Even before Little Juniper arrived, I was faced with questions about my contraceptive choices. Come to think of it, my GP asked me about my contraceptive choices when I went there to say those wonderful words, “I think I’m pregnant.”
After having Little Juniper, midwives, nurses and doctors tended to coo over him before asking me if I had contraception sorted. Well, they often said, “Congratulations” first, but still. My answer always tended to be, “Yes.” In that, yes, I’ve so far chosen nothing. It’s not that I want to be without contraception, it’s just that I’ve somewhat lost my faith in contraception.
As QoB asked, did Little Juniper’s arrival have anything to do with my five minutes in the pharmacy? Why, yes! That fateful day I asked the pharmacist for the morning-after pill, and well, I now have Little Juniper. It perhaps needs to be said: I have no guilt or regret over Little Juniper being here. He was determined to arrive and I’m glad he has. He has, however, shaken my faith in emergency contraception. And let’s be clear, I didn’t take the morning-after pill at the edges of the 72-hour limit. I took it 14 hours after the earth moved without stopping to cancel the bread and newspapers.
There is, of course, regular hormonal contraception ,but having been pressured into using the implant once before for a couple of years, I have no intention of going near it again. I can absolutely see why other people want to use regular hormonal contraception, but it’s not for me. Given that Mr. Juniper and I are no longer having regular sex, it doesn’t make sense to be having a daily dose of hormones that I don’t need, in order to protect me on perhaps three or four occasions a year. Plus, I … I kind of resent having to take on the responsibility of contraception. Or at least, taking on responsibility to a degree that means altering my body’s natural state on, essentially, a permanent basis. Of course, hormonal contraception doesn’t have to be permanent as such, but even a year feels like a considerable amount of time to me.
There are then the non-hormonal options like the IUD. This is one that I’ve had many good recommendations for (even from my Mum!) alongside one horror story. The IUD was one I considered for a while but then I kept coming back to one sticking point: I really don’t like the concept of having a foreign body inside me. Sure, I had the implant, but that was slipped under the skin in my arm. The IUD would be taking up residence in my uterus and well, I’m rather fond of my uterus. Again, it felt like I would be interfering with my body and my body has been through so much that I’m desperate to leave it alone.
Then there were the other non-hormonal options like a diaphragm. I appreciated my GP bringing up every option but whenever I read about the diaphragm, all I could think of was the episode of Friends where Monica and Ross’s mother brings up that Ross’s conception came about because their father’s dog thought her diaphragm was a chew toy. Okay, so I suspect Juniper Puss wouldn’t chew any potential contraceptive choices, but an option like the diaphragm didn’t exactly scream “spontaneity” to me.
On the non-hormonal option there were also our dear old friend: condoms. I like condoms. In fact, I sort of love them. I love that as much as they can be a little annoying, they’re also a contraceptive choice that we share, that we both have to experience. However – yes, there’s a “however” – even condoms require a little thought. It was the lack of thought for them that led my spending five minutes in the pharmacy.
Another option would be to chart my cycle, but given that I’ve just had a baby and I’m mixed feeding (breastfeeding, expressing, and formula), I’m pretty sure a graph of my cycle would spell out, “Ha ha!” rather than the lovely 28-day arrangement my reproductive system and I had figured out between us pre-pregnancy.
Of course, there’s also sterilisation, which I did ask my GP about. Two conclusions were reached during that appointment: they wouldn’t even look at me due to my age and with a failure rate worse than the IUD, it wasn’t the option for me.
Then there was another option: I asked my mother when she went through the menopause. Another 25 years to go. I’m sure I could go 25 years without sex. I … I’m really sure I could … I’d have to think about it.
And that leads on to abstinence. What can I say? I really don’t want to have another unplanned pregnancy sprung upon me. I love my boys dearly, and we had always said we wanted two children. And, maybe it does need to be said: I don’t want to have to consider a termination. I don’t want another unplanned pregnancy. I really don’t. And yet, it’s something that seems all too possible. I have another 25 years or so of fertility ahead of me, after all. Sure, the stats can be chanted until the cows come home of failure rates of 1 in a 100, or whatever other seemingly impossible small number there is. But it’s not much consolation for that one woman. It isn’t much reassurance to me.
I have settled on a contraceptive choice, though. I’ve got my GP’s blessing. And assuming Mr. Juniper and I do ever have sex again, his sperm will have to get through a condom and a to-be-taken-immediately-after morning-after pill. It’s an unusual option, but my incredible GP recognised that we had unusual circumstances. We had to think outside the box, she said. Sure thing. But I’d rather be under the duvet, though I may have to read Mr. Juniper’s testicles the riot act first.