I graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic High School in 2002. When I was a sophomore, I had to take sex-ed along with my other classmates. Now, for those of you who went to public school, Catholic sex-ed went a little like this: You kids don’t need to know anything about contraceptives because you’ll all abstain from sex until you get married and once you are married, you’ll practice the art of natural family planning.
As a 15-year-old sophomore, I had no problem with the abstinence-only plan; I was a late bloomer. I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 17 and he never even got to second base. Thankfully, the only thing I got out of that relationship was an occasional unsightly hickey on my neck. Unfortunately, one of these hickeys made its appearance the day I posed for my senior portraits. Trust me, kids, your mom knows exactly what a hickey looks like and, no, it does not resemble a curling iron burn!
I didn’t date much in college; I spent most of my time writing unrequited love poetry, madly obsessing over this one boy and, well, I don’t want to talk about that.
It wasn’t until after I turned 24 and found myself in a real adult relationship that the issue of premarital sex was really brought to the table. I was in love and we were getting engaged and one thing led to another. For propriety’s sake, we’ll just call it an “awakening.”
Yet, this awakening has had its own growing pains, one being my ignorance of contraceptives and how they work. I’ve been on birth control for years now to treat a condition I have called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Since I didn’t necessarily use the pill to prevent pregnancy, I never really paid much attention to how it worked. This became a big problem one time when my doctor changed my prescription.
The new pill I was taking really shortened my period, until one month when I didn’t exactly get it. Like any single 20-something-year-old woman, I panicked. In my mind, you only missed your period for one reason: pregnancy.
I rushed off to the nearby East Haven Walgreens. They close at 10 p.m. on Sundays and the girl locked the glass doors with a look of pity in her eyes as I stood crying on the outside. I ran across the street to Stop & Shop. They also close at 10 p.m. on Sundays and a disgruntled employee who seemed personally offended I'd attempted to walk into the store at closing time, chased me away.
My crying escalated to hysterics.
I didn’t want to panic alone, so I made a phone call. He began to panic too. We drove to downtown New Haven where there is a 24-Hour Walgreens. I walked down to the feminine hygiene aisle and found the pregnancy tests... locked-up. I pushed the button for customer service and waited for an attendant. Obviously, I wasn’t the first young woman in tears who had purchased a pregnancy test from her. She told me she “hoped it came out to be whatever I was hoping for.”
I smiled and said, “Thanks. The timing isn’t great, but I don’t think a little baby is a bad thing.” I was trying to be optimistic.
Leaving the parking lot, he asked me what I planned to do if the test was positive. I said I’d keep the baby. Non-negotiable. He said that might not be the best idea. He said it would be easy to get rid of it. He said this is something people should plan for and that it should happen at the right time.
I agreed – it is something two people should plan for. But that it doesn’t always happen that way. I told him not to worry about it, I’d move back home. My mom would help me. I’d get a job with good health benefits. He said he didn’t want to be a deadbeat dad, but he just wasn’t ready for this.
I jokingly asked if he wanted to talk about baby names, because I had a great one picked out.
He didn’t think that was funny.
I said we’d talk about it after I took the test.
It was negative. I took a second test the next day: negative.
I was still panicking. What if the test was wrong? What if I was a month pregnant and in that month I’d consumed alcohol and countless cups of coffee and some expired lunchmeat! I already felt like a failure as a mother.
I went to the doctor and asked for a third test. Negative.
That’s when I found out how my new birth control worked: it shortened/lightened my period to the point of non-existence. I asked for a different kind of pill.
The way I see it, I’m an adult. Some of my adult actions will have real adult consequences. Eighty-five percent of the American population approves of premarital sex, and most people agree that sex is an important part of an adult relationship. However, since abstinence remains the only 100 percent foolproof way of not getting pregnant, I think if you are having sex you should be prepared for the possibility of conception.
Even though it would have hampered my plans to travel and go back to school, there are a lot of reasons I would have kept the baby, had there been a baby. Some argue, “a baby is too precious and wonderful not to plan for,” but my life experiences lead me to believe the events that derail our plans can actually do us a lot of good, so I go with them and make the best out of it. Besides, my plans usually suck anyway.