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I am Woman, Hear Me ROAR

I had a good day,

Every girl growing up has moments in her life that she just suddenly feels more “woman” than she did the day before.  A few such moments for me include the times when I got my first doll and “changed” it’s diaper, got my nails done at a salon, braided my hair all on my own. As I got older, I discovered more things that began to make me feel more empowered and absolutely female such as baking on my own and applying my makeup. Later in life it was when I was first allowed to shave my legs, which of course meant that I was officially allowed to show them off in all their white pasty glory. I remember feeling mature when I got my first period, I legitimately wanted every other girl to know I was now among the women elites, the ones that could breed, and so I would loudly whisper to a friend to request to borrow a tampon or would suddenly need to leave class early to take care of my feminine hygiene

Out of all the things that made me feel empowered, womanly, and adult, nothing can top how I felt today. Today I felt more like a woman completely in charge of her body, of her future, and her health. Today I got an IUD placed in my uterus.

While that doesn’t seem like a huge deal, for me it really is something big. I grew up in pain from cramps and excessive blood. The remedies I was offered only caused other problems, and I was never told that there were better options for me. I’ve complained numerous times in this journal about my horrid periods and my fears of never having kids simply because I didn’t understand what was going on with my body. It is really sad that it took me this long to get an IUD placed actually, and had society not been so damning against women and our health, I could have found this remedy a long time ago.

My first period happened at age 10. I had wanted to start ever since my sister had her first period. It was gross and painful, yet somehow exciting. My second period didn’t happen until age 12. No one knew it took that long; I was too embarrassed to tell my mother or anyone else that I must have been mistaken, that maybe it wasn’t a period that I had gone through the first time. So for almost 2 years, I would pretend that I was having a regular flow and occasional insert a pad into my underwear, or request my mother to buy tampons because we were out again.

When the second one came at age 12, the pain was excruciating. I didn’t know how to handle it. I remember knocking on my parent’s door sometime in the early morning hoping my mother would instantly know how to make the pain stop. My dad’s grumpy morning rasp answered my knocking with two words “Go away!”

“Mom? Please… I need your help….” I had begged.

“I’ll be out soon dear,” was her tired response.

I waited a moment and then headed to the living room where I collapsed from pain. I curled into a ball and rocked for an hour or so just sobbing. My whole body cramped up and while I felt the blood pooling around me, I couldn’t move to deal with it. I am one of the percentages of people that actually know what debilitating pain feels like. I literally couldn’t move and every attempt of trying to refocus my energy on something else ended in spotted vision and sobs.

My mother found me there when she finally arose and in her half asleep state she immediately rushed to my aid. She cleaned me up and convinced herself that I must have been having a really bad period. She made me hot oatmeal and gave me a hot water bottle along with Midol for the pain. To this day I eat hot oatmeal when I’m cramping, I’m not sure it does anything, but it makes me feel better, the memory of a mother trying to take care of her young in the only way she knew how.

I waited another 6 months to have the third period. This one was so heavy with blood that I didn’t last more than a few minutes without feeling blood gushing down my legs. I was passing clots, these solid masses of blood surrounded by putrid smelling ooze with thick runs of stringy blood falling off of them, and after each one would finally, painfully escape my body, free-flow blood would come rushing after it. My mother placed me in the bathtub and gave me the day off of school. I bled through the mattress that night.

I finally did go to the doctor around the age of 14. Unfortunately for me, it was a small town and we only had a general practitioner, a grumpy old man that should never have offered to help a young girl with her menstrual issues. I filled out a survey in his office regarding dates of my last period, activity, sexual partners, and other health related issues. I was a virgin at the time, never even having been kissed, and my last period had been 3 months prior.

Without even running a pregnancy test, this crotchety old man decided I was sexually active and must have been pregnant. He looked over my file and before I was even asked to pee in a cup my mother and I had to hear a lecture about sex and how I needed to be practicing abstinence as the only way to prevent what had happened to me. Thankfully my mother was in the room to let this doctor know which way was right and that he was way out of bounds. She told him to do his job and not jump to conclusions. They then had me pee in a cup.

