I like to consider myself a medical moderate, that’s a new term, I made it up. But let me see if I can explain. I had a home birth, because I wanted to do everything to avoid a c-section (I’m scared of hospitals, needles and anesthesia). I totally support a woman’s choice to birth wherever she feels safest, and my choice was to birth at home with a skilled midwife and her team of support staff. I don’t really have anything against c-sections; I know they save moms and babies worldwide! So, while I had a home birth, I want to go back to this medical moderate label I’ve given myself. While many home birth mamas and midwives might be labeled as anti-vax, my family isn’t. We choose to vaccinate for the viruses and diseases our kids are at risk for with our travel and lifestyle factors. Again no judgment for the families that do or don’t vaccinate, but I guess that’s a huge part of why I consider myself a moderate. I’m not on the extreme on either side of these sometimes heated parenting issues; I know what’s best for me and my family and as you do.
I have a household protocol for all ailments. First we start with our diet; we eat organic, but not just like organic juices and snacks. I grow stuff in my backyard and we go to the farmer’s markets, and when we can’t afford organic, we follow the dirty dozen to ease the budget. Because diet is so important for giving our bodies the tools to heal ourselves, we start there. Then, if something needs a little more attention, we add in herbs, teas, tinctures, extracts and essential oils to get us back on track. But if those don’t totally work, we take it a step further and start with over the counter medications: things like Tylenol, cough syrup and so on. AND then, if that doesn’t work, then finally, I’ll call a doctor. And that’s when I know we’ve tried everything and need medical intervention, because of course there are risks with any medication (have you ever read the insert with your medication … the side effects are sometimes almost enough for me to just stay sick. kidding. sort of) and that’s why I never want my daughters taking the pill.
So, for me and my family, we practice a fertility charting method, because, oh I almost forgot to mention, I’m allergic/sensitive to pretty much all forms of birth control. How am I not knocked up again already?! My chart. Charting is a process that keeps track of my cycle and lets me know when to, well, you know, avoid the party (and I’ll be honest I still do a happy dance when I get my period). I can’t do hormonal birth control pills because I get migraines, which also increase my risk for heart attack, stroke and blood clots. I can’t do condoms because I have terrible reactions. I tried the shot, the ring, and mini pill and all of them made me gain weight and want to cry. Like borderline diagnosed depression.
So, why would I even risk that for my daughters? I don’t have any illusions my kids will stay virgins until they’re married at 45. I know the scary world we live in. My job is to keep my kids safe and I think the safest way for them to experience adolescence is to avoid unnecessary risks. I don’t want them to have to worry about intermittent menstruating spotting (which is common for approximately 50% of the women starting the pill within the first three months). Or nausea. I hate morning sickness, I mean I hate it, enough to never want to be pregnant again. I wouldn’t wish daily nausea on anyone. How about breast tenderness? You know that feeling right before you get your period? No thanks. Not to mention the enlargement (see also: stretchmarks). And that’s not even half way down the list of side effects; there are also headaches, weight gain, mood changes, missed periods, decreased libido (actually, I would be okay with this one in a hyper-sexual teen), but ugh increased vaginal discharge (like I need more laundry), and finally visual changes with contact lenses.
So many risks just to avoid pregnancy, or I could start with the least invasive option. I could start with an open dialog with my daughters now. They ask lots of questions about my cycle and I always answer honestly. I have an app (fertility friend) that I keep track of my period and ‘symptoms’ and I know exactly when I’m in baby making mode. I knew both times I was pregnant because I kept track of all my fertility symptoms. This doesn’t mean they can only use the charting method. I’m definitely also going to advocate for safe sex (all the condoms!). Hopefully, they don’t have the same sensitivities as me, because we say no to STDs in this household. In fact, now that I’ve written this whole blog post I guess I should have started with that. Turns out I don’t really care about the side effects of the pill compared to syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Those sound way worse than any of the side effects. So yeah, they’ll be off the pill and on the chart with the use of condoms, or they’ll be virgins until they get married when they’re 45.
What about your kids? How do you plan on guiding them through the reproductive process when the time comes?
Birth control side effects listed from this site.