The IUI went just about as expected. Actually, that's not quite true. It was even more painful than usual. As Dr. Charmin was first inserting the catheter, my body involuntarily spasmed as I felt the catheter jab something inside me. Ouch. My eyes watered. Then the cramping started. Man, did it hurt. She told me to breathe and let her know when the pain had subsided somewhat, and then she would continue. She explained that it hurts because I have a curved cervix (not a curved uterus, as I previously thought). But, she said, there is an advantage to having a curved cervix, since its shape holds sperm in making them less likely to come out. "That's good, I guess," said I, wincing. Think I'd rather have a normally shaped cervix and take my chances with the sperm.
When it was finally over, I had those left-over moist eyes and fragile feeling you get when you've just gone through something painful. I'm always told to lay still for ten minutes after the IUI. So I laid there, still feeling a decent amount of discomfort, feeling in need of protection, feeling not very hopeful. And then, through the speakers in the ceiling, which were playing some lame radio station that recycles 80's songs, I heard "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles. Remember that song? There's this one moment when Susanna Hoffs has to climb up to a really high note, and it should go something like this : "an. eternal. FLAME!" But she can't really hit it, so instead, it sounds like "AN. ETERNAL. flame." It's pretty funny.
Anyway, hearing that song, in that room, at that time, felt like a little moment of grace. Because when I was young, my brother and I were in love with that song. My brother -- in junior high at the time -- was obsessed with the Bangles, so whenever that song came on the radio, which was a lot that year, he would turn it WAY up, and he and I would belt it out shamelessly. I have this very vivid memory of being on vacation that year with my family, and hearing the song play in our hotel. My brother and I were running down the hall of the hotel, careening towards our room, and singing (yelling) along with the words at the top of our lungs: "AN. ETER-NAL. FLAME!!!!!!" Our parents must have loooved that. Just what they wanted to hear during their relaxing vacation. Not to mention all those poor saps in the hotel.
So as I lay there on the clinic's table, the white paper crinkling beneath me as I shifted to relieve the cramping, the sounds of Hoff's limp voice crooning over 80's synthesizer pop brought back a flood of happy, funny memories. It was just what I needed. When my ten minutes were up, I gingerly pulled my jeans back on, finished getting dressed, went out to get my progesterone prescription, pay my bill, and face the two week wait with ... wait for it ... an eternal flame of hope.