Back in the day, when I worked in a cubicle, my Blackberry would yell at me every morning at 11 am on the dot. I'd stop typing up whatever breaking news story I wasn't covering, grab my purse, head to the ladies', kick in a stall, sit on the toilet with my black slacks still intact, reach into the nether regions of my purse, pull out my wallet and extract my birth control pill case from the second to last slot. I'd swallow my little white pill quietly and then go back to the grind as if nothing had happened.
It wasn't that I was ashamed to be taking birth control. When you cover politics, sex is pretty much a foregone conclusion. It's splashed across most front-page headlines and takes down more senators than an elevator.
Thing is, I assumed that popping my b-pill in front of my co-workers was sort of bad manners. Like eating tuna for lunch at your desk.
And birth control is one of the few medications that comes in an instantly recognizable case. Sure, the built-in calendar helps to keep track of your daily hormone dose, but there's TONS of life or death pills folks have to take every single day that don't come in a plastic rectangle (or circle if you're old school) that screams, "SHE'S HAVING SEX, EVERYBODY!"
Perhaps I was just self -conscious in those early years. as so many mid-20s fresh from grad school can be. Eager to prove how smart I was, my sex life (which was non-existent) seemed like a "Hobby" bullet point best left off my walking resume. So I hid the fact that every day I took time out to exercise my reproductive rights. And I'm positive all the other women in the office did the same.
Now I work in the spare room of my apartment. Less that a "home office," it's more like a super-sized utility closet with odds and ends including my boyfriend's bicycle, the ironing board, an extra leaf of the dining room table and oh, right, Helena's desk.
Anyway, now that I work from home, I can pop my pill with wild abandon and the freedom has infiltrated my everyday.
No matter where I am at 11 am -- the post office, the vet, or in front of a Catholic Church -- when my alarm starts screaming with the blinking message "Pill! Pill! Pill!" I do what I'm told. Only recently, when I threw back a small one at a crowded bus stop did I second-guess myself, "I wonder what that old lady with the push cart is thinking?" I doubt she judged me any harsher than she did the man who didn't give up his seat.
And that got me to thinking about all the other women and girls out there who feel judged for no other tangible reason aside from the general cultural consensus that b-pill popping is somehow subversive.
So how do you do it? Do you swallow your pill in a bathroom stall, flushing just as you take that big gulp so no one hears? Or will you throw one back in the boardroom in front of your boss?