My Copper IUD Insertion Story

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That little beauty up there? That’s a Paragard Copper IUD. Who got one a week ago? THIS! GIRL! And I am SO proud of myself at the moment. I feel like everyone who’s had an IUD feels obligated to tell their story because it’s such a mysterious, potentially scary thing. I’m the only person out of my group of friends who decided to go the IUD route so I didn’t know anyone who had one. Did you know that while most U.S. women opt for the pill (25.9%), more and more of them are turning to the IUD (11.6%)? That’s 4.4 million women! (More Women Opt for IUD, Contraceptive Implant for Birth Control)

WHY AN IUD?

I’ve actually wanted an IUD for over a year months now but was too afraid to get one. What if it hurt a lot? Is it really worth the pain? Can’t I just stick to pills and be more diligent? Here’s the thing with birth control pills; I was so horrible at taking them at the same time each day and some days I even forgot to take them and would just double my intake the next day. This happened too often. And the feeling of, WHAT IF I’M PREGNANT?! would plague my mind until the date of my next period (and yes, even on the pill I would make sure to have my period each month although some of my friends only have theirs a few times a year–paranoia). I’m sure most women have had the same thoughts, which are never, ever fun. So, in short, it wasn’t that hormonal birth control pills affected me negatively–it was my negligence that made an IUD the smarter choice. Oh, and it bears mentioning, I wasn’t sure how long I’d have to get an IUD free-of-charge what with Trump in office at the moment, which is why I was determined to get it done this year.

WHY PARAGARD?

This is another reason it took me longer than it should’ve to get one. I wasn’t sure which IUD I should get. I decided on Paragard for a few reasons. The first is that I went off the pill around 3 months ago because my partner is in the military and left for his final 6-month deployment EVER (unreal). I do this every time he’s deployed to give my body a “break” from the hormones (note: there’s no scientific evidence this does anything at all but a crazy part of my brain says to do it anyway even if it sounds like woowoo). I figured I should keep this no hormones thing going with Paragard which uses copper and is hormone-free. Here’s an article from the NY Times that discusses why I ultimately chose this in more detail. Now, there are downsides to a copper IUD versus, say, Mirena which is a hormonal IUD. First, it doesn’t decrease menstruation and it may make periods heavier and cramping worse (Mirena often completely diminishes periods, which believe me you was very tempting to consider). Post-adolescence, my periods have always been on the shorter side (5ish days) and I would rarely get cramps even before taking birth control pills. In fact, I can remember every period I did get cramps because it wasn’t something that happened frequently. Again, though, I like to get my period every month (as confirmation) so it isn’t a big deal that I will continue to get it each month. This would be a huge downside for a friend of mine who only gets hers three times a year, for example. One other negative, at least for insertion, is that it’s bigger than the Skyla IUD (another hormonal IUD). The size of Skyla makes it easier to insert (e.g., less painful) for women who’ve never been pregnant and may have a tighter cervical opening (me) but it also only lasts for 3 years (more about this below). Another major plus of Paragard besides being hormone-free? It lasts 10 years! Enough to get through this administration and then some. Here’s a good website that compares all the top IUDs.

THE BIG QUESTION: DID IT HURT?!

I’m not going to sugarcoat this: It. Hurt.

I prepared myself by reading other women’s IUD stories online, which I think did help but also made me a bit more anxious because there were a few horror stories I came across. I knew the chances of it hurting were going to be in the 90% range from everything I’d read, especially since I’ve never been had a baby. A part of me hoped the bulk of people who told their negative tales only bothered to because they had a bad experience.

Some background on me. I’ve never been pregnant (which means my cervix has never dilated). I’ve never broken a bone or had kidney stones or experienced a debilitating pain of any sort. With that said, I don’t think my pain tolerance is low. I know this because I’ve done multiple back-to-back days of “wet cupping” or Chinese bloodletting therapy in South Korea, which is illegal in many countries including the United States and is utterly painful. There are tons of reasons why I did wet cupping and why I don’t regret it, but they’re irrelevant to this post. Maybe another day?

