As I approached my fortieth birthday, I kept hearing really negative words of advice like, “Be prepared. It’s all downhill from then on.” Well, I don’t agree that my life has gone downhill, but I have to admit that, after turning forty, little things started…changing. Even my cheery disposition took a hit. What you are about to read may turnoff many of my readers, but freedom of speech is one of the things I love about our country. It’s here…if you want to read it, great!…if not, then please wait for my next post (or read some of the older ones (?)).
I’ve heard many of my elders say that there are some things we just have to experience for ourselves or some things that just shouldn’t be discussed. Hmm…well why not? I’d rather have full information. I’d rather hear about the good, the bad and the ugly. For example, there are some not so pretty things about being a mom that I had never heard before having kids but was glad to eventually learn. Like just how difficult it is to handle newborn babies and that parents of newborns often get very little sleep (sometimes, as in our case, for over a year).
And my favorite little tidbit that came as a surprise: if you breast feed your kids, your breasts will be bigger during pregnancy and while you’re breastfeeding than they were before you were pregnant. But when you stop breastfeeding? They shrink. I mean, they end up smaller than they were pre-pregnancy. Did you know that? Okay, maybe I’m the only dope that didn’t know that, but I was surprised. Had I known, I would’ve told my husband, “Enjoy these babies now, because when I stop nursing, they’ll be much smaller.” But I didn’t know. Not a huge deal, but I would’ve liked to have known. That’s all.
Now I’m learning about something called perimenopause — that’s the time before menopause. Many books have been written about this topic, but I’ve only recently been given one that helped me understand what I’m going through right now.
I guess it makes sense that a woman’s body needs to go through a process (in which hormones go a little crazy) in adolescence to prepare her body for childbirth. The whole childbirth process wreaks havoc on a woman’s system. I’ll never forget how stunned my hubby looked when he witnessed our first child’s birth. During the cesarean section operation, he saw the doctors temporarily remove my insides, take our beautiful baby girl from my uterus, hand her off, then carefully replace my internal organs. And that was after eighteen hours of labor. Hard for him to witness, even harder for my body to endure. My recovery period was about six weeks long. My body had to readjust, go back to functioning without baby in utero. Big changes. Oh, it also switched from focusing on nourishing and growing a baby to becoming a milk factory. Yep. There was a whole lot going on.
To prepare for the active years of childbirth, a woman’s body sort of gears up in adolescence and our girls become moody, emotional, a little more unpredictable and more womanly. What about when the body is preparing to shutdown? It makes sense that that requires some time, too. Our bodies are putting on the brakes, sort of. Slowing down the system until it can finally report, “Okay, chief. The childbirth factory has officially ceased operations.” Sure, now that I really think about it, it makes sense. How could I expect it to just stop overnight? “That’s it. No more periods. You’re done.”
No, not like that at all. Instead, we go through yet another hormonal time (which is tough not only for our loved ones having to deal with us, but also for us). It’s a transition period. We sometimes become moody, more emotional and more unpredictable. For example, I recently volunteered to help in my daughter’s school and found myself overcome with frustration when the kids just wouldn’t quiet down. I understand now what it’s like for substitute teachers. Kids push the limits with anyone who’s not their regular homeroom teacher. Anyway, I raised my voice a little and said they needed to quiet down and not start playing the strategy games they were about to play. Not a big deal, maybe, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it (and it happened several weeks ago). I’ve helped out in classrooms for about a decade or so and I’ve never done that. I’m usually the one who smiles and maybe rings a little bell or something or waits until they stop talking before proceeding. But this time…I don’t know…I just said, “Do NOT begin until you are ALL seated.” It just wasn’t me. You know what I mean? I was thinking, “Did I just say that out loud?” I felt guilty and embarrassed and wanted to run out of there. When I got home, I thought, “Maybe I just can’t handle the older kids. Maybe I shouldn’t do things like that anymore.” Then I started to read that book my friend gave me.
It’s called, The Pause by Lonnie Barbach.
I encourage every 30 something woman to read it.
That’s as much as I’ll say right now, but I’ll give you more details when I finish the book.