Let’s talk vaginas. Let’s talk sex. Let’s talk about not having any more babies.
I love my kids. I can say that without twitching or second-guessing myself. This is a deep, dark, unwavering, unfaltering truth. But it ends here. Two vaginal births (I don’t mind the word “vagina” at all but sometimes it really does reach out and slap you across the face doesn’t it? I used to flinch when they used this term after my two children were born via that very beautiful orifice. Why? God knows my vagina was vitally involved in their delivery. It required stitching and was a no-go zone for a good while thereafter. It was a point of conversation. Vagina this, vagina that. Vaginal birth? Still doesn’t slide off the tongue with ease, but I’m trying it on here. Yes maam.), no pain relief, four years of breastfeeding with a three month break between bubs (and still counting) and I’m all theirs. But it stops here. Or there. I am definitely done and dusted. The fat lady sang. She gone sister!
We only ever intended to have two kids. Quite frankly I’m appalled by those who have more than two…by choice! Not just because I think there are far too many people in the world, but primarily because I cannot grasp how these people (some of them, very, very dear friends of mine indeed) can do the whole starting from the beginning thing three times over. I have what I call my Everest moments when I think about three or more children families. I kick back in my two sprog bubble and think “thank fuck that’s not me climbing that mountain” and sip on my fairly ordinary but passable chardonnay. I’m well aware my lovelies that those of you with three or more nut jobs, on the other side of the baby haze, now have flourishing dynasties and children caring for each other in every corner of the house, and there’s a whole lot of love. Maybe your folks have even volunteered to pay the liddeluns’ school fees. Good on yer! I’m happy for you. I’m really not undermining what you have or what you’ve gone and done! I was just never going to walk down that particular road. No sirreee.
In fact I entered into the baby-making business with my glass ever so slightly half empty and rather resistant to the idea of turning my life upside down just to bring some snotty children into the world. Far too selfish for all that. And it has turned my life upside down. Completely. Some of it is utterly wonderful and some of it is seriously testing. The bottom line? We do not want more kids. We set out to get two. We have two. We are lucky. Job done. So last year when I went to my GP for the obligatory smear test, she insisted I have blood tests so she could check on my general health, menopause (cut me some slack), fertility and so on. Turns out I’m in good working order and still rather fertile at age 41. I asked her if we could have a conversation about contraception and smiling wryly she said “Oh so you don’t want the life-changing baby then?” My response? “Hell no, I already have two of those thanks.” So we got talking and I found myself tantalised by the prospect of five years of no periods (or very light) and agreed to go down the Mirena IUD route.
I’m not going to go into a detailed explanation of the Mirena IUD but there is little point in you carrying on with this unless you know the basics. An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a small, T-shaped device that is placed into the uterus by a trained healthcare provider during a routine office visit. Some women have to go under general anaesthetic but it is more common after the body has been through childbirth, for women to handle the procedure in the gynae’s office. Anyhoo, the Mirena prevents pregnancy by a combination of thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus, inhibiting sperm from reaching or fertilizing the egg and thinning the lining of the uterus. It works for up to five years. As soon as the Mirena is placed in the uterus, it starts releasing small amounts of the hormone levonorgestrel into your uterus to provide continuous birth control for as long as you want, for up to 5 years. They warn you of the rare cases of the Mirena slicing through the uterus and migrating to other parts of the body, appearing occasionally in the ear or in one’s poo (I jest, but I’m positive this is no fun for the poor woman dealing with this foreign object holidaying around her body) but I agreed to go ahead with the procedure nonetheless (since then I have met two women whose Mirena migrated, causing intense pain and inconvenience, and I’ve met many other women who went a bit loopy. More on this later.) My GP armed me with a referral to a reputable gynae at the Epworth Hospital and a prescription for the Mirena itself which I was asked not to collect from the pharmacy pre-appointment.
