Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blogging Boundaries

Okay, I admit it.  I was nervous about the IUD post going up, and ever since then I have struggled with the impulse to post a lot to bump it down the front page.  The post garnered a lot of page views fast (yeah, I'm totes watching you guys) but dang was it scary to publish.  I was actually forced to post it early because I hit the "publish" button instead of the "save draft" button and caught the mistake a bit too late to take it back.  Instead of freaking out I took a deep breath and concluded it was the universe giving me a gentle nudge in the publishing direction.

Blogging and boundaries is a topic never ceases to fascinate me.  On the one hand, it would be very easy to pour my soul into this blog.  Letters to the world.  I love writing letters and sharing secrets and telling stories.  On the other hand, privacy WHAT.  As I was growing up I hoarded privacy and put significant energy into controlling who knew what.  Slowly I have opened up, thanks to five years in an liberal college environment, yet I still tend to become hostile when I learn unintended people have learned something I meant for private ears only.   And my wee blog on teh internets?  Why, it is open to EVERYBODY.  How bloody terrifying is that?  VERY.  Mean, judgmental people are out there!!  Instead of hyperventilating, I try to look at the flipside: How friggen awesome is that?  VERY.  Friends and besties and social connections ahoy!

The ironic thing is the blogs I love the best are the ones that bear all.  Joys, fears, pain, challenges, laughter, advice.  As a reader there is nothing I like more than feeling I am a best friend the author is imparting secrets to.  I devour archives and life stories.  I swear I'm not a stalker, but I do sometimes feel like a creeper who should occasionally send out an email saying "HI THERE. I read all your secrets.  In exchange, a list of my secrets is attached.  Kthxbai."

So here I am, trying to strike a balance.  Trying to be respectful of my friends and family and employers that might not want their stories shared while being true to my own.  Trying to follow my intuition and write soulful posts I would really like as a reader, even when they take courage and personal pep talks to post.  Trying not to be a perfectionist and edit my archives to erase or update my story.  Trying not to make this blog into something it's not or somebody else's vision.

So here's to future blog posts and the archives of the past: may I be a writer who is brave and coherent enough to tell a story that contributes to the blogging world and seeks to repay the joy I have reaped for so many years.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday morning hoorays

1. With the magic of one cross-country flight I get to spend the next few days with some of my favorite people.  HOORAY!!

2.  I made it to the airport with no snafus! (I am always paranoid about this.) Hooray!

3.  I get to see a new region of the country.  Adventures ahoy!

4.  See number 1.  And they're totally getting married too.  Hooray!!

5.  *Censored secret things* Hooray!!

6. I am totally shoe twins with the lady sitting across from me. 

7. Boarding!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ask Me About My IUD

A heads up to readers:  This posts talks about the female reproductive system.  Menstrual cycle, methods of birth control, sex.  If this doesn't interest you, please move along!  Thanks.

When I was trawling the internet one day I came across a post on A Practical Wedding about birth control.  One of the comments said "I love my IUD!  I want a shirt that says 'Ask me about my IUD."  This blog post is my equivalent to that shirt.  It is what I would have wanted to read when I was researching my birth control options because the actual process of getting an IUD freaked me out.

As you read this post, please keep in mind that your body is completely different from mine.  What works for me might not work for you.  As always with random medical information you find on the internet, please talk to your doctor about these things!


When I was younger my menstrual cycle was very erratic.  Halfway through high school I was placed on a hormonal form of birth control.  It was a little pill I took every day.  It significantly lightened my periods, made them predictable, and was a very positive change in my life even if it was a pain in the butt to remember to swallow it every day.

When I graduated college my health insurance shifted and I thought it was a good time to try changing things up.  I really wanted to see how my body reacted to no hormones; a general life rule for me is that if I can go simpler, I will. Plus, I really got tired of remembering to take that little pill Every. Single. Day.  So I stocked up on condoms, told the Pirate what I was doing, and stopped taking it.  The results were mixed: I noticed a significant improvement in my depression, my skin became a lot more sensitive and acne prone, and my periods remained regular and manageable.  I'll take it, hooray!!  

Even though the condom does have many things to recommend it, I was interested in something that was more permanent and more auto-pilot.  Because condoms?  Have to be put on Every. Single. Time.  Off to google I went to research my options.  Short of surgical sterilization (too permanent for my tastes) the only option that did not have hormones, was reliable, and could be placed on autopilot was a copper IUD.  For more information on what an IUD is (I am not the expert), this article from Planned Parenthood does a good job of explaining the options.

