Pancakes and the morning-after pill

A few weeks ago, it was pancake day. Andrew and I arranged he would come to mine, and we’d make pancakes together (we actually did it on Ash Wednesday because of his shifts).

We agreed he’d come around at about 8.00pm. We had this conversation about traditional pancakes ingredients, during the day.

Pancakes

I got annoyed on the way home from work, as there were three separate sets of roadworks, so it took an hour longer than usual.

When I got home, and walked into my bedroom, Andrew was lying on my bed! As always, he had a police textbook in hand, as his exam was coming up.

“What are you doing here!” I cried excitedly, getting on the bed with him.

He had decided to come early and let himself in. We had a quick chat about how our days were, and I complained about the roadworks, while we hugged and kissed on the bed. Then he lay on top of me and it became clear we were going to have sex.

Since I got the contraceptive implant removed, we’ve been using condoms. We were both worried how we’d get on, as I’d originally got the implant because condoms weren’t working for us. Whenever he was putting the condom on, Andrew seemed to get anxious about losing his erection, which would then become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, this time, we’d been getting on well so far. Andrew seems to be a bit like Goldilocks about condoms, either complaining of them being too big or too small, but the batch of free condoms I’d got from the sexual health clinic seemed just right. Annoyingly, that brand (‘Pasante’) only seems to be available at clinics, but not for sale anywhere. It seems a bit naff for professionals in our thirties to keep rocking up to the clinic every week for more free condoms. We’re probably not the target audience.

Andrew had bought some condoms, along with pancake ingredients, on the way over. As the sex got started, he got the new box of condoms out. He’d bought Durex ‘Mutual Climax’ ones that have “Ribs and Dots designed to speed her up, and Performa™ lubricant to help slow him down.”

“These seem OK, don’t they!” we said as we got started. They had lubricant on them with a slight numbing effect, to help men last longer.

“Are the ribs doing anything for you?” he asked.

“To be honest, I can’t really feel them. But when I touched it with my hand it felt nice and bumpy!”

However, when we changed position, he panicked a bit when he couldn’t immediately get it back in, and started to lose his erection.

(I’ve always had an unusually high rate of men with erectile dysfunction. In fact, it was a long time before I slept with someone who didn’t lose their erection on the first few tries. I assumed something about my body made them nervous and took it as a compliment. However, when I had my last smear test, the nurse told me cervix tilts to the left. I now wonder if that, plus the fact I’m quite gynaecologically narrow, makes me a slightly tricky door to unlock. I think maybe it takes a bit of steering, in some positions, and when it doesn’t work straight away, they panic and lose their erection.)

We realised that the numbing condoms were probably not helping him maintain his erection, and he took the condom off. I found one last normal condom in the drawer. I gave him some oral to try and jazz things back up. Some of the numbing lubricant was still on him, and it felt nice on the painful mouth ulcer I still had.

Then, while we were faffing around with different condoms and things, he weirdly seemed to ejaculate but not have an orgasm, which I didn’t think was possible. I know that, with a lot of practice and pelvic floor exercises, men can have an orgasm without ejaculating, but this was the other way around.

“That’s weird! Can you still carry on?” I asked

“Yeah, I think so!” he replied.

Then, I put my hand in the semen and then touched the fresh condom we were about to use.

“Oh shit, it might not be safe now! I think I’ve just got sperms on the outside of it!”

I went and washed my hands, and then dug out a female condom from the drawer, as we’d run out of normal ones. (Apart from the new all-singing and all-dancing ones, which we hadn’t got on with. Condoms that numb you might be great for some men, but not if you’re poised on a knife-edge between coming too quickly and losing your erection altogether.)

I lay on the bed and frantically tried to remember how to put in a female condom, while Andrew knelt over me and frantically tried to keep his erection alive.

Eventually, we got ourselves organised and had good sex.

When I sat up afterwards, I felt the familiar feeling of semen trickling out of me (sorry). I’d got used to that feeling, when we stopped using condoms.

But we had just used a condom.

“What? Where’s the condom?” I said, looking around my legs and genitals. “Oh fuck!”

The female condom had got folded up and gone right up inside me. Meaning it hadn’t done its job.

I remembered that it was the most fertile day of my cycle.

“Did you say you wanted to have kids?” I said, as Andrew was cleaning himself up.

He half-laughed.

“We’d better get the morning after pill,” I said, hastily getting dressed.

I looked on my phone to see the nearest chemist that was still open. Luckily, there was one less than 5 minutes away, which was open for another twenty minutes. I love London in situations like this.

Andrew finished getting dressed, and we walked to the chemist, hand in hand.

“I don’t mean to alarm you, but look where I am in my cycle…” I said, showing my menstrual app. He went white when he read ‘fertile window’.

We got to the chemist and I asked for emergency contraception assertively but discreetly, and got ushered into a side room. Andrew followed me in, which me love him more.

I was given a questionnaire fill in, while I waited for the pharmacist.