I’m going to get graphic so if you aint into it, stop here. In my mind, this is no biggy. All in the day of being a women, but apparently some can’t cop it so this is not compulsory reading. I arrived at my appointment, filled out the necessary paperwork and chatted with two lovely women at reception in the private rooms of Dr G. Dr G. interviewed me about my aforementioned vaginal births and the general tone of the deliveries. All looked good. He mentioned that some women cannot deal with having the Mirena procedure undertaken in his rooms and have to go under general anaesthetic but I was adamant that after pushing two 50 percentiles out with no pain relief, this would be a breeze. In truth, I felt a little apprehensive because I never like any fanny-related medical procedures. Show me a woman who does? I had a coil put in many moons ago in London by a very eager young nurse in her rooms, pre-children…the entirety of my body tried to escape her. I was literally clawing my way backwards up the horrible skinny bed. It was excrutiating and I discovered, entirely unnecessary, when shortly afterwards I had to have a colposcopy to eradicate pre-cancerous cells from my cervix; my gynae had to remove the coil after only a couple of months and told me she could have popped it in using a local anaesthetic. The colposcopy was also unpleasant but less memorable. I absolutely loathe smear tests, particularly back in the day in London when they used very large, very metal and very cold car jacks to open us up for the necessary scrub down with a very unpleasant miniature toilet brush. Bloody awful and seriously archaic. One of these days those things will probably end up behind glass in the gynae section of the Science or Melbourne Museum (apparently in high demand) and people will point and say “Oh god, just imagine!” These days they have moved on to slightly smaller, slightly warmer, plastic car jacks which feel like they might pop out at any moment so one must break into a sweat and clench onto said car jack with all of the muscles one can possibly communicate with down there in the world of the forever changing poonani, a reminder of the importance of those bloody awful pelvic floor muscles. And out it slides with a squelch and I always want to say “ooops!” but I never do. It’s not my bloody fault anyway.
So where was I? Car jacks. Yes, car jacks. So Dr G. needed to check out my uterus and general goings on before he would agree to insert the Mirena, which was yet to be collected from the pharmacy. I stripped off from the waist down in a little room attached to Dr G’s office and lay down on paper towelling on a skinny bed against a wall. I had been given a crisp white modesty sheet to pop over myself, so I lay down and popped it over me (for what it was worth) and lay there, wondering if I should holler “okey dokey Dr G.G.” but I didn’t, so he did… “Alright in there?”. “Yup, alright.”
So he asked me to bring my feet together and let my knees drop to the sides. I had to put both of my fists under my bum cheeks to raise the necessary area. My left leg could rest on the wall and the other had to support itself. Exposed. Modesty sheet a total waste of time. Car jack in, and Dr G. went to town to see if he could dilate me sufficiently to get the Mirena up there. Unless he could dilate me, then we couldn’t proceed. He didn’t have much joy. Everything looked wonderful apparently, but dilation was not happening. So he called in one of his receptionists (fortunately a very personable type who kept commenting on how extraordinarily calm I was) and asked her to help him rummage about in his very white cupboards for a special tool to assist with the dilation. He suggested that I look away. So I did. Said tool may perhaps have had the appearance of a huge, sharp commercial drill, and this would certainly have ruined my day. Or a common classroom ruler. That would have been worse. And so we started again.
My hands were numb under my bum and my right leg was starting to shake, but I made no mention of it. In went Dr G. again with the unsightly and unsighted weapon of mass dilation and after some rooting about and constantly asking me if I was ok (which I was, but I had broken out in a sweat and was masquerading behind a very quiet stillness which is where I go when I don’t particularly like how things are going) and I said “I’m fine, how are you?” Chuckle from receptionist and very wealthy gynae. Nothing like humour to deflect attention. It was all happening. Dilation was in progress. The friendly receptionist was sent down to the ground floor of the Epworth to retrieve the fabled Mirena. Ummmm, now what? Legs asunder, unpleasantness in the fanny region as the car jack remained in place; one half of my mind dedicated to holding on to the car jack in order to avoid embarrassing premature ejaculation of nasty foreign object, and the other half of my mind focused on my unsupported right leg going into chronic spasm. I expressed my concern about my right leg when asked for the umpteenth time how I was faring, so Dr G. suggested that he might sit on the side of the bed so that I could rest my knee on him…while we chatted and waited. Jesus. Really? Yup really. I lay there, butt naked from the waist down, with my fanny out in all its glory, resting my knee on a total stranger’s leg, while we chatted.