On a pain scale of 1-10, I’d say wet cupping was a solid 7 (mostly because the pain was prolonged). Getting my IUD, I’d rate a 5. Here’s the low-down…

Before heading to the hospital, I took 800mg of ibuprofen and ate a hearty meal like the advice I’d read online suggested. When I got to the hospital, I learned that my OBGYN makes everyone take a pregnancy test no matter what, so I had to pee in a cup first. Then the nurse checked the regular things like my weight, height, and blood pressure. I had to sign a consent form. The nurse then led me into a room to wait and instructed me to undress from the waist down just as if I was getting a pap. I waited 10 minutes in that room (which felt like much, much longer) and read everything on the walls (I learned a newborn will typically breastfeed 8 times in 24 hours–dang mommas!) To be honest, waiting was probably the worst part. I was so nervous…

My OBGYN came in and reaffirmed that I wanted the Paragard IUD. She told me the cons about it like potentially heavier periods and cramping. She showed me how big it was with a sample and explained how the strings would hang out of my cervix and told me to feel the strings and that I should check to see if I could feel them after each period to make sure the IUD hadn’t fallen out, etc. The IUD was bigger than an inch, which surprised me because I thought it’d be smaller. So seeing that actually made me more nervous. Then, she told me to lay back and put my feet up in the stirrups, just like with a pap smear. She inserted a speculum so she could see my cervix which was fine and didn’t hurt and let me know what she was doing with each step. The next thing she had to do was measure my cervix as well as insert the clamp to keep it straight for the IUD insertion. This was my first taste of pain. She inserted another tube-like thing called a tenaculum (the clamp, which actually pierces the cervix to hold it in place, hence the pain) and told me it might be uncomfortable and to take a deep breath in. It clamped onto my cervix and immediately I felt the sensation of a really, really bad cramp intermixed with being pinched in a highly, never-before-felt sensitive area. It was such a weird, painful sensation that I actually moaned in pain and said things like, “Ouch,” “This hurts–owww,” etc., which I didn’t think I’d do at all. You suddenly become completely aware of just exactly where in your body your cervix is and that it hates to be touched. The next thing she did was swab my cervix with a long q-tip dipped in Betadine to sterilize it for the procedure, which didn’t hurt, thankfully. I had a mini break there while she and the nurse prepared the other tube which held the IUD in it, which is called a sound. This was the most painful part of the whole procedure. The sound pushes the IUD (which has had its “wings” bent for easy insertion) up past your cervix into your womb where the wings then pop out. My doctor guided me through some deep breathing exercises; a big breath in as the sound was pushed to the tip of my cervix and a big breath out while it went through my cervix and released the IUD into my womb. The part where it was going through my cervix was super painful but I think the breathing helped (again, I mumbled “Owwwwwwwww” and such). It felt like the worst cramping I’d ever had on my period combined with this much more acute pinching pain. But! The good thing was after it was over and done with the pain immediately receded. And! The entire procedure starting with the speculum to the sound was less than five minutes. The most painful part lasted less than a minute.

THE AFTERMATH

It’s been over a week now since I’ve had the IUD and things are going great. The first day was not bad at all, thanks in large part to the ibuprofen I took ahead of time. In fact, I felt so okay that first day I went to my kickboxing class a few hours after the procedure. One thing that was uncomfortable that night was that I could feel the strings poking my cervix. The strings feel like dental floss, so they’re tough, and my doctor did say that they would…moisten…after a while, which they thankfully did by the next day. I did re-up on my ibuprofen because of that. The next few days I actually relied on ibuprofen a lot, especially because I kept my exercise routine going. Probably would’ve saved me some pain to skip a week, but it wasn’t so bad. I took about 600mg of ibuprofen before exercise and used a heating pad as well. The pain always appeared in the afternoon. This lasted for maybe 4-5 days. Currently, I’m on my period which came early. I did have spotting and it took me a minute to figure out I was on my period this week since technically I’ve been bleeding since last Thursday. I know it takes a few months (typically 3-6 months) for your body to get used to the IUD and periods to get regular. My period is definitely heavier than before but the cramping is non-existent as of right now. From the looks of it, it does seem like my periods will be longer and heavier, at least for the time being. Overall, though, I am so, so happy I finally got my IUD! The peace of mind is worth the minute of pain. I’ll more than likely update in 3 or so months to report on how everything’s going, but right now I’m so proud I went through with this!

P.S. If you yourself are planning on getting an IUD, pump this when you’re driving home or some similar anthem because you did it!

