When I was about 6 my mum brought me to the doctor’s for an immunization shot. Sitting in the waiting room I sweated about the needle, its size and the seemingly insurmountable pain that was sure to come. I started to whimper, a sound similar to the whimper of my peers also waiting for their shots. My mum turned to me, bent down and looked me in the eye. She gravely and swiftly informed me that some little children are sick and have to get twenty injections a day so instead of whining I should be grateful for needing only one, ever so seldom, “No tears,” she commanded and I nodded.
In the examination room I sat in the oversize chair, terrified, thinking of those poor children. In my mind they were only 3 years old and each of them had hundreds of needles sticking out of their little arms and bodies. The doctor moved closer I turned my head as far away from the direction of the needle as possible. My thoughts about ‘The poor, poor little children’ were interrupted with a sting and a swift press of the cotton ball against my skin. It was done. My eyes were wet I had shed no tears. It was a triumphant moment. Some of the bigger boys at school cried like babies and I had just found my inner injection strength. I was determined never ever to complain about needing one again.
I wanted to whimper when the fertility nurse told me I would need up to inject myself up to 3 times a night. Not only was the idea of having to push the needle into my own skin nerve wracking. If I gave myself the wrong dose, didn’t mix something correctly or accidentally fell asleep and forgot to do it altogether I’d be fucking up my only chance to have a baby. The stakes were high.
One evening I just repeatedly stabbed myself in the stomach. The needle would go in, I’d freak out and suddenly pullout without injecting the hormone. I needed to calm down. Like I always had, I thought about the poor little children, but it didn’t work. I needed less anxiety and thinking about them and how I was failing miserably caused me to feel more. I tried to slow my breath while I stared at my stomach already inflated and sore from the cystectomy and now covered in red dots of blood from my prior attempts, I stared at the offending needle. I started to sweat and a frustrated whimper slowly rose in my throat. It morphed into a yogic ‘om’. I was instantly calm. I counted to three during my ‘om’, and the needle sank in. It stung enough to warrant a lot of swearing, but eventually, after more stinging, the agony was over. I have a few more injections to go so I have some chants in my back pocket, just in case. I hope that one day when my teenager yells at me that he/she didn’t ask to be born, I will not only be able to think about how lucky I am but will be able to calm myself, perhaps with a quiet om.