Our lives are full of monumental moments and milestones – learning to walk, becoming a teenager, getting our first job (does working on the family farm for an entire summer in order to buy a record player with double tape deck in its own console count?), graduating (from anything!), puberty in all its gory glory, and so on and so forth. For some of us, those milestones will be met with happiness and aplomb, others will meet them in different ways, and for others they may be met earlier or later than the “norm”, and some of us may skip certain ones all together – opting for a different route for various reasons, but there’s one none of us can skip – The Change, mental pause, slow death, the big M – Menopause. Yup, I said it!
I remember growing up and hearing women speak of “The Change” in hushed tones, nodding their heads and clucking together as if mourning the loss of a friend;
“She’s on the change you know”
“Ach no, poor thing. She’s so young!”
As I grew older I never really grasped the reason for the hushed tones or cloistered chatter, but I knew that it should worry me. Why wouldn’t it? The Change signified the end of my womanhood – the end of my ability to bear children. Now that I am a woman turning 45 and find myself forgetting things, getting moody, having sleepless nights, I realize that I’m in the Peri-menopause phase of my life – and you know what?
It doesn’t bother me that much.
Ok, I mean the moodiness and whacked out sleep patterns are not fun, but I’m not having the emotional trauma that tv and movies always led me to believe I would have. The other night, on one of those sleepless ones, I found myself thinking about this and began to wonder if my infertility has made this moment less harsh for me than it might be for my fertile friends. Had the fact that I’d had decades to deal with my lack of fertility mean that The dreaded Change wouldn’t hit me as heavily as someone who’d experienced the glory of childbirth? Maybe it had. I tried to imagine which would be worse – having been fertile and having to deal with that loss of ability, or never having been at all. Is it like the Bard says “having loved and lost is better than never having loved at all”? In this case, I don’t think so!
For once, I think my infertility is going to help me get through this easier than some other women might. I’ve already grieved my inability to bear (for most women – any more) children, I’ve already let go of the dreams of little feet running around our home, I’ve already learned to smile again when I see mothers and their babies, I’ve found other ways to channel my love and nurturing instincts (and my dogs love it!). Yes, my experience, thus far, is different than a mother’s will be, just as any two woman’s will be, so perhaps I’m just imagining this will be easier, but so far no last gasp thoughts of “oh just one more try” or “maybe a different route” have crossed my mind. Any thoughts that come up about kids are the same ones I’ve been having for years, but they come less frequently now, and hurt so much less that they’re almost indistinguishable from other thoughts and worries. And this is good! I wondered again if the steps I took to help myself might help women who are struggling dealing with their loss of fertility due to menopause, and I guess they can’t hurt.
So here they are, tips to help you deal with your fertility during menopause from someone who’s dealt with it her entire adult life:
- Your ability to have children is not the root of your sexiness, beauty, soul, or life – there is so much more to you and you can rock that shit at any age!
- Ice-cream and brownies are still your best friend, especially when shared with your best friend and a glass of wine.
- Sisterhood – don’t underestimate it – find your girls, love them, cry with them, laugh with them – they’ve got your back, and you’re going to need it.
- Romance lives on! Embrace it, redefine it, have fun with it!
- Get a hobby – yeah I know it sounds trite, but seriously it works! Learn something new, take a risk, try pole dancing or belly dancing. Grab a board and learn how to surf or ski!
- Lift! We all know we begin to lose muscle mass after 35, get on that. Lift ladies, lift! It’ll improve your health, help with those sleepless nights, get rid of your chicken wing (still working on mine!), and make you feel great about yourself!
- Be gentle on your partner – yeah, I need to work on this one, but no one’s perfect 😉 But seriously, dealing with a major change in fertility, or perceived fertility for some of us, is hard and stressful and emotional and, did I say fucking hard? So just try to remember that the loving face sitting across from you is not the Devil out to thwart your every plan or an evil genius playing games with your mind (the jury’s still out on this one), but rather the person who loves you and want nothing more than to show that.
- It’s ok to give in to your pain, but it is also necessary to give it up.
- Meditate, pray, hike – whatever your method of self-regulation, do it, find it, embrace it and live it. It works, we all have our own thing, and you can do it!
- Never stop loving yourself.
By Cece VanderMarks, cecevandermarks.weebly.com