After a few minutes, the shop assistant came back and said that they had run out of emergency contraception, but we could try another chemist that was about 20 minutes away, which was open until 10pm. I love London.

We walked to the next chemist while I quoted statistics about how effective the morning after pill is, especially in the first 12 hours.

“The condom still might have caught some of them, as well!”

This was his first emergency contraception experience. I regaled him with tales of mine.

We got to the second chemist, which was in a more ‘vibrant and up-and-coming’ area. There was drama as a lady had been waiting for ‘over half an hour now’ for her prescription, and her fish and chips were going cold. Later, I tried to speculate with Andrew what prescription she might’ve been waiting for, but he had missed the whole thing (despite being a detective).

When I got to the front of the queue, again, I was ushered into a side room when I asked for emergency contraception. Again, Andrew followed me in, which made me feel like we were in it together.

The pharmacist came in and gave me a questionnaire to fill in, again, and kicked Andrew out of the consultation room. Afterwards we joked that the pharmacist probably thought Andrew was a controlling, abusive partner, who didn’t want me to speak to any professionals without him present, when actually he was just trying to be supportive.

I filled in the questionnaire.

This time, it had pictures of the two types of morning after pill – Levonelle and EllaOne. I was surprised to see this, because last time I took emergency contraception, about 12 years ago, Levonelle was the only option. In my 20s, I went through a spate of taking it several times (broken condoms, a condom that mysteriously disappeared and a misunderstanding about antibiotics), and Levonelle had always been the only option.

It said that Levonelle was £25 and EllaOne was £35. Levonelle could be taken up to 3 days after unprotected sex, and EllaOne could be taken up to 5 days after. It also said that EllaOne, the more expensive one, was slightly more effective.

Hmm, which one should I take? How much more effective is the pricier one?

When you’re in the midst of a contraceptive emergency, the last thing you want is a maths probability puzzle. While I waited for the pharmacist to come back, I had a quick look on Google Scholar and found a journal article about a drug trial comparing the two. I had only skim read the abstract when the pharmacist came back, but I thought it said they were equally effective.

“OK,” the phamacist said, sitting down. “So, you had unprotected sex…” he squinted at the piece of paper I’d filled in. “…30 minutes ago.”

“That’s right.” I confirmed.

He went through some other questions about other medication and whether I have any allergies, and then asked me which pill I wanted to take.

He seemed to be slightly pushing the more expensive one.

Ha, I’ve just read some science and I know they are actually equally effective. 

“Of course, as it’s within the first 12 hours, both will be more than 90% effective,” he conceded.

“I think I’ll go with Levonelle, as that’s what I’ve taken before,” I said.

“OK fine. As long as you’re aware it’s slightly less effective,” he said.

For a moment, I imagined some of Andrew’s rogue sperm swimming up my fallopian tubes. Surprisingly, part of me felt quite up for that.

“Yeah, that’s fine,” I said.

He asked me if I’d considered a more effective method of contraception than condoms, and then regretted it as I talked him through everything I’d tried.

While I was queuing up to pay, I went back to the journal article and realised I had misread it. It actually did say Levonelle was a bit less effective, like the pharmacist said.

When I got to the till, Andrew and I had a slight stand-off about who was going to pay, which made me love him more. I did pay, as I got my card out more quickly.

(Once I took the morning after pill during a weekend away with a very tight ex-boyfriend, and he refused to pay half, even though I was a student and he worked full time. This made me really appreciate Andrew trying to pay.)

We got back out onto the street and realised we still needed to buy a bottle of water, so I could take the pill.

We went into a petrol station shop and bought some water, and then I took it.

We decided to get the bus home. As we waited at the bus stop, I confessed to him about the Levonelle vs EllaOne dilemma and what I’d chosen. He didn’t seem cross that I’d chosen the less effective one.

He said his balls were hurting in sympathy and I gave him some painkillers out of my handbag.

“If I did get pregnant, it would be a very tenacious baby, beating four different contraceptives we’d tried to use,” I said.

“Hmm. Yeah,” Andrew said, seeming less impressed by the hypothetical tenacious baby than I was.

When we got home, he said he would make the pancakes so I could relax on the sofa.

“I would have taken the pill for you if I could,” he said, putting the blanket over me. I had a slightly crampy feeling in my stomach.

It felt like getting the morning after pill was a really nice bonding experience. I lay down on the sofa and let them hormones do their thing in my body, while getting up every few minutes to help Andrew find various utensils in my kitchen for the pancakes.

We had Andrew’s pancakes, which were very nice. The oranges, for his own enjoyment, were OK.

“There’s one pancake left, and a bit of batter, probably enough for one more pancake. We can have them in the morning,” Andrew said.

After we’d eaten, and chatted a bit more on the sofa, we went to bed. Even though the condom mishap wasn’t ideal, I felt really taken care of, and really close to Andrew.

I felt less endearing towards him, when I was woken up, at about 5am, by him trying to mount me. He wasn’t fully awake, but he was being very amorous, kneading my breasts as if they were dough and pressing his erection into me.

