On the 5th of every month, bloggers from around the world are open to write about rights and issues concerning women. First started by Shine and Marie, we’re hoping to bring a variety of women’s issues to the forefront to make people aware of what’s going on. For the month of May, we’ve chosen to write about Women’s Reproductive Rights and Issues. Please join us in telling us your stories, thoughts, and ideas on a monthly basis. To read the first installment, click here.
I’ve always imagined that it must be hard to work at a Planned Parenthood. I imagine that you want to be supportive of your patients and thankful, even, that some of the younger, teenage visitors have recognized you as a resource, and have taken that often terrifying step of coming in. And I imagine that you want to be cautious of seeming judgmental, while at the same time perhaps not condoning every situation that you see. I imagine that it might sometimes be hard to keep personal feelings in check.
The first time I went to Planned Parenthood was almost nine years ago so that I could start birth control. And that was when I met Mary.
She was my nurse, and one of the kindest women I’ve met. She could tell that I was nervous, and attempted to put me at ease.
She asked me about my boyfriend, who I’d told her was waiting in the lobby for me.
She smiled, she was gentle, and she didn’t judge me for my age, even though she was old enough to be my mother.
She made me feel free and comfortable to ask any questions that I might have. And did I ever. I left Planned Parenthood that day so much more relaxed than when I had gone in.
Fast forward a couple years later, when I had been off birth control for a few months, but, due to a blossoming relationship, wanted to go back on. Without going into too much detail, there had been some minor contact and, even though I knew I was all right, I just wanted to make sure before going back on the pill. So I scheduled another appointment and wasn’t nearly as nervous as the first time, after having Mary as my nurse.
I don’t remember the name of the woman who saw me this time. What I do remember is telling her my situation and her condescending tone when she asked, “How could you have let that happen?” I remember being shocked and shamed, and thinking that her reaction was uncalled for. I wasn’t asking for sympathy by any means – just a little understanding. And I was already there. I was taking care of myself.
After that appointment, I stopped going to Planned Parenthood. It was a combination of that particular attitude, and the lucky fact that my mom was supportive and willing to help me find a gynecologist.
But that experience made me so grateful for people like Mary, who are able to make a potentially scary experience a little less frightening, and who can put others at ease with a smile and some small talk.
And it made me recognize just how important the right attitude can be in such sensitive situations.