Yesterday was a pretty momentous day. So many firsts, where do I begin? Okay, well, it was the first time I had ever put my feet up on birthing stirrups (thank god I wasn’t giving birth). It was the first time I had THREE different people all together looking right up my cooch (thank god they were all docs, and also oops about the choice language). It was the first time I read comic strips taped on a ceiling (well, I really just looked at the pictures since I had zero mental capacity to read the words – we’ll get to that in a bit though). In summary, as the title suggests, this was the first time I had ever received an Intrauterine Device, aka IUD.
I want to give this 20 minute doctor appointment all of the glory that it deserves though, because this was not JUST an IUD insertion. It was also a simultaneous pelvic exam. That is because (brace yourselves for another ‘first’) I had never received the much-dreaded pelvic exam that people with a uterus are supposed to receive around my age, which is a seasoned 20. I remember the school nurses at my old college asking me my age when I visited their office to pick up my birth control pills, which I had been taking before I decided to get an IUD. That was last year. The exchanges, which happened every month, went something like this:
Me: “Isabel R***”
Nurse: “Oh, well that’s good. You’ve got a year left before you’re required to receive a pelvic examination in order to receive any more birth control pills.”
At which point, I would make a socially amiable reply of, “Oh, thank god” or “Uh, oh! I better enjoy this year then, huh?” While privately, inwardly my mind was running a little more like “Isabel. Did you hear her? Only a year left. Only a year left to figure out how to avoid that pelvic exam. Only a year left to find a way around getting that extremely intimate, incredibly painful vag./yoot exam that once allegedly made Tina Fey herself pass out on the table. One year Isabel. Break the law if you have to.”
So back to the present day, age 20. You see how much I was dreading the appointment to get both an IUD and pelvic examination, yes? Now let’s rewind just a touch more. Don’t worry, I won’t go back a whole year this time – instead, let’s just take a brief glimpse of earlier that morning.
You see, when you are about to have your bare-ass legs splayed wide open, in florescent lighting, in a far less than sexy setting, in front of multiple people, you plan ahead. Let’s start with underwear. “Why are you planning your underwear? You won’t be wearing it!” you say. But to that, I have many thoughts to contribute. True, I won’t be wearing underwear, but that’s not to say they won’t see my underwear. When they tell you to undress, your clothes have to go somewhere, and they’ll definitely catch a glimpse of your pile of clothes at some point during the appointment. Knowing that they will see my underwear, I’m left to think “what kind of underwear will speak the best and truest of me as a person, as a patient on their operating table?” ((I’m aware of my overthinking problem, but thanks for pointing that out.))
Well, I obviously wasn’t going to wear any of my old Hanes Her Way undies – the kind I use for days when my period is sure to get the best of me. And I wasn’t going to wear anything lacy, or thongy, or even too cheeky, because I didn’t want it to seem like I was trying hard to look cool. I had also been informed that one of the docs would be male ((I’m a hetero woman btw)) and I didn’t want him to think I was trying to impress him ((lol wut? I was about to have yellow iodine smeared all over my vag. I don’t think he would have thought I was in it to impress him.)) So settled on a pair of 80% cheek-coverage, pink (aka hey look, I know how to have fun too) undies with that signature thick Calvin Klein band on the top, except not CK because I’m a college student and I don’t have that kind of money.
I was already expertly shaved and sculpted, so all I had to do before the appointment was drink a nearly literal ton of water, since I had accidentally already peed that morning, even though I had been told to go to the appointment with a full bladder. (They do a urine sample pregnancy test before the procedure.) Just before I grabbed my wallet and keys, I popped four ibuprofen pills and took a final swig of water. Five years of pregnancy protection, let’s go.
As I mentioned before, I had been informed that one of the doctors would be male. At first I was kind of thinking, “Could they not be..?” but then I just sucked it up like a grown up. I made the decision that I didn’t care. So when the first doctor came in the room, I was prepared. He was indeed male. What I was less prepared for was for him to be a male medical student. That is – no, not a doctor yet. Yes, still possibly attends college parties. I’m a f**king QUEEN of hiding my emotions when I need to though, so I played it SO cool. WAY, SO, VERY COOL. I got the feeling that he was a little less than stellar at concealing his emotions though, since the eye contact was definitely hard to come by. We made some nice chit-chat, but I think we both had the completely cognizant understanding that in a number of other potential circumstances, he – a young college student much like myself – could’ve been seeing me in a completely different and literal light. More blatantly, *cough* no lights.
“Some of the risks,” he read to me off of a paper that I had to sign, “include that we could puncture the wall of your uterus…”
“Ha!” I shouldn’t have laughed. Why did I laugh? It was nervous laughter.
I signed the paper and my real doctor came in, followed by the nurse that would assist her. Total: three people. But man was I glad to see my doctor. Dude, I’m not even kidding, I LOVE her. She is the best. Like, everything I look for in a friend. I want to be her friend. She is super cool and nice and sweet, but I think she’s only down for a professional doctor-patient relationship.
So now I will spare you the details and fast forward a bit. I got an IUD, I got a pelvic exam. They hurt like hell, but so do doctor bills for a baby that you never wanted in the first place. So I stared up at the ceiling comic strips, without reading them because how can you when you are being probed like that, and I took the pain the way that I usually take any form of severe physical or emotional pain: quietly, with minimal signals to the outside world that I’m about to punch a bitch. (Sorry, doc. You are so not a bitch. Also I want to be your friend.)
And you know what? Throughout the whole damn thing, they complimented the hell out of me. And I operate SO WELL with words of positive affirmation, that by the end of the procedure, I was somehow feeling emotionally on cloud nine, even though physically, it felt as if my uterus had received multiple bullet wounds. But I kid you not, these were the final words of the procedure:
Doctor Amazing: “And that’s it! You’re all done!”
Me: *breathes out something kind of high-pitched and weak and not even English*
Nurse: *exchanging an impressed look with Doctor Amazing* “She took that like a trooper!”
Doctor Amazing: *looking at me* “You did really well!”
Me: “I’m adopting.”
Doctor Amazing: “You say that now, but one day you might decide to have a baby, and then we can do this all over again together.”
Me: *inwardly, privately* uuughghfjdklsdjfadfsd Doctor Amazing you are incredible!
So there you have it. That was my 20 minute appointment. The three of them said their congratulations and friendly goodbyes and left the room so that I could change back into my pair of pink, 80% cheek-coverage, meticulously pre-selected undies. By the time I walked out of the building, I felt somehow like a superhero. I had finally received the pelvic exam that I had been quietly dreading during my first 2.5 years of college career; I was almost entirely protected from unplanned pregnancy for the next five years ((still use a condom though you guys, since STI’s are still a thing)); and maybe – just maybe – best of all: I drove right out of that parking ramp feeling like my vagina and uterus were the best goddamn vagina and uterus on the whole damn planet. It was all thanks to my crew of three – one doctor, one nurse, one med. student – who didn’t feel the need to hold back a single compliment or word of praise in those twenty minutes of hell. Shout-out to Doctor Amazing. I still feel like a superhero.