Shutting It Down

Last week, in what proved to be the second-most excruciating doctor’s appointment of my life*, I had an IUD inserted. So now, if you FaceTime with me, you no longer need to start the conversation with, “You look off; you’re not pregnant again, are you?**” Because the answer is no, no I’m not.

I dragged my feet on this, because it sounded like something that would hurt. But it’s the most reliable form of birth control that won’t mess up my attempts to continue breast feeding, and my doctor was pretty emphatic that there ought to be absolutely no room for accidental pregnancies for at least 14 months after having Charlie sliced out of me. We’ve found that living with an infant and Andy’s dad is highly effective birth control, but I’ve been urged to come up with a more formal solution. I talked to my doctor about making an appointment.

“Is this the kind of thing that I need to schedule Andy to come with me to hold my hand and drive me home?”

“No, it’s 15 minutes in the office, no big deal. It can be pretty painful for women who’ve never had a child, but since you’ve already had a whole entire baby in your uterus, having a little piece of flexible plastic inserted won’t really even register.”

Okay. It still sounds like it will suck, but I make the appointment and come in a few days later.

“Just a heads up, I’m still pretty nervous about the potential pain.”

“Nothing to worry about. You’ll feel a little pinch at the beginning, and I’ll let you know when that’s about to happen, and there might be some cramping at the end. But for most women who’ve had a baby it’s just a little uncomfortable is all.”


“Now, you never dilated before your C-section, correct?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“Okay, so you might feel more of a sting at the beginning. But no big deal.”

We get moving. Just a little uncomfortable at first.

“So, your cervix is really small, so this might be a little uncomfortable.”



Ow. Ow ow fuck fuck fuck.

“You’ve never had surgery on your cervix before, right?”

“Right.” Ow fuck fuck fuck.

“Hmm. Interesting… Oh wait, here we go. Here’s the part where you might feel a pinch.”

I scream.

“Okay, we’re through the cervix.”

“Okay… I still feel the pinch, is that okay?”

“Yes, you’ll feel that until we’re done.” I am at this point I think I’m about two minutes into a 15-minute procedure, but it’s hard to say, because time has lost all shape and meaning. I start to panic a little. “Okay, here’s the part where you might feel some cramping.”

…And here’s where I start sobbing uncontrollably, and don’t stop until well after we’re done. I can’t imagine that the pain will ever stop, or that it’s possible that I’ll survive it without dying, and I’m going to die with the indignity of being sans culottes with my feet in stirrups, without my husband here holding my hand, and I’ll never see my son again.

“You’re doing great.”

I sob harder.

“All done! Tissue?”

I wipe the dripping mascara off my face, blow my nose, and apologize for sobbing.

“You did a really great job. When I had my IUD inserted, I almost passed out.”


If I has known what I was in for, I’d not have done this. Hand jobs only until menopause, and I told my doctor as much. She said if the cramps didn’t go away (because they kept going even after we finished) to call her.

I clearly deserved a burger and a milk shake before going home, and I was for sure not right back to the office like I’d hoped. But, Bobby’s Burger Palace does not mix well with bodily trauma, and I came very, very close to not making it home in time to get to the bathroom. This was made all the more suspenseful by my inability to make my very slow strides any greater than six inches long. It was a lengthy voyage home. But I didn’t poop my pants, so the victory was mine.

Anyway, pro-tip: If anyone’s all, “Oh, you should just get an IUD, it’s no big thing once you’ve had a baby and then you don’t have to remember to take a pill. It’s the best!,” you can tell them to go straight to hell as you fill your handbag with condoms. Condoms that you’ll never use anyway, because you live with an infant. And maybe also with your father-in-law.

* The honor of the most excruciating appointment was four days earlier, when a small piece my clitoris was sliced off and biopsied. Everything came back negative. But still, fuck that day.
** An unfortunate word choice from my mother-in-law, who is a legitimately lovely and supportive person. I in fact looked off because I was still beat from the encounter listed in the previous footnote.



  1. I LAUGHED, I CRIED, I HURT for you!! Brilliant writing as usual, but oh man, I’m so sorry for what you had to go through 😦 I had cramps just reading about it. You needed more than someone there holding your hand and driving you home!! Champagne! That’s what you needed – lots, and lots of champagne!! I hope you can keep the IUD in FOREVER and never have to go through that again!! Love you tons, MIL

  2. The things we women have to go through! I felt like I was right there with you & I wanted to just hold your hand & drive you home & wipe your tears & cuff the Dr. & rejoice about the biopsy results. I love you. Thanks for writing about all this.

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