Last week’s episode finished with this question – ‘will I be post-menopausal?’ This week we find out.
The beginning of the end?
Idly flicking through my phone apps, my finger taps the cycle tracker.
‘Gosh. I’ve not entered anything in this for months’ I declare to nobody in particular.
‘What are you doing, Cath?’ asks Mr D, peering over my shoulder as he walked past.
‘I’m clearing out unused or rarely used apps on my phone as it’s running out of space. I’ve just realised it’s almost a year since I last added anything to my cycle tracker.’ I explain.
‘There’s an app for that?’ enquires Mr D, rolling his eyes.
‘There’s an app for just about everything, dear.’ I reply as I work back to the last time I recorded a period.
‘Oh my goodness… three hundred and sixty days since the last one started!’ looking at Mr D in amazement. ‘You know what this means?’
‘Er… you’ve saved a whole heap of money on monthly supplies and chocolate? he quips, ducking out of my reach. Wise man!
‘Yes and no. Yes to saving money on supplies, but most definitely no to reducing chocolate purchases! I’ve needed a good supply of the gooey melty stuff, as well as gin and wine, to survive these past few years since the change began. However, that’s not the big thing!’
‘You mean there’s a bigger thing than gin?’ says Mr D in disbelief. I can see he thinks I’ve temporarily misplaced my marbles.
‘Yup… the biggest thing since the kiddos were born! In five days’ time, if I have nothing more to add to the tracker, I will officially be post-menopausal!’ I say, smiling a little at the idea of it.
‘Oh. That’s … er … nice?’ says Mr D, wondering if he’s saying the right thing. Poor man. Trying to find the right words to say at the right time to his perimenopausal, mercurial wife, has been challenging for him. I appreciate his valiant attempts to tread carefully. I cut him some slack…
‘Yes. I think ‘nice’ will do for the time being.
Three hundred and sixty one days…
Looking back through my journals I can see just how much I’ve changed as a person. It’s been an amazing journey; a jaw-dropping mix of weird, mildly odd, and puzzling, all the way through to pits of despair, terror, and relentless anxiety. However, there is a tiny speck of light slowly moving towards me… could this be the end of the line?
Three hundred and sixty two days…
How much have I learned about myself over the last few years, especially in therapy sessions? Loads. I want to share some of it with you. Rather than have you read through screeds of writing, I thought I’d put it in a table. Part of my discoveries came from my sessions with Dr Croskin, the rest come from my well-thumb books by Dr Northrup, Susun Weed, and Louise Hay. This might make sense to you… and then again it might not. The important thing to mention at this point, is that if you are at all concerned with any ailment, please consult a healthcare professional. I’m sharing this table with you because I never realised how power the mind has over the physical state of the body. Perimenopause, while rewiring your brain and body, also gives you the opportunity to pay attention to past issues and sort them out. It’s a work in progress, not a destination.
What you can see from the middle column, is that fear seems to have a starring role in my own personal baggage to deal with. Being the child of a mother with strong narcissistic tendencies will do that to you. I count myself blessed the day I was introduced to Dr Croskin. She certainly opened my eyes to many epiphanies!
Three hundred and sixty three days…
One of the benefits of perimenopause is a sudden surge in creativity. This can take many forms, from taking up a new hobby to starting a new business. In my case, I find a renewed sense of fun in the kitchen by going to cookery classes and learning to create dishes I’ve been too scared to try. I thought I had little skill and tolerance for using hot chillies and more exotic ingredients like fish sauce, lemon grass and rice wine vinegar. It turns out I can cook a mean Thai curry from scratch and can eat reasonably feisty bird’s eye chillies without melting into a puddle or triggering the mother of all hot flushes!
Three hundred and sixty four days…
Is this my last day as ‘mother’? In the biological sense, of course it isn’t. You don’t stop being a mother to your children, no matter how grown up they are. But I’m thinking along the old traditional sense… the maiden, mother and crone tradition. I used to imaging that ‘maiden’ meant one who remained virgin, but now I’ve read more on the subject, I realise that maidenhood is more to do with not having given birth yet. The transition from maiden to motherhood is painful and exhausting, as any woman who has pushed out a baby will tell you (often at length, embellished with gory technicolour details). There comes a point in labour, when most of us tell the midwife that we can’t do this and to ramp up the pain relief to maximum. I remember pleading with my midwife for an epidural only to be told labour was too far advanced and a few good pushes and it would be all over. The look of horror on my face was one Mr D will never forget, or let me forget either. Anyway, this bit, the transition, is pretty much where I think motherhood starts. Having the grit and determination to do what needs to be done in the face of pain and emotional (not to mention physical) exhaustion, all for this tiny wee bundle of joy.
With this in mind, maybe that goes some way to explain the trials and tribulations of perimenopause – the transition from mother to wisdom-filled crone, hopefully minus green tinge to the skin and big old hairy facial warts. Those Disney cartoonists have a lot to answer for. I’d far prefer a more modern and accurate portrayal of the modern-day crone. They should base their sketches on lovely ladies like Julie Walters and Helen Mirren.
My possibly last day as ‘mother’ is spent creating this website, linking it to Twitter, creating its sister Facebook page, and walking the pup in glorious sunshine. Perfect. And in case Aunty Flo has gone for good, I plan how I’m going to celebrate. Hint – it will involve bubbly and/or gin. Who am I kidding? Of course it will involve bubbly AND gin!
The end of the beginning?
It’s here. Aunty Flo is conspicuous by her absence!
‘Happy menopause day to me..’ I sing in triumph, already imagining the 5pm gin and tonic on the sun deck. Just to ensure I have an uninterrupted evening I call Mother as I set about creating a couple of epic drinks. Cost Center 1 is joining me in my celebrations and taking a well-earned break from exam studies. Mother was not too keen on the idea of CC1 joining in with the gin quality control but, born of some inner crone-fuelled sparkiness, I disagree with her. If CC1 is old enough to be at university, she’s old enough to join her mum for a little gin or two.
Our disagreement doesn’t stop there. I have the nerve to hold the opposite opinion on CC1’s foreign travel plans… ‘You can’t keep them tied by the apron strings for ever!’ I remind her. All this disagreement goes down like a lead balloon with Mother, but spurs me on to greater courage, enough to bring the pointless call to a stop. I’m keeping my special day chilled and fun, thank you very much!
The weather, uncharacteristically gorgeous, allows the Dean family to stay out till late into the evening, watching the tiny bats wheel around the house on their hunt for flying breakfast. On deck, the giggling, good-humoured chatter and empty Prosecco bottles tell a tale of fun and celebration. Even the boys join in, although they think I’m mad as a box of frogs.
So what happens now? It’s clearly the end of the line as far as my adventures in Perimenopauseland go. Where to now? I think it’s time for a change of scene. I’m looking forward to wandering through Postmenopauseland. After all, surely the worst is now behind me? I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks’ time.
Thank you all for keeping me company in Perimenopauseland. I’m taking a well-earned holiday for two weeks. I suspect the down time and relaxation will help me get to grips with navigating through a new landscape – Postmenopauseland.
Bless you all – Cath xx