1 Second Everyday | 2016

As part of my New Year’s resolutions for 2016, I set out to record one second of every day. I definitely wasn’t able to do so, but looking back at the nearly two minutes of 2016 I did capture has inspired me to keep doing this project in following years. I think it’s such a great way to do memory-keeping. I experienced so much in 2016, including personal loss, personal growth, traveling to South Korea for the first time in my life, and progressing in my education. Of course not all that is shown. In fact, a lot of the footage may seem boring. However, I remember each day in detail from a simple snippet. Whereas the photos I take are more thought out and deliberate, these clips give a greater sense of how my life was in 2016 and that’s why I love this project so much.

I chose to add music to my video, although it’s been argued to not do that in order to preserve what is truly happening in the clips. I totally agree and kept a copy of the original without music for my own safe keeping. For some reason, it’s a lot more personal than I thought I’d like to share. Plus I did want to make a video that had music in it, too. So there’s that.

My thought on next year’s project is to film at least one clip each week. You can see in my 2016 video that I tried filming every day and eventually started filming sporadically. Filming every day started to become more of a chore than fun, which is why I’ve decided to focus on once a week. The good thing is that I did manage to film a clip for each month of 2016, which is great. One thing I regret is editing in Sony Vegas Pro instead of iMovie. The quality would look so much better in iMovie because I still have no clue what I’m doing in Sony Vegas. I’m simply too lazy to edit it on my Mac after doing it on my PC though. Ah, well.

I highly recommend this project to anyone who likes memory-keeping. It is so easy to do and so powerful to look back on your year in moving pictures.

Without further ado…

1 Second Everyday | 2016 from Grace G. on Vimeo.

**Everything was filmed using my Samsung Galaxy S7. I edited it in Sony Vegas Pro 13 but had issues with it whitening the clips which are why they look a bit washed out at times. It’s a learning process.
**Music is “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” by Tame Impala.

2016 Best Nine

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From left to right:

  1. Visiting dad’s grave Christmas week
  2. Voting November 8th
  3. Celebrating four years with G
  4. G and I’s Rick and Morty Halloween costumes
  5. My favorite family photo of us dressed in hanbok
  6. Turkey Day spread ft. this incredible sweet potato casserole (I added a whole stick of butter instead of 1/4 cup–no regrets)
  7. A market during off hours in Jejudo
  8. A throwback of my dad and I
  9. My mom and I’s trip to Mount San Jacinto for my 26th birthday weekend

And so it is…

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Donald Trump is the president of the United States. I can honestly say I hate talking politics. That isn’t to say I don’t think they are important, etc. I’ve stayed mute on this blog throughout this election because 1) I don’t update it enough to keep a running tab on my opinions about U.S. politics and 2) I don’t like talking politics, particularly U.S. politics because it enrages me and I want this space to be a positive one. I knew the moment Bernie Sanders lost the primaries that it was going to be a slippery slope for Hillary Clinton to win the presidency. Like many Bernie supporters, after he lost, I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not to say voting for Trump ever crossed my mind because it sure as hell didn’t and voting for Hillary was also the last thing I wanted to do, but between the two, voting for Hillary was the right thing to do and I still believe that with every fiber of my being. The thing that surprised me the most were people’s shock and surprise that he won. Why didn’t she win? How did he win?

In the summer, when Bernie lost, I spent hours looking at reasons why Trump would win because it’s what I most feared when Bernie lost. I have issues with Michael Moore–and who doesn’t with anyone–but his piece on “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win” pressed me to do more of my own research as did Fusion’s “The Naked Truth: Trumpland” because they made me realize just how out of touch I was with a huge portion of the population. I truly wanted to know why people would vote for someone who was so obviously horrible in my eyes. I also dove deep into the rise of populism in the EU and took a harder look at the Brexit and just what it means for the entire world going forward (or entering into another cycle as I like to say).

There are so many reasons I am angry right now; so many reasons why I’m sad and disappointed; so many it would turn this post into a dissertation.

It’s easy for me to say voting for Trump was wrong. My mother is an immigrant and we had an “uncle” who was an illegal immigrant live with us until he could get up on his own two feet and become a citizen–he started by painting houses and now he’s an ophthalmologist in Los Angeles. And although I was born into the middle class, my family is one of the “lucky ones”–we were able to keep our heads afloat in this economy and are still able to even now. So many others in the middle class, the working class, are floundering. Both parties have failed them. And the reason Trump won was hugely because of that reason (and the Electoral College, but let’s not go there). When people are scared and angry and feel forced to choose between themselves and their loved ones’ futures versus what’s right, history has shown time and time again they will choose the former.

