Friday, September 5, 2014

Look Who's Talking...about birth control

I recently made a pretty big decision in my life.

After 16 years, I've decided to get off birth control.

Now, before anyone gets any wise ideas... I am not trying to have a baby, not yet anyway. 

Since the age of 14 I've been on some form of hormone-altering birth control. My mom put my on at a young age to help with my "acne". I did have problem skin, but something tells me that after raising 5 children before me, my mother was more inclined to make sure I was properly protected for whenever it was I became sexually active and just masked it with the clear skin bit. Although, my family is pretty vain and it did clear up my skin so, I may never know the true reasoning behind my mother's choices. Regardless, I have spent the last 16 years letting something other than my own body impact my hormones and body chemistry.

I never put much thought into it really, it was just a simple "I don't want to get pregnant, so I'll stay on birth control" thought.  Even when I would switch different kinds/brands and when I experienced significant side effects, I rarely ever thought about how it was really impacting my body (and my mind!).

One birth control pill I was on gave me such severe mood swings I actually had to tell the guy I was dating at the time that he was not allowed to call me for a week because I was so frightened of my own lashing out and anger right before starting my period (and the previous months were a good indication of what I was apparently capable of). That should have been HUGE red flag (some pun intended there) that something wasn't right about what I was doing.

Even when I was on another form that caused me to gain 33lb, it didn't seem to sink in that the answer may not be "switch to a different kind". That was my reaction each time. "Well, this kind doesn't seem to work well with me, so lets try a different one". Being in a scientific field, I guess I felt the need to examine and test multiple solutions? Or maybe there was something else fueling my decisions?

My best friend for years has preached about the implications of being on a hormonal birth control and has encouraged me to stop taking it. I never gave her words too much thought because I just assumed it was working "well enough" for me.

It was only in the last year or so that I started  to acknowledge what was happening to my body, gave her words some weight and really start to analyze the cost/benefits of my choice. I researched different methods and had multiple discussions with my boyfriend (now fiance), my best friend, and other women friends. I spent almost a year weighing the possibility of getting off of hormonal birth control, what it would mean for me, my body, and my relationship.

I initially felt guilty for "making" my fiance switch to another form, such as condoms. Then I started to really think about why that guilt should rest only on me? Either I feed hormones into my body, make my partner unhappy, or get pregnant? How is that a fair burden for a woman to carry?
I think this guilt is why it took me a year to make the decision to get off of birth control. 

Ultimately, I had to make the decision that was right for me, and although my fiance is part of this relationship,I had to realize that he does not dictate decisions about my body, I do and he was supportive of my decision.

It's too soon to tell how my decision will change my mind and body. I need to give it time to balance itself and get back on track. It was frightening to go through the grueling process of making this kind of a decision, but I feel empowered and if that is the only change I really notice, I think that is alright with me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bowl full of emotions with a side of sappy

Today my best friend gave birth for the 3rd time, to her first son.
It's hard to be 700 miles away when it happened.
I witnessed her give birth to her two daughters, 10 years ago and 7 years ago.
I was able to be in the room and be a part of the experience. Those two are the only live births I've ever seen, and it was absolutely amazing to be able to watch my goddaughters coming into this world and taking their first breath. Even as a 20 year old, watching that first child be born I knew it was a special experience to be a part of, regardless of almost fainting ( I handled the 2nd one MUCH better and even got to be the photographer).
It breaks my heart a little that I wasn't able to do the same for this special little man as he entered the world this morning. I even looked into flights when she texted me yesterday that her water broke, but I knew I didn't have the money (and definitely not for $500 round trip for a flight that, on a good day can cost only about $140). I know she understands. I know that little boy won't know the difference and will never hold it against me for not being there... although I wasn't there for my nephew's birth and he always brings it up (but he is doing so more to make fun of me since I wasn't there because I "ran away" from home that night...being the unruly teenager that I was).
This monumental event on the same day that so many little ones (my niece and nephews included) started school today. I didn't even know one of my nephews was starting kindergarten, and now I feel like a terrible aunt. I know that I wouldn't actually be there in the morning to send each one off to school, but if I weren't so far away I don't think it would hurt this much. Those 1st day of school photos signify that they're another year older and it's another year I'm missing out on (and so disconnected not to know my own nephew is starting kindergarten!). If I were closer, I'd know these things, I'd see them more than a few times a year. I'm envious of everyone who gets to see these rascals growing up and experience memories with them on a weekly basis. I blame my family for being so incredibly close that when you're away it feels like everyone got asked to the dance but you and you got assigned to pass out the punch. Why do all my examples refer to high school situations? I'm starting to think I'm one of those people, who never let go of high school... but those people are supposed to be the ones who never made anything of themselves, right? Oy! OR I just use high school examples because they're so easy to relate to for everyone, yeah let's go with that.
Well I'm just a pile of sappy right now.