Here’s My Story Morning Glory: Birth Control and Birthdays

ozobot going away

I woke up on Wednesday with this on my mind, have been writing it since, and figured I’d share since at least the first half may be useful anecdotal experience to help someone decide what to do in their own safe sex and/or family planning journey.

If this may be TMI, so what who cares, I think people should talk about this stuff more and I’m an oversharer and open book in everyday life anyway, so here goes. (But fair warning to anyone who may grow uncomfortable.)

Another fair warning – this will be one of my more, shall we say, manifesto-y posts (read: complain-y). I’m not apologizing for it, as I’ve spent far too much of my life and energy worrying about if something I say could rub someone the wrong way or cause them to think less of me. All I’m trying to do now is be honest about the way I feel in the moment, and it if comes across complain-y, just know that Reid has had to endure way worse of my diatribes than I’ll ever subject you to read through. XD

Series of What I’ve Used for BC

I guess first, I’ll start with a confession. Juicy of me, I know…
I waited to have sex until my and Reid’s wedding night. I can probably write a whole ‘nother blog about that choice but, for the purpose of today’s post, I’ll just leave it at that to say that I didn’t start trying out birth control until we were engaged and within a few months of the wedding.

Also confession, I can’t swallow pills. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a great immune system and good health, so this quirk hasn’t proved too much of an issue. And, knowing myself with my not-so-great stick-to-routine-ability, I probably wouldn’t stay committed to taking the pill at the same time every single day religiously anyway, so that wasn’t an option on the table.

Nuvaring

First up, in late fall semester 2012, I tried out the Nuvaring for a month, and liked it okay. No side effect complaints within that one month, but after I read some online reviews about how if you leave it in during sex then dudes can feel it and talked to Reid about it, we decided that a whole perk of me being on birth control is that you don’t have to feel anything external (like a condom) included in the experience. You can take it out for sex without a lapse in protection as long as you put it back in within 4 hours, but that seemed more of a hassle than a condom sheesh. So I abandoned the Nuvaring plan.

BC Shot

I want to say it was around that time I was reading the Fifty Shades series, and in it Christian and Ana decide that she should go on the birth control shot. It’s just once every 3 months, super effective, and I’m not scared of needles, so I said sign me up and got rolling with the hormone injections in March 2013.

First off, just look at these notes I took in my phone from my first appointment where they taught me how to give the shot TO MYSELF. In the book, she goes into the doctor’s office every time to get it, but my doctor told me they just fill the prescription at a pharmacy then the patient does it. Oh joy –

So, that’s a lot to overthink, but I’m a good little patient and learned how, and did it for myself for the first year after the wedding.

Then, I did indeed start to get in my own head every time it would come to the moment of truth: stabbing the needle in. I developed a helpful (not) habit of stopping my hand’s momentum before the point made it to my thigh. So, I asked Reid if he would learn how to do it for me, which he was very willing to do, and did in September 2014.

In December 2014, Reid’s second time to help, I get the spot ready then look away, look back at what’s going on after he started injecting, and the needle isn’t in all the way to the base. Just the tip of the needle is in, so the good stuff is going into my skin, not the thigh muscle.

Called the doctor, who said I most likely wouldn’t be protected, so we’d have to use condoms for 3 months until the next dose (because it’s not good to double up, just in case). That was when I said screw the shot, and also, found out later that once more studies were done on it, the AVERAGE weight gain in the first year on it is 20 lbs, double what the average is for other methods.

Nexplanon (arm implant)

In February 2015, I got an appointment to decide what I’d try next, then after telling the gyno my story she recommended the implant, so I got an appointment to have that inserted in April 2015. It stays in for 3 years before you have it removed (or you can have it taken out any time) and then you can either have a new one put in to continue protection, but my thought and plan was that Reid and I would for sure be ready to start trying to start a family by the expiration date in 2018, and that the 3-year run line would be pretty perfect.

Finally, The Pull-out Method (Plus occasional condom use)

Well, 2018 came and I let Reid know that I would be making my appointment to have the Nexplanon taken out in April. He asked what my plan for BC would be moving forward from that.

I am of the opinion that women have to bear too much of the reproductive responsibility and hardship in this world. I mean, we get the periods, the cramps, the mood swings, the feminine products expense, everything else that comes with menstruation, the higher risk of STDs because of the anatomy, the pregnancy, the nursing, the changes in our bodies and hormones and mental health, AND all of the side effects from the birth control that we electively endure to prevent the other stuff until we’re ready. I find it absolutely ridiculous that the study on male birth control was halted because the male participants complained about the side effects… the very side effects that women have come to accept as an unavoidable part of our everyday lives. But I digress.

