Before I begin, a quick warning. This entry has to do with girl parts. If you'd rather not read about this kind of thing, now's your chance to flee (I recommend checking out Cute Overload because the sheer cute can make you forget *anything*).
I remember when we were first given all the information about 'becoming a woman' back in elementary school. My mom gave us her own version of the talk so by the time the elementary schools got around to it it wasn't all that much of a shock, but I still remember it anyway, because the information came with little booklets about what would be happening to our bodies. And I remember very well that the booklets discussed the possible side effects. Mild cramping, is how they put it. Nothing to be concerned about. Do a few sit-ups and they'd all go away just like magic. Otherwise, becoming a woman (and all that it entails) was going to be a magical, marvelous journey and weren't we all lucky we got stuck with the double-X chromosome and got the joy of experiencing it.
What the books never told us young women-to-be is that sometimes the cramps are so bad that you end up doubled over in pain and no amount of asprin or Motrin is going to make them go away once they kick in. And sometimes the flow is so severe that no amount of padding will prevent you from ruining yet another pair of pants or shorts or skirt. And that sometimes 'becoming a woman' comes with a premenstrual dose of suicidal depression that makes you ponder all the ways you might want to off yourself until it finally dawns on you that this happens about once a month and maybe next time you can be better prepared for it when you feel like knocking back a bottle of pills, just because. And the books don't tell you about a whole lot of things that come marching into a young woman's life, hand in hand with good old Aunt Flo, because the writers of the books think that if they don't tell you these things, why, they won't ever come true, and also, that all those nasty side effects are just in your head because you are a silly emotional girl and you don't know what you are talking about anyway. So you spend years wondering what the hell is wrong with you, and only if you are lucky enough to have someone in your life who has experienced this kind of 'joy' in becoming a woman, do you ever know you aren't alone.
So based on all of this I went on the pill in college, because I was sick and tired of the emotional and physical side effects and truly, there is better living through chemistry after I got over the initial few months of the body adjusting to the hormones and me being a complete bitch to live with in the process.
It's not been the ideal situation - I've tried a few other options over the years (the most memorable being the brief stint on Depo, which required a shot in the butt every three months and which came with the nifty benefit of a rather quick weight gain, and also a level of bitchiness on my part so high that even *I* could see it) but I have always ended up going back to the pill because at least I knew what to expect. But there have been side effects of being on the pill, both physical and emotional, and if it was just me all by myself maybe I would just grin and bear it, but that's not been the case for some time now, and so I have spent a bit of time over the past few years pondering other options. I knew that whatever I ended up with, I wanted it to be permanent, because while the 'better living through chemistry' was effective for a while, the negatives have been far outweighing the positives for too many years now, and I didn't want to just switch to yet another temporary method, again and again and again.
Alas, no doctor out there is willing to take out girl parts unless there is a valid medical reason. And when I was younger, any inquiry into getting something more permanent done was met with the equivalent of a fatherly pat on the head that I might change my mind (being female and thus, of course, prone to fits of indecision, especially when it comes to the subject of children, hormones, and other emotional things like that). But once I passed the magical age of 30, suddenly the attitude started to change. I found a doctor who didn't automatically assume that I coudn't possibly know what I am talking about when I say I really do not want to be a mom, and I found a procedure that seemed like it would be a good fit, and after doing a lot of reading and a lot of soul-searching and talking with Richard about it, I decided that it was time.
There have been referrals, and appointments, and even a last minute pregnancy test because they want to make very sure that they weren't sterilizing a woman who might be pregnant (this last part amused me the most, since this is the one test I sort of assumed I'd never be taking), and all of this has been going on since before we left for Ireland. Because the procedure I wanted is something fairly new, it took a little extra time, but the doctor I spoke with was very excited because she wanted to get it started at the hospital since she learned of it, and I ended up approaching her at just the right time.
Friday morning, after a few months of referrals and discussion and waiting for appointments, I went into the hospital and was their very first patient to go through this procedure at that location. It's not like I was in any danger - the methods they use are things the doctor's done before, so this was just one little extra step, and it's such a simple little process that none of us were worried at all.
It feels a bit odd now, to have it finally be over, but it's a good feeling, to know that everything can finally settle back into place and sort itself out. I am mentally preparing myself for the return of the killer cramps and possibly even the one-day-long suicidal depression, but the chances of either of those returning after being on the pill for so long are pretty slim. Even so, I know how to handle those. I am okay with those. I dealt with them before and I can deal with them again, especially since this time around I'm not some naive young thing reading a little book full of lies about how wonderful and exciting 'becoming a woman' will be.