Remember the book? The one that made you want to be a member of The Club, a woman, a full-grown gal in on the secrets of the Way? Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. That book. The girls who "got" their periods. The girls who lied about getting them and then got them. But in the end, they all got them. And it made us...well, most of us, anyway, want them, too. Lord, were we dumb, or what?
And then, for many of us, they arrived. And arrived. And kept on arriving, sometimes unwanted, sometimes with an enormous sigh of relief. Sometimes, they disappeared for, oh, about nine months if we were lucky and fertile and able to use the damned cycle as God seemed to have intended. Sometimes, we didn't want them there because we wanted the pregnancy, the very thing they were supposed to enable, so much. We cursed the curse, and felt cursed ourselves. We were Women, though, the ones who lived with blood from birth onward, managed it in ways that men can only--and don't want to--imagine. We know its types, probably have enough internal labels for it to rival the alleged expansive Inuit lexicon for snow.
And then, for some of us, the end comes. We've had enough children or can't have any more children or can't have children. Period. And we have decisions to make. Decisions not covered Are You There, God. Decisions that have little to do with anticipation of womanhood but more about the anticipation of middle-age, grandmotherhood, maybe. Getting old, not being fertile, not Getting It any more.
That time has come for us. We had our third child after some tribulation and I birthed him after a few life-threatening issues that necessitated that I Never. Ever. Become Pregnant. Again. The Pill--a lovely little invention, the Pope notwithstanding--served its purpose for many a year, but then the family bugbear of high blood pressure has made me kiss goodbye to that tiny little bolus of combination hormone that has kept me safely barren for many a year. I'll miss that crinkly foil pack, the monthly visits to the pharmacy. Or not. Even still, I find myself reaching every night for a foil pack that's no longer there, reminded by my 20-year habit that it is...done. Finis.
Why, is it time to write a book, Are You There God, It's Me, Emily, and I'm Menopausal? No. But I've taken official steps now that have rendered me unable to have children, even if I wanted to. There will be no late-life surprises. There will be no John and Elizabeth Edwards second act after the loss of a child. I have my three beautiful little boys, growing every day less and less little. They and their lives are It, what we have, and we will have no more, no matter what the fates have woven for our futures.
I chose this option on purpose. I was pleased to do it, tired of battling nature's insistence that I continue to enhance my fitness. I keep scanning my psyche for some remnant of wist, a little regret, something that says, "Yes, you did the right thing, but you do have a little mourning to do." I seem to have no mourning, just the days as they come. I'm not going to miss a single word from that sanguine lexicon, either, when menopause does finally arrive.
It's been quite some 30-odd years since I met Margaret and her God and became acquainted with that secret society of womanhood and its lead maven, Aunt Flo. It's been just over 10 years since I finally used that secret to become a mother. And now, I end that chapter, close that book, and move on into what I hope is a somewhat graceful if physically hobbled and barren-by-choice middle age. I think I'm going to have to find a new book to read. Has Judy Blume written anything about the secret society of the perimenopausal woman? Perhaps Are You There God? I'm Too Damned Old to Reproduce?