Last week I attempted to get an IUD. It did not go well.
- Never have to think about it again.
- One of the most effective forms of reversible birth control, i.e. NO RISK OF ACCIDENTAL PREGNANCY IN WHICH I BECOME PREGNANT WITHOUT MEANING TO AND FOREVER REGRET IT BECAUSE BABIES ARE SQUISHY LIFE-SUCKERS AND ONLY AFTER I AM READY TO GIVE UP MY FREEDOM AND FINANCES AND BODY WILL I CONSIDER HAVING A BABY.*
Unfortunately, I had perused the Internet before my appointment, in which I discovered the horrors of having an IUD inserted (did you know that not only do they jack open your vagina in the same way one changes a tire, but they also CLAMP ONTO YOUR CERVIX AND PULL IT INTO A STRAIGHT POSITION IN ORDER TO INSERT THE IUD?!! CLAMP. ONTO. IT.)
Other people, it turns out, are also very willing to tell you why an IUD will be a horrible experience for you:
“If you’ve never had a child, the insertion process will be VERY painful. You should never insert an IUD if you haven’t given birth.”
“I heard you can gain a ton of weight.”
“I had a friend whose IUD grew into the lining of her cervix and had to get it surgically removed.”
The day of my appointment, I was riding high in anxiety. My doctor had prescribed me some Xanax beforehand to calm me down, so I was looking forward to being mostly out of it for the procedure. Having never been on Xanax before, I didn’t know that not only would I still be quite alert when a cold metal speculum was shoved into my nether regions, but also that it would do nothing to make me feel at all better about what was happening to me.
As I was sitting on the table with my feet in the stirrups, my doctor said, “You know, we can stop at any time. Just tell me to stop if you don’t want to do this.”
She tried once.
I told her to stop.
She waited while I stared at a poster of blue clouds above me on the ceiling, meant to make people like me feel serene, trying to decide if I should go through with it. I asked her to try again.
It was worse.
I told her to stop. Loudly.
She did, wished me happy holidays, and left the room.
I put my clothes back on, collected Clifford who was in the waiting room, and cried all the way back to my apartment.
I have not had to go through many uncomfortable medical procedures.
When I was 13, I developed an ingrown toenail because of a bad habit with ripping my toenails off whenever they had gotten long enough to once more rip off. The doctor had numbed my big toe until it felt like a hunk of concrete and then surgically removed the ingrown nail while I held my mother’s hand and bit her knuckles.
I’ve had my wisdom teeth removed. I’ve “birthed” a golf-ball sized mass through a small cut in my hip as the doctor forced it out, tugging and pushing. I’ve had shots. I got a tattoo. I’ve even had multiple pap smears, so I know what it’s like to feel some discomfort down there.
As I sat in Clifford’s truck and wept and wept, I already knew I was going to try again. It wasn’t really about the pain – it was the embarrassment and confusion as to why I couldn’t get over the pain when thousands of other women were having similar procedures every day. Not to mention, you know, giving actual birth.
It was all mental, the whole thing. I had been fed so many horror stories and Googled every possible thing that could make this whole appointment the worst experience ever, that I had scared myself into the pain. The discomfort was real, sure, but I am convinced I would have physically felt different if mentally I had not been afraid and counting on the pain.
I wonder how many other things in my life have been made less than ideal simply by the anticipation of hardship rather than actual hardship, of convincing myself that something was going to hurt me or disappoint me or freak me out.
I’ve certainly does this in romantic relationships, jobs, church. And it makes me wonder, “How have my expectations shaped otherwise good experiences?”
I’m a feeler. My book about highly sensitive people (me) and all our quirks would describe me as having “a rich inner life.” I would describe my “rich inner life” as a tiny cyclone of thoughts, yo-yoing emotions, predictions, anxiety, excruciating self-awareness, which is quite pleasant for me and for anyone in close companionship with me.
This means that I tend to be driven by my emotions. I go into situations with the expectation that this or that experience will make me feel a certain way, whatever that is, and I will then respond accordingly. I’m giving power to the situation rather than my own perspective of it. Because whether the experience itself is positive or negative, I still have the choice to feel positive or negative about it. Oofta, what a trip.
I wonder how different my days and weeks and sense of worth and self would be if I went into my situations without fear; fear of screwing up, fear of embarrassment, fear of getting it wrong, fear of isolation or disappointment or fatigue or awkwardness.
There would be such freedom in this, freedom to experience the whole lot of it and actually taste the good rather than sit in the muck of the bad and cry only to myself, “I told you so!”
It would make me, us, you, feel better about being us.
*It should be pointed out, perhaps in a bigger blog post, that I have a contentious relationship with having children. If you have a baby or are pregnant, you are LOVELY and WONDERFUL and maybe even ONE OF THE COOLEST HUMANS ON THE PLANET and my relationship with babies is not about YOU, it’s about ME and my deep-rooted fear that anything in my life would limit me somehow (newsflash: ALL our choices limit us in one way or another).