When I was 16, I started taking the pill in order to help ease my period symptoms. The first doctor I went to was our family doctor. A woman that I had been visiting twice a year for practically my entire life looked me straight in the eye and said, “You don’t need birth control, it’s all in your head.” Sitting in the parking lot immediately after that, I shakily dialed the number and made an appointment with my nearest Planned Parenthood. They saw me a little over a week later and prescribed me the lowest dose of Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo. They also tested me for STD’s and made sure that I understood the risks of having unprotected sex. For the next five years, I visited my Planned Parenthood and took my pills on time.
At that point, my period had become extremely predictable, but the pain remained. Being a college sophomore at the time, I was stressed out over money, grades, my roommates, and my dreaded cycle. It had become a regular thing for me to skip classes on the first day of my period because I literally couldn’t get out of bed.
At 22, I decided to go for it and have an appointment with an actual gynecologist. She was knowledgeable, well-liked, and affordable. Although I liked her demeanor and office decor, she recommended I stop taking my pills and just use condoms since I wasn’t having any relief from my cramping. The subsequent withdrawal I experienced was unlike any other due to the strong shift in hormones. She had lead me to believe that all the hormones I’d been taking for five years had poisoned my system. I later found out that she held her own religious beliefs and had discouraged many women from taking typical birth control pills. A year after I had stopped taking my pills, my periods stopped coming.
My emotional state as a result of not having extra hormones was abysmal. I would go from laughing, to crying, to pure rage over simple (and stupid) things. I went back to my lovable gynecologist and told her what was happening. We ran a few tests to determine that I was not pregnant but underweight. She gave me two choices: go back to the pills or get pregnant.
At the time, I was planning my wedding and we knew that after 3 years of being engaged, we would start a family right away. After I had my son, my husband and I decided that I would track my cycles, and we would use condoms if we ended up having sex “in the window” of conception. After the birth of our daughter, we also agreed that he would be getting a vasectomy.
The questions started after that.
“Don’t you want more kids?”
No. No I don’t. And my more sarcastic inner voice asked, “Are you going to take care of them?”
“But what if you guys split up?”
Then he will have bigger problems to deal with; the ability to not have children after ours doesn’t really concern me, now does it?
“Why didn’t you just get your tubes tied?”
A few reasons. It’s a surgery, and I take care of two kids all day. I’ve never had a c-section, and I had both of my kids at home, so there was never an opportune time to “just get” my tubes tied. Also, the cost of getting my tubes tied was huge compared to my husband’s vasectomy.
I hate that as a woman I feel as though I have to justify my decision. There is no shame in preventing pregnancy when you aren’t ready to have kids, and there is nothing wrong with concluding the process when you’re done having kids.