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Accidents Happen
I took the morning-after pill
Anonymous
headshot

Names have been changed.

I heard a loud pop, and he stopped moving. Mark’s brown eyes, which I loved so much, met mine and everything went quiet. His eyes moved down my body. I stared at the ceiling. My eyes began to burn and I could feel the tears trying to push their way through.

“It broke,” he whispered. He adjusted his body weight, pushing his left hand down on the mattress, removing himself carefully from me. My body tensed as the cold air hit me, my bare body exposed without his warmth covering me. I sat up hurriedly and stared at the broken condom. My heart dropped to my stomach and I grabbed his arm for support; I felt lightheaded. He pulled me into his chest and I breathed in his scent, Burberry, his favorite cologne.

The tears streamed down my face as I clung to him. He mumbled into my hair then kissed my forehead. “It’s going to be OK.” He rubbed my back reassuringly. But I was terrified that I had just gotten pregnant.

Fear and Uncertainty

After Mark left, I was overwhelmed with worry that I was pregnant. How would I tell my mom? My dad? I couldn’t bear to witness the disappointed look on my father’s face. I had never screwed up so bad.

I woke up to a phone call in the middle of the night. “Hello?” I answered groggily. My head was spinning. “Here’s what we’re going to do…” Mark responded on the other end. Suddenly the events of the past several hours resurfaced in my mind and I sat up. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I listened reluctantly.

“Tomorrow we’re going to the Rite Aid by the school to get Plan B.”

“What’s that?” I asked, trying to hide my anxiety.

“It’s basically the morning-after pill,” he said matter-of-factly.

I had seen commercials about it on television, but I thought this pill had something to do with pregnant women. It was as if he read my mind. “It’s a pill you take to prevent yourself from getting pregnant,” he said.

“But isn’t that birth control?” I asked, even more confused.

“It’s taken after you have sex just in case an accident like ours happens.”

I sighed worriedly. “OK.” The fear and uncertainty racked my body, refusing to let me sleep.

Too Young to Be Parents

After school we walked hand in hand down the hill to the Rite Aid. My stomach began to turn. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet.

“Look babe, this way you won’t get pregnant.”

“I don’t even know if I a-am,” I stuttered.

“This will make sure that you’re not.”

“But isn’t that like an abortion?”

“No, because it prevents pregnancy from happening in the first place.”

“I don’t know.”

“Look babe, it’s perfectly safe, and we’re too young to be parents.”

I knew he was right, but I still felt confused and overwhelmed. Mark’s decision was already made, but mine wasn’t; I felt rushed and unsure of what to do. Still, I knew I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I was 15. I could barely decide what I wanted for dinner.

I felt simultaneously angry and envious of him. He had no idea how I felt. Would a baby be his responsibility as much as it was mine? Yes. Was it me, by myself who engaged in the act of creating it? No. But if I ended up pregnant, it would be my body that would have to carry the baby for nine months, just like it was my body that would have to ingest this pill. Although he was by my side, I felt alone and afraid.

Part of me wished he’d been more understanding of my conflicted feelings. But I also understood his hasty decision, the panic and fear that comes with the idea of possibly having such a large responsibility at our age. I didn’t blame him for wanting to get things over with. Who wants to have a child when you’re still a child yourself?

image by YC-Art Dept

Plan A Is to Take Plan B

“I don’t want to go in there.” I turned my back to the Rite Aid, facing him. “How will that look? If I, a girl, go in and buy one of those pills?”

I could feel my face burning. The last thing I needed was for strangers to know of my misfortune and then judge me. I was so young. I envisioned the dirty looks I would get from the cashiers.

Mark sighed in exasperation. “Fine, I’ll buy it,” he said.

I watched as he walked in. I played with my hair, anxiously awaiting his return. I looked around, praying that no one I knew would happen along. If anyone were to find out, the news would spread immediately.

He strutted out as if to say: mission accomplished, holding up the box as if it were a trophy and he had just won the world tournament.

“Will you quit showing it off and just give it to me?” I snapped, snatching the box from him. I read the warning label as we walked. Some of the possible side effects were nausea, lower abdominal cramps, or spotting or bleeding before my next period.

I could feel the tears building again, but this time out of frustration. I didn’t want to put something unfamiliar in my body to get rid of something that I wasn’t even sure was there.

Despite my fears, I gulped the pill down and it was gone, circulating through my body. I thought I’d feel nauseous or have cramps. But I felt fine.

