catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 17 :: 2008.09.26 — 2008.10.10


For my daughter: Short notes on relinquishing (birth) control

I’ve always liked plans, even as a kid. Twice more, then let’s go home. Meet at the beach after lunch. I had forts that never made it past the blueprint stage. In high school, I took career planning; in university, signed up for a meal plan; for emergencies, dreamt up escape plans. But Family Planning 101? Not offered, at least not in this neck of the woods.

Description: An introduction to the fundamentals of planning pregnancies, spacing your children, and the modern family unit.

Course Objectives: To provide information on types of contraception, including but not limited to physical and chemical barriers, hormonal combinations and intrauterine devices. 

I remember my mom throwing Seventeen onto the table with disgust. “What about abstinence?!” she cries. Top Ten Ways YOU Can Prevent Pregnancy falls onto its face.

You know, every once in a while your parents make a five-year plan-like the Soviets. The plans are scattered and implausible, scribbled onto napkins, yet I find them oddly comforting. You were proposed at one point, but we couldn’t quite sort out when and how and who. Somewhere between “teach English overseas” and “apply to grad school”? It felt crazy to be able to even discuss slotting you into our schedule. We worried: shouldn’t that be Someone Else’s decision?

“My sister got pregnant with Carly when a condom broke. Michael was the mini-pill. Dexter, I think, a loose diaphragm.” My friend picks up her coffee. “You know,” I say, “you’d better stop reciting that list before Carly turns five.”

Then, just after I start a new job, you decide to let us know you are coming. Your dad has a lot of questions. “Excuse me, yes. Hello?” He is flustered but determined. “Your product, well, it’s supposed to be a negative result when there’s a horizontal line, right? And it’s positive with a plus sign-a horizontal and a vertical line. What about this-it doesn’t make any sense-what about a single vertical line? It’s not a plus or a minus! What is it?” Silence. “I want to know for sure.” 

You should know I have an uneasy relationship with doctors. Most of them seem like they’d rather sift toenails out of rice than listen to my problems with their contraceptive options. “Six weeks old and a good size. She’s healthy.” Here it comes. “If you’re breastfeeding, the best pill is Micronor.” The doctor pauses, pen uncapped. “What? That will never work. Here, take this.”

When you were two, you had a lot of questions. “Where is God?” you demand, looking at a children’s Bible. I stare at the garden of Eden. It has Adam, Eve, and a giant arm coming down from the sky. “That’s God’s hand, honey. He’s not on this page.” You are not happy about this. “I want to see God’s face.

I’m twenty-nine, and I have a lot of questions. “What’s next?” I demand, flipping through the Bible. “What’s right?” We have you and your sister and a few more marked-up, scrunched up napkins. We are very happy about this. Still, I want to know God’s plans.

But the only thing I can show you is this arm. The only part I can see is this hand. “The rest of God is somewhere else.” You’re quiet for a moment. “Can you draw him?” “Well, it would be pretty hard.” We look at the illustration again. Then I take your hand, and you smile. 

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