For the past few months, I’ve felt like the woman who bled for 12 years, healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ robe. I’m bleeding, but I can’t find a robe to touch. I’ve prayed, I’ve worried, I’ve wondered. But the cause of my bleeding isn’t an ailment to cure, it’s a part of life to live. At 34, I’ve entered perimenopause.
The surprise at discovering that menopause looms far closer than I expected has faded. What blooms now is both gratitude for the children I’ve already born and a strange grief that my youth is thinning out and drying up.
When I first became a mother, I wasn’t trying or ready to get pregnant. I was merely willing. I loved my son, but along with motherhood came a wave of increased anxiety. I wasn’t sleeping, and I worried about everything: poop, milk, SIDS, room temperature, my babe dozing off in a car seat and cutting off his air supply, fevers, milk-soy protein intolerance, illness, you name it. Love wasn’t enough to ward off the fear. I held my son while he slept at night and binged Scandal, a show I’d probably never think to watch in the light of day (or with more sleep; I’m strictly a Friends and Great British Baking Show kind of girl).
The anxiety gradually subsided, and I once again returned to a place of feeling like maybe I can do this again. Maybe I’m not ready, but maybe I can. And the night before we moved into a new house, I peed on a stick and realized I was pregnant. This time was different: less anxiety, more excitement. There was familiarity. Rhythms to pregnancy. When my daughter was born, I still battled anxiety, but I slept more and worried less.
My children are five and three years old now. And I thank God that He gave them to me before I was ready. Even in the midst of my anxiety, my insomnia, and my inability to trust Him with my motherhood, I’m grateful. Because now my ovaries are withering and my cycles are erratic. If I had waited until now to have children, I might not have any at all.
Perimenopause has neatly severed me from my youth because I have, for no good reason, tied my feelings of age to my fertility. As long as I can still get pregnant, I can’t actually be old. Middle age must be far off, as long as I’m still noticing egg-white cervical mucus and keeping a handful of pregnancy tests in the bathroom cabinet. I might not be as bright-eyed and energetic as I was in my 20s, but I’m stronger and healthier. So I’m certainly not old
But now the illusion of youth has faded. I’m not old, but being young isn’t a thing to cling to for comfort anyway. I’m not in my 20s, and it’s a good thing. I’m in my mid-30s, and instead of a slew of opportunities before me and the invincibility of the naive, I have a quiet and beautiful life. My children might have altered my body, but they have done far more good to my heart. My husband and I might have accrued more wrinkles and gray hairs (him) and more stretch marks and sagging breasts (me), but our marriage is deeper and richer than it was a decade ago.
My prayer is that I will embrace my life and my age with thankfulness. My body is changing, but the beautiful hope of the gospel is that I can change, too. I can renew my mind and pursue wisdom. I can praise the Lord for the body He’s given me and the children I love. Even if I’m bleeding a little every day, I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And maybe it’s all right to have insufficient ovaries because his grace is always sufficient, even in my weakness.