I can’t really tell you what we chatted about. I was too concerned with stemming the flow of sweat which was seeping out of me. I was also aware that this situation was also rather amusing and ridiculous and that women have to do this sort of shit, a lot.
The pleasant receptionist returned from the pharmacy after twenty minutes (yes twenty minutes of waxing lyrical and trying not to fart or expel a car jack from my verjoozt in front of Dr G). She knocked and entered the room bearing a long, white box. Holy crap, how big was this fucking thing then? I had seen photos of the Mirena in a hand for a general size perspective (see above photo), and on the Mirena website, but this box looked like one of those boxes with clear plastic windows which are used to carefully package exotic orchids in duty free florists at Kuala Lumpur or Singapore airport. It was massive. I made a joke about the size and was assured that the Mirena itself was very small, but to get it up to the right place in the uterus, it was attached to a long handle, which could then discharge the Mirena in the correct place with the flick of a switch. So we went for it. The receptionist asked if I wanted her to hold my hand but I really didn’t. Bloody hell, no I really didn’t, and anyway it was stuck under my arse. “No thanks.” Up went the Mirena while Dr G squinted through his glasses up my business end. “Click.” Nothing. “Click” again. Nothing. “Click, click, click.”
“Oh dear, this Mirena is faulty,” said Dr G. “Dianne, can you please go straight back down to the pharmacy and tell them that this won’t discharge and we need another one immediately. Miranda I’m so sorry about this, we won’t charge you for this one.”
“Damn straight you won’t,” I thought. And I also thought, “Holy mother of god. For real? A faulty fecken Mirena! What are the odds?!” My arms, still clenched under my butt cheeks, had pins and needles. I asked for permission to remove them as I was growing concerned about my ability to drive home after this marathon, and I asked to have Dr G. support my leg again for another fifteen minute interval of what should have been ridiculous awkwardness. But it was not anywhere near as awkward as you might believe. Put it this way, I would not want to be in that situation for love nor money, but I was prepared to be in that situation to avoid having any further children. A piece of cake for the dividends one might say.
Second Mirena arrived. I was exhausted by now and aching in all the wrong places, in desperate need of a shower and wishing this entire affair would sod off. The receptionist applauded me for my extraordinary show of total and utter calm. She had apparently seen nothing like it. If only she knew. It all happened rather quickly after that. Mirena in, car jack out, blood on the sheets and a hefty bill to pay for the pleasure of it all. My afternoon out without the kids. And not a gin and tonic in sight.
So where are we at four months down the track? Well I have more period days than non-period days, have had to take out a loan for tampons and pads, I momentarily had pimples for the first time in years and pimples appearing where I’ve never had them before, and I am a moodier beeatch than usual and always on the precipice of a pre-menstrual prolapse…erm…collapse. As my fella so thoughtfully pointed out to me not so long ago, for the number of times we actually do the deed, we might as well not bother with the Mirena for all the grief it is giving me. Ha ha ha ha ha! I try to laugh this off. But this is fodder for a future blog post. I seem to have initiated a ridiculously large number of conversations recently with both men and women post-babies who are no longer having sex; the men are always up for it and desperately need to be wanted; their women not wanting a glimpse of their barge pole is emasculating and crushing and not what they envisaged when they signed up for partnership, children, or a life together. Sensuality has disappeared. And the women are like “christ is that an erect penis on my back? Feign sleep. Get that beast away from me?” Women are lacking the drive. There’s money to be made here folks. Give women back their drive. Not just for their men, for them too. Mummas need to feel sexy again, claw back their bodies for themselves and get sassy in the bedroom again. Some couples are working on this sex thing, some are plain hoping the entire issue might go away. I think it is a serious matter and will perhaps write more on this topic at a later date. But for now, ha ha ha ha ha is easier. I digress.
So I’ll give this Mirena fiasco until the end of May when Dr G. assures me that most hormonal issues have ironed themselves out, and then I’ll decide if Miss M. stays or goes. And the sprogs I am seeking so desperately to avoid having more of? They’re just marvellous. Thanks for asking!
That’s my tuppence worth.