Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's Understandably Disturbing

This will be disgusting if you are squeamish. Or very, very private. Or, probably, male. Feel free to stop here. I'm not holding back on this one.

Are you sure you want to go on?

Okay, we're diving into the deep end on this one.

For years and years and years I was on The Pill. I liked being on The Pill. Short periods, no babies, minimal PMS. ("Minimal" being a relative term.) Last year, because I'm "old" and have high cholesterol and my gynecologist hates me, I was taken off of The Pill. She suggested an IUD. I considered suggesting she mind her own damn business and I wasn't paying her to take meds away from me.

Fast forward a year. I've gained 10 pounds, I have monster PMS, and every month I'm a walking crime scene. Not to mention the regular T-Rex vs. King Kong battles in my uterus. Ladies, some of you wish you didn't know what I'm talking about but you do. I whine to my doctor, hoping she'll put me back on my Beloved Pill. Nope. "You should really consider an IUD. Here is some information on Merena." Seriously? You should consider fucking off.

But the cramps got worse and I started to wonder if Aunt Flo shouldn't be renamed Aunt Niagara Falls. So a few months later I gave in. After calling my insurance company that I don't have to pay to have a foreign object inserted into my body. I also did my research on the internets. Pluses/minuses, pros/cons. Pro? I never want to give birth to another teenager again in my entire life so I'm okay with long-term birth control. Con? The foreign object in my body. Plus? It's possible I could stop having a period entirely. Minus? Foreign object in my body. Fine, let's do this. I made the appointment.

And now we come to the educational portion of this post. I am going to tell you what I learned that I shouldn't have and what I experienced that no "informative" online searches will tell you.

Do not look up videos online of IUD placement. Don't do this. You know, guys are lucky. Their junk is just out there all day long. "Oh look, there's my penis." "I'll stop and look at my penis while I'm getting dressed." "Time to pee. Why hello there, penis friend!" They're rather fond of waving those things around. I know that I have a vagina. We are intimately acquainted. I know when she's happy and when she's not. But I am not overly familiar with what she looks like, so I always feel a bit jarred when confronted with a full-on vagina. And, even though I've been told that mine is quite attractive, I always think it looks weird. This is what you will see in these videos. You will see soft, vulnerable flesh manipulated with a speculum while a small tube disappears inside. It's a bit unnerving. Just skip this part.

Also skip any videos that tell you about personal experiences. You don't need to know about That One Girl who had the worst placement experience ever and just insisted on sharing it with the internets. These women mean well, but they should just write that shit in their diaries and move on.

Do learn all that you can from reliable medical sources. All birth control is not created equally and neither are women's bodies. What works for me may not work for you and vice-versa. You want to make an educated, informed decision about your reproductive rights. Do talk to your friends. My friends assured me that the IUD is great and lovable and that it works for them.

Now, say you decide to go ahead. If you would like to know about the actual placement experience, let's continue. Because the freaky things that happen, you won't find in any so-called helpful research.

The advice I got from the nurse was to take ibuprofen an hour before my appointment. Done. The general advice I saw online was to have someone drive you home afterward. I didn't think that would be necessary, but I did have a back-up plan just in case.

The whole procedure is like a PAP Smear Supreme. Same stirrups, same speculum, same lying-down-staring-at-whatever-lame-object-is-hung-from-the-ceiling. In my case it was a dragonfly. I would like to suggest to the gynecological offices worldwide that you offer something comforting at these times. A puppy would be really excellent in helping to take our minds off of what is going on down there, but then everyone in the room would be distracted by the cuteness and bad things could happen. I really like those warm, freshly-warm-out-of-the-dryer blankets you get in hospitals. Even a teddy bear would be appreciated. Something.

Moving on.

