I want to apologize up front to my regular male readers. This week’s post is not for you. I’m not going to “male-bash,” but I am going to complain about something you cannot possibly understand. So, I won’t be hurt or offended if you “control-alt-delete.” Please check in next week instead.
The body – especially the female body – is a complex machine that I do not understand. I find it strange that the essence of me has lived for over fifty years inside a structure full of components that are completely foreign to me. I don’t know the names or locations of all of my internal organs, and I certainly don’t understand how all of the pieces work – either individually or collectively. But, it’s the “female stuff” that really has perplexed me all this time.
Until the age of twelve, I never thought about my body. I was rarely sick and all of my parts seemed to do what they were supposed to do. But then it happened…puberty started…the entry to the cycle of fertility. And now, forty years later, I’m finally starting to go through the stages leading up to menopause…the demarcation of the end of my reproductive state.
While all of this is a natural state of “being,” nothing feels “natural” about it!
It’s frustrating to think that, month in and month out (for SO many years), the female body’s main focus is on cycles of fertility. Breast, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and primarily estrogen work in concert to facilitate reproduction – conception and childbirth. For women who choose not to become pregnant, cannot become pregnant, are trying to become pregnant, or are finished with wanting to be pregnant, the monthly menstrual cycle is beyond annoying. It can be unpredictable and isn’t always easily managed. And it’s not just the period itself that’s exasperating; it’s the stuff that comes with it too – the bloating, cramping, headaches, mood swings, etc. Then, even when we choose to end our childbearing years, we wait. Month after month we continue to deal with each cycle until the body decides it’s done. Aaarrrrggghhh!
Honestly, I shouldn’t complain. My periods were always regular and moderate. I never suffered from PMS. I was blessed to conceive easily and had two easy pregnancies; both free of morning sickness and weird cravings. I seemingly managed it all easily while going to school, working, running a household, and parenting. I never missed a beat or called in sick. But, truth be told, I’ve always been jealous of – even resentful of – the carefree ease and laissez-faire nature of the male reproductive system. It’s all SO easy for them. Could women’s monthly periods and labor pains really be Divine punishment for Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden? If so, why do men get off easy with a mere “toil the soil” for Adam’s sin? Does God just expect more from women because we can handle it?
I’m now starting the “change of life” (that’s what my grandmother always called it) process. Somehow, this phase feels very isolating. At a recent annual physical, my doctor offered NO advice on how to prepare for or deal with this new biological phase. There’s no version of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” on a bookstore shelf. There’s no aisle in a drug store with some antidote or “feminine care” product. (My own mother hasn’t offered anything helpful.) It’s just another one of those “suffer in silence” stages that no one talks about and men can’t relate to. So, once again, I find myself surfing the internet, reading others’ blogs, and looking for information that might be helpful in preparing for symptoms, reactions, and moods. In the meantime, I just feel blah…tired, anemic, and dehydrated.
When it’s all finally over (only God knows when!), I’ll be infertile and barren with dead organs inside of me. Appealing, huh? Thank goodness my husband got a vasectomy a few years ago. At least we’ll be infertile together. An interesting and fair way to face the newly empty nest, right?
Maybe I should compensate by getting a facelift and a tummy tuck…