“We are at the age now … the age of perimenopause,” my girlfriend said so matter-of-factly. I laughed to myself. Maybe she was, but I am still a few years younger. I listened and supported her, but there was no way that I was experiencing perimenopause yet.
But over the next several days, I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said. I asked my good friend, Google, to tell me more about this perimenopause. And then it clicked.
The insomnia. The weight gain. The headaches. The mood swings. The heat. The rounding and softening of my body. Exhaustion. I felt disconnected from myself, but I honestly thought it might be depression. I had even gone back to therapy to rid myself of these awful changes.
It never occurred to me that the vaginal irritation and itching that I had been experiencing on and off for several months could be related to decreased estrogen. Nor did any of the doctors that examined me and informed me that there was no infection present tell me until after I asked.
I have spent the better part of the past twelve years pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding. With all of the accompanying hormone fluctuations over the years, it is no surprise that I didn’t recognize the early signs of perimenopause. Plus, I really expected menopause to announce its arrival loudly. I didn’t think it would so subtly sneak up on me.
And I didn’t fully appreciate the range of emotions that I would experience about it.
I have spent most of my adult life learning to love my body and all it can do as a childbearing woman—through the good times and the challenging ones–as it changed with each pregnancy and after. I have found strength, beauty, and resilience in my body’s ability to create, carry, and sustain life. What does perimenopause mean for me and this identity?
I cannot help but grieve these years passed a bit. I long for my other body. The younger body. The firmer body. The body that menstruated, and ovulated regularly, and made babies. I long for the days when I felt energized and sexy.
I imagine that my new body will be different, but equally strong, and beautiful, and resilient. No doubt older, but also wiser and more certain of her likes, dislikes, and boundaries.
I do not know when I will emerge on the other side of this journey and what additional changes are coming for my body. But one thing is certain. Whoever I become, I will learn to love her too.
One thought on “Perimenopause”
I love this! Thanks for sharing, as well as how it kind of snuck up on you. I think that so many women are in this position, as it’s not widely discussed. Even by our doctors. This seems to be one of those topics that is still handed down through discussion & advice, through chats with friends.
LikeLiked by 1 person