The night before I went in to get an IUD, I spent a lot of time by myself, thinking about all that had transpired in the last few months. At the beginning of the summer, I’d been abducted and raped while walking home from a party, only escaping because I’d been able to pocket text my friend telling them my location, where they showed up and brought the police with them. After that, I’d fallen into a deep, terrible depression, and lost all sense of self-preservation and hope for the future. It was in that stupor that I brought home two random strangers from a night club after consuming copious amounts of alcohol and various illegal drugs, and had a threesome with them. That night “gifted” me with both an unexpected pregnancy and an infection of chlamydia. I was only pregnant for a few weeks, before it ended in a sudden, painfully bloody miscarriage, and the chlamydia delayed my IUD insertion by a month while I patiently took antibiotics and abstained from any and all sexual activity.  

I also thought about the larger picture of my life: I thought about how frequently people like me were targeted by eugenics advocates, how I’d been told that autistic people should be “fixed” to avoid having children who were autistic like them or children they “obviously” couldn’t care for, how often Indigenous women in both Canada and the United States went in for “some shots” or an appendectomy and came out with an unexpected hysterectomy. As I contemplated further, it all slid into context for me, and I felt relieved and proud: This was a chance for me to make better choices for myself, and have greater control of my body, reproduction, and my sexuality than ever before. So I went to bed early, feeling relieved and prepared to wake up early tomorrow for my appointment. My Mirena box, obtained by the pharmacy a few days earlier, discounted from $300 to $80 thanks to my student health insurance, was by the door so I didn’t forget it in the morning. 

My roommate went with me to the clinic, one of my best friends drove me there. We stopped for breakfast at Starbucks, and I took two ibuprofen as instructed 90 minutes before my appointment with food to soothe the pain from cramping during insertion. My roommate was pretty familiar with IUDs; he’d accompanied his then-girlfriend to go get hers earlier in the year, so he knew what to expect during the process, and offered to buy me whatever I wanted from Dairy Queen afterwards. Once we were in the clinic, I went in for the urine sample to prove I wasn’t pregnant, and then sat down and waited anxiously. “We should have brought a book,” my roommate whispered to me, we’d arrived fairly early. “I was too anxious to think of that!” I said back. 

Finally, the doctor called my name, a smiling pregnant woman who made me feel immediately at ease about the whole process. The only time she flubbed anything was when she turned to my roommate and said “I take it this is your partner?” We both knew this would happen, so he and I laughed it off and explained, nope, just my roommate. She went over the basics of what to expect and aftercare with me, and then left me and my roommate to get ready for the insertion. 

I’ve always felt a little awkward on the OBGYN table, the harsh lighting above certainly doesn’t help. But having my roommate to look at and talk to, rather than just staring at the ceiling, made it significantly more pleasant for me. The doctor and her assistant came back, and the prep work began. She promised to explain every step of the procedure, so that I wasn’t wondering exactly what was going on while she poked and prodded around my vagina. The beginning didn’t hurt, in fact, during the coating with the special serum to cleanse the area tickled, and I had to keep myself from squirming with laughter. But I grounded myself into the stirrups and got prepared for the actual procedure after the speculum went in. The doctor recommended to me that I cough during the parts she was going to scrap my cervix, to distract my body from the pain going on during the scraping. It worked! The rest of the procedure, I practiced deep breathing, in through my nose and out my mouth, and held my roommate’s hand while he mouthed “You’re doing great” and “It’s okay” and mimed my deep breathing so I wouldn’t lose the rhythm. 

Then, just like that, it was done. The doctor explained to me again what I should and shouldn’t do for the next 24 hours, answered my questions about when I could have sex again (“In about a week, if you’re not on another form of birth control, use condoms in the meantime, or just abstain”) and handed me a pantyliner. I’m advised to wear them for about a week, until spotting stops. My roommate hugged me, telling me what a great job I did, and we went out to book the follow-up appointment and get my ice cream. 

I’ve had it in for about a day now, and apart from some more-intense-than-average cramping, which raspberry tea and ibuprofen have dealt with, I haven’t had any side effects or difficulties. I feel good about what happened, and I have a sense that this is my first step towards greater control of my body and my sexuality. After such a difficult summer, I consider the IUD to be not only practical at preventing pregnancy, but therapeutic, because it will be part of a larger plan to get back in touch with what I truly want and being in touch with my body and my sexuality.