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Contraceptive Chaos

Sometimes I really question the effectiveness of an abstinence-only sex education program…

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.

Marty March 05, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I don't care if women take birth control or not -- it's their choice. What I don't get is how they are demanding that the birth control be covered for free with no deductible. Why isn't my blood pressure medication covered for free so I don't have to pay my $20 a month deductible? Or am I understanding this debate wrong?
RONALD M GOLDWYN March 05, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Marty, You are understanding this article wrong. Ms Dixon was discussing the options she has to prevent pregnancy and if she does get pregnant. The cost of contraceptives is for another debate and so is the cost of your medical needs.
Peggy March 06, 2012 at 07:34 PM
There is nothing wrong with an abstinence only sex education. I honestly don't even understand why this young lady is having sex out of wedlock and why no one else seems to have an issue with it. Sex, even in a sanctified union should be for the purpose of conceiving a child. If you are not married, you are in no position to be brining a baby into this world. Single parents who are single by choice are completely negating the importance of the opposite sex in their child's life. There is a reason it takes a man and a woman to make a baby. This article seems like a cry from a promiscuous young woman looking for validation from her promiscuous peers for her lifestyle choices.
RONALD M GOLDWYN March 06, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Peggy, I really didn't didn't think that there were women alive that held your beliefs. Your thinking is from my parents generation and they were born 100 years ago. Back then women could not even vote and bars had women's entrances. As a father and grandfather I have no objection to today's morality. I only think sperm donors should be more responsible. Remember we are talking about consenting adults.
Starla May 15, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I think the doctor should share some of the blame for the panic he caused. By changing this woman's prescription, he also failed to inform her of the changes in her period, or the lack thereof. It is a good idea to let any doctor know your views and feelings up front. That you want him to be as forthcoming with information as possible. Even something as routine as my blood pressure. The nurse never told me what it was, she would only say, its fine. I had to instruct my doctor to tell her I wanted to know the number.

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