I’m the one who gained 30 lbs the year I got on birth control and beat myself up that it was solely because I was lazy and unmotivated (TBH that was for sure part of it, but I’ve never really exercised regularly ever, so it’s no coincidence that the one year I gained weight in was the one I started BC). I’m the one who lost my period while on the shot and implant (which was actually pretty dang nice, but), worrying and wondering if that meant it was forever altering anything about my fertility. I’m the one who now has two scars on my arm from the insertion of the Nexplanon and the removal where they cut it out with a scalpel. I’m the one who has to get up to pee after sex otherwise risk UTIs while Reid can just pass out, and (when I was on BC) I’m the one who has to feel stuff leaking out of me while walking around after sex (told you I’m not afraid of TMIs). Also, it’s harder and a less percentage of women who can even come solely from the act of penetration whereas that’s pretty ideal for dudes, so at times it can feel like sex is catered to men. And, I’M the one who has been wanting to start trying to start a family for a while now, Reid’s the one saying he’s not ready yet. So, to put it probably more bluntly than necessary, I don’t give a flying unicorn’s cherry kumquat if it’s “inconvenient” or “not as enjoyable” to wear condoms or pull out, I’m not putting any more birth control hormones in my body until after I have my first baby.

I had multiple friends who also wanted to take a break from BC and had been pulling out with their partners with success for years. It’s probably not the best advice to give to people, but despite my mom’s warnings, the pull out method has been working just fine, thank you very much.

Unless… it doesn’t, but I just wouldn’t know the difference because I’m secretly infertile (and you can’t even know if there’s an issue until you’ve been trying for at least a year because doctors won’t do a fertility test without cause for concern so I could be 30 before we’d even know at this point). Oh hello anxiety, there you are.

🎶 It’s My Birthday, I’ll have Existential Dread if I Want To 🎶

This all ties into how it’s my birthday week, and I’m having just a slight meltdown about turning 28. Side note, how long is a quarter life crisis supposed to last anyway? Except, while most days I think I’d like to live to 100, it gets harder to commit to making it to 112, so maybe now I’ll have to say I’m having a 7/25ths life crisis, which just really doesn’t roll off the tongue as well. *Sigh*

This also ties into and brings me back to the meltdown I mentioned I had with Reid two weeks ago the night before dying my hair pink, relating to two things: birth control (babies) and working on his business (our current venture when I’d like to be switching focus to having babies).

My sister texted me about switching up her BC, not even to start trying yet, just a conversation about methods and deciding what to go with but then it triggered all these thoughts and feelings that suddenly flooded my brain with, “UGGHHHHH EVERYONE IS GOING TO HAVE BABIES BEFORE ME,” and I started crying to Reid. He then said, “Danielle, you know what they say about comparison, that you shouldn’t.” To which I sassily replied, “I’m not comparing myself to others’ journeys, I’m comparing to where I wanted to be for my OWN life plan,” and stormed away to cry in the bathroom.

I know it may be shocking to hear that I once had a very singular plan, as I’m not a planner, but maybe I’m like that now because I’m rebelling against all the good planning has ever done for me in this most important area to me. I had this plan to be a young mom; since Reid and I got married at 22, I was thinking and hoping (and communicating to him and pretty much anyone else I came into contact with) that would mean I’d get to work for 3-4 years and then become a young stay-at-home mom. I wanted 3 kids by 30 (ideally two girls and one boy so that we can have one of each but also sisters, not that I’ve thought about this extensively), and ideally one at 25, one at 27, then the last at 29. Let’s revisit this again, I’m turning… t w e n t y – e i g h t. Womp, womp.

A few weeks ago, Reid’s cousin was in town and we were standing around the kitchen talking when she gave me a surprisingly affirming compliment. I can’t remember exact words but she said something to the effect of, “I admire how you seem to know exactly who you are and you’re not afraid to be authentically yourself.” Surprising, because I would never say this about myself, as I’ve been struggling with feeling conviction in knowing myself and what I want to do. However, as soon as she said it, I felt immediately like it’s true. In actuality, I do know myself well, and I’ve probably known what I want for longer and more surely than many. I’ve just struggled with questioning my “knowing” of my desires, maybe partly because of how often my dreams have been questioned by others.

I’m sure people mean well, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much pushback I hear whenever I say I want to be a stay-at-home-mom and that I’ve wanted to ever since I can remember stating it in high school. I’ve heard so many variations of the below and more –

  • “You’re so young! You have so much time, don’t rush.”
  • “You should wait to have kids, enjoy your twenties with your husband!”
  • “How do you know you want to be a mom? Motherhood is HARD!”
  • “Are you sure it isn’t just because of your conservative Texas upbringing by a stay-at-home-mom that makes you want to do the same?”

