The Ongoing Saga of My Innards or Five Fun Facts about My New IUD

You havent heard enough about my innards, have you?  When I showed you a picture of my IUD moments after it was removed, that wasn’t enough.  When I took a picture of the view from my colposcopy I know I really left you wanting more.  And I know that when I gave you the play by play of Lucy’s birth I left out a lot of details.

So, that is why I feel compelled to give you some more deets about Lady Town.

Five Fun Facts About My Choice to Have My Paragard Replaced With a Mirena 

1.  Fact:  I love my kids. I was blessed to fall in love with each of them the moment they were born.  Moments after Emily was born I knew I would do it again.  And the moment after Lucy was born and Emily said “It’s a sister” I knew that I was done. These were my children.  We were complete.

2.  Fact: I have good intentions.  And grand plans.  Eat a healthy snack every day becomes eat peanut M&Ms on occasion.  Stop wearing yoga pants unless I am exercising becomes wear yoga pants when you are planning on staying home for the day.  Make sure I have planned our dinners in such a way that I do not have to throw away a single leftover easily turns in to I totally I forgot I bought this cilantro but we ate everything else! Go, me!

Small things.  A single bag of M&Ms, cozy yoga pants when it is cold outside and a $2 bag of fresh cilantro won’t change  the course of history.  But take this pill every single day at the same time or you might get pregnant. Another baby? A baby changes you.  Forever.

It took me 36 years to like me just fine.  This Life, the one where I forgive myself for a bag of M&Ms or some wasted cilantro, I want this Life.  And the “Yes, actually I was on birth control pills but aren’t we Blessed to have this baby” baby just doesn’t fit in this Life.

3.  Fact: Nursing my babies is important to me.  It might even be more than important.  It goes well beyond nutrition and it is the cornerstone to my parenting philosophy.  Many of the decisions that I have made about how to be the best mother that I can be center around continuing the mother-baby nursing relationship for as long as it is mutually desired.

I am not denying that other women can be wonderful mothers and not breastfeed. (Nor am I telling you that daily M&Ms, a wardrobe made up solely of yoga pants and regular take-out because you forgot to pull chicken breasts out to thaw signals the imminent failure of your family foundation.  But it doesn’t add up to the Life that I want.  For me.)

So, I breastfeed.  And I avoid things that can have a negative impact on that relationship, things like hormonal birth control.

I shared here about how I had Big Plans for getting back in the marital saddle as soon as I got my IUD last February. I had a copper IUD after Emily was born and it worked well for me for years. There is an adjustment period, pardon the pun.  But it is worth it.

4.  Fact: I am not a squeamish gal when it comes to my own body.  I sing the praises of the menstrual cup loud and proud.  Who wants to think about their period all of the time? Not me.  Twice a day you can empty a menstrual cup and chances are your periods will be shorter in length!  The Diva Cup is awesome.  The other day a friend asked me if she could talk to me about it.  I laughed.  I sat in my living room and showed her how it works, folded it, talked about the magical twist and release that creates a perfect seal.  Ordinarily someone has to ask me to not talk about my menstrual cup.  I am what one might call a huge fan.

But that doesn’t mean I want to wear it every day.  The Diva Cup is not intended to be an everyday accessory.  You see where I am going with this, right? This is when I try to find a clever way to explain that I have had my period on average for 14 days out of every 21 since I got it back (at three months post-partum!!) Umm.  I don’t need a separate paragraph to include the Fact that that is some bullshit right there.

5.  Fact: Every women is different.  Every body is different.  And evidently every woman’s body isn’t even the same year after year.  My beloved hormone-free Paragard isn’t working for me this time.  After much research and soul searching I am having it removed and replaced with the levonorgestrel-releasing Mirena. Many women have had a Mirena with no impact on their milk supply at all.

But I am afraid.

The rest of the ill side-effects that are possible: hellacious acne, migraines and depression, I won’t be able to ignore them. It won’t sneak up on me.  I will never sit down at the end of the day and say “Damn, I have had a debilitating headache all day, I didn’t even realize it.”

But I don’t know what low milk supply feels like.  I don’t know how to know that it is happening.  I know I do not want my baby (and yes, she turned one last week, but she is a baby) to wean.  I don’t even know what weaning a baby looks like.  And more than that – I do not know how to mother a toddler without nursing.

I am, as I always am, nursing Lucy while I type.  And I am, as I sometimes am, crying.  If the Mirena works for us I will be happy.  And if it doesn’t, if my mik supply dips and I can’t get it back up quickly, I will be having it removed “even though” my baby is over a year old.

