My EC story (and why it is not funny)

1 Apr

Last year, I was not on any form of hormonal birth control. My doctor and I had discovered that my body metabolizes the drugs too fast, so they were only in my system for about 12 hours per day… otherwise known as: not long enough. I was trying to get my insurance company to cover an IUD, but that took a little while, since I’m still young and haven’t had any children. Eventually, I got it approved, but my story takes place in the meantime.

I lived (and still live) with my boyfriend. We were using condoms. One time, the condom broke. Boyfriend went, in the middle of the night, all the way to Union Square, because at the time, nowhere in downtown Manhattan had a 24-hour pharmacy.  He bought me some EC. I took it as soon as he got back, so we’re talking roughly an hour after the broken condom incident.

I didn’t know it, but the EC didn’t take. I got pregnant.

I didn’t know that I was pregnant. I went about my normal life. I even got what I thought was a period. Guess what? It wasn’t one. It was the beginning of a long and painful month and a half.

After 3 weeks of constant bleeding and painful cramps, I finally went to the doctor. As someone with a history of irregular periods, my GYN wasn’t too concerned. Except that, when she ran the pregnancy test, it came up positive. Well, as you can imagine, I was floored. How could I be pregnant? The mistake happened that one time, and it was over a month before this, AND I took EC. (WTF?! )

This is where my story gets really un-funny, especially if you are living this nightmare:

She did a manual exam and determined that I was probably 12 weeks pregnant. (WHAT??!)  I went for an ultrasound. There was nothing to see using a belly ultrasound. They did a vaginal. Again, no pregnancy to speak of. (WHAT??!!?) I went to the emergency room. They ran tests, they gave me shots, and I had more vaginal ultrasounds. I bled a lot. I cried a lot. I was there for hours on end, by myself. I really (really-really) wanted my mom. Finally my boyfriend was able to find me. I cried some more. The results were back. My hormone levels were that of someone who was 2 weeks pregnant. I needed to come back in 2 days to see if my hormones had dropped like they were supposed to (by half).

2 days later, they hadn’t done a damn thing. They just stayed where they were. Well, sh*t, what does that mean? An ectopic pregnancy? Holy sh*t! So, I basically found out that because EC didn’t work for me, I could die. Fabulous.

So this is seriously not funny. Can we agree on that?

Then, a methotrexate shot.  More visits to the emergency room. A visit with a specialist.

More blood draws. More pain. More waiting. More nerves. More crying. More fighting with my boyfriend. More money. More stress.

Resolution: a D&C.

Fine. What choice did I have?

Shots of something for the pain – in the cervix. Guess what, again? They didn’t take either. I had bled out more than they thought. There was nothing to scrape in my uterus, except uterine wall.

I can’t even express how painful that was.

Finally, after a month and a half, my hormones dropped. I was not pregnant anymore. I would not die from an ectopic pregnancy.

$11,000 later (thank god I have insurance).  A month and a half of my life. Countless arguments. Missing work. Nights crying. The smell of hospital clinging to my clothing. It was finally over.

I have to say, for me, nothing about this is funny. Nothing about the stress of waiting to find out if your Emergency Contraception worked is funny. Nothing about the experience that I had when mine didn’t is hilarious. I can’t laugh about it, even a year later.

I appreciate the attempt to bring humor into our fight. We certainly need it. However, this isn’t the place for it. It’s only funny if, hey, well, that time it took, and this time you’re not pregnant. But even then, how is it “haha, funny?” Relief and hilarity are two VERY different emotions.

But the last thing I want for our movement, besides anymore infighting and finger-pointing is this:

As it’s often said by anti’s: we don’t take abortion seriously enough. We don’t take ending a life seriously enough. Blah, blah, blah.

While they may not be correct, something like the campaign to bring humor to EC can really reinforce to the world that, well, maybe we don’t. Maybe abortions are a “convenience” for some women. And maybe we aren’t serious enough about our bodies and preventing pregnancy as we make ourselves out to be.



6 Responses to “My EC story (and why it is not funny)”

  1. One in One Thousand April 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Wow. I’m sorry that you went through all that. It sounds terribly, terribly difficult.

    I hadn’t seen this particular site before you linked to it, and it is appalling. (The “because you can’t remember to feed your f*ing goldfish” really shocked me.) Approaching pregnancy, birth control, EC and abortion as glib topics isn’t productive.

    I know that humor can sometimes help. For me, I tried to find small moments of humor or levity in the immense pain of a D&E. But that’s a coping mechanism.

    To approach emergency contraception and a woman’s right to use it with an Internet meme that relies heavily on the (let’s be honest) pretty base humor of the “f-word,” it just isn’t helpful.

  2. Steph April 1, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Thank you for sharing such a painful experience, Christie. It’s not easy to talk openly and honestly about these experiences.

    I’ve had a few experiences with EC, none of which were funny, but none were as traumatic as yours. The first time, I knowingly had unprotected sex with a man that I loved, and after the fact, thought, “Well, that was stupid.” And I didn’t take EC until the last possible moment, because, defying all logic, I kind of sorta wanted to be pregnant. Despite the fact that I was in college, not living on my own, no full time job, nothing. The EC worked, thank God, because the reality of pregnancy is very very different than the little fantasy I had in my mind.

    Anyway! Thank you for broaching this. It’s a really important conversation to have. Much love and respect.

  3. NYCprochoiceMD April 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your story. I think even people within our movement often forget that pregnancy is not so simple as a fork in the road: A you stay pregnant, B you have an abortion. There’s also C: miscarriage, which can take weeks to diagnose for sure, and D: (the most drawn-out for some people, as with Christie) You might just have an early pregnancy we can’t see that is normal; you might have an early pregnancy that is a miscarriage; you might have an early pregnancy that is an ectopic, and the only way we can tell the difference is with multiple tests over days or weeks. And sometimes we STILL don’t know and you get treated for more than one thing. I completely agree that it’s not funny.

  4. Serena April 5, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your story, Christie. And WOW – that must have been a terrible month and a half. I’m sorry you had to go through all of that.

  5. Aoife April 6, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    You’ve been to hell and back Christie. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that trauma and pain. Not to detract from your story, but I was shocked that your body metabolized hormonal birth control pills within 12 hours. That’s frightening, and it’s even got me scared about my own contraceptive pill now.

  6. robyn August 8, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    I am currently going through the same nightmare!! I have been on birth control for 10 years but missed a week because I couldn’t get my prescription at the time, I took the EC within the necessary time frame and just found out I’m 8 weeks pregnant! And what’s worse is that I am currently going through the process to donate eggs. Needless to say I am devastated and not ready for a child but also hope that I can still help this couple who chose me 😥

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