I’m not saying other people don’t receive similar probing questions when presenting their career plans that are probably well-intentioned to inspire intentional consideration. I’m just saying that the end result of those conversations is more likely, “So, early-twenties gal, you want to be a lawyer and help people who need legal representation? You’ve thought about this, and feel like you’ll find meaning in the work? Great, well get yourself to law school and make it happen!” rather than, “But law school is DIFFICULT, you can always go back to school in your 30s, push it off, enjoy your twenties!”

I’m also saying, I’ve allowed myself to grow more discouraged by any questioning than I should have, which led to all my internal questioning about purpose and calling and what I’m meant to do. Plus, you know, it makes things slightly more difficult when what I know I want to do with my life is dependent on another person wanting the same thing at the same time.

To address the age-related comments (and back to the anxiety briefly), it’s funny to me how people are so quick to say there’s no rush to have children when the ability to conceive and carry babies is actually one element of life with a very real physical and biological deadline. I am probably even more aware of this than most, as both my mom and Grammie had to have a hysterectomy in their 30s (late 30s, but still, you just never know).

Recently, I heard from someone who waited to start trying until 29 and found that she couldn’t conceive. The doctor said if they had tried in her early 20s it would have been fine, but something happened to her ovaries between the age of 25 and 29, so essentially they waited too long.

I like to think of myself as a forgiving and understanding and flexible and accepting person, but I also know I can be petty and bitter and hold a grudge like nobody’s business (usually if I’m not apologized to so then it’s like how can I forgive you if you’re apparently not sorry, but anyways I digress again). On one hand, I want to be sure that all will be well, but on the other, you can never really know until you try. If we found ourselves in that situation, I feel like I would need to blame someone and that would probably fall on Reid and I don’t want to be bitter but I just know I would.

I am still of the opinion that everything happens for a reason and turns out the way it is meant to be, and I don’t regret the way my life has worked so far. I just start to wonder, at what point does the tide turn and it becomes the time where I’m meant to take a stand and seize control and charge forward with plans, otherwise you risk missing out on what could have been meant to happen if only you’d acted sooner?

So many things in life are hard. Every single person walks through something difficult in every season of life. I’m not (totally) naive enough to think that motherhood won’t be hard. But, at least with becoming a mom, it will be the breed of hard that I’m choosing whole-heartedly.

Alas, I’m going to try to bring this all in to end on a more positive note. Going back to the concept of knowing myself and my dreams – as much as anyone can think they know how much they’re going to like something before they’re actually in the thick of it, I do truly think I’m meant to be a mom. I started babysitting at 10 years old (and was petsitting even before that). My first job at 16, which I then kept all the way through college summers, was working in the Lifetime Fitness childcare center. I was a part-time nanny for one summer. I have changed diapers and onesies. I have done snacktimes and mealtimes and bedtimes. I see myself as a natural caretaker and nurturer and I believe I’ll be a great mom. That’s now enough for me to feel more confident in my dreams which I’ve been saying I desire to make come true ever since I was 16 or earlier.

Man, that was a lot for thinking you were just going to read a little ditty about my experience with birth control huh? Welcome to my brain!

Bring it on, Twenty-Eight. Happy Birthday to (the hopefully more self-aware and self-loving) me!

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2 Comments

  1. I stumbled upon your blog post on facebook, and even though I feel funny commenting because I basically only know you through Reid, I just feel like I should share something I love. I HIGHLY recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. I read it with my husband when we first got married and have loved it! There are so many things I didn’t know about my own body and my cycle and so learning about it was really empowering. I used her method (taking your morning temp, and checking your cervical fluid) as both as means of birth control and a way to help us get pregnant. I liked involving my husband–he would hand me the thermometer every morning) as a way to make it so birth control wasn’t solely the woman’s responsibility. You will get a sense of how your cycle goes each month, if and WHEN you are ovulating, and if you have a long enough luteal phase to get pregnant. So when you and Reid do decide to start growing your family, you’ll know better if there is anything that would stop you from being able to conceive. It also means that you can have totally natural sex (without pulling out) for most of the month because you’ll know exactly when you ovulate. Anyway, I always want to share this with everyone so sorry if this was so crazy and random. It’s a big book but I found it super interesting and entertaining and I honestly refer back to it all the time. It’s seriously the best.

    1. Sorry it took me so long to reply, I need to check my spam settings because your comment went to that folder and didn’t notify me! But anyways, thank you so much for commenting, do not feel funny for one second!! I will most definitely read that book. I had felt discouraged when the counselor I went to for career crisis advised me, “If you want to be a stay-at-home-mom eventually then do everything you can in your power NOW to make sure you’re setting yourself up for whenever your husband is ready to start trying” (and that’s when I asked my doctor at my next physical if I could do a fertility test and found out how they won’t unless you’ve been trying for a year). But now, it’s like reading this book will be that “taking charge” within my power to arm myself with learning more. Thank you again!

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