Mark wrapped his arm around me, pulling me close to him. “Are you OK?” he asked, his chin resting on my head. “Yeah,” I managed to squeak out. I didn’t know how to feel in that moment. I felt relief, but a pang of regret also lurked in the pit of my stomach. He kissed my head.

“Mark,” I said quietly. He shifted so that we were now facing each other. He cupped my face in his hands, looking intently into my eyes. “I don’t want to do it for a while,” I said. My voice cracked slightly and he seemed to pick up on it. “I understand.” He kissed me and we continued our walk home, silently, two kids holding each other.

What I Need Now

I worried for a couple of days: What if I was a part of that small percentage of females whose period cycles get thrown off? Gradually, the worry and the confusion lessened. I felt like I had done the right thing.

At first, Mark and I were closer than ever. It made our bond stronger, except when he’d ask the dreaded question, “So when are we gonna do it again?”

I knew that the chances of a condom breaking again were slim, and even if it did, I was more informed about my body and what to do than I had been before. But I wasn’t ready to have sex again. I would try to talk myself into it. But I’d lost the urge. So when he asked, I would play along and make plans that I kept putting off and ultimately cancelled.

Even though I know the facts now—emergency contraception only prevents pregnancy, so it won’t work if you’re already pregnant at the time—I didn’t really believe it. I feared that I had killed a baby that we had created, something that was a part of me. And I hated myself for it. I cried for weeks. But Mark didn’t know that. I wanted to tell him, but the sexual tension had created a wall between us, and we didn’t last.

It’s two years later and I still remember the fear I felt. It was such an intense and scary experience, I still haven’t felt ready to have sex again. Maybe sometime in the future, when I’m older and feel like I can better handle a similar mishap, I’ll engage in the act again, with the right person. But for right now, as a senior in high school, I’ve chosen to just enjoy all of the other things life and relationships have to offer.


Emergency Contraception Explained
What I Wish I’d Known

When I did my own research on the Planned Parenthood website, I discovered that the “morning-after pill” is not an abortion pill, but a type of emergency contraception. Like condoms or birth control pills, it prevents pregnancy before it happens.

Here are some other important facts I gleaned from Planned Parenthood that I wish I’d known before. —Anonymous


EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION PREVENTS PREGNANCY Pregnancy doesn’t occur immediately after you have sex—it takes up to six days for a guy’s sperm to reach and fertilize a woman’s egg. “Plan B” and other emergency contraception pills work by keeping a woman’s ovary from releasing its monthly egg for longer than usual. Because there’s no egg for the sperm to fertilize, you can’t get pregnant. (If you’ve already released an egg, or if you don’t take the pill until after you’ve gotten pregnant, it won’t work. An emergency contraception pill cannot stop a pregnancy once it has started—that’s why it’s different from an abortion pill.)

IT'S RARE TO EXPERIENCE SIDE EFFECTS FROM THE MORNING-AFTER PILL. And they will likely go away within 24 hours. Taking the morning-after pill does not affect your ability to get pregnant in the future or increase your risk of an unhealthy pregnancy.

NOT ALL MORNING-AFTER PILLS ARE THE SAME There are several different kinds of emergency contraception. They vary in how well they work and how easy they are to get. Plan B and Next Choice One Dose are over-the-counter pills that do not require a prescription to purchase. (That means you can buy them at the drug store, like condoms, and you don’t need to see a doctor first.) But both should be taken within three days after having unprotected sex, and they are less effective if you are overweight (if your body mass index is 25 or higher).

Another pill, called ella, is more effective, but ella requires a prescription. (You can order it online at ella-kwikmed.com, but you’ll have to wait a day for it to be shipped to you.) Ella can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex.

Depending on the brand, morning-after pills cost from $22 to $65. You may be able to get the morning-after pill for free or at low cost at Planned Parenthood or another public health clinic.
The most effective emergency contraception option is the ParaGard copper IUD, which must be inserted into your uterus by a doctor or nurse. If inserted within 5 days of having sex, it lowers your risk of pregnancy by more than 99.9%, and it prevents pregnancy as long as you keep it in (up to 12 years.) IUDs can be expensive, but the cost might be covered by your insurance.

To find out more about emergency contraception, go to bit.ly/ppmorningafter

If you think you might be pregnant and need someone to talk to, call Planned Parenthoood at 1-800-230-PLAN. You can also chat online through their website (plannedparenthood.org/teens) or text PPNOW to 774636.

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(NYC-2017-05-05)

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