Well, in the didn’t-see-that-coming category this week, I found myself gulping down a “morning-after” pill late Tuesday – thereby making it a night-after pill, technically.
I’ll spare you all the details of precisely how Joe and I found ourselves in this situation, but because time was of the essence, the whole episode felt emotionally disconcerting and dizzying.
We’d always planned to give ourselves two years with Lily before talking about the possibility of having one more child, so we hadn’t made a decision, or even talked about it. We HAVE briefly discussed how we each intellectually fluctuate on the issue constantly. On a good day, another kid sounds fun; on a dear-God-just-kill-me-now day, keeping the one kid we already have with us sounds dicey.
So given these circumstances, and the fact that it’s wholly possible that no pregnancy would have resulted from this hiccup with our birth control, I was surprised that I felt a little sad through the whole experience. Part of it, I’ll admit, was feeling dread about going to a drugstore and disclosing something so intimately personal. I’m a very private person – she writes on her blog (?!) – and I imagined a judgmental pharmacist, or a disapproving customer overhearing and scowling at me. This wouldn’t make me feel guilty about my choice or deter me, even if it happened, but I didn’t want to deal with it nonetheless.
“You know, it’s not like we’re not married. You have a ring on your finger,” Joe pointed out.
“To people who are hardcore on the issue, that doesn’t matter,” I responded.
Ultimately, Joe offered to stop at a drugstore on Tuesday and buy a pill, and I happily took him up on the offer. My body was the one being messed with, I reasoned; let Joe, who seemed to have no qualms or trepidation, take care of the public end of things.
He called shortly before coming home from work that day, and he told me it was taken care of. “I wanted to let you know, because I know you were nervous about it.” But the weird thing was, I hadn’t been. Once the burden of procuring the pill was off me, I’d promptly forgot about it and went about my day, getting Lily to and from daycare and working. I don’t think I’d thought of it once.
A surprise to both of us was the price – $50 for a single pill – but as Joe pointed out, it’s well worth it; I just wondered how someone struggling to get by would be able to afford it.
And because the box and instructions emphasized that the sooner the pill is taken, the more effective it is, I immediately popped it from its moorings and swallowed it. The whole experience felt surreal. I think it’s partly because I’m someone who’s meticulous in my decision-making, perhaps to the point of obsessiveness. Joe and I dated for more than eight years before getting engaged, and we waited five years after getting married to have a real talk about having a child. So I don’t take life decisions lightly.
But the nature of this situation, of course, is there was no time for slow, careful processing. I knew what I had to do, but I didn’t like how I had to do it.
I considered all this as I watched Lily color on sheets of paper printed with text on one side. The text is often from academic journal articles about author Isaac Babel, which was the focus of a free-lance research and writing assignment I had years ago, and copies from short story workshops I’d attended long ago. “It’s like she’s coloring right over my past,” I’ve thought these last few days.
But the pill I had to swallow this past week felt like I was doing the same to one possible future for myself, vague and inscrutable as it might be in the moment. I have no regrets, and I know it’s the right choice for us; but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a strange, surprising hint of sadness about it.