The Change: For Reals

The change

While my recent blog posts have been outward facing — examining the increasingly surreal fertility-obsessed world and the entrepreneurial fertility industry eager to cash in around it  — this post, girlfriends, is kicking it old school.

Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite libation ’cause we’re going inside the girl tent.

The numbers don’t lie.  Menopause confirmed: FSH: 151!

It might be the competitive person I am, but my first instinct upon getting the blood test results was to brag.  Yeah, that’s right. 151. Top that.

Those who have followed my personal story know I long ago confronted emotional menopause.  (Do you recall the days when I took some schadenfreude and gleefully patronized those who got a bit blue contemplating their ’empty nest‘ ? Perhaps a bit too snarky, I see now, but it felt really good at the time.)

As much as I love my life today, I still relate to that angst-ridden woman who once lived inside this body.

Today there’s no lamenting my loss of ovarian function. In fact, the physical symptoms of perimenopause have been more or less manageable since my flame-throwing uterine ablation a few years back. Not having to confront ‘Martha’ every 28 days during these past three years has been — in a word: BLISS!

Sarah perfectly summed it up with this blog post title: The Emancipation of Forgetting.  That’s exactly what comes when the cycles stop. Last menstrual cycle? Beats me.  In fact I had to go back to my blog and search out when exactly I had that ablation. I had completely lost track of the time. (FYI: July 2012.)

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Unlike the hyper-ventilating anxiety I felt then confronting a waiting room full of pregnant women ahead of the uterus blasting discussion with my ob-gyn, last week the pregnant women barely rated a notice. If anything I felt a bit feisty. You wanna talk hormones, b^tches? let’s talk hormones — or the lack of them in my case.

It may be the change of seasons (or the changes taking place in my body), but I’ve found myself a bit pensive of late.

It’s all good, I remind myself. Own this new chapter and all the uncertainty it presents. It is, after all, just part of messiness we all confront. (Thanks, Kinsey, for the Gilbert quote). menopause

My fellow bloggers have fed my pensiveness, serving up a few ideas to feast upon:

  • Back to Kinsey who writes about the ‘higher standard‘ we hold our once fellow ‘infertiles’ to, and how we often feel betrayed by them.
  • Mali describes the resilience she’s fostered since coming to terms with her ‘no kidding’ life.
  • Klara highlighted this mantra: “If you can’t fight, and you can’t flee, then flow.” 
  • Abby, meanwhile, beautifully portrays the complex grieving and release women in our community attempt to find amid the lack of cultural touchstones.

As Obie once wrote: “we are normal and our lives are normal and always were, we just lost our focus due to the overwhelming desire to procreate (which is also normal by the way). Now it’s time to process our grief and move on.”

Yes. Tough as it once was to confront and process my grief, it has served to make me stronger (yes, resilient). In doing so it has become much easier to look ahead and face change of all kinds.

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To those newly on this path, I encourage you to explore the often disenfranchised grief and its accompanying epiphanies. Amid the complicated bio-psycho-social challenges thrust upon us, we often don’t even realize that we’ve lost our focus, our sense of self and our value.

Women who experience ‘premature empty nest syndrome’ or failed fertility are forced to confront the ‘what next‘ question Amel describes much earlier than many other women.

Rather than fear the ‘what next’ — embrace it.

You’ll find yourself further along (ahead of the pack so to speak) and able to roll with the next set of changes life has in store for you.

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12 thoughts on “The Change: For Reals

  1. Wow. I milestone indeed. More importantly is your outlook with meeting this milestone. That you are moving above and beyond from the trauma that is infertility. Thanks for being an inspiration.

  2. Well said! I do agree that we are ahead of the pack in a number of ways. I wrote a while ago that we come to terms with our lives in a way that women who have children, but maybe wanted another child and for some reason didn’t have one, don’t. We have had to face so much, so definitively, that – most of us – have been able to move on and look to the future.

    I have to agree too, that the freedom of this part of my life (since my hysterectomy, when the floodgates were finally closed, and with the help of HRT easing the furnace) is truly wonderful.

  3. 151! Well done!

    You’ve convinced me to push harder for an ablation. I’m so over it. Actually the only part I’m enjoying of this whole perimenopause thing is the look of surprise on the faces of women who are 15+ years my senior when I can meaningfully contribute to conversations about hot flashes and night sweats. I lied. I’m also enjoying that my hair is turning wavy, which I blame on hormonal changes. Otherwise it’s pretty freaking miserable.

    I love that Gilbert quote! It pretty much sums up my life. To walk this path we’ve all had to embrace the glorious mess, and we are better people because of it.

    Once again I find myself so thankful for those who came before me.

  4. “Amid the complicated bio-psycho-social challenges thrust upon us, we often don’t even realize that we’ve lost our focus, our sense of self and our value.”

    Yes, yes, yes.

  5. I love the concept… of embracing “what’s next”.
    Thank you for the post.

  6. I love the concept of embracing what next & am doing that as much as I possibly can.
    Once children weren’t going to happen I was keen to get onto menopause because it seemed like a new start. And it has been, I’d like to lose a few lbs though!

  7. Pamela, Pamela, Pamela……you made it. Congratulations. FSH 151, impressive. Getting there, mighty impressive.

    Calling out that empty nests and paying for college may not be something my husband and I can or should empathize much with happens to be one of my favorite pass times. And who said there’s anything wrong with a little snark?

    I’ve been running into the issue of menopause in discussion lately and noticing people with easily conceived children seem waaaaaay more intimidated by it than I do. As a result, I’ve got a “sister” post to your post in the works……

  8. Can I say I’m jealous?? Here I am, approaching my 55th birthday, and Aunt Flo continues to visit with annoying regularity. Personally, I am looking forward to the end of it all… I love your concept of “emotional menopause” — it’s been 14 years since I stopped ARTs & began to accept that children were not in the cards. So I think menopause, when it finally arrives, will be anti-climactic, For me, the REAL big “change” happened a long time ago.

  9. CONGRATS on the numbers, Pamela! Thanks for sharing your experience with perimenopause and menopause itself as I’m still a number of years away from that period and I like getting more info on that.

    And thank you for linking my post. I enjoy reading all the other blog posts that you’ve linked here as well as I’ve been way behind on blog-hopping and blogging.

  10. I was nodding so hard at every line I’m surprised my head is still attached. And I would TOTALLY be bragging about that FSH number. (Heck, I’ve been tempted to brag about mine – but I am now humbled by the presence of greatness.) And now I need to go back and read all your hyperlinks. Thank God for YOU – without whose wisdom (and humanity) this path would be so very dim.

  11. […] Any talk, headlines, photos — any references for that matter — of ‘baby bumps’ or pregnancy announcements. Fortunately, no longer a trigger now that I’m happily in menopause. […]

  12. I’m dropping back by to seek your wisdom (more in the human than the medical realm). I’ve been off the wretched depo for a couple of years now, and am now (again) in enough daily pain that I need to figure out how I want to reimagine my medium-term future: burdened by more depo side effects, looking forward to osteoporosis later on? Limiting my regular activities because of endometriosis pain? Enjoying a hysterectomy at 35? Making major life decisions is an individual thing, I know, but gosh, there’s no roadmap for integrity and authenticity on this path. If you have a chance to drop me a line at beinginfertile@gmail.com, I would be beyond grateful.

    Anyway, hope life has been continuing to be fruitful and joyful for you. And thanks for the recent posts! I have been enjoying them.

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