Feeling quite confident in my decision but hella nervous about actually having the implantation procedure done, I booked an appointment with my doctor.  I shared my reproductive health history, listened to the options my doctor presented, and pestered him with questions.  I learned that:
1) It was expensive!  Fortunately my health insurance covered it.  HOORAY!!
2) I could not get it that appointment.  I had to come back after they ran their required tests and checked with my insurance.
3)  Also, the implantation appointment had to be schedule when I was on my period.  Since I have not given birth, that was the time my cervix would be the most willing to have something shoved through it.  (Yeah, I know.  It's not rainbows and unicorns.)  My doctor also performed a pelvic exam to gauge whether or not I could sit still through the IUD implantation process and to see if my uterus, which has not been stretched out by pregnancy, was actually big enough to accommodate the IUD.  

Everything aligned and I showed up a month later to get my IUD.  My internet travels had told me some women had a painful implantation process and some were so unaffected they were able to go right back to work afterwards.  I aired on the side of caution and took a half day vacation from work, ensuring I would have time to take myself out for celebratory ice cream after the appointment.  Or curl up in horrible agony, either one.

How was the pain?

Not bad, actually.  It was a mixture between getting a body part pierced, a few painful menstrual cramps, and that unpleasant feeling you get from the dentist of you-know-it's-good-for-you-but-what-you-can-feel-squicks-you-out-something-fierce.  For how incredibly nervous I was going into the appointment, the pain did not live up to my expectations.  Uncomfortable?  Heck yes.  Painful?  I've had stubbed toes that hurt worse.  I did notice tenderness that lasted for at least a week after.  It went away after I spent an afternoon bending updownupdown searching for the perfect 3 alphabet mugs out of 300 mugs on the top shelf of a local home goods store in a fit of wedding craftiness.  It's like it got popped into place or something.

How was the implantation procedure?

The actual implantation procedure was like a very intense pap smear.  The doctor had me take ibuprofen before I arrived and he gave my cervix some of the pain meds they give to your gums during oral surgery.  Then my feet went up in the stirrups and I tried to patiently sit and meditate through my breathes while the doctor fiddled with my girly bits.  It only took a few minutes with a few unfortunate extra minutes since my cervix didn't want to cooperate.  It's not open heart surgery, but it's not a pap smear either.

How was the emotional side of things?

Whenever the doctor would leave the room and I didn't have to put my brave face on I would start shivering uncontrollably from nervousness.  That surprised me.  I knew I was nervous, but I didn't know I was that nervous!    I had procrastinated on the IUD for at least a year because I dreaded the implantation process so much.  Once I was done, though?  I felt like I could do *anything.*  It was one of the more empowering experiences I have had, which was unexpected.  For various reasons the Pirate was unable to come to the appointment, but gave a lot of support in the form of hugs and dinner and flowers when he got home.

Can you feel it?

I was very aware of it for the first two weeks or so.  But as my body adjusted to it, kind of like adjusting to a new piercing, it was relegated more and more to the "oh yeah, this happened" box instead of the "Hello, this is currently happening" box.  Once it got popped into place after that afternoon of bending updownupdown I don't notice it at all.

How's the sex?

Yay!  :D  It took me a while to feel comfortable with the whole "I have this random metal thing in my uterus, let's have some sexytimes!" thing, but you know...practice makes perfect!  Communicate to your partner what you are feeling.  Every once and a while we can feel it, so whenever we do we simply change positions.

Have you noticed any change in periods?

The first few periods after implantation were a few days longer than normal and super heavy.  Like, maybe-I-will-just-hang-out-on-the-toilet-all-day heavy.  Once my body has adjusted to the new addition, the periods went back to their normal level.  Thank goodness!

tl;dr Logistics summary, please?

  • 3 doctor's appointments (initial, implantation, follow up) over 2 months
  • $1000ish that insurance covered
  • 1/2 day vacation (I totally had the best ice cream date with myself afterwards)
  • 1 week of tenderness
  • 3 months of heavy periods
  • 10 years of birth control! w00t w00t!

Help, I'm still nervous!

E-hugs, love, and support to you!  You can do it!

I have a random question about IUDs and birth control.