“After the morning-after pill, I don’t feel like sex, so can you stop it?” I said.

He did, and was very apologetic in the morning.

Whereas the emergency contraception experience had felt like a positive thing, the night before, I felt fed up in the morning. Maybe it was the hormones. Maybe it was a combination of having to go out and spend £25 and be quizzed about my sexual activities by a stranger. Maybe it was the stomach ache and tender breasts.

The recent insecurities I’d been feeling about our relationship started to resurface. I thought that as soon as Andrew finally said the L-word, all our problems would disappear and we’d cartwheel into the sunset together, and I’d never feel insecure again. But I wished he’d start saying it regularly, without me making him say it. I wished he’d be with me and feel it, and not be able to keep it in, like how I feel about him.

We’d had this experience, the night before, which was a first for him, and made me feel a bit vulnerable but closer to him. Why was it so hard for him to tell me he loved me?

We were hugging, and I asked him to say something nice to me. I felt insecure, and just wanted some reassurance of his feelings.

“Say something nice? Err, you’re beautiful,” he said.

“Something about my personality,” I pressed.

He didn’t say anything.

“Andrew!”

“You know I like your personality!” he said.

I went off and had a shower, feeling annoyed. I knew it was stupid to ask for compliments, but I wished he could’ve said something better. Even though he said nice things all the time, I felt like I needed to hear something that morning.

When I got out the shower, I could smell delicious cooking smells. I knew he’d already eaten the last pancake from the night before, earlier that morning.

He must be using the last of the batter to cook me a pancake! He’s showing me he loves me with food! 

I realised how hungry I was, and walked into the bedroom, in a towel.

Andrew was lying on the bed, eating the last bite of a pancake. He had used the last of the batter, to make a pancake for himself!

I clattered around the bedroom, getting dressed, feeling annoyed. I hoped Andrew would ask me what was wrong, but he didn’t. He just lay on the bed, reading things on his phone.

When I was dressed, I said, “Let’s go,” and we both got up to leave my flat.

We walked down the stairs in silence. When we were saying goodbye, by the door to my building, he said, “I feel like you’re pissed off with me.”

I hugged him. Suddenly, I realised I’d been unreasonable.

“I just wanted some reassurance, but you didn’t give it to me. I don’t know why. I just feel vulnerable.” I hugged him tightly. “I thought you were making me the last pancake to show me love, but then you ate it yourself!”

“I thought you didn’t want it!”

“How! You didn’t ask me!”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, I am. I could have had a nice morning with you, but I just stomped around, being a dick! I’m sorry.”

My neighbour came out when we were hugging, and I pulled away, but Andrew wouldn’t let me go.

I went to work, and felt a bit annoyed with everyone, and also felt absolutely exhausted. I realised it was probably side effects of the pill.

We had this text conversation.

That evening, I was running a group, and we were talking about reassurance seeking.

I told the group about how, sometimes, anxiety makes us ask other people for reassurance. If you’re anxious about your health, you might ask doctors or loved ones for reassurance that a symptom you have isn’t anything serious.

If you’re socially anxious, you might check with friends that they think your behaviour the night before was OK.

You might check with work colleagues that they agree with a decision you made.

You might ask people you live with for reassurance that you locked the door or turned the oven off, after leaving the house.

You might ask a partner for reassurance that they still feel the same about you.

Asking for reassurance is normal, but if we do it too much, it can cause problems. It can undermine our confidence in our judgement. The sense of temporary relief it gives can become kind of addictive. We can end up needing increasing amounts of reassurance to get the same effect, like getting tolerance to a drug. At the same time, the people we ask can end up giving less convincing reassurance, because they are tired of being asked.

Andrew asks me for reassurance sometimes. He says things like, “and are you still happy with our sex life?”

The other day, I was commenting on how great it was that he doesn’t have a horrible temper, like ex-boyfriends I’ve had, and he said, “do you wish I was more fiery?”

He’s asked several times, “do you mind that I’m not really into art?”

I find it sweet when he asks for reassurance, and I give it to him. Sometimes I say, “you know the answer to this already!”

But I think I’ve started asking him too much. He says and does so many reassuring, loving, complimentary things, it should be enough.

I do think it’s fair enough my confidence has been knocked by his reluctance to say he loves me, but he is so loving in other ways, and he has said it now.

I don’t want to keep needing increasing amounts of reassurance. I don’t want to be pissed off with him for no reason, and I don’t want him to feel he’s not doing enough or to feel pissed off with me.

That evening, we talked on video chat for a long time, and I apologised for being moody.

I explained about reassurance-seeking, and how I wanted to change what I’m doing.

“Maybe next time I ask, you could help me, and instead of giving me reassurance, you could get me to remember the most recent time you’ve said something reassuring or done something really loving,” I said.

“OK,” he agreed.

Then we went on the have the best phone sex we’ve ever had.

5 thoughts on “Pancakes and the morning-after pill

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