Act One: The Call
1. The Ordinary World
Me. Girl. Mid-twenties. Eats vegetarian food. Watches How I Met Your Mother, often alone, often while eating rice pudding or strawberries. Goes to yoga. Goes to church. Has a normal job. Drives cautiously. Has never gotten a speeding ticket. Spends nights painting flowers and trees. Acrylic on canvas. Values: Comfort, Beauty, Trader Joe’s.
2. The Call to Adventure
Jack. Husband. Skinny jeans and a Banana Republic non-iron. A reckless driving ticket knocked down in traffic court. Possesses: A Stage Presence. Together, we watch How I Met Your Mother outside on an iPad with a thermos of gin and tonic. Does not value: Comfort Zones.
3. The Reluctant Hero
I’m not ready for a baby! I’ve just gotten my thyroid problem under control!
4. The Mentor
I’m not ready for a baby, I tell Dr. Stanfield. She nods. She points to the IUD on that little chart of hers. A triumphant 99.9% effective. It takes out the human error, says Dr. Stanfield. You can just forget about it.
5. Crossing the Threshold
At installation, the uterus seizes up in a single contraction, like one during childbirth. A quick irony, spending a few seconds doing exactly the thing you are trying to avoid. They did not tell me this until I was on the table. Before, only a vague warning to come with Tylenol.
Act Two: The Underworld
1. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
Mirena: The IUD named like a manic pixie dream girl. Mirena: That best friend who makes your life a little more exciting, and a little more carefree. Mirena wears revealing maxi dresses and her fingernail polish is chipped. She dances late into the night, sometimes to no music. Mirena is fickle and fairweather, though. She leaves me doubled over. She leaves me out of commission. They say I will get used to it after three to six months. Mirena will settle down into her blissful, five-year gestation. It will be us against the world.
2. Approach to the Cave
The pain worsens, but I just think this is “What It Takes.” Dr. Stanfield did mention once about IUDs rejected and expelled. In all my years, she said, I have only seen it twice. Never again did this detail cross my mind. Only pain. Only hearing stories of other women rejoicing in their freedom, in their menses thinning to nothing. The money they saved on tampons. Me: What is wrong with me? Am I broken? It has almost been a year.
3. The Supreme Ordeal
My uterus, in the battle of its life. My uterus, working tirelessly under my nose (literally), because it sees the Mirena as the enemy. The Mirena is the size of a pair of stacked dice. Half the size of a sugar packet. To Mirena, my uterus says: Nah girl. Nanometer by nanometer, my uterus evicts the Mirena until Dr. Stanfield finds it dangling. This explains the pain. This explains the out of commission. New risks: Perforation, Migration, Ectopic Pregnancy. Dr. Stanfield yanks it out.
4. Seizing the Sword
I go on the pill. (Recall innuendo of this section title).
Act Three: The Return
1. The Road Back
Nausea! Mood swings! Weight gain! Vision changes! Headaches! And Donald Trump! According to Time, “The number of women who visited their doctor to discuss intrauterine devices (IUDs), a form of long-acting reversible contraception, rose nearly 19% after Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States.” The IUD will last until the next chance we have to elect an advocate. What does that mean for me? Do I try it again, before it’s too late?
2. The Final Battle
Yes, I read that study about the male birth control--how they found the side effects intolerable. I would really like to be chill! But I would really like to fit into the clothes I used to wear before this whole thing started! The problem: Even the best science is imperfect. So we move on. We do our best. We swallow our pills, we fasten things to ourselves where no one can see them, we inject ourselves, we shove bits of things under our skin, we hide things up in our most intimate places. We bleed, we cry, we grow rashes and bruises and unexpected hair. But my husband tells me it’s cool. He says he’ll take his turn when the time comes. He says the word vasectomy like a secret code, with the weight of a promise.
3. The Return with the Elixir
Perhaps, this is what it is to love someone.
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Annie & Jack
Love. Marriage. Teamwork. Art. Offsetting the patriarchal footprint. These are some of the things we're thinking about.