This is like an extended PAP. There's some extra scraping. (In my case, this was probably clean-up because my doctor prefers to do this while you're on your period. Like in the middle of it. Something about the cervix being softer and making the procedure easier.) There's a numbing process and this is where is starts to get bizarre. "You may get a weird taste in your mouth and your mouth will go numb." Um, okay. What? And just as I was saying how very odd that sounded, there went my tongue. Numbness. It didn't stop there. There was some more scraping or pressure or whatever was going on. Some handoffs between doctor and nurse, some conversation between the two of them. And then, "You might feel like someone is squeezing your tonsils." This was during the actual insertion part. What? How on earth are my mouth and throat connected to my uterus? Oh no!! I can't swallow! My throat is paralyzed!! It won't move! What on earth is going on here?? I'm going to die!!!!! Oh, okay, wait, that's better. My throat is working again. That was some weird shit.

Remember how my vagina is allegedly attractive? Well, it turns out that my cervix and uterus are textbook. The whole thing went exactly as it was supposed to. Yay. Bragging rights. I have textbook reproductive organs. Right on.

I thought it was over, but there was one more step. The ultrasound. To make sure the tiny little piece of plastic went in just the right place. This entails the use of something that looks like an extra extra extra long dildo, complete with condom cover. At that point I just wanted to be done. I didn't want anymore intrusions into my at-this-point sensitive lady parts. I only looked at the picture on the screen to appease her and get it over with. Perfect placement. "You're good for five years. Have a nice day."

I was told that I would have cramping afterward, but by that point I'd already been cramping for days so it wasn't a big deal. I didn't need the ride home, but I did stop to get a milkshake on my way back to the office. Hey, I'd earned it. I left work an hour early and spent the evening on the couch, but it really wasn't worse than the worst cramps that I have. I had a little nausea so I decided against going to zumba. No need to act like a superhero. It's now been 24+ hours and I'm still cramping, but I'm also still having my period.

Overall, it wasn't all that bad. Few things are ever as bad as expected, but I thought you should know about those little surprises that nobody else mentioned. Throat-tightness and the inability to swallow might be a trigger for those with anxiety. I could have really freaked out over that, but it lasted less than 30 seconds.

However, if you want to milk it, it's completely fair to say that you don't want to cook or do dishes. Cramps are stupid and it's perfectly acceptable to spend an evening on the couch eating ice cream.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mommy and Me: The Teenage Edition

You know those Mommy and Me groups where moms get together and drink coffee and compare diaper brands while their babies roll around on the floor? They set up play dates and share ideas about naps and support each other through teething and first-day-of-kindergarten jitters. Pinterest now has whole boards dedicated to cute food and lunch recipes, the best craft projects, and suggestions for mother-daughter dates. Magazine articles discuss the fine balance between career aspirations and juggling sports schedules and dance recitals.

These are all great. Because being a mom is a tough job and these outlets and groups provide support for moms during these important formative years. But you know what? There's a huge segment of the population left in the dark. These are the moms of teenagers, who probably need the support more than the moms complaining that every shirt they own has a spit-up stain on it.

Teething? Walk in the park. Colic? That was nearly unbearable, but it ended. Those first days of school, while tearful, are reasons to celebrate. They're bittersweet milestones that we live for. I had oodles of patience when my daughter was a baby. I was so completely smitten with her. I felt like she was my purpose in life. When she cried, it was merely a matter of discerning the reason and Fixing It for her. Cake. Seriously.

Teenagers are a completely different animal. There are jokes about how hard it is and how they're these alien beings. The older moms I know promise me that she'll come back. I recently read a really beautiful analogy, something about how children are in their own orbit and during the teenage years it's dark because they're on the other side of the moon and you just have to wait for their homecoming.

Only I don't want to wait. I want it all to be okay now. I want to know that I'm not the huge failure I feel that I am on a nearly daily basis. I want her back now. The dark is too dark.

D has depression. I have depression. D has anxiety. I have anxiety. What all of this means is that there is an extra layer of difficulty. She finds it harder to concentrate; she's easily overwhelmed. But she constantly self-sabotages and I can't get her to see that. I find it harder to deal with her. When she isn't home at the designated time and doesn't return texts, I stare out the window waiting for the cops to show up at my door and tell me she's gone. We yell about what's fair and what isn't fair. There are empty promises and chance after chance after chance.