When the pregnancy test came back negative, the doctor ran a few other tests and came up with a very wrong diagnosis of endometriosis. My mother asked what to do in regards to my menstrual cycles and he begrudgingly said I could try oral contraceptives… but he didn’t like this recommendation as it could encourage me to become sexually active, but that was just his opinion.

It didn’t make me sexually active, but it unfortunately somehow leaked out in my town that I was on birth control and all the boys decided it meant I must be interested in sex. The sexual harassment that I endured afterwards had almost lead me to commit suicide. The caddy girls would call me “slut” and “whore.” The boys would want a quickie and they didn’t have to use a condom, right? The parents didn’t want their pure innocent little girls to be influenced by me. I was an outcast, an outlier, because society viewed birth control as a whore’s medicine instead of the aid that it really was.

The other problems that came with birth control were missing pills, acne, and weight gain. I was miserable, but at least I was regular and didn’t have the pain anymore.

In college my parents left the country and left me without any insurance. I was barely scraping by and so I went without. The periods went back to pain and needing to take time off of work each time they came. I suffered in misery, never knowing that not being on birth control was more dangerous than just risking nasty pain and bloody clotting.

Excessive bleeding can cause you to become anemic. The clotting, which was my uterine wall becoming really thick and not releasing regularly, could have become so severe it could have potentially caused internal bleeding. It is not healthy at all.

I finally met a doctor that treated me with decency when I went back to college. She didn’t go into details of all the options that were available to me, but I told her I wanted to be on the pill again. Before I left, I was told free condoms were all over campus, was handed a handful and received a full education on STDs and how birth control doesn’t protect against everything. I always wondered why she never told me about IUDs. Why no one ever mentioned them to me, not even once.

In fact, I knew little about them until Hobby Lobby decided to force their “morals” on their employees by demanding to not cover them. I wondered if they could say they were withholding the money it would cost to get one from their employees because paying their employee a salary would somehow be supporting this as well, but that’s a whole other journal.

The more I read about IUDs the more I learned. I read about women just like me, suffering in pain and needing real solutions. IUDs offered this. No more missing a pill due to poor circumstances. No more waiting for a prescription to fill, no more having people give you that look when you purchase your sprintec at the counter as if to say “whore” because I want to control my body and how much pain it is in. An IUD offered 5 years of protection and was better at preventing pregnancy as well.

At this time in my life I was sexually active, but in no way ready to have kids. I used birth control and figured if I did get pregnant, so what? I was making enough money to deal with any solution I decided to go with and the men I dated, before I allowed them to have sex with me, I would learn if they were mature enough to handle outcomes as well as respectful enough to deal with any decision I came to.

An IUD seemed like the solution I needed. No more shame, no more worry. Complete control of my own body and freedom from all the reminders. The fact that it was safer than birth control was even better. I had to have one.

With a new job came a new doctor, one that I will recommend to any woman in the Denver Area. This doctor mentioned the IUD before I could even ask. She treated me like a human, she instantly knew that I did not have endometriosis, but I just don’t ovulate normally. My uterine wall builds and with no egg release to tear it out regularly, when it does happen it’s a lot of blood. She made sure I wasn’t pregnant and then it happened. It hurt and was uncomfortable, but once the cramps simmered down, for one of the first times in my life, I felt in control.

I felt empowered. I am a woman and I WILL control when I have a family. I will control how much pain I have. I will control when I bleed. I will fuck my fiancé when the mood hits us completely unapologetically and I will not suffer from hormonal weight gains. Society can suck it. Today I felt strong and so much like a woman. I wanted to shout at the top my lungs that I have an IUD. That those that are trying so hard to work their way into my uterus and tell me what I can do with it LOST. My place is my career, I control that. Not when I need to take maternity to have an unplanned child with my new husband. I get to choose. I’m free from pills to take every day. I’m free from the disapproving stares and missing refills.

So yes, while it may not seem like such a big deal to many, for me it was a defining moment in my life. Maybe not as big as when I got engaged or graduated college, but certainly important to me. It’s something I’m very happy I was able to do, and know that this was me taking control in a way that allows me to live my life, the way that I want to live it.

 12;30 am, time for a stop I think. Perhaps an entry to catelog for a later time and perhaps make something more of it. Also, bonus, Icy Hot Patches are the best cure for cramps.

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