Memories of planned parenthood, Hormonal Birth Control, and Deep Wisdom

I got pregnant at 17 years of age when I was a junior in high school. Believe it or not, it happened on prom night, the one time many of us are told to be careful (or is that just in the movies?) To the best of my ability, I was careful, but things happened, and I won’t go into it, and that is where I ended up: with memories of planned parenthood, and hormonal birth control, and also, a newfound connection to my deep inner knowing.

I knew right away that I would go to planned parenthood to have it “taken care of” (Actually, I hate that phrasing, and my reflections on this event are something that I may go into another time because even 17 years later, I am still unraveling and grieving this choice that I made. I don’t take this decision lightly, and actually, 17 years later, I see life and this experience entirely differently. It’s not simple, and I don’t want to pretend that it is or was. I continue to carry that story and choice with me even today.)

At this moment, I want to draw attention to something that happened after the procedure. Specifically, *one* aspect of what happened after because where does one moment end and another begin? (What can I say: come to a philosopher’s blog, receive the writing of a philosopher.)

After receiving an abortion, I went to a follow-up appointment at the planned parenthood in Michigan, and the thing that I remember most is at the end of the appointment, the “professional” I was speaking with handed to me and gently insisted that I begin taking hormonal birth control pills. She didn’t ask whether or not I wanted them or felt I needed them, or believed that they would be a good fit for me and my life. It was a sliding the pills across the table sort of moment.

Yes, I was 17, sexually active (deeply in love), and had just accidentally become pregnant. (If there are any accidents at all. hm) But listen, even at 17, I (and you) are intelligent, observant, and capable of learning from our choices. Even at 17 (or 10 or 34 or 64), we are capable of checking in with our bodies to decide what is best for us.

I checked in with myself, and I decided hormonal birth control pills were not a good fit for me, so I kindly refused them. It was an inner-knowing, if you will. My wisdom was shining through, big and bright. I said no to the lady attempting to decide my fate.

This planned parenthood lady came back with, “it’s really a good idea if you take these pills and begin the plan immediately.”

She did not ask me any questions or ask about what I learned from my experience or where I went wrong if there even is such a thing. She did not check in with me at all, she simply insisted that she knew what was best.

But I checked in with me. I heard myself loud and clear, no pills for me.

So I said again, “No, thank you. I am not interested in those pills.”

Believe it or not, she had a rebuttal. Ha! She came back and insisted with the attitude of, “you clearly cannot handle being sexually active, so this is the best move for you. Trust me.”

For some reason, I did not trust her. People who refuse my truth, inner knowing, decisions, and consciousness don’t sit right with me.

This occurred almost two decades ago, and I remember it clearly. I couldn’t believe the resistance to my decision and clear statement of refusal. It didn’t matter that I was 17 or that I had experienced an unintentional pregnancy. I am not and have never been mindless (and neither are you), I was a learning child (and so were you.) I was connected to my body and always have been (and so have you).

She didn’t offer any education or side effects or ask any curious questions of me. It was a moment of insisting. Was she looking out for my best interest? Maybe she believed so, but anything that doesn’t ask good questions and listen to the answer and believe me when I share how I feel doesn’t seem like it has my best interest in mind. At least not according to my standards.

We went back and forth for a while. Bless my assertive 17-year-old heart.

And then something funny happened, my inner knowing began to fade, and I began to cave in. I started to think that maybe this “professional” does know more than me about my own body. Perhaps she is right and does know what is best for me. Maybe I should listen to what she is telling me.

So eventually, I said “fine,” and I took the pills for a sliding scale rate that they offered. I tossed them the change in my pocket because at 17 that is all I had to my name.

And I began the pills, either that day or the next. I set the alarm on my phone to remember to take the pills at the same time every day, and I popped those tiny things into my mouth every evening.

And then an even funnier thing happened: I hated the entire experience. Believe it or not, I started the process with some enthusiasm, too, but the pills made it hard for me to like them.

Living in connection to my phone alarm every 24 hours had me feeling like Pavlov’s dog. No matter where I was, probably at a friend’s house watching a movie, my alarm would go off, and I would excuse myself to eat a pill. I hated that if I missed the alarm because I was at a track and field event or something, I would have a little fear and worry about the repercussions and now had to double up on pills to ensure they would be effective.