To add, I have friends who nearly all agree with me on my political views; liberals to the core. Most of us are the same; the people we most associate with usually hold similar values and because of that we can get stuck inside a dangerous bubble where our beliefs and our opinions are constantly validated by others in our inner circle to be what we consider as common sense and infallible and only goaded on by social media. This is so dangerous because it can make us believe “the numbers” are all true and that “everyone” is on the same page. Everyone except those who don’t take part in polls (newsflash: Trump voters), everyone except those you don’t associate with. The liberal media is a perfect example of that and another reason why Hillary lost.

I want to encourage everyone to please be your own journalist. Coming from me, it’s easy to say. I wanted to be a journalist for years. For others, that might seem like too much of a “hassle”; it’s simply easier to buy into everything you see and/or hear on your selected media outlets. However, please don’t. Please, please do your own research. Please don’t be complacent and completely subjective as incredibly hard as it is. I truly do believe that if only we had been our own journalists, things would have been different.

To be honest, I just had to get some feelings out of my system and this seemed like a better place than any to do that. It’s necessary in order for me to re-focus on how to keep fighting for what’s right. We have to keep fighting.

 

4 Years Strong

Happy 4 Year Anniversary, boo! This picture was taken over 4 years ago now…we look so…YOUNG! I can’t quite put into words how much I appreciate you, let alone love you. Nothing about these past 4 years has been easy; losing my dad, going through two deployments and preparing for a third. It makes me so emotional to think about how much we’ve been through and how thankful I am for you. You’ve given me a love I could have only dreamed of; you’ve seen me at my best and at my worst and you’ve loved me so incredibly through it all. So excited to celebrate this weekend with you, I love you.

Daily Prompt: Expert

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via Daily Prompt: Expert

Clearly, experts exist. Experts, in my mind, are the people who are at the top of their game; the ones who are most successful in their line of work, whether that be gaming, art, sports, comedy, what-have-you, we can all think of people who are “experts” at their jobs (all examples of expertise, feat. some of my favorite experts). Because if you’re an expert at something, it probably means you’re doing “that thing” for a living. People love experts. People love to watch people do things they can’t do, but…

When I think of why I like to watch experts, especially in areas I’m most interested in, like the ones I listed above, it’s for two things: 1) I find it extremely entertaining/inspiring/hilarious and 2) I want to learn from them. There’s a saying that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in any given area (thanks Malcolm Gladwell). That translates into roughly 90 minutes of practice every day for 20 years. There are many, many people who disagree with this (see: here, here, here…) I tend to agree with them. There are faster ways to become an expert. Without a doubt, it takes time and dedication. Tim Ferris says it takes 6 months of focused time and dedication in order to master something. Of course, it all depends. Some things are harder to master than others. The first thing that comes to mind is teaching–because that’s what I want to do for a living. You don’t reach the stage of mastery in 6 months of teaching–I mean, even if you poured every spare minute you had into becoming a master teacher it wouldn’t happen. You simply need the experience. A lot of experience. In this regard, the 10,000 hour rule seems to make more sense. Unless you aren’t doing it right. You can be a 20+ year veteran teacher and still be a novice. I’m sure most people can attest to having had such a teacher, unfortunately.

This is where it gets tricky.

So, how do you maximize the time in which it takes to become an expert? The easiest solution: Learn from the pros. It’s that simple. Watch them, listen to them, ask them. Try out things that they are doing; if it doesn’t work, innovate, or move on to the next one. Don’t just focus on one “expert,” find different ones in the same field. I cannot tell you how much easier it is to do this. I love podcasts, especially Tim Ferris’s, because his entire podcast is about getting the juicy tidbits out of the best of the best. Another favorite is Jess Lively’s (although lately she hasn’t been interviewing anyone; check the archives).

To go on a slight tangent, I should say that I have a fear of mediocrity. Not in interests that are hobbies (ex. swimming, gaming, editing, learning languages, etc.–reaching mastery would simply be icing on the cake so to say), but in areas I want to succeed in most (ex. teaching, writing, creativity). Those areas are meaningful to me. When I hear mediocrity, I think laziness. At the same time, I think talentless, boring, unsuccessful. It is one of the harshest words in the English language in my opinion. The truth is, sometimes I am lazy when it comes to my so-called passions. I think having passion in life is very important, but also potentially damaging. We are expected to always be alight with passion, but the truth is…

Is that even possible? To always, constantly, be on fire? No, eventually we burn out. It doesn’t mean the flame can’t be rebuilt, but just because the fire went out doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It’s natural. I think humans tend to think linearly rather than cyclically, which isn’t the right way to think in the slightest. We think we go from rags-to-riches, and if we fall away, that’s it for us, or we see a “comeback” as rare and difficult to achieve. We think we need to keep achieving, achieving, achieving or our lives lose all meaning. The truth is, everything is cyclical. Just look at history, look at life. “Ups and downs” are normal in life; they are normal when it comes to things we are passionate about. It doesn’t mean we won’t regain that passion. Sometimes it goes out because we become passionate about something else, other times we may simply get tired or even bored. And that’s okay.

