On a rainy day in June, two girls in their freshman year walked into the office of a gynecologist, with a pocket full of questions. They were aged eighteen and nineteen. It was their year of fresh usher into freedom: A highpoint of raging hormones, fine boys, and romance.
None of their respective moms had an idea they were there. Each had said to the other, sex doesn’t have to end in regret. And lots of sex doesn’t have to be forfeited at the altar of fear: Fear of pregnancy. Fear of STDs. And other sorts of fear that repressed our moms and stopped them from relishing the full breath of their sexuality.
A quick internet search led them to the small residential flat the good doctor ran her practice. Few required formalities later, and they were sitting opposite the middle aged woman who couldn’t hide how delightful she felt to be seated before two teenagers who were not ashamed to take their future in their hands, and manipulate it in their favor.
“So Doctor, how do we have sex and not get pregnant or contract STDs”? Dr. Noelle summarized their twenty questions into one, and guided them through the ropes, first as a doctor, then as a mom, as a beyond the pale auntie, and as an older friend.
This is what I should have done as an eighteen year old, and as a twenty-seven year old. However, providence gives other chances to enjoy a given blessing. It also set us up with situations that will help diffuse the fear of other results associated with that blessing. Therefore, this is what I should do today, as a woman in her thirties, who is ready to dip her toes in the water again, having found herself at another high-point of raging hormones and intense orgasms.
A look at the timeline of my adult life shows that the fear of pregnancy has followed me around like the shadow of a monster. And that shadow has grown bigger with each passing day of my improved self, and growing awareness that I do not want to be a mom…yet. Maybe, I will want to be, later. Or maybe, never. I don’t know. But right now, being entrusted with the life, well-being, and trajectory of another person’s life, scares the daylight out of me.
That fear has been potent enough to help me resist the strongest pulls, make better relationship choices, and kill my libido. It has been so crippling that I am constantly measuring how my present self may impact a child I bring into the world, which is kind of a good thing, if it wasn’t leaving me sexually frustrated and starving blossoming relationships of oxygen.
Once, I stumbled upon an explainer that showed how much effort, and the extra mile, some female reproductive organs put into ensuring the occurrence of conception. It was a beautiful story of commitment and grit, that left me wide-eyed and staring at the ceiling forever, because of the realization that my reproductive system may be totally disconnected from my will. And while I am trying not to get pregnant, it is bending itself backwards and sideways to ensure I do.
The availability of safe abortion, as a viable last resort, steps in to provide a level of relief, at desperate times. But, I don’t know if I can go through with an actual abortion. I don’t know if I can let go of a child I do not yet know, but know is mine to love and get to know. I die at the thought of letting go of, turning my back on, and sending back to the “lake of waiting”, a soul my body snuck into me. Yet I do not want to be an unwilling mom. It would be disadvantageous to both the kid and I. I do not want to love unwillingly, especially if that unwillingness is borne out of an inability to love, actively.
I was socialized to believe that I owe society at least two kids; a boy and a girl to keep the ecosystem balanced. The remnant of that socialization fills my mind with thoughts that an accidental conception could be my call to bring in a David, a Deborah, or a Nelson Mandela. These thoughts relax my tension in a way, but do nothing to help me deal with the knowledge that being a “fertile” woman is not a qualification to be a mom. Or maybe it does; with the argument that I am qualified but don’t know that I am.
It is all just a big ball of confusion. But two facts stay conspicuous: sex doesn’t have to end in a baby, and motherhood should be a planned choice.
So, as my motherhood preparatory plan, I will:
- Raise a pet: Foster a dog or a cat, first.
- Tend a plant: Nurture, speak nice words to, and keep an indoor plant, alive.
- Mind my nieces and nephews: Start with a weekend and graduate to a school holiday or a permanent live-in situation.
- Cook at least once every day, for the next foreseeable future: In case I am ever unable to outsource that.
- Hit financial stability: I need to know that if I ever have to do it alone, I will be able to.
- Lead a diverse team: In order to further improve my people management skills.
- Get therapy: So I don’t pass on the baggage of my own existence to another generation.
In the meantime, Doctor, how can girls have sex and not get pregnant?