You finally decide to deal with the fact that you hate the pill because it makes you feel bloated and emotional and you can’t remember to take it at the same time every day anyways and you always forget what time the pharmacy closes and end up begging the unhappy looking Asian behind the counter to give you your birth control pills and she/he refuses and you think its secretly because she thinks that you are a little bit of a whore with your birth control…but she wins and you have to come back the next day…and then you have to double down on pills and you get confused about when you started and what days you missed and you feel like you are going to get pregnant anyways because you take the pill at such wildly different times every day….on those days that you take it at all.
You talk to your younger sister, the one in med school, about it and she assures you that it is the best thing that has ever happened to her and it was normal and great and she has no bad side effects and she barely gets her period and life is like such a walk in the park and the sex is glorious. And you believe her because she is at an Ivy League Med School and lives with her boyfriend who is already accepted into Harvard Business School even though they are both two years younger than you. And they give you a lot of anxiety about where you are both personally and professionally but you are really happy that they are such over-achievers because that means that you can trust whatever they say because they are so smart and so nerdy they would never be able to make anything up or say anything that they didn’t know to be fact…you consider for a moment that you will probably be living in their guest house at some point within the next 10 years and be the weird aunt…kind of like Katherine Heigl’s character in Knocked Up and you think for a moment how lucky you are that she is your sister and she loves you so that will be ok…and then you go back to feeling pretty unaccomplished and lonely.
And then she mentions that her best friend had a horrible experience on it and had to get it removed after a week, and also that she had another friend whose boyfriend could feel it during sex. You are overcome with anxiety and images of the little device somehow affixing itself to a penis like your sex life is some sort of super weird horror film. You banish those horrible images and decide that your body would be more likely to react the same way of the body of someone with your same blood, so you’ll probably be fine.
You then ask her which one she has and then decide that you should get the same one (mirena – the one with hormones, rather than the copper one the one without hormones that supposedly makes your period worse but also there is less risk of hormones making you emotionally debilitated) for the same reasons – that your body will hopefully react the same way hers did.
You finally make the appointment…for the next week…because that’s when you are supposed to get your period and your doctor informs you that it’s better to have it implanted when you have your period because your cervix is naturally dilated…you shudder for a moment at the mention of your cervix because it is one of those things that you know is important but also, it’s so far within your body that you don’t REALLY think about it specifically…ever. You also think about how unpleasant it must be for the Doctor to have to be down there at all, nonetheless during such a particularly colorful time of the month.
You are so super chill about it for the next few days and are so confident as you tell your friends what a bold step you are making. No longer a slave to the daily remembrance to take a pill. How archaic! Bathing your body in hormones every single day? Carrying around that telltale pack with you?! You are moving into the new phase of sex and the single woman in the 21st century. You are a true modern woman despite the fact that you can’t figure out how to do a software upgrade on your iphone.
Then the day of the “procedure” arrives and you feel super weird about calling it a “procedure” as though you are getting a mole removed…or having some sort of age-appropriate medically necessary thing done, as opposed to just…you know…inserting something into your uterus that is going to prevent you from having children for the next five years.
You then think that 18 year old you would have thought that 25 year old you would be preparing to settle down, have children…perhaps not quite marriage level yet, but also not ruling out children until after she was 30. You remind yourself that it can be taken out, then you laugh at yourself because the likelihood that you would actually be not only married, but also ready to have children in the next five years is really just, not even a reality, not even a little bit.
4 o’clock rolls around and the alarm on your phone goes off reminding you to take 4 ibuprofen before your “procedure” which is at 5. You leave work early, and chase those ibuprofen with half a bottle of white wine before walking to your appointment feeling a little buzzed and a lot weird…You wonder if the strangers around you know that in less than 5 minutes you will be sitting in a chair with your legs spread, and your feet resting in plastic stirrups while a doctor speaks to you while staring straight at your most sensitive parts under harsh overhead lighting, all so that you will prevent a life from growing within you, so that you have unprotected sex with someone who is not your boyfriend but also not a stranger.
You then reflect on your recent sexual exploits and know that this “procedure” was a long time coming and something you wanted for yourself as a single woman of the 21st century, but also wondering how it makes you feel about the dude you recently started seeing. You wonder if you should tell him at all. You wonder how long this fling is going to last. You wonder how high his level of interest is in you and how high your level of interest is in him. You are already dreading the end of the relationship though it is only in its first few fledgling weeks.
You get to your doctor’s office and check in. You pee into a cup that you pass through a funny little metal drawer in the wall. You kind of wonder what it would be like to have one of those little drawers in your home bathroom, and what kind of things you would use it to transport (literally have no ideas other than if when I need more wine in the shower my roommate could get it for me instead of my naked sprint to the bathroom) Less than 2 minutes later they tell you that you are not pregnant. Even though you know you aren’t…you still feel a funny sense of relief when the test comes back negative.
You then go downstairs and sit in the waiting room with your negative test results in your hand until a bubbly nurse leads you back to the exam room. You kind of feel like screaming at her “DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN TO ME?! DOES IT HURT?” but instead you make small talk about whether or not the sun is ever going to come out again. She “takes” your height and weight, neither of which she actually measures, both of which you answer with numbers followed by an “-ish” afterwards. She looks at you and then scribbles something down…you wonder if she knows that the “ish” means subtract one inch from height and add 5 lbs to weight.
You are instructed to take off your clothes from the waist down and drape a cloth over your bottom half. However, the cloth is actually more of an enormous paper towel that you rip accidentally…defeating its purpose of helping you feel more comfortable and covered.
The doctor enters and you are already so nervous/buzzed that you kind of black out for the next 5-10 minutes. You remember explaining to her that you are extremely nervous multiple times. She lets you feel the strings of the IUD before she implants it, so that you know what to feel for when you check it and make sure that it is still there once a month or so. You fail to explain to her that you are not entirely sure how to find your cervix. You remember breathing like you are giving birth to a child because you experience the most painful 2.5 minutes of your entire life before the doctor explains that you are done and medically everything went very well. The doctor says no sex or tampons for 72 hours and then hands you a pad the size of a diaper and shakes your hand goodbye.
You stare at the enormous pad in your hand wondering if there is even space for it in your jeans. You decide that there is not, so you put it in your jacket pocket and self-consciously check on it every 2 minutes walking home to make sure it is not poking out. You imagine running into someone that you went to college with and this enormous 1950s era pad is just a part of the conversation with you. It’s really so enormous you can’t get over it, so you buy yourself a pair of earrings on the way home because, hey, someone just opened your cervix and stuck a little thingy up there and its now situating itself inside of you where it is going to live as a foreign body for the next 5 years so you deserve some new earrings.
You also buy yourself a chocolate croissant and marvel at its price, and then realize that $20 (5 croissants) and 15 minutes ago you could get pregnant, and now you cannot and you both marvel at what an amazing country you live in, and also what an absolutely bizarre thing that is.
You then text your sister everything that you are feeling related, or non-related to your IUD and grow increasingly alarmed with how little you know about your body.