The curse

One of the amazing things about the birth control pill is how it allows you to predict the arrival of your period down to the nanosecond. One of the shitty things about the birth control pill is also how it allows you to predict the arrival of your period down to the nanosecond. When you know it always shows up between 11 a.m. and noon on Wednesdays--I'm not joking, it's that precise--you can avoid the kinds of routine humiliations alluded to in every tampon commercial since the dawn of time. On the other hand, if it's even an hour late, you get to play a super-fun mental game of Am I Having a Baby? If you're of the male persuasion, you are probably thinking this is stupid. You are probably thinking you would wait for a calm, rational 48 hours before flying into a panic over this sort of thing. To better help you understand the situation, I will now chart for you the awesome interior monologue I experienced yesterday while waiting for my period to show up:

12 PM: I realize it's noon and fly to the bathroom in a panic, fully expecting to have ruined a perfectly decent pair of underpants as a result of losing track of time. But it's all good. I make a mental note to check back in a couple of hours.

2 PM: Still nothing.

4 PM: This is the first occasion for mild alarm. I try to remember the last time my period was five hours late and recall that it was a couple of years ago, immediately following a week-long business trip to Chicago during which I had been taking my pills at all kinds of weird hours because I was constantly in the company of co-workers. I have not been on any such business trips in the past month. I have taken each pill at 6:30 p.m. sharp, when the alarm on my cell phone told me to. SO WHERE IS MY FUCKING PERIOD?

4:45 PM: Now I am locked into a deadly standoff. It could show up at any time, making exercise a dicey proposition; or it could not show up, meaning I have bigger problems. I decide the best approach is to eschew working out in favor of getting worked up, and proceed to mentally compose an angry letter to the manufacturers of my obviously completely useless pills. I try to remember what the effectiveness rate is supposed to be for the pill -- is it 98%? So does that mean that if you have sex 100 times, you'll get pregnant twice? This strikes me as shocking and irresponsible. I will sue everyone who did not explicitly point this out to me, including my gynecologist and my boyfriend.

6 PM: OH HOLY JESUS, I AM HAVING A BABY. I dimly recall browsing the baby shower registry of a pregnant friend and seeing something on there called "nipple guards." I don't want to know what those are! I'm too young and cool for nipple guards! WHY, WHY, WHY WAS I SO STUPID AND CAVALIER WITH MY FUCKING FERTILITY? I should've been using six kinds of birth control at once. Better yet, I never should've had sex in the first place. All the right-wing nutjobs were right. Abstinence is the way to go. Oh, god, I am going to have to buy nipple guards, and breast pumps, and move back to Indiana so I have somewhere to put my illegitimate love child other than the bathtub. WHAT HAVE I DONE?

7:30 PM: I return from the welcome respite of a quick dinner with Jess congratulating myself on staying calm throughout the meal. By now my period will have shown up, and I will see how silly I was being. OH MY FUCKING GOD, YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. EIGHT AND A HALF HOURS LATE. In birth control time, that's like TWO WEEKS. I briefly debate putting my fears to rest with a quick trip to Rite-Aid for a pregnancy test, but then a mixture of deeply confused logic and misplaced snobbiness takes over: what if the hormones from my birth control somehow screw up the test? And also, why isn't there somewhere that isn't Rite-Aid to buy pregnancy tests--like a nice, clean boutique with wood floors and track-lighting, where sympathetic female employees in their twenties offer you herbal tea and reassure you that it's probably all in your head? I can't face buying a pregnancy test at Rite-Aid. I'd rather die.

8 PM: What I'd really like right now is a nice, soothing glass of wine, but that seems kind of irresponsible. What will I say to my deformed child, irreparably damaged by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome -- "Mommy was so panicked over the possibility of your existence that she had no choice but to drink"? Then I recall the many drinks I consumed over the weekend, back in what I now realize were the last carefree days of my life. Oh GOD, not only am I having a baby, but I am having a messed-up baby. The doctors will all shake their heads in disbelief at my irresponsibility. Other children will make fun of it, and dogs will slink away in fear at the sight of its tragically malformed face.

9 PM: At this point the catastrophizing has reached a peak level where I am conflating all disastrous scenarios into one: I will live in a sad, kind of scary apartment building in my hometown, and when people see me and my freakish alcohol baby scuttling between the front door and the car they will cluck. "What a shame," they'll say, "but then, this is what comes of thinking you can have it all."

10 PM: Having cycled through all the worst-case scenarios, I try to think practically. It's worse.

11 PM: Oh. There it is. Twelve hours late? Really? I mean, better late than never, but come on. At this point I mentally resolve to write down this experience so that I remember it for next time, sparing myself another unpleasant day of panic.

11:01 PM: ALL NIGHTLY ACTIVITIES ARE SUFFUSED WITH JOY. I am not brushing pregnant teeth! I am not washing a pregnant face! I am not applying under-eye cream to pregnant fine lines and wrinkles! All my cute, overpriced clothes will fit indefinitely, and the scale says I have actually lost weight! It will be years and years and YEARS before I have to find out what exactly nipple guards are guarding against! Hallelujah!


Anonymous said...

You've never written anything I don't love, but I especially adored this. I read it right after finishing a particularly great set of pages in "We Need to Talk About Kevin," and it felt like following cheesecake with creme brulee. xoxx, A

M. Dennis said...

I feel like this should be published somewhere. I don't know where. I don't know how. But do it. Okay, bye.

The PhDJ said...

where is your like button?