, and repeating, “We’re pregnant.” A subset of this group is the Pee Test + Music. A favorite test results song is “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang, which pops up in more than one video.
Try and Try Again: These often feature women wielding a pee stick like a pro, sometimes noting that they have been trying to conceive for some time. They are either ecstatic at the positive result or promise to keep trying. You can check out one of the rare negative test results I found here. The blue script at the end of this video reads, “I am not about to give up!”
Comic Relief: In a landscape of touching and earnest WombTube videos, it’s nice to find a few that are funny. After all, when faced with such life-changing news, not everyone feels an immediate cocktail of happiness and confidence. There are videos where couples bicker about whether a faint line counts as positive, and one in which a stunned woman tells her husband she wants to take the pee stick to church.
Click here to view a slide show on YouTube pregnancy videos.