I struggled with this decision.  Above all else I struggled with admitting that I was making choices about my birth control largely based on my ability to breastfeed my twelve month old.  And I shouldn’t have to struggle to admit that.  It’s how I choose to parent.  And it works for me.  And for my kids.  And when I put it like that it doesn’t sound so complicated.

If you find this because you are struggling with your own decision, feel free to contact me.  If you want to share your experience because it will be helpful to you, please do.  If you want to tell me about your sister-in-law with a Mirena that breastfed her entire neighborhood until they graduated from high school or warn me that my insides will likely turn inside out I can assure that I have weighed both the risks and the benefits and made a choice.

In the coming weeks I can promise to keep y’all posted about my milk supply.  More boobs, less uterus! Now that’s a campaign platform if ever there was one.

Update: What did my seven-year-old think of watching me get my IUD? Find out!

It is understandably difficult to comprehend why I do not want any more of these.  It is even hard for me to wrap my mind around.

It is understandably difficult to comprehend why I do not want any more of these. It is even hard for me to wrap my mind around.

79 responses to “The Ongoing Saga of My Innards or Five Fun Facts about My New IUD

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  4. I’ve had my Mirena since my daughter was about 1, as she quit nursing at 10 months, and have loved it. I’ve had it for 5 years now. It’s definitely worth getting, as I’ve completely stopped having periods (which can happen) and couldn’t be happy. It’s a good choice, in m opinion for you to have something so simple. Now the cramping after it is inserted can a bit much if you’re not used to it, hell the insertion feels like a deep pinch of your cervix, but overall it’s not that bad. Good luck!

    Sorry I couldn’t comment on the nursing effects of it.

  5. I had the Mirena IUD inserted about a week ago,and I am still breastfeeding my 10-month-old. He has been a very nosy nurser since he was about 5 months old, though, and has slowly decreased his nursing frequency. I’ve been nursing him only once a day (first thing in the morning) for a couple of months now, because that’s the only time he seems to stay put–sort of. So far I have had no problems with decreased milk supply, but I can keep you updated as time goes on. Interestingly, when you mentioned the Paraguard vs Mirena, I chuckled. My ob-gyn’s wife has been on both, and although she thought she would prefer the Paraguard, she actually likes the Mirena a lot better–shorter periods and less acne. I trust my ob-gyn completely and I am inclined to believe what he says, and according to him the incredibly small amount of hormone in Mirena will have no effect whatsoever on milk supply.

  6. congratulations on featured in Freshly pressed.

  7. I got the Mirena when my son was 3 months old and had no supply issues. I had issues with the IUD stabbing me during certain movements. Which is why I had it removed 4 months later. No period but constant bleeding from it stabbing me. No cool especially because I didn’t want anything ruined for when we wanted more children. I don’t think IUD’s are for me.

    Also breastfeeding is so personal and I totally understand why you don’t want to stop. I am currently still somewhat breastfeeding my 18 month old. I say somewhat because my milk basically dried up even though he nursed for comfort still and now has turned to colostrum which is not a flavor he is fond of. The drying up and changing is because I am 17 weeks pregnant with our 4th child. I am due right before his 2nd birthday and I am totally prepared for tandum nursing. I think it would be awesome!

    • Huge congrats on your pregnancy. I hope you get your dream of tandem nursing. All things pregnancy and nursing and birth control are so personal. But it is nice to share why we make the choices we make sometimes because while they are personal it is a shame that so many of these chices are made in silence, like we shouldn’t talk about them. All my best.

  8. I have had the Mirena for 1 1/2 years now. I am having horrible issues with it, bleeding, cramping painful sex sometimes. I have never had children though which definitely changes things when getting an IUD.

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  10. I had Mirena put in when my third baby was around 6 months old and it didn’t affect my supply at all.

  11. Keep on keeping on you strong beautiful woman you… don’t be afraid. Listen to you body and take care of yourself. There are never any wrong decisions when we listen to our “gut”…

  12. Congratulations on your Freshly Pressed! You reminded me of how wonderful nursing was with my two children.

    • Thanks! Nursing my kids has been one of the finest things about having little ones. So many opportunities to just sit back and reflect and look at them, especially once they are on the move.