What I’m trying to get at is that if you’re like me and have moments where you feel mediocre–you get lazy, making you feel talentless, boring, unsuccessful–remember that this too shall pass. Dare I even say that it’s okay to be lazy every once in a while. Slow your roll. Over the course of the past decade, my passions have stayed the same, even though I’ve gone through ups and downs. To put it simply, passions are like the phoenix Fawkes from Harry Potter; they’ll be reborn. In the meantime, grab a Cinnabon and veg on the couch binging Stranger Things; you’re just going through the cycles.

My Morning Routine: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

So, if any of you remember, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to–essentially–become a morning person. I will break down, a little over mid-way through the year, how that’s been going:

THE GOOD

My morning routine, as of late, looks like this:

  • Wake up at 6:00am
  • Declare my daily affirmation, “This is going to be the best day ever!”
  • Breakfast, including a cold glass of water and caffeine (a must)
  • Read that day’s daily meditation from a book my very good friend gifted me called “Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul” by Melody Beattie (I also highlight the day’s date and a sentence or two I connected with when I’m finished; they are very short little passages)
  • Practice meditation for ~10 minutes (currently using Calm, but Head Space is good, too, as well YouTube)
  • Write my Morning Pages (my favorite part of my morning, besides my caffeine)
  • Declare another daily affirmation, “Love, serve, and remember. Remember what? Remember to love and serve.”
  • Read a chapter of a book, read a passage of scripture

I love this routine! Morning Pages creates a way for me to write out my feelings upon waking, as well as jot down my To-Do List for the day and a brief Gratitude List as well. Just thought I’d elaborate a bit on that.

THE BAD

Originally, I was trying to use Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning routine, which looks similar to what I’m already doing. The truth is, though, I just wasn’t ready to commit all those months ago. It felt so overwhelming and daunting. AND, I tried easing into it. If this experience has taught me anything, it is that easing into it does not or has not ever worked for me. It’s cold turkey, all or nothing. Eventually, I just gave up and went back to waking at various times in the morning with no routine at all besides eating something. Another huge learning hurdle? This routine is impossible without caffeine. That was not emphasized enough in Hal Elrod’s approach. Caffeine is LIFE. There is no way in hell I’d be able to do this without caffeine. When I was student teaching and subbing, I didn’t drink coffee most days and I have no clue how I got through in the morning. I was a total zombie, that’s how. For some reason, I wanted to reject caffeine because I thought it was bad. A horrible drug, which I would only indulge in later in the afternoon when I was crashing and came in the form of soda (completely illogical, I know). I make sure I drink a glass of water and some type of caffeine in the morning with my breakfast. Never again will I not drink caffeine in the morning. There’s just no way I could personally do it.

THE UGLY

I’ve only been consistently doing this for two weeks now, and recently fell off because of a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Univeral Studios Hollywood (amazing, mindblowing, a dream come true) for my best friend’s birthday where we stayed out super late and my body was physically drained. And once you’ve fallen off? Y’all, it’s hard to get back on. Consistency is key. In my early 20s, this routine would never have been possible, which is probably why it never happened. Nothing was consistent. Going out almost every single night, coming home in the AM hours. That was my life for two years or so, and even after that, it continued that way just with less frequency. I’m at a time in my life where I can actually make this change because life isn’t as “spontaneous” or, let’s get real, batshit crazy no-fucks-given as it used to be. I love it. I loved it how it used to be, too. Right now, though, consistency is a must. Yet there will be nights you don’t get to bed before 11 or 12, and that’s okay, but it is hard to readjust.

At the end of the year, I will update how it’s going again. Hopefully, back on track the majority of the time. It’s hard, but it is so worth it. The feeling I get in the morning, where it feels like you’re awake before anyone else? Seriously…it is one of my favorite feelings. Everything feels more beautiful. It is life-changing.