Total IUD Fail

Or rather, IUD insertion fail. The IUD is probably fine, as it never came anywhere close to my body.

A few months ago, I started thinking about getting an IUD as part of an overall shift away from medication. I have a family history of breast cancer, and getting off hormonal birth control is a high priority. I’m better about remembering pills than I used to be, but it’s still a hassle. And I’m pretty tolerant of pain, so though they recommend IUDs for women who have had birth because of the insertion process, I thought I could probably handle it, especially after the pelvic marathons that were my experience with gyne instruction.

1|365:January 6th, 2010: If you could talk..
Photo by +mara

Here are some things I learned about IUDs:

  1. They’re about the size of a toothpick, and shaped like a T (see above).
  2. They’re typically recommended for women who have had children, in part because the insertion process is easier if you’ve had a vaginal birth.
  3. They don’t provide any protection against disease or infection (duh).
  4. Getting pregnant while you have one is very dangerous.
  5. There are strings that dangle down into the vagina, but they’re only minimally noticeable during sex.
  6. During the insertion process, it’s possible for the IUD to perforate the wall of the uterus, in which case you’ll have to go to the hospital and get stitched up.


  1. Many women experience minimal-to-no periods, which works by delivering a localized low dose of progesterone.
  2. Break-through bleeding and spotting and PMS-like symptoms occur in the first 1-2 months, but typically drop off after that.
  3. It’s good for 5 years. The nurse helpfully reminded me of that, and suggested I put the Mirena info packet in my lingerie drawer so that I’d remember to have it removed in 2017.


  1. There are no hormones; instead, the copper does something to prevent pregnancy.
  2. Since there are no hormones, women who have been on hormonal birth control often experience heavier and more painful periods, as the hormones were previously controlling some of the normal period side effects.
  3. You can’t use it if you’re allergic to copper.
  4. It’s good for 10 years

So, prepared with my research, I went to the doctor for the initial consult. She told me all of the above, and did a swab test so that they could check for disease or infection (none, thank you very much). I was told to come back at the end of my next period. Done.

I went in today for the actual insertion which, as you might be suspecting, didn’t go as planned. First, they took my vitals, and I confirmed that I am 5’10” rather than 5’10.75″, as I was in high school. They had me pee in a cup, though I have no idea why. I was moved to a room with an ultrasound machine, and told to undress from the waist down. I filled out some paperwork, and talked to the doctor about the procedure.

My gyne instruction experience prepared me for the cold stirrups (cute kneesocks!) and for proper placement of my butt off the end of the table. The doctor performed a gentle pelvic exam in order to determine the size (a kiwi!) and orientation (slightly anteverted) of my uterus. She inserted the speculum, and then used something that looked like hot dog tongs to GRAB my cervix.

Here’s where it got awful. I’ll spare you too many of the details, but my cervix wasn’t open enough to allow the doctor to insert the device that would direct the IUD into place. She tried, and I tried to breathe through it, and we both stopped. She tried a series of frightening instruments, each of which were more painful than the last, as I bit my thumbs and took deep breaths and tried to continue talking. She stopped, explained what was happening, and asked if I wanted to try again. She tried one more time, and I yelled out in pain.

The cervix is like a valve or a cylinder, and mine apparently is too narrow or too constricted on the uterine end to allow the device to be inserted. So instead of getting an IUD, I got all the cramping and none of the pregnancy prevention! I’m frustrated and disappointed, but ultimately, I have to listen to what my body is telling me. My body can do many wonderful and amazing things. It just can’t currently permit a device the size of a drinking straw to pass into my uterus. And I don’t have much choice other than to be OK with that.


I want to tell you about Spa World

No, let me back up. I want to tell you about how I’m feeling about my body right now. In doing so, I will also tell you about Spa World.

Or perhaps I should just start with Spa World.

So, my friends and I went to Spa World on Saturday. For the uninitiated, Spa World is a Korean day spa, which is a substantially different thing than our typical western conception of a spa. How is it different? There is a whole lot of nudity. And the nudity is not a big deal. Rather, it’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal – which is strongly discouraged.

When you enter the single-gender locker rooms, you immediately confront a whole lot of naked. After the initial “OMG we’re seeing each other naked” moment with my friends, we embraced it and headed into the bade pool, where jets of water bathed every part of our bodies – and the bodies of other women of all shapes and sizes and colors and degrees of hirsuteness. There were young girls and old grandmas. There were athletic builds and the loose skin of recent pregnancies. There were butts and breasts and bellies. And they were all beautifully normal.

