Last month, I went to Planned Parenthood to have an Interuterine Device implanted. After having gone through several years of birth control pills, learning through trial and error that condoms won’t always be there for each and every drunken romp (Sorry, Mom!), that EC is more of a punishment than a safety net, and after having endured a near-traumatizing surgical abortion two years ago, I was ready to try an apparently fail-safe form of non-hormonal birth control.
Unfortunately, I found the procedure too painful to undergo. After being informed that if I wriggled too much my uterus could be punctured leading to surgery and risk of serious infection–no pressure, right?–I had to ask my doctor to stop when she was only attempting to measure me.
It hurt and I cried. I told them how I’ve always thought of myself as having a high tolerance for pain and yet I’ve always been surprisingly sensitive to even the most routine gynecological exam. They looked doubtful. I told them that my abortion was so excruciating that I had a panic attack and a seizure. They weren’t listening to me and I felt like I had let them down. I was feeling weak and worried how I was going to prevent future pregnancy without this device. Not to mention, I was completely nude on a raised vinyl bench in a chilly clinic room, my pussy was covered in lube, and my insides felt sore. I allowed myself to continue crying. I was in a feminist space. I felt like this should be OK.
And then I was asked a very stupid question. “Oh, we get it. Are you having bad memories? From your abortion?”
No. I’m not. You’re looking at me like I’m insane when I’m just really, really sensibly pissed off.
I mean, I’m pissed that I’m even here in the first place. Truth be told, I’d love to have a baby and, if I lived in a place that was supportive of women, children, and parents, maybe I’d be a mother already. As it is, when I get pregnant, I have three options:
1. Indenture myself to some man,
2. Suffer the social stigma and absurd stress of being an impoverished, single parent (indenturing myself to the state), or
3. Magically find myself living financially independent of both, which is never going to happen.
So I’m avoiding even having to make that choice right now by preventing parenthood as best I can but, of course, that’s no cake walk either.
I am so fucking pissed off that ALL of my options blow so hard–wasting time at the doctors office, wasting money on pills that I have to take every day that make me feel crazy, using condoms that half of my partners will avoid like the plague, denying myself pleasure refusing to fuck anyone at all, overdosing on hormones when I slip up and spend half a week in tears, or having to abort when all else fails.
The more they tried to calm me down, the more angry I became. I knew that none of this was the fault of the doctors working with me there, that I wasn’t really upset with them, so I just sat there feeling powerless and wept some more.
“Don’t beat yourself up. It’s not an easy procedure.”
Then why not make it an easy procedure? I asked for drugs, and they made it seem beyond their control. People get knocked out for teeth cleanings! For my abortion, they gave me an over-sized Advil. Fuck , I thought I was being responsible, doing the right thing. I couldn’t help but feel that I was being punished.
This pissed me off even more. It was unfair that I had to do this, and it’s even more unfair that ALL WOMEN have to do this, or have an unintended pregnancy, or take crazy pills forever, or have an abortion and men don’t have to do ANYTHING. They don’t have to do anything. Ultimately, they are responsible for nothing. ALL women have to take on ALL the burden of parenthood for ALL of society which really just wants us to pump out babies anyway–just not on our own terms.
I was mad at the world, and I was quite physically uncomfortable in general, and I was so, so disappointed with myself for not being strong enough, and also with the medical establishment for making me feel that way. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the situation, I sat there in front of two very uneasy medical professionals and just shook my head.
It took almost an hour for me to pull myself together. I didn’t want to walk through the waiting room sobbing, perhaps causing the other women in there any added anxiety. My doctor offered to write me more prescriptions for every other form of birth control she could name. I told her that I was done with hormones. She asked me if I wanted to reschedule, try it again. I wasn’t about to waste any more of my time that way. “So, what are you going to do?” I told them I was going to use condoms til I choked and I walked out with about 100 of them.
Just when you think you’re too third-wave to care anymore about reproductive rights, you find yourself naked on a table crying your face off.