A Journey to the Center of the Uterus

In one of my favorite pieces of the year so far (I know it’s only been nine days, so what), Jia Tolentino takes the reader into her…gynecologist’s office as she undergoes IUD insertion to ring in 2015. It’s a slightly terrifying, honest and hilarious meditation on birth control, friendship and growing up.

I just searched my inbox and found Gchats going back for years: IUD time maybe. IUD makes so much sense. Maybe I’ll get one for my birthday. Need a damn IUD. Really wanna get that IUD.

So when someone brings up the IUD in conversation, women get quiet and interested. “I sort of want an IUD,” they whisper, like me. And the people who already have one are like: “YASSS BITCH DO ITTT!!! BEING NOT-PREGNANT WITH ZERO EFFORT FOR FIVE YEARS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOUR QWEEN UTERUS DESERVES!!”

The village of bitches went to work. I moved to New York this fall, and a friend recommended a great gynecologist. I’ve never had a kid and have never been pregnant—which can present a hurdle for some doctors—but this doctor nodded easily when I told her I wanted one. She gave me the insurance particulars and a couple of info sheets, and told me to make an appointment right away

***

“I’m scared,” I said.

“I get it,” she [the gynecologist] said kindly. “But most women are just fine after. I have a Mirena. Also, I’ve put in like five today.” She told me that if I was feeling bad after the insertion I could hang out in the office for as long as I wanted.

I followed her to the room, where she gave me some privacy. I stole an Advil packet and took my pants off. I checked my look in the mirror (not great), sent an email (the piece should be up tomorrow!), weighed myself (I don’t have a scale and I’m an opportunist). HOW’S YOUR VAGINA, beeped my phone. IS IT A WAR ZONE IS IT FREAKYY?! I snapped a quick selfie (waist up) and sent it back. Here I am, Donald Ducking. Here she comes, my OB.

***

Everything was as chill as could be, but the opposite. It is an unnatural state just to be Donald Ducking in a winter sweater, let alone doing it under fluorescent light while a nice woman aims a foot-long applicator straight at your cervix, a body part you’d previously thought of as a sort of Doomsday Gate, set to open only in states of emergency. What was happening was painful; I felt pushed out from the inside. “Now I’m putting the IUD in,” she said, and I breathed, dog-like, with one hand over my eyes.

I heard the OB say “Hmm.” Then, “Uh-oh.” Her head popped up between my knees.

“The device jammed,” she said. “It didn’t work.”

“What do you mean, it jammed,” I said. I was embarrassed because I thought that my cervix had rejected the IUD like a bad magnet. I could tell I was about to cry.

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