22 Days

22 days. Last month it was 25. The month before, a standard 28. These last 2 months may just be a fluke. Or it could be the beginning. I’m 43, can I really be perimenopausal? Is that really a word? Ok, so it is, I googled it. “The time when a woman’s body naturally makes the transition to infertility.” Well, my friends, the stories I’ve heard about menopause around town makes it seem anything BUT natural. Supernatural, maybe, but definitely not natural. What it sounds like is what would happen if I stuck my finger in a light socket and then hopped in the bathtub. Cruel and unusual is my best estimate.

The symptoms of perimenopause sound like one of those new drug commercials: side effects may or may not include dizziness, shorter/longer periods, heavier/lighter periods, hot flashes, cold toes, tired but unable to sleep, severe cramping, clotting, death, leprosy, dermatitis, narcolepsy, blindness, paralysis, general emotional unrest, moodiness, flat out bitch-mode and/or psychopathic tendencies. Natural? I think not. So my body begins the process of stopping to produce eggs and apparently everything inside me goes haywire. And my friends, this process can take YEARS. Hell, I can produce another human being in 9 months flat. I’ve got 3 of them as proof. I’m calling bullshit. At least with your period you know what to expect every 4 weeks or so.  Menopause apparently brings you an erratic, maddening, painful, and turbulent experience.  Sign. Me. Up.

My Mom started menopause early, around 40 if memory serves. But my sister who is 45 is going along just like normal. So it wouldn’t surprise me if I drew the short straw here and got involuntarily signed up for the 120-month payoff program. Not that I wish for the need for surgical removal of one’s woman parts, but every time I bring up periods and menopause, my friends and family who no longer experience the exhileration of a monthly visitor, belly laugh, throw their heads back and point at me. It’s kind of an evil laugh, too. Not ashamed to admit that I’ve considered more than once, faking some pretty serious medical symptoms and kinda, sorta, make some off-handed remarks about a hysterectomy to my gynecologist. It could totally work.

The flip side of this of course is the fact that I won’t be able to have another baby. What’s that you say????  Can’t get pregnant?!?! Oh, you mean there’s a sunny side to this horror show? To some, the realization that you can’t reproduce any longer is some sort of loss. As if you are less of a woman now that you can’t make babies. (Don’t get me wrong, I am only speaking of those women who go thru the process as they age out of fertility, not those who prematurely lose the ability to have children.) I knew when my third child was born that I didn’t want any more children, buuuuuuuuut, I didn’t know it enough to have my tubes tied after numero 3. I wasn’t ready to make it permanent. But now that that decision may be taken out of my hands 13 years later, I’m totally ok with it.  I know I’m ok with it because I see other women around my age who are pregnant and I feel bad for them. Like reeeeeeally bad. I think about going thru the child rearing stages again and I swear, it’s enough to make me want to cry. Yes, I love my children, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t love other children that I could have, but it’s not wrong to say I don’t WANT any more children. I am done with that stage of my life, no more diapers, no more 2am feedings, no more shoe-tying, no more elementary school, no more babysitters, no more tantrums, and the list goes on and on. My family is complete and I am totally at peace with that.

But I digress…I had 2 IUD’s after my 3rd child, and they were fantastic!  Birth control I didn’t have to think about and the big bonus? Almost non-existent periods. I was living the dream for 10 years. When I had the 2nd one removed, my gynecologist told me some women’s bodies take up to a year to go back to regular periods. 3 weeks. That lying bitch. Been every 28 days for a while now. Until it wasn’t. So now I fear I am going to have to pay the piper with this menopausal roulette wheel. I had it too good for too long. The unpredictability of it all has me nervous. I’m a planner, and word on the street is, you don’t plan menopause, it just kind of owns you.

So now what? Sit around and wait for my randomized periods? I’m really at a loss here. And that doesn’t happen to me very often. Stuck between a rock and a hot flash. Guess I may be on this roller coaster ride whether I want to be or not. But maybe 22 days was just a fluke and I’ll be waiting in line for another 15 years instead.  Whatever it turns out to be, I see a whole lot of complaining in my future.  Shocker, I know.