It came in the form of a phone call. The nurse from my doctor's office where I had recently had my annual check-up. "Did you get the results of my hormone tests" I asked, anxious to find out why my periods had been so inconsistent lately believing it was my bodies way of trying to readjust after my recent pregnancy.
"Oh yes." she replied "You have the hormone levels of a post-menopausal woman, you're in menopause. Nothing to worry about, you're normal, we'll see you next year for your check-up. Bye." click.
What did she just say!! Was that it? Shouldn't I see the doctor for help or for something? I stared into the phone and then looked over at my daughter sitting in her highchair eating cereal. She is only 2 1/2 years old! This can't be right, or is it? I'm 47 now. Maybe this is normal or is it? Do I have to figure this out at the same time I'm trying to adjust to being a first-time mom?!! I need help!!!!!
I'm lucky to be close to my own mother even though she lives about two hours away. Few topics are out of bounds. I called her to find out again what age she was when she went through menopause. "48" she tells me. "My periods just stopped one day, everything was running like clockwork right on time and then nothing". "What about hot-flashes?" I asked, this was the only symptom of menopause I knew about and so far, I hadn't had any. "Oh yeah" she replied, "I still have them once in a while but not like I used to."
The only difference I had noticed was my periods had become inconsistent. Surely my recent pregnancy had triggered that, not menopause. How could this happen now when I needed every bit of energy I had left in my body to raise this child? I couldn't be sidetracked with the challenge of facing menopause too! At least not yet!
Life was finally getting back to being somewhat normal. We had moved twice in the last two years, renovated an old historic home and at the same time, I was making the difficult transition from career woman, to new wife, to stay-at-home mom and now this! I had heard that menopause makes you tired and zaps your energy levels. Are you kidding?? I would need every ounce of energy available just to get through the day. I couldn't help but wonder, "Who the Hell am I now?"
Before all these changes, I had worked in the insurance industry, every position from reception right up to traveling on the road doing sales and service. More than 20 years of building up a rewarding career that had allowed me to buy a home, travel, do whatever I felt like, at least on my days off.
I hadn't married or lived common-law. I was one of those women who could enter any room full of men and walk out with the only one who was unemployed, drank too much, already had a girlfriend he had forgotten to mention, and was either living on his friend's sofa or in is mother's basement. No problem, he just needed a little help to get back on his feet (as if he had ever been on them!). I was a magnet for this type. My friends at work used to joke about how my life could be any "movie of the week". Most of them were living the traditional life of being married to a nice guy and raising a family. Not me, but at least at that time I had a clear perception of who I was.
I guess I should backtrack a little and say for the record, how blessed I feel to have had my first and it turns out only child at the ripe old age of 45. She was the typical beautiful, bouncing baby who now fills every one of my days and finally now that she is three years old, just the occasional night.
So with that now out of the way, I can't help but wonder "What the Hell was I thinking?!!" At the age of 44, I had married a nice, self-employed older man who already had four children, either in university or on their own. Life was going to be good, just the two of us other than the occasional short visit from one of his kids. I had moved 2 1/2 hours away from my home to get married so I couldn't keep my old job but that was okay, he earned enough to support us both quite comfortably. I could find a part-time job for something to do. I had it all figured out.
What I didn't know at that time was how much my husband missed raising children now that his were finally out of the house.
During my single years, I had lots of time on my hands to read and I had seen those articles about how difficult it was to become pregnant in your late 30's and nearly impossible once you reached the age of 40. The odds of becoming pregnant now were extremely low, probably impossible even if I did seek medical intervention, which I wasn't going to do. We've all seen the older TV and movie star moms beaming on the glossy magazine covers with their newborn multiples. Access to that kind of medical intervention is not reality for most of us. My own eggs? Impossible at this age.
So there I was, 44 years old and well aware of how remote my chances of becoming pregnant without intervention were. They must be somewhere in the negative numbers by now I remember thinking. No problem. I'd stop taking birth control. I probably didn't need them anyway and it would satisfy my husband who wanted to make sure that if there could be a child in our future, at least we were allowing nature to take its course.
So that's how I ended up like this. Up to my neck in dirty diapers and staring menopause right in the face!