I am not who you should ask; I can only speak to my own personal experience.  You should ask a medical expert.  Please keep in mind that your body is completely different from mine.  What works for me might not work for you.  As always with random medical information you find on the internet, please talk to your doctor about these things!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Learning to Write Again

When I was younger, I used to write.  Like, Write.  With good grammar and clever words and everything.  I wanted to be a fiction writer.  I went to a week-long writer's camp for several summers and did extra work to pay my way.  I wrote creatively for as many school projects as I could.  Inventive stories bubbled out of me, inspired by everything I saw.  I interned for the local paper.  I participated in my high school literary arts magazine and was head editor my senior year.  In the evenings I wrote long emails and snail mail letters to friends and family on a daily basis. I scribbled in every spare moment in my journals.  I had so many handwritten journals I had my own private library of Ondrea's Innermost Thoughts and Angst. Buying new journals was the Best. Feeling. Ever.

Then I got to college and I slowed down.  I was required to write with a more academic slant.  I was no longer enrolled in classes that prescribed my kind of creative fiction because I was taking classes that would give me Practical Skills for the real world.  Trying to build a career of freelance writing (or anything artsy) worried me because it didn't come with steady benefits like a 401(k) or health insurance.  Plus, science!  I am from several generations of scientists and heard the lab coats beckoning.  My story well stopped bubbling and dried completely.  I stopped reading fiction because I had a hard time finding adult authors I liked, so when I started reading mostly non-fiction.  My emails got sloppy with punctuation and run-on sentences. I switched to knitting instead of scribbling non-stop.  When journaling, it was simply to-do lists and things I needed to remember and bits of inspiration.  I bought no journals.


Suddenly, I am ready to write again.  My story well is bubbling with new prompts, only this time they are mostly non-fiction.  Except it is harder than I anticipated to get my groove back.  I re-read things I write and think I need to be whacked with the Grammar Nazi Stick.  I have an awesome idea but when I sit down at my computer I stare at the blank screen and shuffle words around like puzzle pieces that you suspect don't quite fit but you have to hold them up to the light to see if any shines through the cracks to be sure.

But sometimes, when I hit that sweet spot?  The judgement stops and words flow and they are exactly what I need them to be, grammatically perfect or not.  I don't feel the need to delete.  I look up and realize it's hours and paragraphs later.  I feel my intuition thawing, wiggling, waking up to a writer who the same but different than the writer it left several years ago.  And I think Yes. Welcome back and it's good to be home.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday Hoorays

I give you a most enthusiastic Hello!! from my couch on a lazy Saturday afternoon.  I am feeling very grateful today, so here is a round of hoorays:

Hooray for Houseguests!

When I was scribbling my hopes, dreams, and To Do items for 2013 in January, I put "see friends and family" on there.  Adulthood can be kind of lonely and boring, and I am keen to keep in touch.  Since then we have been happily bowled over by entreaties to couch surf with loved ones and loved ones who generously travel, often long distances to see us.  We just finished a week with family that was filled with tasty food, local attractions (Aquarium!!!), and late night zombie games.  The house we live in now is perfect for hosting, and I am working on improving my hostess skills.  This round of houseguests I finally invested in some folding chairs to expand our seating possibilities and it improved the experience more than I anticipated.  I never thought I would be so excited about folding chairs (I totally got the fancy kind with cushions).

Still having fun with Instagram

Hooray for Belly Dancing!

While I am rather good at tasks that require small motor skills like drawing, knitting, and threading needles, I am terribly uncoordinated when it comes to moving my whole body coherently.  My only attempts at body choreography was a modern dance class and about a year practicing the martial art of Aikido in college.  I had been looking for opportunities to move my body again (and had even wished for belly dancing) when a local friend posted on her Facebook wall looking for a belly dance partner.  Heck yes!  I jumped on board and am absolutely loving it.  The studio is welcoming and upbeat, women of all ages, races, and body types are welcomed with open arms, and the style of danc is something I can actually follow.  Plus, the classes are pay-as-you-go and fit into my schedule and budget.  I've been going for a few months and it is the best way to begin my weekend.

Hooray for Belly Button Piercings!

I toyed with the idea of a belly button piercing in high school, but I kept denying myself and waiting for the "perfect body."  It occurred to me a week ago that my self esteem is a whole lot better and I enjoy my body as it is, so I went out and rewarded myself with a belly button piercing today.  I suppose this hooray could alternatively be titled "Hooray for not being a teenager wading through depression and angst!"  But that isn't nearly as fun.  :)  

What are your hoorays today?