I am a 36-year-old Catholic mother of three who is now practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP). My regret is not about a surgical abortion. My regret has to do with the pill. A Catholic using the pill? Well, I wasn't always Catholic. In fact I grew up protestant. In defense of my parents, they did teach me that sex outside of marriage was wrong. But when I got older I decided that they were old-fashioned and didn't really know what they were talking about.
I went through a very dark period of my life where I quit going to church, lost my virginity, and got into a relationship that I should have never been in. During this time, I was on the pill for six and a half years. I was on the pill because I believed the lies of the world that try to separate the sex act from its natural end - children. The funny part is that I did want children one day. I desperately wanted to be a wife and mother and all that this entails. I simply did not want the man I was with to be the father. He had way too many emotional problems to be a father. I wanted to fix him and help him heal and then my fairy tale idea of weddings and motherhood could come true. Although I didn't know it at the time, I'm sure anyone reading this can see how lost and confused I was at this time in my life. I was thinking with my ideals and emotions and the things that I thought were so obviously true were not actually rooted in reality.
During the time that I was on the pill, I was an emotional wreck. Up and down with my moods, not being able to sleep at night and generally assuming that I was just "nocturnal" - something that I would tell anyone who asked why I didn't go to bed earlier. (I often wouldn't even try to get sleep until 3 or 4 a.m.) The only other time I have had any similar symptoms was when I was pregnant, which causes me to wonder if it wasn't the pill that was causing all this. But I don't really know for sure. At any rate, while this could be considered troubling, it is not the main cause of my regret.
When I was on the pill I actually missed a period. Aside from my pregnancies, it is the only month I have ever missed a period in my life, even to this day. At the time, I wondered if I was pregnant, but wasn't sure. You see, the pill never completely regulated my cycles. I was often times late, etc. I never really bothered to wonder why that might be. Even off the pill I was always "late" due to the fact that my body seems to run on a 32-35-day cycle and not a 28-day cycle. Since I was always late, maybe that is all this really was. I didn't know what to think but I was concerned enough to read the information that comes with the pill.
The first thing I read was that the pill works by preventing ovulation. This was something that I already knew and was no surprise. I continued on to anything that would pertain to my situation. Lo and behold! I read something that went along the lines of this: "Sometimes the hormones in the pill can cause you to miss a period. If a period is late or missed, keep taking the pill until your next period. If two or more periods are missed, stop taking the pill at once and consult a doctor because you may be pregnant."
"Oh!" I told myself. "That is exactly what is happening to me. Of course with my goofy cycles that is what's going on. I will wait and see what happens before I even say anything to anyone. No reason to have people worry, etc." So I kept taking the pill and I waited. Sure enough I got my period the next month and eventually the pill regulated me enough to where I wasn't late anymore and my periods were always when I expected them to be. (In retrospect, I do have to wonder what that was doing to my body. Now that I am no longer on the pill, my body has again reverted back to the longer cycles and my OBGYN says that I am perfectly normal that way.)
The man who is now my husband was raised Catholic. It was with his influence and the working of the Holy Spirit that I became Catholic and learned NFP. In the course of learning about the Church and her teachings, especially those on NFP, I learned something that made my heart skip a beat--the pill can cause an abortion. Could that be true? I read that it is supposed to prevent ovulation, but sometimes doesn't. In that case there is a secondary action that just doesn't allow the egg to attach to the womb and it is flushed out of the body. I didn't want to believe it. All the reading I had done about the pill while I was on it and there had never been any mention of anything of the sort. I remembered that missed period a few years back and wanted to throw up. What if it was true? I started doing web searches. It is true.
First I was angry. I felt deliberately deceived. How could that sort of information just not have been included with the pill? Or was it? They had to have known. It must be the exact reason that they put that little part about waiting until you miss two periods. I felt more than deliberately deceived; I felt betrayed. I have always been against abortion. I simply was never taught that contraceptives were wrong. I knew that my parents said premarital sex was wrong, but I had no idea that I could be killing a baby. How can there be a baby if there is not even ovulation? I know that there are some women who wouldn't care about all this, but what of those like me who did care? Didn't they disserve to know before they chose to use the pill?
My husband knew I had a past so I didn't hesitate to tell him. He is a very good man in many respects but he just couldn't understand. He was very quick to point out that I was getting upset over something that I didn't even know for sure had happened. There is no way to be sure I killed a baby. It is a might-have-been. It wasn't something I deliberately set out to do. Why decide it definitely did happen and get all upset about it when we don't have a way to know for sure? I still felt a deep-rooted guilt. It was true I didn't know for sure. But it was also true that I was doing things that put me at risk for it to happen and I knew I should have led a more chaste life. Before it could truly eat me up inside, I went to confession. I told the priest everything and he prayed with me and Jesus forgave me. I felt like I could float to the ceiling. It was the most healing and wonderful confession I have ever experienced. I truly know I am forgiven and I am more than grateful that I didn't find out about the truth until I had recourse to the confessional.
Still, somehow I know that there was at least one pregnancy that was lost in those six and a half years. I can't explain how I know, I just know. That missed period was a baby; I just didn't know it at the time. Whether there were any others during those six and a half years is anyone's guess, but I truly think there was just the one. I sometimes wonder what the baby would have been like - what he or she would have grown up to be. At those times I am sad for the life it missed. Sad that it couldn't have had the mother that my other children have. And I am sad in secret. I mourn a child that only my intuition can confirm was ever there and so I can only grieve in private.
If there is ever a campaign that deals with the pill as opposed to surgical abortion, please share my testimony. It sickens me that society degrades women to the point where their fertility cycle is treated like a disease one must take a pill for. It angers me that so many women advocate and buy into this view. It is diabolical the way the pill is just considered matter of course and fairly harmless. I want women to know that there are those of us who were on the pill and now regret it. I suspect that I am not the only one to mourn a baby lost to abortifacient contraceptives and I want others to know that they are not alone.
Contraception paved the way to surgical abortion in the first place. It's time to strike at the root of the weed. I want my testimony to stand up and tell other women and girls who are on the pill that I was on the pill, I regret it, and one day you will too. I regret ever, ever taking the pill. In fact when I look forward in life down that road, I will not even take estrogen for menopause. Menopause is not a disease either and I am off artificial hormones for good.