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Apr 23 2012

Searching for Birth Control in the Holy Land

By at 1:34 pm

gynecologist chair with stirrups

Israeli gynecologist, how I loathe thee.

They say pregnancy is not contagious, but with baby fever over here at Kveller, I’m getting nervous. It’s one thing to pee on a stick and see a big old plus sign when you want to be pregnant, and quite another thing when you’re bobbing and weaving through the land mines of a divorce in a foreign country.

Look, let me give it to you straight up: If I’m going to lecture my daughter some day in the faaaaar distant future about the importance of birth control, then it’s important to practice what I preach–especially since there is no Israeli version of the Maury Povich show. (Yet.)

So, in order to stave off more excitement in my life, off I went to the OBGYN.

First of all, the US and Israel have a very different M.O. when it comes to a woman’s vagina. Back in LA, every time I went to the OB, the nurse would tell me to undress from the waste down and cover myself with a paper sheet. All very clinical. After all, we are greater than the sum of our reproductive parts, or something. But in Israel, it ain’t like that.

Nu? Take your clothes off,” the doctor said as soon as I stepped into the room.

“Everything?” I asked.

Not only were we speaking Hebrew, but this guy’s Hebrew had a lot of Russian going on and I wasn’t what “take your clothes off” meant. (Besides, I’ve learned to always double check because there’s nothing quite like the shame of being buck-naked when you’re only supposed to be undressed from the waist down. Makes you look a little over-eager.)

“Everything” he confirmed.

My humiliation. Let me share it with you: “You are pregnant?” he asked practically without a question mark while staring at my belly and reaching for the ultrasound machine. Off to a great start. “No, I’m here because I don’t want to be pregnant.”

“Abortion?” Oh God. Let’s hope not.

“Birth control.”

Since I’m a whack job on oral contraception, and the thought of an IUD makes me twitchy, I thought I’d go back to basics and try a diaphragm. Well, Dr. Gulag brought over a tray of eight diaphragms ranging in size from 12-year-old Virgin to Geriatric Streetwalker. Seriously–the largest diaphragm looked about as big as my son’s head. How can women let themselves go like that? Since about five minutes after giving birth, I’ve been doing my Kiegel exercises religiously (if you ever see me sitting in repose, trust me, I’m actually very hard at work down there). I laid back with my legs in the stirrups, my vag ready for inspection, confident that I’d walk away with a respectably small diaphragm–not 12-year-old Virgin small, but close enough.

I stared at the ceiling while Dr. Gulag rooted around my Lady Business for a while.

He looked over the tray of diaphragms. His eyes barely lingered on the smaller ones, and I began to get nervous. Clearly, my approach to parenting wasn’t the only thing that had loosened up since giving birth to my son.

After ignoring the Diaphragm Petite Section, Dr. Gulag’s fingers skirted over the last three largest ones. I felt a stone of panic settle in my chest, and in sheer desperation, I frantically did a 10-set of kiegels. But it was too late. Dr. Gulag selected the Geriatric Streetwalker diaphragm, folded it like a pita, and slipped it in.

“How does that feel?” he asked from between my legs, and I swear I heard an echo.

I couldn’t even tell it was in there.

“Oh, that’s so uncomfortable,” I lied.

“Really?” he asked, peering up from between my legs, his eyebrows crinkled in surprise, as he reached for a flashlight. And, while I tried to think of creative ways to kill myself with my legs in metal stirrups, Dr. Gulag searched in vain for the Geriatric Streetwalker that had somehow gotten lost in my Lonesome Valley.

This whole thing is like a Vivid Entertainment meets Lifetime Movie moment: my body has changed. And even though opening myself up to someone new is fucking terrifying, I’ve been through childbirth. Nothing can scare me anymore. Ok, that’s a lie. I’m terrified.


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