The Pill

Almost every woman I know, including myself, does it.   We swallow a tiny little pill each day.  A tiny little pill that does drastic things to our bodies.

Or rather, it has one, huge, drastic effect on our bodies.  This magic pill can prevent us from getting pregnant.  For years and years and years, if we take it correctly and don’t happen to be in the 2% for which it can sometimes fail.

In turn, The Pill has had an immense impact on our lives.

In many ways, this impact has been discussed since the moment The Pill became available.

Women can now better control their own bodies.  Their own destinies.

We have more choices now.

We don’t have to rely on men or on physical, ‘in the moment’ devices to prevent pregnancy.  It is in OUR hands.

People talked about the freedom women have because of The Pill.  The power.  The control.  The independence.

But did we take it too far?

There was an article in this week’s New York Magazine, ‘Waking Up From The Pill‘, by Vanessa Grigoriadis.  It talks about, shall we say, ‘The After Effects’ of the changes The Pill made in our society.  Sure, women are now building their careers first, waiting to get married and certainly waiting longer to have children.  Anyone, especially in our larger cities, could tell you that.  But what people aren’t talking as much about and definitely aren’t overtly connecting to The Pill, is the huge increase in the number of women struggling to have children, using IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) or other fertility aids and processes once they decide to have kids in their late 30′s or 40′s.

Let me tell you, I for one, avoid this topic like the plague.  Personally, it feels like walking through a land mine.  Almost all of my friends and family waited, or are still waiting, to have children.  My friends who have kids are all between 5 and 17 years older than I am.  My friends who don’t yet have kids (or who don’t ever want to) are doing fabulous things like getting their PhDs, reaching crazy heights in their law firms, editing for the biggest fashion designers or magazines in the world, starting companies, or at the very least, living it up and fully enjoying life without the responsibility of a mini-me or two running around.   And the truth is, even though my personal choice was to start having kids ‘young’ (I was 25 when I got pregnant with my first), I totally get it.  I can completely comprehend wanting to build up a career, travel more, party more, and just generally do a little more of everything before jumping into this whole parenting thing.

However, I sometimes feel like I am not allowed to speak about this topic because people might get offended.   More importantly, people closest to me might get offended.  So I sit here and listen to everyone discuss why they are waiting (i.e. the opposite choice than the one we made).  I listen to people tell me all of the benefits of waiting.  Why it is what they want and what they are choosing.

I even listen as people in front of me and to me say, “And that’s why I don’t want kids!”  Well, thank you.  That’s feels so…kind and thoughtful.  Warm and fuzzy.

And then if someone asks why (or perhaps in their head it is more like, “Why in the Hell?!?…”) we started our family when we did, I go with nice, easy to swallow (Puns are always intentional) answers like, “We had just been dating for so long, so…,” or the easiest to swallow, “It just happened.”  or even, sometimes, “Well, you know, I didn’t have a career that I was passionate about and didn’t really have anything else to do with my life, so I figured, What the heck!.”

Alright, I have never said the last one (namely because I am passionate about urban public education) but I happen to know it is what some people think about those who choose to do Babies First, Career Second.

I never, ever have the guts to give a complete and honest answer when someone asks me why we already have two kids by the age of 29.

So, I was intrigued by the title of this article and by the time I finished reading it I was thankful.  Thankful because Grigoriadis does something that I have not had the courage, nor grace, to do.  This is a touchy topic.  It is also a bit of a new situation.  And I feel muzzled, personally, because our choice was different than so many people we care about.  And I mean, in essence, it can always be tricky to explain a personal choice if it is different than the person to which you are speaking, right?  Because if you made different decisions you obviously have different feelings, philosophies and priorities surrounding that subject.

How do you explain why you live how you live without offending someone who lives differently?

Therein lies the bigger question and reality here.

Only this topic and ‘life choice’ is a doozy.  We are talking about creating a family.  Bringing a life into this world.  Feelings can get hurt.  Relationships ruined.  Easily.

So, let me take a moment to say to anyone reading this who knows me personally:  I fully respect your choices.  I support you and I care about you.  This post is not attempting to say that it is better to have children earlier, it is attempting to acknowledge that I have felt as though I am not allowed to speak about our choice.  Reading this article made me feel like maybe this is a topic that can become a dialogue not only in the media, but among friends.

Maybe.

At the very least maybe we can all agree on the fact that the final scenario the magazine discusses is a little unsettling as a concept.  That has to be some common ground.

*The teacher in me says “Here’s a link if you want to learn more!” I’m not the author of the article(s)  below, but it’s still decent writing, I guess… I mean, if you like writing that isn’t mine.*

New York Magazine, ‘Waking Up From The Pill‘, by Vanessa Grigoriadis

CNN Opinion, ‘What The Pill Did,’ by Various Contributors

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2 Responses to The Pill

  1. Amy says:

    I haven’t read the article yet on the pill, but I wonder why women feel the need to explain their choices at all ….or question the choices of other women or think they can understand or make sense of another woman’s choice in terms of career or motherhood. Career first, babies first….women questioning those decisions of others does not make sense to me to begin with. Overall, I think there is pressure to become a mother, pressure to have a successful career, but still a stigma in general when it comes to fertility…and all the confusion of it all wrapped together…women who randomly get pregnant in their 40′s and women who cannot get pregnant in their 20′s. I think in general…it’s all about pressure. Again…why is there a need to even explain how we live to begin with?

  2. Amy – I totally hear you. In fact, I agree with you.

    Maybe it has been happening more (okay, probably a lot more) since moving to NYC a year ago, but I feel like some aspect of this topic comes up almost daily. (In my own experience.) Whether it is someone gasping at my age, making a joke about their own or telling me (not that I am necessarily asking, mind you) why they want to wait to have kids.

    I also totally get that every single one of us has a unique path, situation and set of circumstances (which is often what makes this such a delicate subject) but the truth is that people bring up this subject often (Then again, since moving here I have noticed that people have no problem asking you point blank what your rent is, too, so maybe there are just some general boundary issues here! ha), and if their choice is/has been to wait, they seem to often feel comfortable stating why. I found this article so interesting because she was speaking for the other side, a bit.

    And, again, I completely agree with you that it is kind of wrong and little bit strange (or the other way around?) how much attention and pressure and interest exist about all of it. Many of us don’t have choices to begin with about when and how and IF we get pregnant. Many women have no desire to get pregnant. Many women have no desire to have children at all. All of this is normal, and yet, no matter HOW each of our paths play out it seems someone has a judgment or opinion.

    However, my reality is that people do talk about this subject and sometimes do offend me or make me feel uncomfortable, so that’s why reading this article made me feel like acknowledging that aspect.

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