When I got pregnant on birth control that's supposedly 99.99% effective
After growing up in a strict Italian Catholic family, I continued to attend mass every Sunday as an adult. I would tell people that it's because it made me feel connected to my family while I was far away from home. The real reason is that I was afraid that if I didn't go God would punish me by allowing me to get pregnant. Of course, I am joking, kind of.
I was on my third method of birth control. After realizing that I wasn't disciplined enough to take the pill on time, that the ring made me gain weight, I decided on the IUD. Low maintenance, nothing to worry about, and 99.9 percent effective. The only problem is that I kept forgetting if it was 'IUD', 'UID', or when I really wanted to embarrass myself, 'DUI'.
My boyfriend and I were about to go on a two-week vacation. We had just returned to our apartment from my company's holiday party and I decided to take a pregnancy test right before our trip. If you couldn't tell from my God punishing me by allowing me to get pregnant joke earlier, I was pretty paranoid. I had also actually just taken a pregnancy test three weeks prior that had came out negative. My paranoeia caused me to have a collection of unused pregnancy tests in the bottom bathroom drawer.
Since I had just had a negative pregnancy test, I was so positive that I wasn't going to be pregnant that I almost forgot to check the results. After all, this was just my peace of mind test. Then there it was, my punishment. It was positive.
I sat in the bathtub with my legs hanging over the edge until my boyfriend began to wonder what was taking me so long in the bathroom. He knocked on the door and I muffled for him to come in. I told him that I was pregnant. He sort of started laughing until I handed him the stick. Neither of us could believe it.
I was still drunk from the holiday party so I somehow managed to get some sleep that night. The next morning I went online to make an appointment with Planned Parenthood for the 'abortion pill.' Sure I was 27-years-old and had health insurance, but I honestly didn't know where else to go where I wouldn't be judged. My boyfriend and I hadn't really discussed it, it was just sort of assumed this is what I would do.
He drove to my appointment. It was his friend's birthday and they were suppossed to hang out that day, but he told him something came up. I was suppossedly "working from home," my co-workers probably assumed that I was hungover from the holiday party. This was actually true, I threw up in the bathroom at Planned Parenthood. Or maybe it was morning sickness?
I went in for the ultrasound, I "was definitely pregnant" was how they worded it. Does that mean that the baby was pretty grown? I found that I was three months pregnant. They asked if I wanted to know the sex or if I was having twins. I told them that I didn't want to know anything. When I told them I had an IUD, they thought I had just had it inserted. Apparantly if you do this right after having sex it sort of works like Plan B. They almost didn't believe me when I told them I had had the IUD for three years.
As I sat in the waiting room, I keep thinking back to the past couple of weeks. How did I miss this? I took a pregnancy test three weeks ago. It was negative. Given that I kept a collection in my bottom bathroom drawer, it's likely that it was expired. I vaguely recall how I stopped liking coffee recently, which was strange because I LOVE the flavor of coffee (coffee candy, coffee ice cream, you name it).
When they called me back in so that I could get my pill, I nervously started to talk about the vacation my boyfriend and I were leaving for the next day.
"You cannot get on a plane after you take this pill. You are going to be in a lot of pain."
We started to weigh our options. 1) I could skip the vacation. 2) I could wait until I returned from vacation. Although then I would have to spend two weeks with a baby inside of me that I knew I was going to abort. 3) I could have a surgical abortion that day.
We went with option three. I took an elevator to the basement, it felt like I was being shunned. A policeman standing in front of the elevator made me think it was just for safety reasons, however, to protect us from protestors. There were maybe about twenty young girls waiting. Some were holding photos of their ultrasounds, which was definitely not what I wanted to see at that time.
Since they were squeezing me in that day, I didn't have an appointment so I had to wait a long time, somewhere between 4-5 hours. Some girls were with their girlfriends, some with their boyfriends. When they came out they were so out of it and their friends/boyfriends had to walk them out. One girl's boyfriend left while she was in operation.
I was not going to be out of it when I came out. Since this was a last-minute decision, I had to be conscious because I hadn't fasted and therefore, couldn't be put under. I was awake for the entire thing, with nothing but essentially a giant ibuprofen that I had taken beforehand (which did actually help my hangover headache).
My boyfriend couldn't go with me, they wouldn't allow others in the operation room. I was, however, able to ask to have someone hold my hand. I can't say enough good things about Planned Parenthood. The doctor and nurses were so kind and considerate. They acted like it was no big deal, like getting a mole removed. The one holding my hand just kept telling me what a great job I was doing. She even picked a loose thread from my sweater.
Following the procedure, I sat in the recovery room and they offered me snacks and drinks. I opted to drink Sprite because I never drink Sprite so I was okay with associating that taste with this moment. They asked me to go into the bathroom to check how much I was bleeding. On the door stall, they had a chart showing different amounts of blood, with a number to coordinate with each image. 'Three' I told the nurse when I came out of the bathroom.
Girls I had previously seen in the waiting room were rolled in on wheelchairs, unconscious with parts of their bodies hanging out of their robes. After some time they told me that I could leave. My boyfriend was surprised to see me walk out the door so casually.
That night I went to the movies. The next day I got on a plane to go on vacation. I cried on the airplane and at the Miami airport during our layover. This is very normal. From my body's perspective, detached from my mind, I had lost a baby.
A few days later, there was lots of blood. I bled through my tampon, my pad, and my clothes on to my boyfriend's mom's couch. We tried to clean it with vinegar, but ended up flipping the cushion.
I am still in shock over this entire experience. The fact that I felt like I had to make a decision so quickly. Maybe I could have waited. Maybe I should have skipped the vacation. Even though I was technically old enough and probably could have supported a child, I wasn't ready to. I ended up getting engaged on that vacation. We have since traveled the world and done so many things together that we couldn't have done if we had had a child.
All I am sure of is how thankful I am for Planned Parenthood. For being so flexible and considerate and knowing what I needed at that time.
Maybe I will feel differently about this experience when we do decide to have a family. Was this my only chance? Will I be able to live with myself knowing that I aborted my child's brother or sister? Sometimes I end up giving his/her a name. Sometimes I wonder if they're somewhere angry with me. Sometimes I conclude that their soul will still be born one day, it just wasn't meant to be at that time and in that body.