So I’m slowly but surely coming to the concept that I’m actually in perimenopause and have been for a number of years. I mean, hell, minus the hot flashes everything else seems to match pretty perfectly, from my fucked up ovaries to my mood swings to my space-out moments. Fact is, in just over two months I’ll be 44. When the fuck did that happen, I tell ya. But as exhilarating as it might sound to have a new word to add to shitty descriptors of the events over the past few years (“infertile”, “miscarriage”, “vitrectomy”, “herniated disc”, “extra in the middle thanks to IVF”), I think my favorite discoveries are some of the things that websites recommend, stuff my fellow sisters-in-failed-IVF will share in the “eye roll, sigh and pshaw” reaction I had, such as:
- Take birth control pills! It was offensive enough to be on the pill for 20+ years before being diagnosed infertile, and a kick in the gut to be taking it to prep for 6 cycles of DEIVF, so sorry if I give you the middle finger if you recommend I get back on the pill to help with this phase in my life that involves neither pregnancy nor attempts to be.
- Take estrogen and/or progesterone supplements. Because I would LOVE to start putting that shit in my body again after spending thousands and thousands on two inch needles full of that stuff that made me fucking insane, over and over again, throughout 6 DEIVF and 2 ERA cycles. Middle fingers UP.
- Avoid alcohol. So, beyond my love-fest with red wine while in France after the first failed DEIVF, I drank little if anything for several years because of infertility. There is no fucking way I’m not going to finally enjoy my wine. And after my first marriage to a raging narcissistic alcoholic who treated me shit? If I want my wine, I get my fucking wine.
- Avoid caffeine. Yeah, after infertility this technically would be easy because one cup of coffee makes my heart go ballistic. While never a “must have coffee to function” gal, I have worked my ass off after fertility treatments ended and post-op restrictions were lifted to stomach one cappuccino a week, and I am not quitting that, baby.
- Try antidepressants. Did anyone not hear my “no more pills” diatribe at the start of this? Yeah so I’m not going to be popping pills to deal with something that happens to all women eventually. Not dissing those who need to take them, it’s just not where I’m at.
So what next, then?
“And so, I walk. I choose to walk down this new path – the path of the Perimenopausal woman. Motherhood was never my path to walk, at least not in a traditional sense. Instead, as I enter perimenopause, I choose to walk a new path, to empower other women as I empower myself. I realize what I am leaving behind, and I do so with love and gratitude in my heart.”
~ Mary Pritchard, On Infertility, Closure, and Letting Go: The Lessons of Perimenopause
Hopefully we’ll be selected by a birth mother but we’re no longer building our lives around that particular hope. It’s time to refocus the lens on ourselves, on us, on our life going forward. As this reality sets in, I will be choosing good diet, exercise, meditation, fresh air, exploration of the world, and a good therapist – not more “weapons” to “fight” perimenopause. Because you know what? It’s not a battle I’ll win, y’all. If there’s anything I’ve learned over these years is that change is fucking inevitable. People and situations will come into your life for a “reason, season or lifetime” and you just gotta do what’s best for you. Period.
“The menopausal transition is actually a profound developmental stage in which unfinished business from the past comes up once again for resolution and healing, so that we can free ourselves from the outmoded beliefs and behaviors of our past. All the issues that weren’t resolved during puberty and early adulthood—such as body image, relationships, vocation, fear of aging, and self-esteem issues—now arise once more to be healed and completed.”
~ Dr. Christiane Northrup, MD
Now that’s something to contemplate.