She's smart but she won't try. Her grades reflect her apathy. She has one more year and I feel like I can't do it. If she's not sitting right in front of me, I can't trust her to do what needs to be done. Hell, I can't even trust then that she isn't sitting there staring at Facebook or Tumblr. And, heading into her senior year, I shouldn't have to hold her hand and be on her every minute.

This is where we need a new kind of Mommy and Me. Maybe the kind where we drink bottles of wine and pass around the Kleenex box and commiserate about what selfish little turds teenagers are. The kind where we can say the dark, ugly things we feel and not be judged for them.

I have never felt more alone in my life. It's an endless cycle of just feeling like shit. She's difficult, I'm tired. I know that high school ends and she can do what she's supposed to do so I encourage, I prod, I threaten, I plead, I cajole. I get tired. I want to give up. I want to walk away or run away. I want to leave her to fend for herself because it just isn't worth it. What kind of mother does that? I feel guilty, I hate myself, I hate my life, it all hardly seems worth it. Guilt, guilt, guilt. So I try again but it's more exhausting. She needs me. I'm responsible for her. I don't want to fail. I don't want her to fail. I don't care.

I also am always holding back. I want to tell her that she's sucking the goddamn life out of me. That she makes everything harder for me and can she just get it the fuck together and stop slowly killing me. But the words never leave my mouth because they are not words you say to a child with depression. They are not words that a mother says to her child. And yet I need her to know, but I know that she can't handle it yet. So. The vicious cycle repeats.

Yeah, this isn't a happy day. I'd like to sit here and tell you that I will rally. That another day is another chance. That I'm stronger than I think. The truth is though, that isn't how I feel. These are the things They don't tell you. There is no help menu, no magic troubleshooting wizard. It's just hard.

The dirty truth is that sometimes, some days are just harder than the rest.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Things I'm Not Ready For

D will be 17 next month. Which means I have one year left to "enjoy" her childhood. I'm not ready for the ups and downs and the roller coaster of emotions that this will bring. I can't wait for her to leave, I can't bear the thought of her leaving. I'm so proud of her growing up; I want her to go back to being little. It's the best and the worst and the happiest and the saddest and the weirdest of times.

Our most recent development is dating. She has a boyfriend. A steady. They're going out. They're hooked up. Whatever the current lingo is, there is a boy who is significant in her life. He's the cat's meow. It on a stick. Her main squeeze. You get the idea.

What I'm most proud of her for in this little tale of puppy love is that she clearly set her boundaries in the beginning. There is a history between the two of them and she told him right off, "I'm messed up. I have problems. Decide right now if you want to stick around, because I can't have my heart broken." This is how you do it. Bow down.

At first it was sort of adorable. Their names rhyme. He brings her chocolate. He cute-asked her to prom (which is another whole teenage cultural trend that has gotten out of control, but is beside the point right now). And then it started to get serious. And I have started to freak out.

She loves to tell me things. Lots of things. Sometimes too many things. She told me the exact moment that she knew she loves him. And she was so deliriously happy about it. "We were riding back and this song came on and it was the first song we slow-danced to and I just looked at him and he looked at me and right then I just knew I knew how I felt I knew that I love him." Yes, read that without taking a breath because that's how she said it.

My heart broke a little. Because I am happy for her, but I can't completely share in her excitement. She's not my girlfriend, she's my baby girl. And this specific moment of happiness won't last. It's pure and new and so sweet and I know of all the heartache that's to come. I don't want her heart broken. I don't want her hurt. I want her to ride this little cloud of bliss into the sunset.

Over Mother's Day weekend she shared lots of stories and feelings with me. A big topic of conversation was the fact that the Three Little Words were said the week before (per my advice, she made him say them first. I repeat, bow down.). The cynic in me wanted to vomit while the mom in me wanted to cry. I don't think either was the reaction she had hoped for.

