This is the second in a three-part series on aging and motherhood.
It all started the day my first son was born. I felt the urge to pee so I stood up to walk to the bathroom. Upon my foot hitting the floor, my bladder released – completely – as I had absolutely no control. Since no one told me this could happen, I felt no remorse at the large puddle of urine the nurse came in to clean up (a warning would have been nice!) I truly hoped this would not be my new normal.
My body has fortunately bounced back in many ways since that day, but the former steel-like control I held over my bladder is gone, and it’ s not coming back. Why just the other day I took my boys to an indoor bounce place. The urge came upon me, so I made my way to the ladies’ room. Midway I had to sneeze but, since it was the Friday of April vacation, I was slightly exhausted and spacey so I forgot to stop and close my legs. Achoo goes the nose; Swooosh goes the urethra. Ugh. Time to go, kids!
I constantly wet myself. Any cough, sneeze or extreme laughter unaccompanied by a hearty leg cross will result in, at the very least, a large wet spot. It’s quite annoying and inconvenient, especially if I’m not home. Please don’t suggest that I do kegels. I’ve done so many of them now I could pick up a carefully placed stack of Legos with my vagina. And I’m not talking about the Duplos…
Many days I feel lucky, for I have quite a few friends for whom this situation is dire. One friend cannot exercise without wearing Depends. Any slight jump will result in a full-on bladder release. She’s definitely not the one wearing the skin-tight lycra capris at the gym. Another friend has no control whatsoever…of anything down there…and has recently peed, and later farted, during sex. Hot damn!
Almost every woman I know who’s born children has a similar issue, though it varies in degree. I have another friend who queefs constantly. When she first confessed this to me, I admit I laughed about it for hours. Who queefs regularly? Many of us have been there, shocked that first time a fart emits from our vaginas, but it typically happens when something’s been up there and it’s making its way back out – quickly. Pffft. It’s always surprising, but also hilarious. For my dear friend, however, queefing is the norm, as it happens frequently while she’s doing yoga, walking or breathing. I mentioned this issue to a different group of friends and was surprised to learn that it’s all too common, particularly with the older set who seem to queef during “that time of the month” (which, courtesy of perimenopause, can happen anywhere from 7 days to 8 weeks after the last time.)
Speaking of perimenopause, at age 47 I can say I’m officially in the zone. This means that every few weeks I go through the cycle of hell: first my boobs ache like I’m pregnant for a solid 5 days. Then I have a day, or 7, when I’m truly homicidal. I’m not talking about those wimpy PMS blues where you cry at Hallmark commercials. I’m talking hide the knives – psychotic PMS bitch from hell is on the loose and she will kill someone if armed. Finally, when the bleeding starts, I remember why I’ve been feeling so “off” and begin the mea culpas to my husband, kids, the man who delivers the mail, the barista at Starbucks who got my order wrong, etc. Then I feel flu-like for a day and bleed like I’ve just miscarried. When it’s gone I’m ebullient. Period, please just go already!
Most of my middle-aged friends experience the same roller coaster every month – sometimes more often. In addition to changes in our periods, there’s a whole host of exciting symptoms my similarly-aged friends are having: night-sweats, hot flashes, dryness, lack of sex drive and insomnia, to name a few. Then there’s one symptom to which none of us are immune: zombie-brain.
This is something that begins the day we become pregnant (then called “preggo-brain”). It’s that feeling you’re always forgetting something. You can walk into a room to complete a task and, upon arrival, have no idea why you’re in the room at all. (Don’t worry, you’ll remember later when you’re in your car). It typically sticks around until your youngest child attains the age of two. If, however, like me, that time period coincides with the beginning of perimenopause, you’re totally fucked.
I got my brain back for about a year after my younger son was born. It felt so nice to have a clear head again; to be able to complete simple tasks like paying bills and responding to emails without totally screwing them up. Once I hit the age of 45, however, bye-bye brain. It’s gotten so bad, I’ve actually broken down in tears of frustration at my inability to function mentally. No amount of Sudoku or crossword puzzles help. I did buy some ginkgo biloba but just can’t remember to take it. Sigh…
I do have friends who don’t have kids, and aging is no picnic for them either, but they seem to have been spared the parade of horribles that we who’ve birthed and/or raised children must endure. We middle-aged moms are like our own set of the seven dwarfs: queefy, leaky, gassy, bitchy, sleepy, forgetful and dry. Are kids worth all this leaking, queefing and stupidity? Some days…but not every day. No f’ing way.
The most frustrating thing is watching our male counterparts endure… NOTHING. Sure they often get bald, paunchy and unattractive but who cares? No one’s looking at or judging an older man’s appearance. And, unless he’s got serious prostate problems, he’s peeing just as efficiently as ever. No extra hole for queefing, and that brain’s as good as ever. Bastard!
On a more positive note, we’ll most likely outlive our male counterparts; the periods will soon come to an end, our brains will begin to function normally once the kids leave home (f we escape dementia), and wearing Depends will become acceptable, if not expected. As for the queefing, who knows? At least we have our kids to take care of us, right? Does any of this sound familiar, or am I (and my messy, musical friends) alone? I’d love to hear from you.
Next and final post in the series: the upside of being an older mom (see, I’m not all doom and gloom).