Girls and women in this culture are presented with such a fucked up set of ideas of what normal looks like or feels like. I’m sure it’s the same for men, but I feel like it’s more pronounced for women, as we’re consistently told that we should have flat bellies and large breasts. We’re encouraged to buy shapewear to suppress – or enhance – our curves. The “beautiful baby bump” is celebrated, but not the soft skin and stretch marks that remain after birth. I couldn’t get over how empowering it was to encounter all that normal – to be reminded that a healthy body comes in a variety of shapes, including mine.

There are many other things that can be said about Spa World, but this was the most important part of my experience, and directly relates to a second observation about how I’m feeling about my body these days.

A week ago, I stayed out til late at a club we used to occasionally frequent in Champaign. I was all dolled up in my pseudo costume: a perfectly fitted vintage cocktail dress, big hair, and fabulous makeup. The backless gold dress required better posture than usual, and perhaps that’s why an old acquaintance told me that I looked “confidenter” than he remembered.

This was repeated, albeit entirely differently, on the dance floor at the Black Cat this weekend. Maybe it was the residual Spa World glow. Maybe it was the drinks. Maybe it was the company of my favorite chav. Maybe it was the music. Probably it was a bit of all of these that resulted in feeling fucking radiant – a feeling that apparently did not go unnoticed, judging by Jackie’s concern for my well-being (and mine for hers, as she also looked amazing!).

In short: I feel amazing right now. I have accomplished things this year that I never dreamed of doing – and have done so through a lot of hard work and discipline. I would like to see different numbers on the scale, and I would like to be able to push more weight (including mine allllllll the way to the pull up bar). I would like to be faster and stronger and slimmer – but right now I’m really happy with where I am, with my flavor of normal, with what my body is and can do. And I want to remember this.

Knees and Grace

I went running after work yesterday on already sore knees, and within half a mile, I had to stop.  The hills hurt too much.  I walked until I found a relatively flat route, and then put in almost two miles before I had to quit altogether.  I walked the rest of the distance home, arriving drenched in sweat and on the verge of angry sobs.  I hate feeling out of control.  I hate that I might not be able to do my first 10K in two weeks.  I hate that I have to admit that something might actually be wrong with my knees.  I turned the fan on full bore and stood in front of it in my sports bra, feeling terribly sorry for myself.

And then I read this:

— — — — — — — — — — — —

Rob Brezsny’s Astrology Newsletter – May 26, 2010

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): You’re not living in Iraq or Sudan or the Congo, and you don’t have to walk five miles a day with a jug on your head to fetch the water you need, and you’re not so bereft of food that you have to resort to eating worms and tree bark. So how bad could your problems be? The single best thing you can do to start fixing your life’s small glitches is to feel waves of gratitude for how many resources you have and how lucky you are. The second best thing would be to aggressively take your worried attention off yourself and turn your mind toward people who could really benefit from your help. As you carry out those two assignments, your dilemmas will begin to solve themselves as if by magic.

— — — — — — — — — — — —

I want my life to be full of the sort of grace that comes from aggressively taking my worried attention off myself, and turning my mind toward others.


Sometimes you wear your contacts too much in really dry air and you end up with little tiny pockmarks on your corneas just like if you’d been in a sandstorm.

Sometimes you also feel lousy and can’t look at a monitor all day, so you stay home from work and bake bread and file your taxes and do a little work – less than you should, but more than your eyes really allow.

Sometimes a tiny and lovely guest from the other side of the world takes a bus down from New York for an overnight visit, and you get to have tea and a chat and go out for above average faux meat products and then also meet up with other friends and talk about music.

Sometimes you unexpectedly have a rather nice day!

Briefly (again, yes, I know)

– Week one (of three) of 719 Miles Apart is drawing to a close, and I’m surprisingly OK. I was a bit of a basket case the afternoon SB left, but I’ve been so damned busy since then that I haven’t had much chance to wallow.

– Kim and I went to see The Invasion tonight. We didn’t mean to, but it just kind of happened. It was a perfectly adequate suspense-y movie, though I would have been OK with less vomit.

– Tomorrow I’m hopefully going to test drive a Honda Fit, which we may be buying in the next two weeks.

– I had a really awful doctor’s appointment last week, but the test results came back negative, so that’s one less thing to worry about in the short term. You didn’t think I’d pass up an opportunity to talk about my cervix, did you?

– I’ve officially moved out of Basil Estates – again, thought I’d be more sad than I actually am. In so many ways I’m just looking straight forward at this point.

– More than a little sad that I didn’t get to say goodnight to SB tonight.

things about being 27

So here’s a thing I’ve noticed lately: I have the tolerance of a 14 year old girl. I also get hangovers more regularly – if I have more than two drinks, I’m almost guaranteed a hangover in the morning. On the bright side, they’re not as obliterating as when I was 21 and would spend an entire Saturday on the couch unable to move because I was so sick and miserable. This is important because I have to write a paper today.

