Quedada is what my father calls my mother when he teases her about being 23 years old when she married him. She was 23 and quedada-left behind; an old maid; a spinster. And me-I'm 29. What does that make me?

"No you're not quedada," my father says. But that's because in his eyes I'll always be a baby. Baby or adult, I've heard some talk of grandchildren. "Don't hold your breath," I say. It seems that when I was in college, whenever I came home, I was given constant and disturbing reminders that they would have been mortified had I gotten pregnant: my mother appearing like a ghost in the kitchen as I drank a glass of milk, saying, "You know the Pill is not 100% effective," and disappearing into the night-a bad omen. But I was always very careful. Maybe too careful. Now it seems like it wouldn't be too bad for them-as long as there was a baby to hold and squeeze its fat little jamones.

People I grew up with are having babies. There are babies everywhere, but in my womb. In my womb, rests a little coiled piece of copper. A "T" bracing itself against the walls of my uterus to guard against the potential sperm-the fierce swimmers-the persistent-the goal driven.

This copper 'T' should be an 'F' because it really spells 'freedom.' Freedom from worry. Don't have to remember to take a pill everyday. Or worry when you forget.

When I told my friend Daniel that Grit was going to put it in for me, he was shocked. But most doctors won't put one in you if you haven't had any kids. If you get an STD while you have an IUD, you could go sterile. They don't want to get sued by someone for taking away her ability to ever give birth to a child. So even though it is 99% effective (yes mom, I know, I know) the Pill is more popular in the United States. Which is why I had to go to the free clinic and pretend that I didn't have any health insurance so that Grit could put it in.

I told Daniel that Grit and I were going to go for drinks afterward. "Afterward? Maybe you should have a couple before," he said. Lying on the table, staring at the pockmarked ceiling, I wished I had taken his suggestion. My feet were in the stirrups and the paper sheet drawn across my knees so that all I could see was a shock of honey blonde hair sticking up from Grit's head and a white lab-coated elbow. There was only the initial pain upon insertion. The scraping of the uterine wall made me suck in my breath-hard-and brace myself against that damn table. "Relax," she said. 'Relax,' I thought to myself and I tried deep breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. I counted slowly to four as I inhaled, counted slowly to four as I exhaled. I placed my open palm on my belly to feel it rise and fall as the scraping made me wince and I thought, 'five minutes.... It better take only five fucking minutes, because any longer and I'm gonna start whimpering.' Grit doesn't have any patience for whimpering prima donnas.

The pain stops. I relax. I hear Grit reach for another implement. Then again, "this will be uncomfortable." Then again the same high-pitched pain. Pain like fingernails scratching lightly on a blackboard. And then, "Now I cut the strings." No more pain. Just a fumbling around in there. I worry as I imagine scissors inside of me. 'What if she accidentally snips me instead of the string?' The idea makes me use up all of my self-control to lie still. And then she's done. I heard her loosen the screw that held the speculum open-a slight grating of metal threads against metal-a completely inhuman noise coming from something that is inside of my body. And then a release of walls. A caving in and then a slipping out-but it's shaped funny and half-way out I feel it catching against the walls of my vagina and I tense up completely, unconsciously closing down on the metal tongue with a gasp, until Grit sees this and in her usual blunt, pragmatic way says, "Don't do that."

And again-the self-control. I tell my muscles to relax. I WILL them to relax and loosen, even though I am anything but relaxed. Then it's out. I closed my legs slightly. Grit dabbed a swatch of cotton at something wet on my ass. She handed me the leftover piece of string. It's plastic and thinner than fishing line, but thicker than sewing thread. "You have to check the string after every period, so you better check for it now so you know what it feels like."

It's the last thing I felt like doing. I really didn't want to put anything inside me-even the sweetest, hottest, hardest most talented cock in the world, but I lay back and slipped my middle finger in and searched blindly with the finger tip until I could imagine the whole area like a cave with walls eaten smooth by years of erosion; moist dripping curved walls. I was suddenly reminded of Plato's cave. But there was no little man making shadow puppets on the walls of this cave. I felt a crease in the wall of the cave and in this crease I felt a line, a very fine, unnaturally defined line and I followed this with my fingertip, until I felt the stiff plastic end of the string.

Germania is neither hither nor thither. She will be splendid to short the next time you see her...