When I got pregnant with my first child, it was a total surprise. I wasn’t on birth control. I was in college and not married. My parents were supportive, but I could tell they were disappointed: My family had always pushed for me to finish my studies and have a successful career before starting my own family. So, when I got pregnant, I felt like I had failed them in some way.
I was also terrified of becoming a mother. I wasn’t ready to give up my freedom or social life. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the responsibility of taking care of another human being. At the time, I wasn’t financially secure and I was working two jobs in addition to going to college, so my pregnancy was filled with stress and worry. I really wasn’t sure if I was ready to be a mother.
Fortunately, I had a wonderful partner who was supportive and understanding. He helped me through the pregnancy—but we decided to put off having any more children until I felt ready.
That’s when I went on birth control. I was 23 years old. It gave me some peace of mind knowing that I could control when (and if) we had another baby.
In a way, I’m grateful that I was able to experience motherhood at a young age, even though my pregnancy wasn’t planned. It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. But at the same time, I’ve also come to realize that a planned pregnancy might have been best. When it’s planned, you can be mentally and emotionally prepared for your child’s arrival.
My pregnancy was not a smooth one. I constantly experienced anxiety and worry about my daughter’s health, as well as my own. I was concerned about the potential health risks connected with preeclampsia. And after I gave birth, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. This was a very difficult time for me, and I struggled to bond with my daughter.
All of these factors influenced my decision to go on birth control. I wanted to do everything I could to avoid another pregnancy, given the complications I had experienced with the first. The Pill was an easy and effective way for me to do that. What’s more, going on the Pill allowed me to take control of my fertility, and to be able to plan when I wanted to have another child in my life.
Even though I went on birth control to prevent another pregnancy, I experienced other great benefits. Before I began taking birth control, my monthly cycle was irregular and my cramps were debilitating—to the point where, sometimes, sitting up straight or being in any sort of position other than a fetal one was impossible, which made it really difficult to take care of my baby.
My moods were off-kilter, too: I became sad and disheartened, and when I got my period, PMS would hit me hard and leave me feeling hopeless. I felt like a failure because I wasn’t able to look after my baby, do my job, or have a social life.
But going on birth control has helped regulate my hormones, which has in turn helped with my mood swings and PMS. I no longer have to worry about random bleeds or pain so intense that it leaves me bedridden. And after being on birth control, I started to feel like myself again.
I felt emotionally and mentally better when the pain and stress of my periods were removed. Being on birth control restored my sex drive. I felt as if I had reclaimed control of my body and life again. I’m grateful for the sense of power I feel that birth control has helped to give me.
Sarah Joseph, 28, is a marketing coordinator and founder of Parental Queries. She lives in St. Louis, MO.
For more information on choosing the best birth control option for you, visit Planned Parenthood at plannedparenthood.org.
More on family planning and methods of birth control:
- The Birth Control Pill Only Works If You Remember to Take It, So It Didn’t Work for Me
- Access to Different Methods of Birth Control Allowed Me to Become a Mom When I was Ready, Not a Moment Before
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