  13. I birthed two babies and exclusively breast fed them for the first six months of their lives. I also had a mirena inserted six weeks post partum after both children. It did not affect my milk supply what so ever. Your stress over getting the Mirena will more likely affect your milk supply than the Mirena itself. Relax, and nurse your baby as long as you want! I applaud you for doing what is right for you and your family versus the motherly standards that “everyone” perceives is right! Congrats, on getting FP!

  14. Hi There. Loved your post, the mixture of comedy and serious topic is great.
    I breastfed my three children each for roughly 9 months each (by coincidence), when it seemed to come to a natural end decided by the baby usually because they were interested too much in what was going on around them to suckle properly, although I was ready as well. One of the best things I ever did and really sealed the bond between me and each baby. I also had the mirena iud, and never had any problems with it, although it was after I had finished feeding anyway.

  15. I can tell you what low milk supply feels like. I realize many “experts” say that it’s not supposed to be an issue unless you make it one, but I struggled with it with both of my kids and my mom did with all five of hers. It feels like this: you’re nursing, everything is going fine, and suddenly both you and the baby realize no more milk is coming out. Baby keeps trying, but there’s just not any more. So baby has to wait a bit until you’ve got some more. This happens almost every time you nurse until you can’t stand for the baby to be hungry and you go ahead and give her a bottle. :/

  16. Freshly Pressed!!!! Congrats! ;D Now EVERYONE knows about your innards! You have great innards, BTW.

  17. IdenticalTwinge

    I’m a sucker for anything breastfeeding related (that was an unintentional, groan-worthy pun there). Like you, I would be lost trying to parent without the help of my lady lumps. My daughter is 17 months and barely interested in food and that’s just fine with me. I’m curious to hear how the Mirena goes; I’m still too terrified of the side effects to try any form of birth control aside from having a toddler sleep in our bed.. ha! Also, you just reminded me I finished off my bag of peanut M&Ms last night. It’s practically an emergency.

  18. Digging the full disclosure. Women don’t talk about this stuff enough. Don’t know where you stand on where and when to breastfeed, but I’ve got something to share if you’re looking for opinions:-)

  19. Ohhh congrats on the FP! I don’t look at it very often and when I did there is someone I’m already enjoying reading lol. Fingers crossed for the Mirena not causing you any problems, mine had a few glitches to start with (shame it didn’t stop me lactating for no apparent reason) but it’s fab now it’s settled in!

  20. Kelly, Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Yay! As far as breastfeeding goes, you just do what’s right for you. Everyone has their own opinion anyway. Plus, babies are this age, this small, for a very short time. I breastfed both of mine past age two because it felt right. I have no regrets. Good luck with the Mirena. I’ve never had any experience with that.

    • Thanks. That is what I tell myself all of the time, babies are babies for a very short time. Em was still nursing on her third birthday. I will be be happy if Lucy and I make it to two. And you’re right, all the “reason” I need is that it feels right.

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  22. Oh gawd – your baby pictures kill me! I don’t have baby-citis, but I go googley eyed at them!

  23. old lady tawkin’ here…I nursed 3 babies…#1 for 4 months as I had NO idea what I was doing but the kid thrived anyway. He gained a lb per month those 4 mos. w/birthweight of 8 lbs. #2 weighed in at 8.10 and gained great cause THIS time I knew what I was doing!? Weaned himself when he started crawling at 8 mos. #3 was 1/2 oz short of 9 lbs…same story, crawl=wean. They just lost interest. I’m coaching a DiL through her 4th as she wants to nurse this one longer than the others. Weight gain isn’t huge but all of her girls are tiny/petite. Patience. Patience.

    I have no idea what the heck Mirena is but am going to research. If it’s an IUD or form of, I had one years ago and after 4 mos. of pain and bleeding, had it removed. However, I had hellish periods…cramps, vomiting, flooding and if anything would’ve helped THAT, I would’ve swallowed it whole. Just sayin’.

    As to more kids…only YOU and your spouse know! I loved having babies and wanted 6. After #3, I told God If it was OK I was done. (#3 was a Frank’s Breech and scared the bejeepers out of us!) I never looked back. Until #3 was about 6. Essentially, he was an only child with a 5 yr space between hime and #2. I feel bad that he was “by himself” a lot as a child. I probably should have toughed it out one more time. The thought, however of another 9 mons. of hanging over the toilet didn’t have much appeal for me. BUT, another baby would’ve been most welcome.

