Friday, September 17, 2010

The Big M...

A couple of nights ago, I got a call from my doctor. I was expecting it... but still, when it came I felt a little sad.

"Well, Karyn," she said. "I got your blood work back and the levels confirm it. You're definitely at the beginning of the end."

Not the beginning of the end of my life (I hope) but the beginning of the end of my childbearing years. Yes, it's the beginning of what my mother's generation called "the change." Menopause, or more accurately perimenopause, the stretch of time between the symptoms of menopause and it's actual arrival.

You have to love my doctor's phrasing. "The beginning of the end" sounds so dire, but in a way, those are exactly my feelings about this stage of my life. Don't get me wrong, I don't want any more children. But it's more than that: in the back of my mind I'm realizing this is the beginning of the end of my youth. It's the beginning of my life as an "old lady."

And while it's something that happens to every woman if she's lucky enough to keep breathing long enough, it's somehow something I didn't really think would ever happen to me.

There has no mistaking the changes in my moods and in my body over the past year or so. Suddenly, I had a mustache and I was always warm even in the dead of winter. My once-curvy body had gotten round as an apple, with a nasty little pouch up front that never went away no matter what I did. My patience was hair-trigger sensitive. And then, for the first time in my life, I skipped a period... and I wasn't pregnant.

The beginning of the end.

I wish I could say I am immediately embracing this change for the new possibilities it offers. In time, of course, I will. But for right now, it makes me feel sad. I look back on my youth and I regret things I didn't do, things I was too scared to try. I regret that I didn't know how cute I was-- and that I didn't believe that the day would come when "matronly" would be an accurate description of my figure. That "hot" would be an adjective for "flash" and not for me.

I look at Sisi and I feel a little jealous. Does she know what she has right now? Does she know that one day, she will be me? Probably not. It seems unbelievable when you're young, that you will one day be... not.
Sometimes I think the heart of the mother-daughter conflict is simply that while the daughter's hormones are soaring, the mother's are declining. It's just biology and little more. We're a couple of moody bitches who don't really know what the hell is wrong with us. Enter fighting.

Poor Kevin. :-)

One of my favorite sayings is "This too shall pass" because it captures the transience of our experiences so perfectly. I know that twenty or thirty years from now, I'll look back and wish for some the blessings I have now: flexibility, mobility, my kids at home, otherwise perfect health. I'll wish for these days--hot flashes in all. Knowing that helps me to find acceptance for this moment. There's good in this, I know there is. Of course there is. It's just going to take me a minute or two to find it.

It's the beginning of the end, but it's also the end of the beginning. And experience and wisdom are wonderful things to say that I have gained a bit of at this point in my life. It's celebration and grief. It's joy and pain, it's endings and beginnings. A perfect circle of womanhood and a perfect circle of life.


  1. I’m a recent follower of your blog, and I love it! I featured your blog on mine today in a post spotlighting multicultural/racial family bloggers, as well as to give you a blog award. I’m looking forward to continuing to read your blog in the future!

  2. Hi - I am new to your blog and will continue exploring it.

    I'm intrigued by this blood test you've refered to in this post. I'm not asking to pry into your life, but I'm asking more for my self-knowledge. May I ask what type of blood test one should request to find out how fast the clock is ticking? (for lack of a better phrase) i.e., levels of what are being tested? hormones? Also, from which doctor should one request such a test: a General Practicioner, an OB/GYN or a Fertility Specialist?

    I just turned 41 and have no kids (and have never been pregnant and have never tried to be), but I would like to know what my future time frame is. Thank you in advance.

  3. Thanks, Jay! I'll have to check your site out. What is it?

    Hey Renee-- It's an FSH blood test that measures your hormone levels. Mine was high-- which means a decrease in the productio of estrogen. But it's far from precise science-- it doesn't tell you "how long you have" just that the levels are changing. Google it. I know there are better explanations of how it all works out there.

  4. my mom has embraced menopause with open arms. She brags to me about no more periods and cramps. And oddly, she's acted more youthful during menopause then when she wasn't "pausin'" (get it?). But that's also b/c she has a new attitude on life. I feel for your hubby. A daughter going through puberty and a perimenopausal mother--Whew! Sounds like a hormone hurricane.