My “say something!” moment at Planned Parenthood

June 23rd, 2013  |  by Veralyn Williams |  Published in Blog, Personal Essays

It’s official… I am fertile again. On Wednesday I headed to Planned Parenthood (PP) with one goal… To get my IUD removed. [Read why here. It had nothing to do with a lack of birth control love.]

Before my actual appointment though, I had a financial appointment. Now that I’m “the-new-face-of-poor” I wanted to see what could be done for the cost of my visit.

In the past my trips to PP worked like this: I get past security, check-in at reception, head to their cashier to pay full-price to see a doctor, and then I wait in the main waiting room. But this time after I checked in- I was instructed to take the elevator to the 3rd floor.

Upstairs… There was a narrower, rectangular-shaped waiting room. Five other women were seated up there already. I sat off the the side (which gave me a good view of them all).

Two women seated directly in front of me were chatting it up like old friends. They were discussing birth control, and I found out through listening, one was 19 y/o and the other was 22 y/o.

“There’s this one thing they put in your arm. I rather that, because you just not gonna take a pill every day,” said the 19 y/o. — I assumed she was saying that birth-control-wise, she thought getting an implant was smarter than taking the pill.

“I don’t want nothing in me,” the 22 y/o said. “They got one they live inside you for years, but you can feel it sometimes.” – I assumed she was talking about the IUD.

I cringed at the misinformation they were giving each other about birth control, especially when I realized they’d just met while waiting.

19 y/o asked, “Do you know why we couldn’t eat?”

22 y/o: “They always tell you not to eat. That’s how they do it.”

19 y/o: “Why?”

22 y/o: “So you won’t throw up I think. I was ok last time though.”

If you haven’t guessed, they were both there to get an abortion. More specifically the abortion pill, which can be used up to 9 weeks after the first day of a woman’s last period.

Side note: The abortion pill is different from the Morning-After Pill (Emergency Contraception), which you can take up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse. Emergency Contraception does nothing for a woman who’s already pregnant.

The 19 y/o began talking about how she “just wasn’t ready.” And the 22 y/o shared that after her second child “she was done” and couldn’t do it again.

It took everything in me not to rip out my IUD myself, and shove it up one of them. Yes- I am pro-choice, and I want every woman to have access to a safe and legal abortion. But at the same time… I was uncomfortable.

I was uncomfortable because, in the moment, I felt helpless to do anything. And I really wanted to. But even “wanting to” made me uncomfortable because it meant admitting the assumptions I was making about their lives, their reproductive/sexual choices, and their current access to sex education.

Not knowing what to do I consulted my girls via text, and was told: “you’ve got to say something!”

Soon the 19 y/o was called in and I finally made eye contact with 22 y/o. We smiled at each other, and I guess looking for another chat-buddy, she asked me, “They gonna give us the pill up here?”

“Pill? I’m not sure. I’m here to get my IUD removed.” I said very fast. All in one breath.

For all my “pro-choice-ness” (I’m embarrassed to admit) I quickly felt the need to let the room know I wasn’t there for an abortion myself. I then told her why I was taking it out, and added how much I love and recommend getting an IUD, as a very reliable birth control option.

“I like your shirt.” Was her response. (Yes. Of course I wore my Bedsider “Get on birth control” t-shirt to PP.)

I didn’t know if she was changing the subject because I was making her uncomfortable or because she really liked the shirt, and wanted me to talk more about her birth control options.

I didn’t have time to figure it out. I was called in for my financial appointment, and when I was done, she was gone. And I went back downstairs to wait for what I really came to do.

Side note: You’ll be happy to know being “the new face of poor” means my visit got 100% covered.

While waiting downstairs, I saw 22 y/o coming out of the elevator. Instinctually I ran after her and handed her my card. I told her I blogged about birth control and she should stay in touch.

I wonder what she did with my card?

Did she throw it in the nearest trash can she saw? Is it sitting in the bottom of her purse– the purse she used that day because she didn’t need the “big baby bag?” Or did she immediately whip-out her phone, typed in my blog, read my high praises for birth control, and make an appointment to get an IUD inserted? I don’t know. But I thought about these different scenarios the whole time I waited.

NO– I never want to be that “person,” assuming I have the solution to anyone’s “problems.” Or that I even know what the “problem” is… but YES– I do pray that she will never have to wait for “that pill” again.

In case you’re wondering: Taking out my IUD took no time at all. I walked into the exam room. Explained my decision to the doctor. Got undressed from the waist down. My legs went up into the stirrups. And less than 5 mins later I was getting dressed again. (Of course I took a picture of my removed IUD, but my girls told me it would be TMI to share it. However, I will share with anyone who asks. Lol)

As far as what I’m going to do for birth control from here on out? It will be abstaining until I can figure out. Won’t be playing those games!

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