It took three clinicians and nearly an hour on the table to get me fitted with an IUD. The trouble was, I wasn’t menstrating (though I was supposed to be – last week’s breakthrough bleeding threw me off), and I’ve never had a child, so I’ve got a very small cervix, and you’ve gotta be pretty aggressive to get anything up there.
After forty minutes or so, they brought in the aggressive clinician.
So after forty minutes of being asked “Do you feel anything?” and replying, “Just pressure,” and thinking, “What the hell is it, exactly, I’m supposed to be feeling? Some menstrual cramps? Some –“
And my initial clinician turned to the midwife who was in there to observe and learn, and said, “That’s how you know it’s in.”
Jesus fucking christ.
It would have been nice if somebody’d told me, “If you haven’t had a kid, you’ll get two short bursts of the absolute worst pain you’ve ever felt in your entire life… once, when they put the tube up through your cervix and again when they push the IUD through the tube.”
You get this amazing white-hot burning stabbing pain in your gut that clenches every muscle in your entire body. Your whole body jerks on the table and you find yourself clutching for the nearest thing you can grab hold of so you can crush the life out of it while your uterus (the strongest muscle in the human body – male or female) engages every other muscle in your body to scream NO!
I wish somebody would have told me about that part. I would have been better prepared. I now have even more respect for women who have children. I don’t know how women survive it. Being in that kind of pain, experiencing those kinds of contractions, for hours or days or… sweet fuck. Have every lawmaker in Washington experience that pain for five minutes, and then have them deliberate about a woman’s right to choose pregnancy and labor. You’ll get a quick vote.
It actually ended up being really nice to have that many people in there, though you feel a bit like a circus freak because it’s like there’s something wrong with your body because it’s taking so long. In fact, all it took was getting a more experienced clinician to come in and go POP! and it was all over (painfully so, but over) in a few minutes. But having people in there to bullshit with while the clinician is poking away at you, and having someone stroke your arm afterward and tell you it’s all over was actually really nice; particularly there at the end, because that sort of jolting pain is a real shock to your system, and I felt a lot like a deer-in-headlights. It’s nice to have lots of people around saying everything’s normal: it eases some of that back-brain fear that cloaks you when you feel that kind of pain.
Being the stubborn bitch I am, I didn’t have B or Jenn come with me, so I tromped home, ate Tylenol like candy, and situated myself on the couch with a heating pad until I started drifting off around 10pm. Took a couple Tylenol PM, and spent Saturday relaxing as well. After that initial freak-out pain, the pain was pretty much what they said it was going to be – for 24-48 hours, it felt like menstrual cramps, and I took Tylenol every 3-4 hours the first day and every 4-5 hours on Sunday.
Looking back on it, I should have asked Jenn or B to be there, so somebody could get up and get me something to drink, or get me more Tylenol, or just be there to cuddle with and talk to afterward. I suppose it was a kind of shock I felt afterward, because your body carries around the memory of that pain, and it’s a fucker.
Today, I’ve just got the occasional twinges of pain, kept in check by Tylenol, and I’m waiting for the blood/iodine discharge to abate, which will hopefully happen sometime this week.
If this works out, I can honestly say that it’ll have been totally worth it. Sitting on the train today, not depressed, not hysterical, not experiencing a weird increased appetite or feeling too low to go to MA class tonight… *and* not having to worry about getting pregnant. Hot damn. I don’t mind a little blood and pain if it means I can get back to my old self and have sex without worrying about it all the time. It’s worth it.
And as I was lying on the table, recovering from that second bout of intense pain, I thought of all the things women have done to control their fertility, all the wacky shit we’ll put up with, the shit we’ll go through, because we enjoy sex and enjoy being closer to our partners, and because whatever risk we take to control our fertility doesn’t outweigh the risk to our lives if we get pregnant, if we’re perpetually pregnant or nursing. I’ll do any number of wacky things in order to live the sort of life I want. And I do view controlling my own fertility as a basic human right.
We’ll see how the next few months go.