Suffice to say that last night’s GSLIS bar crawl was a success, I got ~4 hours of sleep, and this is going to be a loooooong day.

A post of some substance? Perhaps?

I haven’t been writing here much, and for no good reason, so for that I apologize. The last few weeks have been busy while not being especially productive. I need to remedy that.

I had a good meeting with my adviser two weeks ago in which I told her that I’m planning to leave the PhD program. She was quite kind and receptive, and said that she agrees that this is the best decision for me right now – and not for lack of skill or intellectual ability, just because I’m driven in a different direction right now. I need to get my stuff together for a CAS application this week.

I weighed myself yesterday after yoga and apparently I’ve lost 5 pounds? I’m not sure how, as I’ve been delinquent on both the gym front and the eating better front, but apparently what I’ve done is making a difference. I went to yoga yesterday for the first time in a while, and it was good and challenging, and I was able to do things I haven’t done before. That’s the case almost every time I go, which leads me to believe I should just go more often. Now that it’s nice enough to ride yellowbike, I’m hoping to get there (and the gym) more often.

We’re off to Boston for spring break in a few days, which will be great. I don’t know what all we’ll be doing other than hanging out with Sonya and Jason and kicking around, but I’m excited about visiting a new city with SB.

Just had brunch at Escobar’s, newly open in the ever-expanding downtown Champaign area. Let me tell you – if SB and I had taken the apartment affectionately referred to as “Basil Does Chicago”, we would’ve been here all the time. The food was fantastic without being overly heavy or grossly filling, which is something I really appreciate in a brunch. I’ve heard it’s quite loud in the evenings, but it was quiet and lovely for brunch with friends.

Right now I’m at Cafe Paradiso, ostensibly working on my syllabus for Leigh’s class, which has turned out to be every bit as great as I’d hoped. The class – not my syllabus. For this assignment, Leigh wants us basically to put together a syllabus for a class we’d want to teach. I really feel like I don’t know enough about anything to actually teach a whole course, so I’m reusing/rethinking classes I’ve taken and worked with. It’s an interesting challenge.

unreality tv

Stripped of my dignity, I laid in the hospital bed under a heated blanket, my belly marked with an x to indicate the source of the pain, my eyes red with tears. The lab technician and I talked about the Cubs – he offered me a bigger needle, and I said that while some masochism is inherent to Cubs fandom, it doesn’t extend to physical pain for me. We laughed, and I winced. Later, after the exam, after hours spent in that bed alone, after hearing the paddles in use down the hall, hearing the labored breathing of the woman in the next bed, I tried to meditate with my legs crossed, the tears again streaming down my cheeks. I cursed all men with the exception of the nurse – he said no, I could hate him too. I told him he’d been too wonderful – and he offered to stick me with another needle if I needed another reason to hate men. I laughed again, this time in less pain but more heartache. I have never felt so alone.


soooooooooo bored. Why doesn’t anyone update on Saturdays? Oh yeah, cos I’m the only one stuck at work.

Game night was a bust. No one showed. We cleaned the house and made all this soup – and no one showed. I didn’t expect a huge turn out – lots of people had other plans – but no one? Ugh. And by the time it was apparent that no one was coming, it was really too late to go do anything. Tonight should be better, though. I’m going out with Eva for her bachelorette party – which isn’t so much of a party as it is a date for the two of us. We’re going to dinner at Basil Cafe, then to see Chicago. With any luck.

This summer I’ve got to make a real commitment to losing weight. I’m not one of those girls who constantly obsesses about her weight – but I’m self conscious and want to be able to wear better clothes and not feel so icky. The problem is that I’m lazy – and I like good food. Doesn’t bode well. I felt and looked so great last summer. Weight was melting off of me (well, not THAT much) – but then I had the giant crush of wedding stress to help out. I think I need to set small and realistic goals – and find some non-food rewards for when I meet them. Please, someone, keep me accountable!?!

Erich wants us to buy his house. I don’t know how I feel. On the one hand, it is v nice – 3 bedrooms, 2 baths (one with a giant tub!), a really nice finished basement, central AC, etc. On the other hand, they smoked in the house for years, it’s our friend’s house, it’s in Machesney Park, and it’s sooo close to N’s parents and sooo far away from my work, my friends, and everything I like to do. Oh yeah, and it’s also out of our price range. I don’t want to spend obscene amounts of money on a house we’re not in love with. Hell, I’m reluctant to spend moderate amounts of money on things we ARE in love with. I’m not being unreasonable, am I?