Sex Medicine

My mother had just thrown a handful of spaghetti into a pot of boiling water when she casually asked, “Are you using sex medicine?”

“Sorry?” I said, thinking I must have misheard.  I was setting the table for lunch; a task I usually devote all my attention to.

“You know.  Sex medicine. To stop babies.”

Now let me go back in time for a moment.

When I was thirteen my parents took charge of my sex education. They threatened to kill me if I got pregnant out of wedlock.  And so developed my phobia of pregnancy.  And an expectation that my mother and I wouldn’t have intimate conversations about contraception.

To be fair to my parents, when I was growing up, they suffered Broken Clock Syndrome: when a migrant references practices in their home country not as they currently might be, but as they where when they left. Typically it manifests itself as being very strict with their children but later discovering that other parents in the home country have moved on.

And my parents’ suspicions would have been aroused by the romance novels that I was addicted to at the time: the ones with the scantily clad heroines and bare-chested heroes on the cover. Rather than actually speaking to boys I would lock myself away in my room for hours devouring these novels. Of course in these stories the protagonists never actually had sex. And certainly never got pregnant. They always got married though, right after the last page.

Luckily, I survived my teenage years without having a baby.  So you can imagine my surprise when one day in my early thirties my mother asked me about contraception. I had by then been living with my boyfriend for five years. My parents, it seemed, had adapted quite well to their new country but I guess my mother was curious as to why we hadn’t yet announced a wedding date and when she would become a grandmother.

And so she decided to ask: “Are you using sex medicine?”

“Sorry?” I said.

“You know.  Sex medicine. To stop babies.”

“You mean the Pill?’ I said.

“Yes. Yes. The Pill. Are you using the Pill?”

“Yes.” I said. “I’m on the Pill.”

“This is why you don’t have babies. You should stop this medicine. You should have babies before it is too late.”

“But I don’t want a baby. I’m not even planning to get married.” I replied.

“If you want a baby you don’t need to be married. You have the baby. I will support you.”

Oh My God!

So this is how far we’d travelled. We’d shot straight past the iron clad stipulation that babies must be conceived in wedlock. It seemed that now my mother couldn’t care less if I was married, and was in fact recklessly encouraging me to abandon my contraception.

“You know you have a clock inside you.”


“ A clock. To tell you when to have babies.”

“The biological clock? That’s not real. That’s just how people explain…”

“You don’t want to break it. Then it will be too late for babies.”

Luckily, just as I was about to repeat that I wasn’t considering having a baby anytime between now and eternity, the doorbell rang, and I was saved by the arrival of the other lunch guests.

Although it happened quite a few years ago, remembering this conversation with my mother made me reflect on how lucky I am to be able to make my own decisions about my body. All over the world many people are persecuted for making choices about their sexuality that others don’t agree with.










About sagesomethymes

Daniela is a writer, theatre producer and civic educator. She has had short stories and poetry published in: 'Prayers of a Secular World', Inkerman & Blunt; 'Blue Crow Magazine', Blue Crow Press; 'Knitting and other stories', Margaret River Press and Radio National’s '360 documentaries'. Her debut play, 'Talc', was produced in 2010. Her short play, 'Sicilian Biscotti', was produced for the launch of “Women Power and Culture” at New Theatre in 2011 and shortlisted for the Lane Cove Literary Award in 2015. Her second full length play, 'Friday', was produced by SITCO at the Old Fitzroy Theatre in 2013. 'The Poor Kitchen' was produced in 2016 as part of the Old 505 Theatre’s Fresh Works Season and was published by the Australian Script Centre in 2017 ( It was re-staged by Patina Productions at Limelight on Oxford in 2019. She co-wrote 'Shut Up And Drive' with Paul Gilchrist and it was produced at KXT in 2016. 'Seed Bomb' was produced at Old 505 Theatre as part of the FreshWorks Season in 2019 and has been published by the Australian Script Centre ( She co-wrote 'Softly Surely' with Paul Gilchrist and it was produced at Flight Path Theatre in 2022. She is the co-founder of indie theatre company subtlenuance ( Her published short stories can be read via the Short Stories tab on this blog.
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4 Responses to Sex Medicine

  1. Gina says:

    I had no idea! Although, I know that there were certain things off limits for you and your sister; sex and boys. “No one touch my girls. If they get too close, I kill ’em first and then we talk!” lots of laughs. You can imagine my surprise when I learned you had a boyfriend.

    “What? She has a boyfriend? How did this happen? He’s how tall?” I asked.

    “Mamma Mia. I ask her how she can kiss him, he’s so tall? Maybe she carry a step ladder around, so she don’t need to stretch back her neck.”


  2. Jo says:

    Can soooooo relate to this! Being childless I have found people make so many assumptions about your sexuality and none of them tend to be right. Mind your own test tubes I say to the lot of them!

  3. Colin Hesse says:

    Thanks Daniela, a very nice reflection on the many ways in which women, and men, don’t have children.

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