A few mornings ago, while stocking the freezer, Thalia and I were comparing notes on the whole unplanned pregnancy/miscarriage/D&C/birth control thing. It was the first time we’d come back to the subject since realizing, probably six months ago, we had this chapter of our life stories in common.
“Since your D&C, do you ever just get random cramping?” she asked.
“Yes. I thought it was from my IUD though. Like, it sometimes feels like my uterus is contracting around the foreign body I stuck in it.”
“Oh. When I had mine, they told me that after the surgery, I would never be the same. Like, your body is never the same.”
I took this in. Should I be attributing some of the blame for my discomfort, currently all directed at Mirena, to my D&C then? Was my therapist right about my body remembering the surgical invasion? Everything happened right around the same time – the emotional trauma, the surgery, the IUD insertion – so how am I to know the exact cause-and-effect relationships here?
I want to blame my IUD for everything, because my IUD is the only aspect of this that still feels like it can be undone: the commercials and the literature and the doctor who inserted mine all said that Mirena can be quickly and painlessly removed, and that my body will immediately return to its pre-Mirena state. Meaning, I take it, that I all I have to do is wait the few years until I can get rid of the thing, and then the random cramping, and the spotting, and the dryness, and the lack of libido will all go away.
Except that the retired OBGYN I ride bikes with on Wednesdays, when I asked him once about decreased sex drive as a side-effect of an IUD, said he’d never heard of such a complaint. “Most women report the opposite,” he said, “because they don’t have to worry about getting pregnant, and can have all the sex they want.”
Which would all be well and good and true, if I wanted to have sex. But I don’t, usually. And if I can’t blame Mirena, I have no one left to blame but myself. And if I’m the one to blame – if this problem is, in fact, emotional or somehow inherent in me – then removing Mirena is not going to reverse it. And then I start to feel like my future situation is even more hopeless than my past and present ones.
The following day, the day after Thalia and I had talked D&Cs, I was approached by another coworker, who admitted to having stumbled across the blog. She hadn’t wanted to read it, because she prefers to separate her work life from her personal life – and prefers it when the people she works with do the same. (I can totally appreciate this sentiment.) But she did read some of it, and now felt like she had to tell me she had, to express sympathy for everything I’ve been through, and to tell me what an “eloquent writer” I am. (I can totally appreciate these sentiments, too.)
“But the one thing I do want to say, that is more personal,” she told me, “is that after I got my IUD, I totally lost my sex drive. Over the years, it’s sort of evened back out, but at first, it was, like, gone. So, I dunno, maybe there’s something there…”
“Thank you,” I told her, looking her straight in the eyes. “Thank you so much for telling me that. That it’s not just me.”
In both these cases, I left the conversation feeling vindicated. What it comes down to is this: if it’s not just me experiencing these things, then I’m not the problem. And the times when I don’t feel like the problem – or at least a large part of it – are so few and far between these days, I’ll take all the vindication I can get.