Is Menopause the NEW Pregnancy?

By Lisa Barr

As I write this I am 10 days late for my period — and let’s just say, to put it mildly, I have been freaking out — 48 and pregnant? 

Each day has been a wait, a constant peek & see, and still nothing. Every time I’m about to call the doctor, and I then think, I’ll give it one more day (who has time to waste in that waiting room). Everything seems to be happening as it should: boobs, bloating, bitchiness. You know the score — PMS only without the MS. I’m all “pre” with no release. And then I’ve been thinking back — Was it that time in Montana this summer when we … or after So-and-So’s party and we ... I feel like I’m in my early 20s, trying to pinpoint the exact moment when what should not have happened may have happened.

So yesterday, my daughter hears me jokingly discuss plans for our “newborn” — and yells out: “Are you friggin’ kidding me? You’re too OLD!”

Too old? Screw her.

“And you’re too young!” I shout back. Much too young. And, damn, I AM too old.

“I don’t want a baby in the house. Seriously, that’s so weird,” she says, all of 16, as she heads to Lollapalooza in a neon get-up (don’t get me started).

And I’ve wanted a baby in this house for the past 10 years … but NOW? At this age? And then the mind calculations begin: When the baby is 10, I’ll be almost 60. When I’m in Gymboree — everyone will be at least 20 years younger than me, Mommy & Me classes, OMG — and the worst of the worst —  bar/bat-mitzvahs again. Shoot me.

“And you just know it’s going to be ANOTHER girl,” my husband adds, throwing fuel on my fire. “I’m to be punished eternally.”

Here’s the math in His World: Me, three teenage daughters, 2 girl dogs, tons of female employees — so much damn daily drama that the guy might as well open up a new theatre in our town.

“Yes,” I tell him, patting my tummy. “It WILL be a girl. Get used to it.”

“Honey,” he said, to my daughter (who is one week away from getting her license). “Let’s take a drive NOW.”

“If you think I’m going to the drug store to get Mommy a pregancy test — forget about it. That is too weird.”

So off my husband went to “Walgreens” and there I was a half hour later peeing on a stick. We sat there, the two of us, on our bathroom sink staring and watching and waiting. It was so ridiculous, to be this age staring and watching and waiting. We started planning names, and what we’d have to do to our house to accommodate the baby … all the details belonging to a couple 15 years younger. By the time the NOT PREGNANT newsflash came up on the stick … I was already thinking, Who did I give my Baby Bjorn to?

Still no period. Five pregnancy tests later (Yes, I am mildly obsessed) — No pregnancy/No period. What is this?

Over the weekend I went to a friend’s 50th birthday (that in itself is surreal) — 50? When did that happen?

Immediately, I was surrounded by a group of women discussing my impending pregnancy. As you can see, I’ve been talking about this with everyone I come in contact with (my manicurist, my trainer, the electrician). Half the women at the party said they would love to have a baby at this stage, the other half were in the No Fucking Way group. In the end we all decided this was THE month, perhaps that I had crossed to the Other Side — to the Boca (six months in Florida) crowd, to getting my subscription to AARP, to Early Bird Specials.

Welcome to menopause, baby. Here’s looking at you (almost) five decades.

The conversation quickly turned from babies to the onset of menopause. The signs. Everyone had her opinion on the Big M:

Oh, you are going to lose your boobs. What boobs, I thought, they never came in the first place.

I have a friend whose boobs grew two sizes – you could be a grower and a show-er. I will take that offer and double it.

You are going to start hot flashing. Fabulous, I’m always cold.

You are going to freeze. Damn.

Beware — Mood Swings. Oh, My God. I’m an entire playground as it is …

And so it went.

God, I love women. Give them a subject — any subject — and we can dissect it, mutilate it, escalate it, exaggerate it — but no one EVER walks away empty-handed.

Here’s the thing, I thought. Let’s break this down. Meno-PAUSE and EXAMINE. Don’t think old — Think Bold.

Yes, the sheer concept of menopause feels wrinkly, but wiser. It is the fork in the road — that physical reminder — that calls on you to choose which way you are headed for the rest of your  journey — what do YOU really want for the Second Half?

At 48 — I am finally truly happy with life. Great husband, great kids — albeit fully loaded with the usual teenage angst — and my work is totally enjoyable — crazy at times, but I dig it.  Does it sound AARP-ish to say, I’m really content?

Ironically, I think I have been in a State of Pregnancy for 40 plus years — and I finally feel at this juncture that I have given birth to ME.

The ME that I truly accept. I’m no longer striving to be somebody else, somebody better, somebody different. This came with lots of therapy, support and soul-searching, ups and downs and sideways.

Menopause, if I examine it closely, is less a LOSS of something but more of a GAIN: With this new phase comes CLARITY.

In our teens, our eyes are Wide Shut. We do lots of crazy experimentation and hope we don’t get into too much trouble. Our 20s is all about searching (THE One, THE Job). Our 30s is about learning how to be a Mom and managing Motherhood & Marriage. At 40 — everything that was all over the place begins to settle in.

Too old? I recall the women at that 50th birthday party. Sensational. Better than ever.

If Menopause is the NEW pregnancy — then damn, I’m going to embrace this next stage of life, and raise the Me that I want to be.



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