    You could change your mind in the next year. But don’t sweat it. Just enjoy what you have now. Love your blog and nurse on girl!!! :)

    • Thank you thank you thank you for all your input. I had a giggle when it said a comment from The Queen, as that is how my mom refers to herself regularly. The Mirena is a low does of hormone via an IUD. Sounds like you had a bad experience with yours. I hate having to deal with all of this, but I know I will find what works for me. Thanks again for stopping by!

      • No idea why hubs calls me that. I decided to just go with it! :)

        Remember, my IUD saga was 30 yrs ago. Much has changed so I would assume that they have improved things greatly?

        I so admire all of you gals for your stand on nursing. I try to encourage all the young mothers around my area to hang in there. When my first baby came along, no one was nursing. Nada. Zip. My mom nursed me but that had been 22 years ago and had forgotten most of the experience. And there were NO books to help me out. How that poor babe survived, I’ll never know other than God was lending a helping hand! Plus, I had enough milk for ten kids! I love the way you support each other with your honesty and humor! God bless you all!!

  24. I breastfed with the Mirena until Anya was just shy of three years old, so it definitely didn’t hurt my milk supply! Paraguard wasn’t an option for me the second time around because…ahem…Anya came about due to my Paraguard failure. Apparently, Mirena’s small amount of hormones helps to ensure that failure is even less likely. Enjoy your Mirena!!!! I love mine!!!!

  25. I really enjoyed reading your post. I like hearing about other women’s journeys and experiences without getting into the mommy wars. It’s a fine line and you treaded it with aplomb.

    • Thank you. Sometimes I worry that I will step on toes. Seems no matter how hard you try to say “This is what works for me” someone will hear an implied “and you are a crappy mother if you disagree.”

  26. As an Ob/Gyn I am always extremely interested to see how things look from a patient’s point of view. By and large, women love their Mirenas: light/no periods, no interference with milk supply, as effective as tying tubes without the permanent forever part. What’s not to love? Some days, I put in more than one. And have to remove very few of them. And most of those, just for women who are ready for another baby. I think you will like your Mirena. The progesterone level is really pretty low. And the “side effects” are terrific. Come visit me at my blog! I have posts about vaginas and things!

  27. I had low milk supply with my second kid. Oh, probably with my first as well but didn’t notice. My second was born almost 10 lbs and within a week he was down more than 20% body weight. That’s how I knew my milk supply was getting low. I was determined to breastfeed, at all costs, and ended up getting an off-label drug that increases milk supply. It worked pretty well and I had no side effects. Weaning (myself) off the drugs was easy too.

    I know this is “old” news now and you have your new IUD. (Getting caught up on comments). Hope you are liking the new helper thus far.

  28. Hey. What’s up? Me? Oh, not much.
    I stopped nursing at 23 months and it was a very tough decision. I was about to start a new medication classified as “C” for nursing mothers and I didn’t want to risk it. I hated weaning. I considered not taking the meds at all so I didn’t have to stop, but I needed to be less insane to parent well.
    Interestingly, these same meds interact with the pill, so I’m looking at an IUD, but copper scares me because of the hemorrhaging and fatal cramping and endless rivers of blood (that’s how it seems in my high strung mind). So a-Mirena-ing I will go.
    In short, the idea of a weird foreign object stuffed into my tender parts is less terrifying than an unplanned pregnancy. But seriously, why isn’t there some all natural way of family planning? Like squirting breast milk into your vag, or getting your man to eat wild carrots, or something.
    I’ve only had one coffee, and I drank an embarrassing amount of wine last night, so my apologies if I’m rambling like a lunatic…I mean, more than usual.

    • Natural Family Planning sounds so good on paper. But so does meal planning. Ask me how well that works in my house? Luckily the long term effects of deciding not to eat the chicken cordon bleu I made are not as intense as deciding to get my freak on when I am fertile. ;)

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  30. I’ve heard so many women say they knew exactly and immediately when they were “done” with the idea of having more babies. Just another tough choice mamas have to make. Glad you are doing what’s right for you and for your babies!

  31. Is supply as much of an issue after 12 months anyway? She will keep nursing (I think?) for the comfort of you rather then nutritional needs even if your supply drops. That’s my theory, anyway. I nursed one of my toddlers almost all the way through a subsequent pregnancy even though my supply dropped way down. I eventually weaned him because it was getting really super painful (from the pregnancy). I don’t think he cared a whit about the diminished supply!

    Good luck with the Mirena. I never tried IUDs (I have a bad history with UTIs and anything in my nethers seems to irritate) but BCPs always killed my libido. So funny how that side effect would NEVER EVER be acceptable if it were a men’s pill!!

