I'm far past my teenage discomfort with talking about contraception. Luckily, so is America, and emergency backup contraception is now available over-the-counter.
That is a huge step for womankind and helps all of us have more choice in our reproduction by helping our uteruses block implantation. Pretty genius, Plan B!
Despite being of a childbearing age and in a stable relationship which could potentially allow for a child, it's simply not the right time for me. I also take Spironolactone for my skin, which can cause birth defects if you happen to get pregnant, so you don't.
So when something possibly pregnancy-inducing went down, I knew I needed to grab that ugly Plan B box (it looks like a douche box, literally). I sent my boo to my pharmacist, Stanley, because it's his problem, too. My boo's, not Stanley's.
I consulted the web for possible side effects, and it said you “may experience” nausea, abdominal pain and fatigue. I shrugged them off as unlikely due to that wording, forgetting my own cursed experiences with hormonal contraceptives in the past.
In fact, I gave up on hormonal birth control long ago, as pills, rings and patches clash overwhelmingly with my body, causing severe nausea and emotional outbursts, among other things. But I wasn't thinking about any of this when I popped the pill before going to bed that night.
Until I woke up to one no-good, very bad day the morning after taking the morning-after pill. I was disoriented and foggy and felt sick as soon as I opened my eyes. I was in for a day of absolute hell and it had only just begun.
It was like getting your period condensed all in one day, plus a hangover and stomach flu.
Somewhere in the middle of my horrid day, I began to ask my girlfriends if they had the same experience and, spoiler alert, they did more or less. You'll find some textual anecdotal evidence sprinkled throughout this article.
There are a few things I wish my friends had told me casually over the years, that's for certain. For instance:
One: It outright sucks.
There's this feeling I used to get after a night of hard drinking (which I've moved past, thankfully) where I wake up hours before my alarm, feeling like a raisin inside an empty fish bowl, cartoonishly dehydrated.
It always comes with a pang of nausea that climbs up from my toes, sending waves of sweat pouring from all over and making falling back asleep impossible. This used to be my body's way of being like “You done f*cked up, now you gon' puke.”
Waking up to that feeling after zero drinks was even worse. When you don't drink much and you feel hungover, it feels extra sad, like you missed the fun and only got the consequences. I hunched over, skulked to the bathroom, and cried while the other side effects of barfing and extreme cramping began to take hold.
Two: I should have planned to take the day off.
When things calmed down a bit, I skulked into my office and curled up on my chair, while staring off blankly, sniffing back more and more tears. WTF. As the tears kept piling, my very lovely partner walked in with my sweet doggie, to see if he could help.
These are essentially my two favorite beings on Planet Earth, but I hid my eyes, feeling an inexplicable need to avoid even puppy eye contact. I can't even tell you how low this feeling went. I felt as if speaking would physically hurt, like a depression I haven't known in almost two decades crammed into a second in time.
Lovely partner brought me some ginger ale, and I was able to nibble a THC pastille or two, and it took the severity off of both the nausea and extreme despair. But it still felt like a dark cloud was parked overhead.
Although the feelings lessened a few hours after waking, I still had a really long and nonsensical cry about "my choice as a woman" and a lot of stomach pain and cramps.
That feeling lasted until I went to bed at 2 am, y'all.
Three: Stock up.
I don't keep too many snacks around these days because I'm more of a meal-cooker. The closer I am to grocery day, the fewer quick foods I have on hand.
When I'm not feeling good, I want only two things to eat: crusty bread and cheese. If this comes in the form of pizza or a sandwich relative in shape to the kinds you see that feed dozens, I have to have it.
Again, partner in the clutch was able to walk the dog (twice!), order me a GIGANTIC Italian sandwich full of smoked cheese, and make sure I knew that he loves me intensely before he left for work.
More tears, intermittently, all day and for the most insane reasons.
If I didn't have this Dachshund-sized sandwich to nibble on as my appetite allowed, I would have had to find a way to slap something together or venture the 6 flights down (and back up) to grab take out or delivery (no doorbell). Stocking up the day before would have been ideal.
Four: Sleep (and smoke).
I'm a stoner, but "lazy" is not a descriptor anyone would use for me. I'm bitchy when I wake up, so naps are pretty much out of the question in my normal life, but after taking Plan B I kept falling asleep while watching crappy TV.
Working was pretty much not going to happen. Unfortunately for me, I had made a deadline or two, and I really hate to flounce deadlines. Not doing the work I had planned to finish that day left me feeling defeated.
Consuming marijuana has been one of the only reliefs for any and all menstrual concerns in my life, so consume it I did. I used a vaporizer, and with each draw I could actually feel the nausea pull back like a teetering cinema car on a cliff's edge rocking back to safety. I don't know what I would have done with this day had it not been for ganja and ginger, nature's number one anti-emetics.
Five: Maybe just wear an eye mask all day.
I couldn't look at the sun, my dog, my really cute boyfriend, or anything but the floor. I felt an extreme sensory overload -- sounds were intense, light was overwhelming, interaction excruciating.
In retrospect, I kind of wish I had just put a bag on my head all day and maybe peeked my good eye out to watch some Hulu. Just rejecting society entirely might be the best option for the day after the morning after pill.
Mine seemed to be an unusually extreme reaction, but my friends all said they also felt overwhelming emotions and gloom after taking Plan B.
After polling some of my girls, 10 out of 10 had taken Plan B, and 10 out of 10 experienced at least two-thirds of the side effects that I did and with some intensity. That's more than a "maybe," Teva Women's Health.
Does that mean I wouldn't do it again if I had to? Of course not. But I would be better prepared emotionally, physically, culinarily and botanically, and I would have built a pillow fort and piped in some soothing tunes on a Bluetooth speaker.
Plan B is essential to keeping our reproductive choices sternly in our own hands, but I think we need to share our experiences. I had to take the pill no matter what, a situation many women will encounter. But if it was more openly discussed, I would have had some clue what I was in for.
So sharing what happened to me will hopefully help you plan better, and give you some insight should you find yourself facing down the purple and white box.
At least in the end, I got what I'd been hoping for: a uterus as barren as my day-after experience.