I hadn't had any big plans to write anything this week because I really didn't think I had anything to add on the subject, other than repeated the oft heard, how can something be whole someone else's responsibility while at the same time being none of their business?
So many good posts have already been written. Nursing has caused each of our little ones to arrive exactly when we were ready to face the challenge of another newborn in the house, and so I don't find myself mulling over NFP much at all these days.
Yet I kept seeing pictures of women talking about how great the Pill is for their health and each time I wince.
Of course there's the obvious reason, that putting a substance that's called a class one carcinogen by the World Health Organization, right along side cigarettes and lead paint, into one's body each day and calling it "health care" is dangerous to say the least.
But my relationship with the Pill and the reasons that it is prescribed is a little more complicated than that.
Long time readers already know the story, but it's been a couple of years since the events of the fall of 2011 unfolded, and it seemed like an appropriate story for a month when so many are singing the praises of the pill for "health reasons."
I arrived at the ER my heart pounding in my chest. I didn't have an OB yet. My OB didn't see patients until 12 weeks anyway, and since we were moving I'd thought I'd just find one the second we arrived in Florida. It had seemed like a good plan at the time. Suddenly it wasn't anymore.
At the ER I was assured it was probably nothing, that spotting happens all the time during pregnancy. At 12 weeks I was unlikely to be miscarrying. I went back for a sonogram and lay staring at the screen while the silent tech took measurements. I watched a heartbeat that was slower than my own flicker across the screen and waited.
And so I stormed heaven with prayers and did the only thing I could do, which was wait. We moved to Florida. The day that my parents left to return to California was Paul's birthday, the first day of law school and the Feast of the Assumption. That night I sat in the ER losing blood too fast.
As I sat there, timing contractions, waiting for my name to be called a nurse came out and said "Kim." I didn't move, since she hadn't said my name (I was waiting for the whole "Cammie" that I'd given them when I arrived and honestly didn't think it was me). Apparently she was having a bad night, or thought that I intentionally didn't get up fast enough, and by the time the mix up was cleared up she was furious that I hadn't jumped up when she first said the wrong name. She had me in tears with a lecture by the time triage was over.
Thus began one of the worst nights of my life. It would have been bad no matter what... but I was completely alone. They had me walk, from my little curtained cubicle to an exam room, still losing blood fast, to an exam room, with an argument between two nurses on the way about whether I should be walking.
Finally after calling for help and having those calls ignored for 5-10 minutes (and having my nurse actually stop another nurse from coming in to help me) I gave birth to our third child, Christian Athanasius, by myself in that little curtained cubicle. I performed a conditional baptism and then began to argue over his body. Yes, they would return it to me. No, I didn't care if it was against the rules. I was Catholic and we would bury this child. I got louder. I said I was Catholic over and over again and finally they agreed that if I called early enough the next morning I would most likely be allowed to claim the little body I'd held in my hand.
We were able to claim our son's body and have him cremated. And I called doctors' offices and tried to make appointments for a follow up but no one wanted to take me on. The doctor that I'd been referred to that was required by law to see me wouldn't return our calls (I was later told was actually a concierge doctor and that it was odd that he was the one I was referred to) . No one wanted to take on an new OB patient who was having problems.
I wasn't really worried at that point though. What was happening was natural, I told myself. It would be over soon.
Except that it wasn't. The bleeding didn't stop. For weeks and then months. I would return to the ER when it would get to be too much, dizzy and pale, and they would tell me that it was natural for the bleeding to last a while, I could take the pill. No pill? Well, it would probably stop soon enough.
In September, two months after the ordeal had begun, an ER doctor took an interest in helping us find follow up care that would return our calls and called a friend the head of obstetrics, who agreed to see me.
This was it, I was finally going to get answers, I was finally going to get better. I would stop feeling sick and almost fainting every time I walked more than a few steps, and surely they'd find out why I was having debilitating cramps wrack my lower back as contraction after contraction continued, week after week.
When I voiced my objections to going on a medication that I in general did not find morally acceptable but that had also caused me to become seriously depressed every single time I'd taken it, not to mention exasperating my migraines to the point of being unbearable, he brushed it off and said it was the only solution. The Pill was the only thing that could help me, he told me repeatedly. It was the only solution and it was absolutely necessary for my health.
When I asked why my back still hurt, why I was throwing up all the time and fainting if nothing was wrong, he paused and said "I think it's probably psychological" and gave me a little speech about how he knew I wanted to be pregnant again but I would have to wait for at least three months.
I was astounded. It wasn't that I wanted to be pregnant right then (although I would have given just about anything to have still been pregnant). It was that I wanted to know what was wrong with my body. I wanted to know why I was so sick. I wanted to be well enough to go outside and play with my children without nearly fainting or hemorrhaging.
Instead I left with a prescription for estrogen and the feeling that absolutely no one was going to help me.
At that point I was honestly beginning to fear for my life. Before he left the room I asked him what to do if the bleeding didn't stop. He paused and said to come back in three months if that was the case (six months after I'd begun to miscarry).
I went home and began to take the pills. Nothing happened. It didn't stop the bleeding. I was still sick. I'd been calling a NaPro doctor, trying to get in for a couple of weeks, but I hadn't heard back yet (she didn't have secretary and returned her own calls). Finally, I wrote a letter outlining the entire story and sent it to the NFP doctor with a friend who had an appointment.
She called me almost immediately and suddenly I had hope. She would fit me in.
I arrived at the office building and winced as I saw a life size sticker of the doctor that had told me that it was all in my head plastered across the elevator. I stood in front of it, wishing that I had a sharpie, as I waited for the doors to open.
I brought the pills with me and she shook her head as she looked at them. "He gave you these?" She said. "These are such a low dose they never would have stopped the bleeding. They wouldn't have done anything."
Neither of us understood how it could have been missed, over and over again by doctor after doctor at the ER, or by the OB I'd initially gone to (well, he missed it because he wouldn't do a sonogram...).
She prescribed Misoprostol and when that didn't work after a couple of days, scheduled my D & C. It was October 28th. I'd begun to miscarry in July.
There were 17 days of antibiotics by the time we were through and while everyone "hoped" we could have more children in the future, but no one really knew what damage had been done by months and months of "retained debris."
The effect of the surgery was almost instant. Suddenly I was better and the emotional healing that had been stunted by the simple task of surviving each day could finally begin.
That's the reason for the involuntary wince every time I hear someone say that the Pill saved their health. The Pill is a band-aid that covers up underlying problems. It doesn't address the root issue that lays beneath. It may be the best tool that many doctor's out there have, but it isn't the only or even best tool that could be used much of the time and while the short term benefits might make it attractive the long term risks are horrifying.
And that is why there's no way I could be convinced to take the Pill at this point in my life... because if there's a problem I want it solved, not conveniently covered up by a hormone that kills women every single year.