Menopause - Marching to a New Rhythm
At 47, I sat in the doctor’s office on one of those uncomfortable tables with cold stirrups. It was a small room, cold with too much air conditioning. A nice nurse instructed me to get undressed from the waist down and cover myself with a paper blanket…the kind that tears as you try to cover yourself. I followed her instructions and then sat waiting for what seemed to be an eternity.
This was my fourth visit this year, 7 months since my last menses which had been preceded by two years of sporadic events. Time is ticking defying all my attempts at staying young, in shape and healthy. A male doctor entered the room. I cringed a bit. I had hated male gynecologists for most of my life. Now, I had to explain my most private concerns to him. Surprisingly, I was quite comfortable.
After many questions and a less than lovely thorough exam, he deemed me to be post-menopausal – meaning, as he explained, he was quite sure my menses would never return. I have known this day was coming for several years. Those words however hit me very hard. I was oddly stunned, speechless, shocked and overwhelmed with unidentifiable emotions. I wanted to get dressed and be somewhere else but I had no idea where. Barely hearing the doctor, I tried to lodge in my memory his list of vitamins I needed to start taking to care for myself. I heard the words “calcium, vitamin d, bone density and mature women’s vitamins” as I rebelled with the idea that I was still young.
My friend or foe, depending on the time in my life, had come early. I was 11 years old. The cycle gave me rhythm and consistency. Many times I hated it as it caused me pain and discomfort. Yet, it was a constant reminder that I was a woman. Carefully monitoring every aspect of my cycle, I had used it both to prevent pregnancy and to get pregnant for many years. I somewhat rejoiced in the ebbs and flows of my moods, amazed at the workings of the human body. At times, I was disappointed as it signaled that what I most wanted – a baby- was not happening that month. Of course along the same line, I rejoiced many times as it was a sign that I was not pregnant.
I have had the same inner clock and regularity in my life for 36 years. When the doctor left the room, I quickly dressed and walked out of the office into a waiting room of pregnant mothers, their loving husband and little children. I quickly left the doctor’s office and sat in my car. Tears came….. I then realized I was saying good bye to a huge part of my life.
At 47, I sat there stunned by my reaction. I remembered taking a class at a La Leche League Convention in my twenties on menopause. The thought that my childbearing years would come to an end had horrified me. The ability to bring life into this world was such an amazing feeling. For me it was the most beautiful gift from God. Now it was over.
I have been pregnant 9 times. I lost my first boy at 6 months pregnant and cried through every period until I was pregnant again 8 months later. I had 6 miscarriages. My three beautiful healthy children all were born naturally –birth was the most powerful thing I had ever known. They thrill me and worry me at the same time. I had watched my father die from dementia. I understood the finality of life and what the end of life brings. Suddenly my life panned before me.
My tears where soon overtaken by an intense hot flash. They come quite often passing through my body like fire and prickly heat and then dissipating. At night, they often keep me up for hours and prevent any consistent sleep. I realized I was embarking on a new journey.
I was just becoming a strong, whole and independent woman after having finally removed myself from years of control and abuse by my incorrect choices of men. I had so much to feel and see in a new light. The word menopausal kept coming to the forefront. It was challenging enough to find my womanhood after years of domestic violence and now I needed to define that very womanhood without my cycle as well. I began to understand it was perhaps a new beginning. In my sadness and mourning over the reality of menopause, I realized it was time to grab hold of the world, find my dreams however big or small and live them.
I wish my friend or foe a sad goodbye. I am not quite sure how I am going to adjust to life as a “mature” woman, but I guess I am growing up. I have adult children, my daddy who had become my child is now gone and my adult memories started 25 years ago. I suddenly feel the need to write a lot, to read more than I do, hike every day, to see everything and not miss anything. I need solitude, pretty music and time to think, yet I need to be cherished, to have a simple respectful companionship, support and sweet, faithful un-controlling love. The word menopause hits my head every morning as I rise with the sun…my mind trying to find a new cycle with which to march and dance through life.
Copyright Victoria Sanjuan 2013