That Time I Needed Emergency Contraception As A 30-Something Mother Of Two

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Shutterstock

My husband and I are planners. We married young and bought a home by the time we were in our mid-20’s. It was in our plan to have children shortly after ticking those items off our Grown-Up Life list, and it all happened pretty predictably. We got pregnant quickly for both of our children with only one hiccup. I had issues with ovarian cysts growing on one side. Despite having that ovary removed during my first c-section, I was advised to forego hormonal birth control for the rest of my reproductive years as long-term use could encourage growths on my other ovary. Copper IUD’s freaked me out, so that left us with few options. Condoms like high school kids, or pull-and-pray.

For the time between my two pregnancies, we used condoms. After our second child was born, we used them again for a little while, and then kind of volleyed between pull-and-pray and prophylactics. Since we were so young when we had our kids, we weren’t quite ready for permanent measures, so we suffered through the annoying rubbers and the occasional well-timed…evacuation. It always worked for us. Well, up until a few weeks ago.

We like to drink and play cards with our friends. Nothing wild, but we live close together and go to each others’ houses some weekends. Let the kids play, order some pizzas and sushi, drink some wine. Our most recent get-together was at our house a few weeks ago, so I let loose a bit more than usual knowing neither of us needed to drive and I could just go to sleep after everyone left. I’ll be quite frank here — I got kinda unexpectedly blitzed.

After our friends went home, the kids went to sleep and, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ll spare you the graphic detail but a semi-drunken conversation about how we were only getting older and maybe we should just give this “third baby” thing a shot led to us not pulling. And we definitely weren’t praying.

Now, before I’m judged for drunkenly deciding to procreate, know that we’ve been wanting a third child for some time but haven’t been bold enough. It’s not like wine made me suddenly realize I needed another baby — it’s been brewing for years. We actually had a miscarriage about a year ago and that baby was very much planned. It’s taken us this long to get back to that conversation and decide once and for all what we want to do before we’re too old for it to no longer be an option. We are scared of the possibility of another loss, the sleepless nights, the financial strain and a host of other things, but deep down, we do want another child eventually. This timing just wasn’t the best.

I woke the next morning with a rollicking and much-deserved hangover. Who was I? What was my name? Did I seriously eat all that sushi and also, drink enough Cabernet to float a boat? Why, yes. Yes I did. And you know that thing that happens the morning after tying one on where you slowly start having flashes of shit that happened the night before? Mine came like lightning bolts, zapping my brain back into our harsh reality. Helping me remember exactly what had gone down.

“Did we seriously do what I think we did last night?” I asked my husband, who hadn’t drunk nearly as much as I had (we keep someone sober for the kids — grade-A parenting!). “Yeah. We did. Are you cool with it? You said you were. We’ve talked about the third baby thing so many times. Were you that drunk?? Oh my God. You aren’t ok, are you? You aren’t. Oh my God.” We laid in silence for several minutes. I picked up my phone and looked at the calendar. The timing was absolutely perfect. Based on how easily I seem to get pregnant, I knew in my gut there was a solid chance we could be welcoming Baby Sushi and Cabernet in 2016.

Now, I could go down the litany of reasons why it wasn’t the right month. Or why it might never be the right month. It doesn’t matter. The point is, I made an error in judgement and luckily, we live in a state where “Plan B” emergency contraceptive is readily available at any pharmacy. I knew what I needed to do to quell the panic rising in my throat. I told my husband that I wanted to take emergency contraception and he agreed it was the right choice. A third baby would be welcomed and loved by us, but right now, we’re just not ready.

I jumped in the shower and threw on clothes. I wondered how put-together I should appear for a woman about to take the “morning after” pill. Should I look disheveled or dress like my usual self (which is a bit disheveled…but I digress)? Wedding rings? Would the pharmacist judge me more or less if I had them on? I was definitely over-thinking it, as is my usual way. Of course, it wasn’t my way at 11:00 pm the night before, or I wouldn’t have found myself in this predicament.

Before I left, I did some Googling. I thought I knew the ins and outs of Plan B, but never having used it before, I wanted to be sure of the facts. Of emergency contraception, WebMD says, “Most use the same hormones that are in regular birth control pills. The emergency-use pills mainly work by stopping the release of an egg. The pills also may stop sperm from fertilizing the egg. They also may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.” It doesn’t cause an abortion, like so many think, it just stops you from getting pregnant to begin with. Like a super-charged birth control pill. That worked for me and my conscience.

And as it turned out, I didn’t need to worry about the hairy eye from a pharmacist. Though they were each trapped inside a security device normally reserved for small electronics, those beautiful little saviors were right next to the condom selection. Over-the-mother-fucking-counter. I breathed a sigh of relief, plucked one from the shelf and stuck it in my cart. I was also buying baby wipes, frozen vegetables and Halloween candy. Just another item on my Target list. I loved that. How easy it was to get.

I made a dumb joke with the cashier about needing my “special” item to be a separate purchase so I could pay for it with our HSA funds and she was incredibly kind and gracious. Discreet. Not even a hint of shame or judgment. $50 later, I was out the door.

When it came time to tear it open, I hesitated for a moment. I thought of our future. The fact that we really aren’t getting any younger and maybe this was what we needed to push us toward that third baby we’ve been hemming and hawing over for the last several years. Then, the moment vanished, as quickly as it’d arrived. It simply wasn’t our time. I filled a glass of water, tugged the pill from it’s layers of packaging, and swallowed it. The relief that flooded me a few minutes later confirmed that I’d made the right decision. We were going to be ok.

Not everyone who needs emergency contraception is young and careless or in a bad relationship or financially unstable. Sometimes, you just make a mistake. That one time you had too much wine. That week you totally spaced on your birth control pills. It happens. But I thought it couldn’t happen to me. I feel so lucky that I was able to do something about it quickly and not spend a few weeks worrying before knowing my fate. This incident made me realize more than ever the grave importance of easy availability of emergency contraception. All women need this simple and safe option to put a stop to an unplanned pregnancy. I’m so glad to live in a time and place where I had such a choice.

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