Reproductive Health

Dealing with a pregnancy scare

Martina Rodriguez
Dealing with a pregnancy scare

Illustration by Mara Elize Mercado

'One of my friends asked me what kind of support I needed at the time and I answered, 'That you not judge me.''

To truly understand something you’re fighting for, you have to live it. That’s not a platitude, it’s the truth.

I consider myself a firm supporter of reproductive health (RH) rights in the Philippines. My line of thinking has always been “I’m a woman. How could I not be on the side of choice?” I took the time to understand what the pro and anti-RH groups were clamoring about. I shook my head with every argument made against giving women the chance to chart their futures. I quietly rejoiced when the Supreme Court declared the Reproductive Health Law constitutional. It was an mportant victory – progress had arrived for Filipinas.

As it turns out, my joy was superficial.

I’m a part of the demographic the law protects, but I never thought of it as a personal gain. I thought, I’m young and sexually active, but I’m educated enough to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I could never be the victim of an accident. I’m not the one who needs help.

Fair enough, life has a way of putting the proud and the self-righteous in their place. The blow came in the form of a broken condom.

I can say I’ve never been more afraid in my life, and I had never felt more alone. If I were to get pregnant, it was just me, myself, and the baby. I wasn’t ready.

It’s a steep after-sex fall realizing something has gone wrong. My partner didn’t seem bothered at all – it had happened to him before and from what he knew, he was still childless. I took it in stride before him because that’s just the way I deal with things. Inside, you could call it a perfect storm.

Fear and self-loathing from me, myself

For people who haven’t been in this position, here’s what it’s like.

At first, I denied there was even a remote possibility of getting pregnant. These things happen all the time and women do not get knocked up. And who knows? His sperm may not even work! It was also stressful time at my workplace and I’d heard it said that stress causes infertility. Finally, the stress would be good for something! I would be one of the lucky ones.

The denial came and went swiftly. At the back of my mind, I knew these were empty comforts that didn’t work. Desperation settled in.

It was my choice to be in that situation and yet, the outcome wasn’t within my control. I started imagining a future where all my plans were put on hold for raising a kid. What would I even tell my parents? Underneath all the black thoughts was a feeling of dread, regret and loss that I just could not put into words. Physically, it felt like someone was squeezing my lungs from the inside and putting me through a roller coaster.

I can say I’ve never been more afraid in my life, and I had never felt more alone. If I were to get pregnant, it was just me, myself, and the baby. I wasn’t ready.

Research to the rescue

What do you do when you just don’t know what to do? Distract yourself with social media.

I went on the Internet and eventually found myself Googling things like “signs you’re pregnant” and “how soon will you find out if you’re pregnant.” I wasn’t as knowledgeable as I thought I was. Then, click after click after click brought me to a blog about emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs), or “the morning after pill.”

The name says it all. They’re pills for situations you didn’t predict or control. There are different brands of ECPs – the one I took mainly prevents pregnancy by preventing a woman from ovulating or releasing eggs. Studies said it was only 75% effective in stopping pregnancies. Official health sites said you should check with a doctor before taking any of them.

I shot the gun. In my nervousness, I took the wrong dosage at first, until I realized there was a friend I could turn to for help.

This is what we’re fighting for. For the women who feel like their whole lives have fallen down on them because of one single moment. For the women whose capacity to choose is hampered by ignorance and fear.

Only one out of the 3 sexually active women I asked knew what a morning after pill was and how to use it – and these were all friends of mine who I considered more practical and more experienced. It was a bleak consolation knowing I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what they were doing.

The wait

After you take the pills, all you can really do is wait until you get your next period. If you don’t, it’s a sign to look for another option.

Despite the situation looking up, I couldn’t shake off the worry. The gravity of the situation was a constant companion. If it didn’t work, in a little less than a year I could be a mom. If it didn’t work, what would I do?

Before this, I’ve stood against abortions – the remaining effect of my Catholic school upbringing. But being that girl, things became a little less black and white. Suddenly morality became a practical, real thing that debate couldn’t dictate. The only conclusion I ended up with was that I was in no place to judge women who make the hard choice to terminate a pregnancy.

Out of sheer luck, I wasn’t one of the girls who had to make that decision.

The fight for our women

I was relieved to say the least.

But the possibility of what could have happened still lingered. I was unbelievable lucky, but what if I wasn’t? What about the women who are failed by ECPs, or don’t even know about them?

This is what we’re fighting for. For the women who feel like their whole lives have fallen down on them because of one single moment. For the women whose capacity to choose is hampered by ignorance and fear. For women who feel victimized by their own bodies. For women who are isolated in a society that thinks pregnancy is an outcome of poor choices or worse, sin.

One of my friends asked me what kind of support I needed at the time and I answered, “That you not judge me.”

No one else can take ECPs for you. No one else can take a pregnancy test for you either.

The most anyone could do for me at the time was to be open and non-judgmental, whatever the outcome. I would still have to deal with it myself, but I wouldn’t be alone. – Rappler.com

*Editor’s Note: To protect her privacy, the author is using a pseudonym. We have confirmed the authenticity of her identity.

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