When I first got my IUD on a sunny, warm day in April 2015, I was looking forward to a life full of no babies, random period spotting, and loads of wild, unprotected sex. Kidding! Well, about the unprotected sex part. This week, however, a photo went viral that sent me and tens of thousands of my fellow IUD owners into a bit of a panic. The picture is of a baby boy holding the very IUD that was supposed to prevent him from being conceived.
In the photo, which was taken by a family friend, newborn Dexter Tyler clutches the Mirena IUD as if to say, “It’s a strange and random world, but the chaos is all so beautiful.” Or possibly, “Suck it, Mom.” Dexter’s mom, Lucy Hellein of Fort Mitchell, Alabama, posted the picture on her Facebook with the caption “Mirena fail!”, and it was shared over 60,000 times in two days before being removed.
Despite what the picture may suggest, Dexter was not born gripping the IUD like some ironic little tummy hipster, but doctors believe Hellein did get pregnant while the device was in place, about three weeks after it was inserted. After she got pregnant, doctors couldn’t find the contraceptive and assumed it had fallen out, but found it behind the placenta when performing the cesarean section to deliver Dexter. It was one of the nurses who had the idea to place the IUD in the 9lb baby’s tiny hand after the delivery as a sort of “tongue-in-cheek nod to conceiving while having an IUD”.
Mirena is a hormonal intrauterine device that is inserted into the uterus and releases the hormone progesterone, which prevents pregnancy.
“IUD’s are 99 percent effective,” says Laura Ghasseminia, a nurse practitioner for Planned Parenthood. “I mean, it’s next to impossible [to get pregnant]. You have a better chance of winning the lotto.”
Ghasseminia suggests it’s possible Hellein could have been pregnant before the device was inserted, but the time between when an egg is fertilized and when it travels to the uterine cavity can lead to delays in positive pregnancy tests.
Hellein certainly feels she’s won the lotto. Dexter is her third child, and the device was her third IUD.
“He’s going to be a week old tomorrow, and actually tomorrow was his original due date, which May 4th, which is known as Star Wars Day,” she told CBS News in Sarasota, Florida, “So the doctor was like, ‘the force is strong with this one.’”
Hellein said she'd never had any problems with hormonal IUDs before, but after Dexter’s birth, she also had her fallopian tube removed. Just to be safe.