Since I was about 17, I bounced between being on birth control and not. I can still remember the awkward uncomfortable first trip to the OBGYN. Sitting in the cold, sterile room, my mother insisting that I be tested for every STD there was, and the conversations that made sex and intimacy seem terrifying.
At 17, I remember thinking taking “the pill” was the coolest thing. I set the alarm on my phone to remind me to take it at a specific time each day when everyone else would know what I was doing. Taking birth control make me feel cool, empowered and grown up.
Despite my first trip to the OBGYN being a big thing, my subsequent trips seemed less important. I don’t recall memories of visiting that doctors office again, though possibly they were just as unwelcoming as the first time and are repressed somewhere. When my prescription came to its end and there were no more refills, I felt no need to go back to the doctor and that was the end of that.
As my nine year relationship was making its way into the depths of becoming something serious, I thought it was time to revisit birth control. I found a new doctor and went on my own this time. I started the Depo shot (Depo-Provera) and remained on it for almost an entire year. One day, the doctors office told me they would no longer be taking my insurance, and that was the end of that.
A few years later, something pushed me to want to give birth control a try again. This time, not sure who took my insurance or what coverage I even had, I headed to a Planned Parenthood location with a close friend by my side. I started “the pill” again and took it until the refills ran out, when, once again I was to ashamed to return to the doctor on my own.
When Kevin and I started dating, our relationship was instantly something different then I had ever experienced before. What had happened when I was seventeen had a different weight and came with a new level of understanding then it ever had before. There was respect for me, my feelings, my body. There wasn’t force, guilt trips, or pushes to leave the past behind. For the first time I wanted to start taking birth control not because it was “cool,” or because it was what you were “supposed to do,” but because I felt like it was the right thing to do, because I had found someone that I wanted to be intimate with and I wanted to do it right.
In June I made my first appointment with an OBGYN in years. It was seriously one of the best experiences I have had with a doctor. Each trip to the doctor brings up nerves and fear, it is always like I am going in for a test that I never know if I will pass or fail. Despite that, this time was different; my years of going on and off birth control helped me to figure out what worked for me – something I didn’t have to think about – and what didn’t – a pill I needed to remember to take at the same time every day. I told the doctor I wanted to start the Depo Shot again and that I was not looking to have kids for about the next three years. We talked about all my options, he explained to me his concerns with the Depo Shot for that period of time and presented some other long term solutions. I left with information pamphlets and instructions to call in and make an appointment for my first Depo shot when my period started later.
Sometime in July, I returned to the doctors office and a cleared pregnancy test, then after the jab of a needle into my upper thigh, I was protected from the risk of babies once again. I had the next three months to evaluate my options and determine what I would do next.
In the early stages of being on the shot, I became more emotional. My feelings felt irrational, but still deeply upsetting. I felt like I was viewing my relationship through the lens of a 15 year old girl. Kevin would tell me stories of his past and I would find myself hurt and jealous of the female characters; I felt betrayed and worthless by events that had happened long before us.
The lack of sense of self-worth seemed to be exemplified on the birth control. The uncomfortable, sick to my stomach, unfair feelings I had always bitten my tongue about mustered up streams of tears along with the silence. I tied all the pain and distrust back to incidents of my past relationship and chalked it all up to that. I was learning what a relationship should really be like…
By the time my dose of the Depo Shot came to it’s end, I had decided what direction I wanted to go next. The doctor and I determined that an implant was my best option for long term, successful, birth control; he had shown me two choices – one that became a part of my lady bits and one that stopped babies from my arm. The information on both options made my stomach turn, but in the end I decided to go with the NEXPLANNON.
On October 12, 2016, nervous, I passed another pregnancy test and began to be prepped for my “procedure.” I wore my Mother State Roller Derby t-shirt that day, attempting to channel the same strength, bravery and over all toughness they display on and off the track.
The doctor asked me which bicep I wanted to put the implant into, I chose the left. The insertion was like a puncture wound. A quick push and jab and the deed was done. I felt nauseous and light headed, but mostly from having worked myself up. They bandaged me up and told me to hold pressure on it for one minute and then I was good to go and they didn’t need to see me again for three years.
That evening, Kevin and I celebrated my “passed” pregnancy test and new ability to stop babies with the powers embedded in my arm with ice cream.
After a few days, I was able to take my bandages off. The small mark where I had experienced the same sensation that I imagine pets do when becoming micro-chipped had began to dwindle. As I ran my fingers across my bicep I could feel the implant and my stomach turn.
I had been micro-chipped. The government was now tracking me through my secret ability to not make babies that was baked into my arm… not really, but that did become the running joke.