*Trigger Warning* (This post contains talk of sexual violence and depictions of pussy and healing. Self care, I’m not offended if you don’t read)
Let’s jump right in.
I am queer in both sexuality and gender. I’ve spent my life having sex with various people with various forms of anatomy. My preferred method of birth control up until this point was more along the lines of condoms and fertility awareness, meaning, tracking my period and ovulation times by taking my temperature every morning and cervix position every afternoon.
Considering that I had more sex with people with vulvas, it wasn’t really something in the forefront of my mind. All that being said, I am currently in a long term partnership with a person who has a penis and while we are both queer in sexuality, our private parts together can equal pregnancy if we’re not careful and birth control became something that moved from the background to the foreground.
I’ve talked about this with y’all many times already but I’ve had pretty unsavory reactions with hormonal birth control and so my first thought was “NO HORMONES PLEASE!”. I landed on the Paraguard Intrauterine Device (IUD), mainly because it’s non-hormonal, has a 99.99% success rate and works by being wrapped in copper (yes, the mineral), which kills sperm and lasts for 10 YEARS in my uterus. True to my form, I scoured the internet and more. I talked with friends who have various IUD’s, friends who don’t, friends who had great experiences, and friends who had negative experiences. I did my research. I moved to Portland Oregon a couple weeks ago and found myself having health care which pays entirely for the procedure with no co-pay! I was like…YES!
As a survivor of sexual violence, visits to the gynecologist are more fraught with PTSD and anxiety than any other doctors visit. That being said, I walked in on the day of the procedure being very VERY nervous, anxiety ridden and more than a lil PTSD present. In this stress, I was met with kindness. I explained my concerns, my sexual trauma history and where I was at. I wasn’t made to be in stirrups, instead opting for my legs just being propped up and my vulva angled upwards. When my legs started to shake, another health care provider, a lovely womxn, offered to hold my hand and placed her other hand on my quivering leg, not to hold it still but just to allow warmth and comfort to flow from her hands into my legs.
Something to note: If you have not been pregnant or given birth, it is possible that the cervix entrance is very small. This was the case for me and while the nurse measured my cervix, there was about a 10 minute window of cramping with deep breathing and tears accompanied by more than a couple feelings of stress. In the midst, being surrounded by women, some of whom had IUD’s themselves, and feeling supported was a saving grace. I was doing this for me, to secure my future and in the process to take back my body.
The thing I kept telling myself was that I was safe, surrounded by womxn who were ready for each of my reactions and gave lots of verbal support. “You got this! You’re doing so well! Just a little bit longer! Go ahead and cry it out, we’ve got you. ”
My body has never really felt like it belonged to me. It somehow always belonged to others: my rapists, my mother, my father, my partners. Somewhere in the midst of post IUD placement cramping, my period showing up post procedure and a moment of yoga, I felt that my body actually did belong to me and me alone. I don’t know when the change happened. I can’t give you an hour or day. I just know that I slowly began to feel like me, all of me. I felt like a 5 year old girl playing in the dirt, a 12 year old girl losing control, a 18 year old girl wanting to end it all because no one cared and me now, a woman in constant discovery and reclamation.
I always thought I was broken somehow, but I’m not. I’m healing. I will be healing forever and that was a reality decided by sexual violence. How I heal, where I find healing, the community built along the way…it holds me together. I don’t claim to speak for anyone, simply myself…but I do strive to find community in this work because I know I’m not alone. I realize and recognize that some womens experiences with IUD’s have been the very opposite of mine and I would never want to eclipse those. I’m not speaking to say that all of us must have IUD’s. All of us must have ACCESS! Access to the information. Access to the choices. Access to our HEALING.
Why is this, any of this important? Bodily autonomy. It isn’t solely about whether or not I want a baby or how I’m healing or anything else. It’s about what I want to do with and in reclamation of my body. This body is mine. I’m doing everything I can to love it, to find it, to live in it. The speed that I do it is mine and mine alone. As an Afro-Indigenous queer woman whose body is always regulated, this moment right here is one of gold.