I felt incredibly disconnected from nature for the brief time I ingested hormonal birth control pills. Brilliantly, at 17, I had no idea how I even knew this was what I felt, it was some sort of deep wisdom within me. I felt disconnected from the natural world, which stands as my guide and it’s what I wanted (and still want) to connect with. Nature is my teacher. I constantly learn from her; the most brilliant lessons of my life come from nature. I don’t remember learning about this connection in school, but maybe I did, but it was probably somewhere along the line from a brilliant friend of mine, or perhaps it was just an understanding.

During this time of pill consumption, I felt disconnected from the flow of nature. I am a woman, and a human, and I am nature, and all of that felt numbed and dimmed once I was taking the pills.

These pills affected my mood and weight, and I felt out of my body. I wasn’t in control, and the experience felt uncomfortable and bloated and frustrating, and irritable. This was unpleasant. Period.

I hated the avenue through which I initially accepted these pills: force and coercion. Believe it or not, I didn’t even want to have sex after this experience for a very long time. It was devastating, emotional, painful, and just plain sad. I didn’t need a professional (whatever that even means) from planned parenthood telling me I could not handle my choices. I can and I could, and honestly, it all kind of took care of itself because of the trauma of the abortion. All of that, along with the fact that experiences like the one I went through really help us to develop our awareness and understanding of the self and our choices. We learn, grow, change, and we make different choices. Regardless, anything that requires force is not for me.

Additionally, I had always loved my cycle because it was easy and consistent. Every 28 days, I would have my period, which happened so effortlessly. I loved this about my body, and when I started to take hormonal birth controls, this changed. This rhythm was lost. I felt regimented and like a machine that I didn’t build. It wasn’t me. I was on the flow of the birth control clock.

This entire experience was not for me, or maybe it was because I lived it. Maybe it was for me because there were great lessons learned. Maybe it was because now I share this memory.

I lasted on this birth control plan for less than a year until I finally said, “fuck this!” and I stopped taking the pills. I didn’t ask for permission, I didn’t notify anyone, especially at planned parenthood. It was as simple as no longer driving to the Ann Arbor location to throw them pocket change in exchange for hormones. Then, I lived happily ever after.

Ha. Sorta.

Except, it took almost a year to return to my normal flow. (At the time, I hated this, too). For a while, I was worried that I had forever lost the natural rhythm of my flow. The rhythm I had experienced since age 12. Beautifully, there is something so wise about the body: it’s resilient and in tune with nature, and with time and care, it will return home again to its flow.

And it did, and I am grateful, and I will never go back to those pills.

It doesn’t matter if we are 10, 17, 34, or 64, we all have a deep knowing and wisdom. Perhaps we need a reminder or a remembering of how. Maybe these pills helped me to remember how, and perhaps I/We already knew.

Maybe we were never taught how to tap into our body or listen to its guidance with certainty, or maybe we were actually discouraged from connecting to our bodies. Many of us learned along the way to numb our body, dim its wisdom, and neglect its brilliant guidance.

We know our bodies and always have, and we know what is best for our bodies, even if there are bumps in the road and moments of neglect. We can always return home to ourselves and remember whenever we want to do so. Our bodies are brilliant, and so are we, and we can access this brilliance at any time. We can stand confidently in our decisions, too.

It’s funny, I look back at 17 year old me, and I admire her so much because she was fierce, funny, brave, and gave it her all. She endured the lessons and came out the other side so wise and in tune and closer to home. She was deeply connected and sometimes doubted that connection, but she always returned home to herself. Oh my god, I love how she said no to doctors who didn’t understand a human’s relationship to nature. Oh my god, may doctors everywhere find their connection to nature.

This is not a story of a victim or someone who was swayed from her truth. This is a story of a young gal who used her voice, tried her best, and learned that she holds wisdom and a connection to God, nature, women, and truth. This story is about a young gal who wants me to share because you hold all of this brilliance, too.

Can this serve as a reminder? Can this act as a guide?


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