One of the reasons I started blogging was to commiserate with other menopausal mommies. I sort of expected them to come out of the woodwork once I let the secret out that, hey, it's OK that your uterus is shriveling up and you're still changing diapers!
Let's get rid of the boring factoids right up front: Menopause is defined as the cessation of menstruation which usually happens to women in their late 40's. For the lucky few, the process begins in the early 40's and in its entirety, can last, well, years.
Even luckier are those (that would be me) who start the process early after just getting over the hormonal chaos caused by child birth. Yes - menopause complicated by small children. Joyful!
You're going to hear more about this in the news as we career women who put off childbearing so we could "do it all" before "settling down" become more plentiful and start becoming the poster children for the condition. Yes - I called it a condition, and condition it is.
I don't know how other women began the process, but I can tell you all the weird things that happened to me:
Truth is, I've always had skin trouble, but was blissfully unaware of it while I was, a) on birth control pills (pre-tubal ligation) and, b) pregnant. During that ten-year period, my hormones were balanced and while I had scars from years past, I didn't develop much that was new. Over the past three years, I'm once again struggling like a teenager with over-active oil glands and breakouts. I had to completely change my routine and I still haven't found any real solutions. And yes, I've tried everything.
I started having short-term memory problems, like the day I specifically left the house with kids in tow to mail a letter. Got all the way to the wrong destination (ended up at the mall - go figure) and then suddenly remembered why I went out in the first place. No letter to be found, and angry kids in the backseat, I drove home to find the letter perched on the counter, evidently right where I left it. It could have been an alien abduction, but I think it was just my faulty hormone-soaked brain.
I also used to be a really good speller. REALLY good. So good, that I was the go-to girl for all-things-writing. Suddenly, I was writing emails and would find myself unable to recognize a word - and I'm not talking about big fancy words such as "snuffaluffagus". I'm talking about words like, oh, I don't know, "out" or "like" or "crazy." I would write a word, look at it with head cocked, and not really know if that was the word I wanted or if it was spelled correctly. Then, I started making spelling and grammar errors - the really bad kind that make you look like a total idiot if you're a writer/editor. Things like using "their" instead of "they're" or using the word "asses" which frankly made me look like one. There was the word "philisophical" (my friend the rocket-scientist had a ball with that one..."Cream cheese?" he asked.) The other day I very thoughtfully and methodically wrote the phrase "right of passage" even with my grammar alarm ringing loudly in my brain.
I literally thought I was losing my mind. And, hoping, praying, that I wasn't losing it to early onset brain necrosis due to the infiltration of Amazonian worms, found out from my doc that I was "entering that stage of life..." Hater.
I'm also exhausted. I know - it could just be that I run around after two small kids every day, and awaken to crying a few times each night. The thing is, this is the kind of exhaustion that makes a fire in the living room a non-event, if you know what I mean. I'm waiting for the day when the kiddos figure this one out and begin asking for all sorts of favors when my eyes glaze over and they see that I'm no longer able to discern the difference between the words "toy" and "boy."
I can't remember who anyone is anymore. I can look at someone I'm quite certain I know and have no idea where that person fits into my life. This is really a drag at school when I can't remember the names of children or mommies. It gets worse. The other day, I found myself introducing my daughter to "Tommy's mom" when she shook her head and whispered to me, "No - I'm Ellen's mom." Rather than just believe her and move away quickly to cover, I found myself just about to insist to her that, yes, she was Tommy's mom.
I've also arrived at the "turning into my mother" phase of menopause. My neighbor-two-doors-down was standing on her roof the other day cutting branches. I heard myself yell across the entire distance in a disapproving, sing-song rant, "What [the hell] are you doing up there?" It must have been one very impressive motherly moment because she came over later that evening to let me know she survived. Oh, the horror of it!
By the way, I'm just about to move into the "discussing minutia of illnesses" phase, so you better steer clear of me if you have a runny nose or a tummy ache.
I know - you're waiting for me to talk about the really fun parts of menopause like constant hot flashes, night sweats and the "permanent cessation of menses." Don't rush me - I've only just started on the odyssey of physical symptoms, and at any moment I might burst out with a slew of fascinating facts about sweat.
Tell me your mommy menopause stories! What are you experiencing? Do you feel like you're losing your mind? Comment below!