Fresh off of three sexless years and in a brand new relationship, I was not going to let a little thing like my period stand in my way
A friend of mine had used Softcups, a flexible cup that collects menstrual blood when inserted, and it seemed like the perfect solution for mess-free intercourse. A few hours before Robert came over, I sat down with the Softcup packaging and a stack of YouTube instructional videos.
Yes, there are videos, and yes, I watched them all, multiple times. I had zero experience with a diaphragm, but how hard could it be?
Armed with the instructions, I inserted the Softcup and marveled at how right the instructions were. I really couldn't feel it in there! Modern women really CAN have it all! I thought. We can have our periods and have clean period sex, too.
It was a very fun night to say the least. At some point before we fell asleep, I had a fleeting worry about how I'd get the Softcup out. But that was a problem for Future Me to handle.
The next morning, Present Me wanted to go back in time and beat up my past self. I squatted over the toilet, reached in, and my fingers found...nothing. I could feel the edge of the Softcup, but that was about it.
I ran back to my bedroom, where Robert was getting dressed. He asked me if I was OK, and I decided that we were both old enough for me to tell the truth.
"I tried a Softcup -- it's like a diaphragm for your period -- and I can't get it out."
"What do you mean, you can't get it out?"
"It's stuck. Like really, really stuck."
Robert turned bright red. "Do you want some help?"
"Oh god, no! No. I'll go see a doctor."
I practically pushed Robert out the door and made a phone call to my local urgent care. They seemed confident they could help me, so I took a quick shower, threw clothes on, and jumped in the car.
When I arrived, the look on my face must have said everything, because the woman at the desk asked me if I was the one who called. I said yes, paid the ridiculous urgent care fee, and signed all my paperwork.
I sat down to wait, ecstatic beyond words to see that all of the nurses and office staff were female. I didn't care what they wanted in return, so long as I left with my vagina intact and minus a Softcup.
By this point I'd received several texts from Robert asking if I'm okay. I texted him back that yes, I'm waiting, and in the meantime, guess what's playing on the TV in the doctor's office? Ancient Aliens of all things. Ancient Aliens was one of the things that Robert and I bonded over when we met. On one of our first dates we ended up watching the documentary Ancient Aliens Debunked on YouTube.
I was finally called back, again grateful that there was an office full of women to understand my plight. Until I walked through the door and saw my very male intake nurse -- tall, with green eyes and dark hair -- a sexy surfer type. I sat down, face turning bright red as he asked me what brought me in today. I repeated what I had told the intake nurse, and then we both burst out laughing.
Fortunately, Hottie McSurfer tells me that they see this all the time with diaphragms. The most important thing, he said, is that I came in right away and didn't wait. Most women wait because they're embarrassed, and that can cause a host of other issues that I really don't want to think about.
I was finally taken back to an exam room by a kind female nurse who told me not to worry; they're going to take care of this and I'll get on with my day like nothing happened.
At this point in my 31 years, I don't believe any doctor who says anything along the lines of "You'll just feel some pressure" or "This will be a little uncomfortable." She searched through cabinets and produced a bunch of scary-looking metal instruments onto a tray. I asked if there was a bottle of tequila in there and we both laughed. I'd like to think she would have gladly poured me a few shots.
The nurse let the doctor in, also a guy. Fortunately he looked nothing like the hottie handling intake. I thanked all the gods that day for this small miracle.
He asked me some questions, and I tried desperately to explain that a Softcup is a diaphragm for your period. He absolutely did not believe me. Before he started his extraction, I mentioned that I have an IUD, and could he please be careful and not pull that out?
Then he said the most memorable line I've ever heard, and still quote when I need a giggle. "An IUD and a diaphragm? Isn't that a bit like wearing a belt with suspenders?"
At this point, I really did want an earthquake to open up and take my bit of California into the ocean. There was no way this could get any worse.
Except it did. He tried forceps first, with no luck. Then he tried his fingers, and no dice. He pushed on my stomach, trying to get things to move, which feels awesome when you have your period. Then he said the scariest thing anyone in my position wants to hear: "Wow, that's really stuck in there."
I'm pretty sure at this point I sat up and told him that I didn't care what he had to do, but he needed to GET THIS DAMN THING OUT OF ME. He tried again, with his fingers and the forceps. I held my breath. There was some pain and then a loud popping sound.
The doctor calmly asked the nurse to get a towel. The Softcup was out, and my menstrual blood was sprayed all over the floor. Like I wasn't mortified enough already.
The nurse cleaned up my blood without a word while the doctor explained just how much of a bullet I dodged. The Softcup had folded in half, and had slid behind my cervix. He told me that it was a good thing I came in because I never would have managed to get it out myself.
I dressed and practically ran out of there. I called Robert when I got home to let him know I was OK and rested with an icepack on my screaming abdomen. I was totally humiliated, so I did want anyone else would do. I texted some of my best girlfriends so we could all have a laugh.
That afternoon, I tried to get back to normal at an afternoon baseball game. I had lots of time to think about whether or not I made the right decision to be honest with Robert so soon.
Ultimately, I decided that if this was the sole reason we broke up, then it's for the better. At this point in our lives, we're too old to avoid the gross, uncomfortable thing called reality. If this was what sent him running for the hills, then he's not someone I want to be with.
Now, almost three years later, we've faced many more difficult things together than a Softcup stuck in my vagina. I have Polycystic Ovarian Disease and can't have children. Six months into our relationship he confessed to me that he struggles with depression, and we've worked together to get him the help and support he needs.
I don't know that either of us would have had the courage to tell each other these very real truths about ourselves as quickly as we did if I hadn't set the stage for honesty right out of the gate.
We showed each other our real, imperfect, flawed, and very human selves. It was refreshing to stop hiding behind the version you so often present when you're dating early on and to just be real. I will always be more Liz Lemon than Ingrid Bergman, and that's OK. That's me.
Even if that's a me who has a Softcup stuck in her lady business.