After Fighting Infertility For Years, I'm Back On The Pill, And Thankful For It All Over Again
In 2010, at 28, I stopped taking the Pill after having taken it for a decade. We were going to start trying to build a family, and stopping the Pill was exhilarating and terrifying. OK, body. Let's see what you can do.
Turns out my body didn't want to cooperate. After six months, I had a chemical pregnancy, a blink-or-you'll-miss-it moment of excitement. A year after that, I had an ectopic pregnancy. And then the full-fledged infertility began -- months of drugs and IUI, and therapy to deal with all of it. Meanwhile, my periods were becoming debilitating, and I finally had a laparoscopic procedure to burn away the endometriosis we all figured was there. The periods got worse.
I needed to stop.
Knowing that the Pill would be therapeutic in both medical and emotional ways, I called my gynecologist and asked for a prescription, and got it that evening.
And when I popped that first Pill, I felt like a new person. It didn't take long for the physical changes to occur also -- my skin cleared, weight loss became easier, my moods evened out, my periods became bearable.
I saw a stretch of time ahead of me that would be just mine. I suppose I thought this step would feel sad and defeating. Instead, I just felt exhilarated.
I got a small reimbursement check from my gynecologist's office because I had overpaid a bill. I spent it on Bikini Kill albums. I got a check for contributing a chapter of feminist commentary to a book. I earmarked it for two new tattoos. I threw myself into my work, went to concerts in the middle of the week with girlfriends, and drank vodka sodas and strong coffees with impunity, never worrying what cycle day I was on.
I started planning house projects with my husband without thinking about where we could fit a crib. Our life together was our own, and my life as myself felt whole again. I began frantically mortaring the hard, heavy bricks that were barely holding up my life.
I woke up from an infertility nightmare, which had stunted my personal and emotional growth.
It wasn't until this moment that I fully understood the the vehement rhetoric against birth control itself and the Affordable Care Act's mandatory coverage of it. Feeling this sense of overwhelming freedom and control made me understand what we are actually up against on a new, more personal, level.
People like Mike Huckabee -- who recently bloviated about the Pill and women, in regard to reproduction and libido and "Uncle Sugar" -- are against something much deeper than insurance mandates.
They are against women like me who, with contraception, can take control of their own lives. We can work without worrying that debilitating cramps and/or unplanned pregnancies will keep us from working. We buy feminist punk rock, go out with friends, and focus just on ourselves. We don't submit to anyone, including our uteruses.
When we have control, we are uncontrollable.
This is the real problem. Huckabee and his ilk have proven time and time again that they don't understand the science behind reproductive rights; however, their doubling down against contraception coverage is revealing what's behind the curtain -- and that's a fear of female power and control.
From a financial standpoint, we know that covering contraception and female health services makes sense. Imagine how much money my health insurance company will save this year. They might be absorbing a small copay for the Pill every month, but they won't need to worry about another laparoscopic surgery, or prescription pain medication, or therapy, or progesterone supplements… it makes financial sense. When women can control their fertility, they can become more equitable in a society - -in education, work, and finances.
The Pill allows women to have control over their health and their lives. This, then, is the real problem.
If my body is my own, and I can control it, then that flies in the face of patriarchal religious and social structures.
If we peruse women's history and women's literature, it's easy to notice that historically, women with the most power had to essentially "de-sex" themselves, avoiding marriage and/or children in order to write and work.
With advances in menstrual products and oral contraceptives, each generation of women was freed a little more from the social and physical constrictions of menstruation and fertility. All of a sudden, everything changed.
In the microcosms of our own lives, we can feel these changes. When women are not tied to their uteruses with fear and pain, they can get a lot of shit done. We have to remember that these fights aren't really about "big government." They are about the fear of women having control.
I knew all of this, but I never felt it so deeply.
Of course, the Pill/hormonal birth control isn't for everyone. For me and my endometriosis, though, stepping away from infertility back into this more comfortable, balanced, controlled world has been a lifesaver.
Month after month, I had been painfully thrust into reproductive confusion and torture. Having a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, fertility treatments, failures, and endometriosis -- there's something about running the gamut of reproductive woes that made me (and others) realize how unbelievably terrifying, powerful, and powerless our bodies can be, and how important it is to have as much control as we can -- for our health, our well-being, and so no one else can control us.
I didn't need to start a new chapter a few months ago; I needed to start an entirely new book. My cure for infertility wasn't pregnancy, or Clomid, or IUI. It was the Pill. There will probably be a time in the future where I do open that new book, finish a Pill pack, and try again.
But for now, I'm harnessing what power I can, and taking control. And it feels amazing.