    • So true!! As for baby staying interested without milk, it is possible, definitely. I am just concerned that without the milk to bring her back as she goes through periods of being too busy to nurse as a toddler she might wean earlier than she might otherwise. Mostly I am just concerned that she will wean before she is… yanno, fourteen. ;)

  32. I never had to deal with supply issue since I never HAD a supply, but I do love love love LOVE my Mirena. I had one before I had the kid and had another put in a few months back. I hope you have the same good fortune with yours as I have – and no decrease in milk!

  33. Kelly, I read your blog all the time, and yet this is the first time I felt compelled to comment. Not because I breastfeed or even have any little ones. And I’m not that crazy about peanut M&M’s….BUT, because I just recently went off birth control after having my period from August to December (sooo uncomfortable!). I had gone on the pill b/c of bad pain and vomiting with my period. But I finally decided that the once a month pain/throwing up was worth it, because at least it’s only once a month. The strange thing is, I was on birth control for many years before this without any trouble. So, yes, every woman is different, and even our own bodies respond to the same thing differently at different times. I completely understand your decision (and the accompanying fears…). Looking forward to reading your updates!

  34. My hopes for you for 2013: 3 day periods, plentiful milk supply, and the realization that you are an amazing mom to a toddler no matter what you or she is doing with your boobs.

  35. Big subjects here Kelly, and so important. I am nursing my big girl at 3 1/2 years. Because my three kids are spaced so far apart, and nursed for so long, I have been either pregnant or nursing for 12 years straight. Sometimes I think I am DONE, and I seriously think about weaning. But like you, I can’t imagine parenting a toddler without breastfeeding, and it is so, so important to my very confident, very independent big girl.

    As far as low milk supply – even when it happens you can still have a very satisfying nursing relationship for both of you. My supply never got a good start, despite round the clock nursing, pumping, fenugreek, etc. And even though baby Alina was bottle fed, right from the start she showed me how important the breast was. Over three years later and here we still are, enjoying that special time together.

    Everything will work out the way it was meant to for you too.

  36. Kelly, I am glad I read this. I have been considering the copper IUD, but was afraid of possible complications.

  37. OK. I can’t add anything about the combo of the Mirena and breastfeeding as I began using the Mirena IUD after weaning (I wasn’t avoiding it … it just happened that way because I was too busy/lazy to work out long-term birth control until then). BUT, I can’t say enough about my life with the Mirena! I haven’t had a cramp or period in years. Did you hear me? YEARS. No additional weight gain, no additional acne. Nuthin.

  38. Don’t worry you’ll definitely be able to tell if your supply weakens! Hopefully if it does it’s just a small dip and you’re body is able to readjust! Brewer’s yeast (in pill or powder form) is really effective, also fenugreek, and mother’s milk tea. I’m a mom who had a low supply from the start :(

  39. Tough decision. But you’re informed and even if you’ve never seen what low milk supply looks like in your baby, I think you’ll know. Because you are intimately familiar with what a perfectly fine milk supply looks like (look down…that half-dozing baby on your lap). As long as you are paying attention, she’ll let you know. And I have no doubt you’ll be paying attention.

    In only slightly related news… “I do not know how to mother a toddler without nursing.” That got my attention (and made me a little teary) because I’ve said those exact words before. And I figured it out when I had to. But I am certain you won’t have to.

    It feels strange to wish you good luck on the insertion of your IUD. But I’m gonna do it anyway. I kind of wish there was an appropriate Hallmark card for this situation…

  40. So I am having my very own terrible birth control struggle right now. To help with your worries, I took the mini-pill (progesterone only) after I had Brady and have been taking it now since Declan was 6 weeks old. It’s the same hormone, although a tiny bit more of it, as the mirena iud. I have never had one issue with milk supply. In fact, I had oversupply when Brady was very small. Since you’re changing up hormones with Lucy at a year, it may be a bit different for you and as you say, each woman is different. I finally went for my yearly exam yesterday and forgot to discuss birth control because I’m an idiot. I mentioned it to the nurse before I left and she tells me I cannot keep taking the mini pill once Declan is weaned because it won’t be as effective. (Excuse me, I think I can do whatever I want!) I can’t take the regular pill because it makes me fat and horribly depressed. I was thinking of a mirena, but having it inside my body seriously freaks me out! So I will be reading to hear how it goes with you. Good luck!

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