While we were having lunch she said, "You can ask me anything you want. If there's anything you want to know, I'll tell you." This was in relation to the boy because he is all she wants to talk about. But I don't want to know. I don't want to ask. I don't want certain images in my head. I don't need to know, it's none of my business, and for Pete's sake!! I'm your mother and we don't talk like girlfriends!!!! If you tell me how you feel when he kisses you I will have to pour acid in my ears!!!!!!!!!!

So I asked her if she's ever smoked a cigarette. Or been drunk outside the house. Or inhaled. These are safe topics. These are questions I'm somewhat prepared to hear the answers to. These are things that I can freak out about and she will understand and her feelings won't be hurt. I don't have to be fake-supportive or lie about how sweet it is. These are very clearly bad things and we both understand this.

I don't want to be the cynic. I don't want to crush her little spirit. But, damn it, boys are icky and she needs to put a lid on this until she's 30. Or until I die. I reserve the right to change my mind about either limit at any time.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Circle of Life

Lots going on lately. Beginnings, endings, starting, finishing. I hardly know which way is up anymore.

I finished school last week. I officially (or soon will, once it arrives in the mail) hold a master's degree. An M.B.A. It took nearly two years and seemed like it would last forever. I turned in my last assignment on Thursday and then just sat there. Huh. That's it? I think I expected balloons and streamers to fall from the ceiling. Nope. It was rather anti-climatic. No big fanfare. No claps on the back. No cheering audience.

Even now I think I'm supposed to be working on a paper. I felt guilty sleeping in this morning. I'm so used to having deadlines looming over my head. I can sleep in now. I have my weekends back. And yet, somehow, it seems wrong.

Maybe because I did it by myself. No classmates. No group discussions. Just me. Sitting at my kitchen table.  Early mornings. Late nights. Weekend afternoons. Whatever it took. Just me. Often a cup of coffee. Usually some music. It became a routine, something to always think about. My crazy mind thinks that maybe I should just keep going. I always wanted a PhD, right? No. Not really. Right?

D went to her junior prom last night. I think I'm still processing that. That and the almost $300 I spent between the dress, the shoes, the handbag, flowers, and the fake eyelashes she had to have. I went to take pictures of her with her date. Her boyfriend. Boyfriend. KY and I went to dinner afterward. He asked, "How does it feel that your little girl is growing up?" Damn it. I was okay until then. Then, in that moment, I wanted to run and get her and hug her and bring her home and watch cartoons with her. I didn't want to her to grow up. To be with a boy. To move on, in any way.

KY's insightful observation? "You can't wait for her to leave. You're so tired of having her around and want her to move on and then you cry and can't stand the thought of her leaving and want her to stay forever. I can't keep up with it all." Really? Imagine how it feels to be inside my body.

Because I do want her to go. Parenting is exhausting. But I don't think I will ever be done either. I don't want her to be in love. She tells me how she feels about her boyfriend and I don't want to know. I want, more than anything, for her to be happy. But does it have to be him? Does it have to be that way? I don't get to choose her happiness and part of me is relieved. But another part of me thinks that is just crap. It's confusing to say the least.

Next year she will graduate. Which means a couple of things. She will start her new life. And so will I. I don't have to stay here anymore. Her leaving means I get to leave too. I get to Start Over.

This summer we are road-tripping. Checking out schools for her and a new location for me. It both thrills me and terrifies me. I like the familiar. Change generally freaks me out. Even when I choose the change, it's a challenge. And this is a big change. I have my sights set on a spot on the map far, far from this current X. It's a big leap.

Yep. Lots going on right now. Plans, adjustments, goals are all changing. I don't know yet how I will land. Or where. But I think it's time. It's time to shake it up a little bit. Time to reach a little higher and a little farther. It's time for a new adventure. It's time to grow up.


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