Once upon a time, there was a lady. She was a forgetful lady and hated remembering to take her birth control pill every day. Besides, she had this nagging feeling that after nearly 20 years of regularly taking the birth control pill that her body needed a break from the hormones.
So she set off on a grand adventure, an exploration, if you will, to discover what other options she had. Thanks to a brave knight who valiantly passed the most sweeping healthcare reform in history, she finally had some tools at her disposal.
After consulting closely with her two doctors — the one who treated her person and the one who was always there for her, Dr. Google — she made the informed decision to have an intrauterine device implanted. Its copper wires would prevent those pesky sperm from joining with her overeager eggs because the lady and her man had decided that one princess was all they could handle.
But like all fairy tales, this one would not have the ending the lady expected nor wanted.
Her first IUD insertion experience was, in a word, horrific. And it was followed by a month of near-constant bleeding and some discomfort and pain. At the one-month recheck, the lady discovered that the IUD would have to come out. It was not where it belonged. Pesky little bugger.
Out it came, and the lady’s midwife gave her several options. After much thought, the lady decided to give it one more try.
Several weeks later, back she went for another IUD insertion. This time, thanks to being better prepared (read: properly drugged on valium and ibuprofen) the insertion was a breeze. There was just a moment of pain, and virtually no cramping afterwards. In fact, the spotting stopped within three days and the lady suspected that the spotting was just attributed to her period anyway.
For the next couple weeks, the lady was starting to feel pretty confident. Unlike the last time, there was no bleeding and, for the most part, she felt great. There was one nagging worry — whenever the lady would run, it sometimes felt like the IUD might fall right out. She chalked that up to her being paranoid and crazy and carried on.
At long last, the day had arrived for her shiny new IUD to be checked out again. The lady arrived at the office, still floating on air after the brave knight won his battle and his policies would remain in tact for at least another four years. In fact, she even found the humor in having a transvaginal ultrasound on the morning after some of the men who’d made it so famous lately were soundly defeated.
She explained her path of exploration and frustration to the lab tech, including the rather painful previous TVU, in which the tech had had a hard time tracking down some pesky ovaries.
After a few minutes, she started to get the sense that something wasn’t right. It wasn’t anything that the tech said; it was a look of sympathy that she saw, just for the most fleeting of seconds, pass across the tech’s face.
The lady put her clothes back on and went back out to wait for her midwife to come in and tell her everything was OK. And she waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually, she heard whispers in the hall between the two and she could tell from the tone that it wasn’t good.
At last, the midwife entered the room and said, “I’m so sorry. The IUD is in the cervical canal, not the uterus. It’s going to have to come out. Again.”
The lady was stunned. “But I’ve had no bleeding! I’ve had no pain! Sure, I can sometimes feel it jostling in there, but how could it be out again?”
The midwife had no specific answers. “There just may be something with your anatomy that doesn’t agree with the IUD. It’s good for 97 percent of women. You just happen to be in the 3 percent that it doesn’t work for. I’m so sorry. You’re the only patient I’ve ever had to have this happen to her. With two others, their first two had to come up but the second one worked great.”
The midwife also expressed her amazement that the lady hadn’t beaten a path to her door already.
“You really weren’t in any pain? I’ve had patients coming in here complaining about lesser things with their IUDs. You should have been in a lot of pain and discomfort from this. You handle your body awesome!”
(Um, thanks? Maybe I’m not such a whiner after all. Who am I kidding? Of course I am.)
Together, they discussed some other options.
“Are you ready for something more permanent?”
“No. I’m 99 percent we’re done but I’m not ready to pull the trigger yet.”
“You know, there is a strong mind-body connection. Perhaps you want a baby more than you realize.”
OK, I’m breaking out of the storytelling mode here to dwell on that. I know she was just trying to help, and I agree with her, based on the many stories we’ve done at work about how powerful BELIEVING in something can be to one’s health. But I also know too many women who struggled with infertility. Their minds wanted babies and their bodies wouldn’t cooperate.
And then I started thinking about Todd Akin. If I were to accept that perhaps it is my body, at some subconscious level, rejecting the IUD because it wants a second child after all, then I’d have to accept his outrageous claim that yes, our bodies can in fact shut that whole thing down.
And that’s just stupid.
I don’t say all this to bash my midwife. I know she was just trying to help since she really had no good answers as to WHY THIS KEEPS HAPPENING TO ME.
So what’s next?
I don’t know.
To be honest, if the election had gone a different way on Tuesday night, I’d be a lot more upset. Now, I think I’m going to wait until January 1, when my insurance plan starts covering all contraceptive options and start experimenting. I’ve tried the Nuvaring before and liked it but it was always too expensive compared to the pill. What about those shots? Are people still doing those?
One thing I know is that as much as I’d like to pursue the counting your cycle method, that’s just not something I’d either be good at or feel confident in. Given my family’s outrageously high fertility and the ease with which I conceived E., that’s just not an option. Remember, my body wants some babies!
All of you who are IUD pros have been so helpful through this whole journey. Now that that’s off the table, what are some other options you’ve tried and liked? Any I should avoid?
I have one final footnote to the story. As I came out of the exam room with my midwife, the ultrasound tech was milling in the hallway waiting for me. She came up to me and patted me on the shoulder, saying, “I’m so sorry. I saw what had happened in there but I didn’t want to have to break the bad news to you yet. I’m so sorry.”
I appreciated her kindness but I really wanted to tell them all, that, in the big scheme of things, it’s fine. I didn’t lose a pregnancy. I didn’t find out that I have cancer. My body may refuse to cooperate, but it’s not quitting on me yet.
I just need to tame the beast.