vinegar wash
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Vinegar wash

Eirini Rapti

I was in Washington DC on a work trip and my phone kept ringing with calls from home. I was used to declining them. My family and friends somehow always accepted that when I was at work I could not talk. No questions asked. 

So, I kept hanging up and they kept calling back. 

At some point, I went back to my room and returned the call. On the other end was a woman who I care dearly for in my life who wishes to remain anonymous. My life is surrounded by amazing women I am very close to, but today we’ll just call her Maya.

Me: Hey, sorry I was working. All ok?
Maya: Hi! (Sounding really upset). I think I have a serious infection.
Me: Infection?
Maya: Yeah, an infection. It definitely is not normal, I never have so much coming out and it definitely is an infection.
Me: Where? What are you talking about?
Maya: You know, the fluids! The vagina! There is something wrong with mine. You know you said, fluids, well mine are not right. I did a wash with vinegar and still, it seems wrong.
Me: You mean you have vaginal fluids?
Maya: Yes! That’s exactly what I am saying!
Me: And you think it is an infection?
Maya: Yes!!!!
Me: Have you spoken to the gynaecologist?
Maya: No! I have no insurance. I cannot pay now. You know so much about fluids, what can I do? I did the vinegar wash already but it is still wrong. I am sure it is wrong.
Me: Hold on! I am not an expert and I think you need to see a doctor.
Maya: I can’t!
Me: Ok, do they smell?
Maya: I don’t know.
Me: Well, you have to try to smell them.
Maya: No! I can’t.
Me: Well, you have to. Do they smell? I mean what do they look like? Are they yellow, transparent, white?
Maya: I don’t know (crying…). I am just telling you they are many and I think there is something wrong.
Me: Look, if you cannot smell anything, it sounds like you might just be ovulating. I think... I don’t know.
Maya: NO! I think there is something wrong.
Me: Go see your doctor then, I think you might be ovulating but then I don’t know.
Maya: I will wash with vinegar again to fight the infection and we will see.
Me: I don’t think vinegar… I don’t think it will do anything. You need to touch it and smell it.

My business trip finished and I went back home. Days passed and the phone rang again.

Maya: I am pregnant.
Me: What? Oh my love ...
Maya: (Silence). I don’t know how pre-cum or something. I don’t know-how. It is impossible.

The next few minutes were a mixture of an untold sadness mixed with absolute rationality.
She could not have that child, she had no way to bring it up and an unstable relationship. Also, having an abortion meant cost, money that she did not have.

I didn’t know what role to play. What was I to say? Have it? Not have it? 

I stayed in a very weird silence of acknowledgment. I kept humming ‘yeah’ and ‘ok’ and ‘I understand’. At the back of my head though, I kept playing the Washington DC conversation. It all made sense. She HAD been fertile. She did not know. Maybe it was pre-cum maybe it was more. Who cares! She did not know. He did not know. Neither of them knew and now they were pregnant. It was wonderful and horrible at the same time.

 

Most women don’t know the power of their bodies. 

That lack of knowledge leads to fear. 

Fear leads to silence. 

In silence, love and passion die. 

I do not want to go into the details. But this was a painful moment that many women have to go through. Sometimes, many couples have to go through.
There is NO, absolutely, no abortion that is easy. No matter how sure you are. It is a painful experience to go through no matter how convinced you are. One that will keep coming back for years on end.

And here she was, going through it. It mattered to me because she was a woman I adore, I love, I feel with. She was fortunate to live in a country where she had choices. Choices are still hard to make, even when you have them, but you have them. She made the choice. It was a painful one and an expensive one for her circumstance. 

I was there to hold her. To not talk much, or just to say silly things. To just be.

Then a few days later, I flew to Germany to see my boyfriend. We were a couple practicing natural contraception for 6 months now. We knew so much, we had gone through the ‘is this dangerous, shall we double protect’? We called my gynaecologist whenever in doubt. We read online, we bought new tools. We had access to so much.

That evening we did not talk about any of that. 

I went to his tiny little balcony in a Munich apartment to smoke (yes, I have bad habits). He came to see me at some point. He asked how I felt. What I thought. How I was.

Me: I am angry, you know.
Jonas: Angry?
Me: I am sad.
Jonas: Hm...
Me: I can’t stop thinking… if she knew, if they knew, would it have changed things? Like if they knew how to recognise signs, fertile fluids?
Jonas: I don’t know. Maybe it would make no difference.
Me: It cannot be that I know so much and she doesn’t. I mean why? This is nuts! She must know, she should.
Jonas: She knows a lot. Maybe this is something more personal?
Me: No, she doesn’t know. She called me….Forget it.
Jonas: (He stays silent)
Me:This is not right.
Jonas: Maybe you should talk to her, show her.
Me: This is not only about her. It is about him too. This is not right. This is not right.

All I could think was how wrong this felt.

Not that she had an abortion, nor that she and her boyfriend did not practice natural contraception.
What was not right was that for some reason this one amazing, strong, independent woman had not been exposed to this information as much as she deserved to have been or nearly as much as others have been.

And here she was, all alone in her choice. No much technology to help her. Not even me, taking the proper time to talk about what I knew.

None of this made sense and yet it all did.
Choices for women are not equal, they are not cross-cultural, they are not international. Choices for female health are still very much exclusive and elective.

Most women don’t know the power of their bodies. 

That lack of knowledge leads to fear. 

Fear leads to silence. 

In silence, love and passion die. 

I vowed that day.

I was going to bring this knowledge into the light, using nothing but the best of technology.
That was the evening when I developed a distaste for anything less than cutting-edge science and technology. I had developed an allergic reaction to another paper-and-pen-based method, not because it is not good enough but because our world, our society, our tools have evolved past that many decades ago.

I was never naive, I never thought that Rome was built in a day but perhaps in a day and a half?
I decided if we get the best of the best and I pour my utmost transparent passion and dedication to the art and the science of fertility? What happens then?

Women will know the power of their bodies. 

Knowledge allows couples to make choices with confidence. 

Confidence leads to trust. 

In trust, love and passion flourish. 

 

Surely, a difference can be made. 

 

Note: names mentioned in my blogs have been changed to respect anonymity, the events, however, remain very radically true.

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