For a while, it seemed pretty common to hear stories about young women giving birth to babies and then leaving the baby in a dumpster somewhere.
I haven’t heard any stories like this lately, have you? I didn’t want to Google to find out. I have a feeling it’s probably still happening and our world has just gotten so crazy, these stories don’t even make it to the top of our news feed anymore – which is a whole other topic. But, I digress.
I never understood how this kind of tragedy could take place.
It wasn’t just leaving a baby in the dumpster that baffled me. It was learning more about these young women and that in most cases these gals were in total denial about the fact they were pregnant. Some were not even aware that they were pregnant.
How do you reach full-term without realizing you’re pregnant?
I could not comprehend how someone could be so out of touch with her own body and reality that something like this could occur. That a woman could go through such a transformative and life-altering experience with no awareness of it for nine months.
Was she simply in denial? Or was she so uneducated that she didn’t even know what was happening to her body?
I could never wrap my brain around what that must be like for her. Or how we as a society let her down.
I’m 49. Sitting on the cusp of menopause. Or at least I assume I am.
I have been reading books about this stage of life since I was in my early 30’s. I don’t know what sparked my curiosity about menopause at such an early age. Or why I have had such a conscious awareness of the importance of this stage of life for so long.
Mine is really the first generation that truly speaks out about the symptoms leading up to menopause in daily conversation. I don’t think my Grandma had the luxury of lamenting with friends over a glass of wine at dinner about hot flashes, sore breasts, forgetfulness or vaginal dryness – topics we now laugh about as standard protocol to be expected…and accepted.
And, thanks to science, we can pop pills to get us through it all. Just the right customized package of hormones and we can tough it out and make it to the other side where, as women of a certain age, we can don a big purple hat and become invisible all at the same time.
But, something about all of this didn’t ring true for me.
I had this crazy idea that many of these symptoms were not necessary. That menopause could be a super smooth transition. An empowering one. That these physical discomforts were only there because our health was suffering. That throughout all of the years of caring for others, women had sacrificed their own health in the process and that menopause might just be a period of time in your life where your body says, “Hey, it’s my turn! Pick me!”
Of course, these crazy ideas were only theory. I was only in my thirties when they first started stirring. What did I know?
So, I quietly set forth to see what the transition to menopause would look like for someone who really focused on being as healthy as possible – not just today. But every day. For 10 years. 15 years. 20 years.
- Could I lessen the symptoms?
- Could I avoid the need for hormone replacement therapy?
- Could I transition smoothly into menopause without drying up, heating up or spacing out?
What would the whole transition look like for someone who was physically and emotionally healthy? Would it be different?
I wanted to know. (Be careful what you ask for, you just might get an answer.)
While I’m still in the process, I just want to share with you what I’m learning. In real time.
First of all, I was right.
Being healthy does help. Symptoms are pretty much non-existent for me compared to most friends my age. I don’t have hot flashes, night sweats or any of the other typical stuff I hear others complain about.
Maybe I will. I don’t know. I’ll keep you posted.
But, here’s what I do know.
When you get the physical stuff out of the way…there is a whole other layer. And, I’m witnessing it first hand. In real time.
For the first time in my life, I identify with that young girl giving birth. Alone. I feel like I am experiencing the most profound birthing experience. Like new life is coming through me and a strong awareness that nothing will ever be the same.
But, the room is not full of family and loved ones like it was when I gave birth to my daughters. There is no doula present. No one is holding my hand or helping me breathe through the contractions. There is no professional personnel on hand as back up in case of emergency. There is no one waiting with excitement for this wonderful little miracle that is about to join the world.
I really can’t even put it into words just yet. I’m still birthing. But, I just wanted to share that I get it.
I understand how women end up nine months in and unaware of their pregnancy. I understand how women end up leaving their babies at dumpsters – completely unprepared and at a loss for what to do.
It’s because we’re not talking about it. Not enough. We’re not sharing our experiences. Deep enough. We’re not creating ceremony and ritual around this milestone. Holy enough. We’re not holding women in high regard through this period of time. Worthy enough.
How are women supposed to know about the true meaning of this stage? Men can’t help. They don’t know. (And, if they did know, it would just scare the shit out of them!)
Are we just supposed to just figure it all out on our own? Where are the mid-wives? Where do we learn about the power we possess? The depth? The profound strength? The life force we channel? The mission we have as leaders in our second half of life?
As we approach menopause – we openly lament our physical discomforts and struggle to ‘balance our hormones’.
We don’t, however, talk about the soul searching that happens during this time. About how we struggle because we can no longer make ourselves do those things we’ve been doing our whole life. How all of the things you used to do for others, you can’t even muster up to do for yourself.
How something in you pulls you so powerfully to expand and grow. To stretch beyond what is physically possible.
And, we definitely don’t discuss or acknowledge the miracle that is taking place. The baby. The new life that is birthing.
We don’t talk about the process. Or what to expect or how to manage the pain. Or positions that might make it easier. Or how to communicate with those we love so they can best support us through this magical and profound transition.
Or how. to. breathe.
And, we don’t circle around women at this age and support them with showers and gifts and celebrations.
All of this – while our little miracles are born. And, like those young girls who find themselves giving birth alone, I fear that too many of us never even recognize or connect with this new life that’s coming through us.
We simply leave it at the dumpster and walk away with a hole in our hearts. Wondering what just happened. And, how will we manage to go back to life as we knew it and go on as if it never happened.