I’ve never been the first of my friends to go through a life changing moment. I wasn’t the first to get married or have a baby. I always had someone to look to for advice when something big was changing in my life.
But now, I’m the first to be told that I am perimenopausal.
How in the hell can this be happening? Am I really old enough to start going through the “Change?” My youngest is just barely out of diapers!
Well, according to my OB, menopausal symptoms can stretch over the course of 7 years. With statistics like those, I guess 39 would be a normal age to start “changing.”
What brought me into the OB was an unexplained cramping that at times felt like the beginning stages of labor. At first it was every few months. Then it became more frequent and at times debilitating. I literally had to wear a dress, everyday, because pants hurt too much.
Signs and symptoms of perimenopause
According to Dr. Google (WebMD to be exact), perimenopause is another special time in a woman’s life when our hormones get all wonky. Estrogen begins decreasing.
Here’s a totally copied list of the beautiful experiences that accompany perimenopause (again, courtesy of WebMD):
- Hot flashes (that explains my sweaty hair)
- Breast tenderness (lovely)
- Worse PMS symptoms (scary mommy over here)
- Lower sex drive (sorry hubby)
- Fatigue (guess I can’t blame this on my kids)
- Vaginal dryness (lovely)
- Urine leakage (that’s becoming)
- Urinary frequency (that’s helpful on top of the whole leakage thing)
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping (especially wonderful if you have kids who wake up during the night
Back to the Story
So imagine the look on my face when my sweet, baby-faced doctor uttered the “M” word.
As he went on to explain every treatment from birth control to cauterizing the lining of my uterus to the simple transvaginal hysterectomy, my mind drifted away to the last significant interaction with him.
Cue the flashback sequence…
I was so relieved that this doctor was the one to deliver our baby. I remember reassuring my husband that Doogie Houser was my favorite OB and that I trust him.
Maybe I was trying to channel that same trust. I had to remind myself how much I do trust him. I mean, this man saved my baby’s life by surgically removing him from my belly. How could I not trust him to tell me that I’m starting menopause?
So he told me that he wanted to get a biopsy of my baby maker… just to rule out anything more serious. It would only take a few minutes and it will be a little uncomfortable. I would be a little crampy but able to go about my day.
Okay. Why not. I mean I was already sitting there half naked with a little pink blankie on my lap. He’s already been down in my girlie bits before. Hell, he had my uterus outside of my body theee years ago. What’s a little biopsy? Right?
So here’s a good question… What is the best response the statement, “your cervix looks good.” Um… Thanks?
Well, the biopsy was definitely not the most pleasant thing to experience. My doctor and his nurse made it as easy as they could. The forced conversation about Paw Patrol was a highlight.
I was a little shocked when I experienced the exhaustion and pain later that evening. Mommy guilt set in big time. I was grouchy and sore. My highly energetic boys were bouncing around and accidentally hit my belly a few times. The cramping was similar to Braxton Hix contractions. I was not a happy mama.
Mental exhaustion hit me big time. My mind was playing tricks on me. Any woman who’s been pregnant knows that when you are pregnant, you visit your OB’s office so frequently, the staff and doctors become a big part of your life. Well being at my OB’s office that day kinda made me feel like I was pregnant. Reminding myself that no, I’m the complete opposite of pregnant, was hard to fathom.
I’m not a big worrier but the thought of losing a part of my womanhood, granted the most unpleasant part of womanhood, (aka Aunt Flo) really got me down.
I knew that my husband and I were not going to have anymore babies. We had chosen to have a tubal ligation during my c-section three years prior to this experience. It was a unanimous decision to say no to having more babies.
So why was I so upset when my doctor was talking to me about the next stage of women’s health?
A week later, my husband and I were back at the OB office. Felt pretty surreal as we watched all the pregnant bellies walk around. When the nurse called my name my husband smiled, patted my hand, and said, “Good luck!”
“Um… no honey. You’re coming with me.”
I was not as excited as I was the last time we walked into the ultrasound room together. Instead of looking forward to seeing a little fetus on the monitor, I was hoping that there wasn’t something seriously wrong with my uterus.
My sweet OB told us that my biopsy came back clear, which was a relief.
Next question. What’s my choice?
- Hormone therapy
- Uterine ablation
Option #2 suited us best for now.
The thought of my uterus getting an overhaul was not too exciting. I was still in disbelief that I am heading straight into the next stage of my womenly life.