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What's going on in there?
A middle aged mystery
Above is a screenshot I took of a friend’s FB post (shared with her permission) I found a little too relatable.
Pre-children, I didn’t think that much about my period. It showed up without much of a warning aside from the pills telling me it was going to happen. I didn’t start developing serious cramps or premenstrual irritability or exhaustion in a real way until after I had kids. Yet, you might think that after 30 or so years of menstruating I’d be able to know the difference between regular crabbiness with my family vs the PMS kind, which when all the true rage of the ages boils to the surface for a few days. Regular anger says, “Oh, that old peanut butter jar waiting to be rinsed out is still sitting there. Wonder when someone, maybe the person who filled it with soapy water who is not me will dispatch with it. On to the next thought.” PMS me instead interprets the interloper jar as a sign of DISRESPECT, not just against me but against ALL WOMEN and I’ll be GOD DAMNED if my boys grow up to leave things around like this for a woman to clean up and FUCK this and FUCK EVERYONE I’m going to bed at 8 PM.
I noted sometime last year to my husband that it was strange to have distinct bouts of PMS rage now when I hadn’t had them before. “Yeah, I can tell lately when it’s happening.”
Me, at this:
Granted, I had just semi-tricked him into revealing that it’s sometimes evident I am a monthly bitch but he still could have just sat there and said “Oh, I couldn’t tell—you always seem even keeled to me. And thank you for all that you do.”
I took a pregnancy test a few weeks ago. I bought a generic one at the Walgreens with a gigantic generic bottle of fiber pills, and I felt very perimenopausal.
I would have been highly, highly, highly surprised to be pregnant, between my age, my husband’s vasectomy, and my being on birth control to ameliorate my night sweats. But I had told my therapist that my period had been mostly MIA for the last few months and she told me to take a test just to be sure.
The last time I was pregnant, in 2014, I sensed it before I even took a test. I’d gotten my wisdom teeth out the year prior and one morning, while my husband and I were trying to conceive a second child, I sensed a weird sensitivity in the spot where the teeth had been extracted and since healed. That test turned up positive.
I was 99.6% percent I wasn’t pregnant in 2022 at age 43. I had a feeling there was no way I could be pregnant at this age and not immediately collapse of exhaustion the second the sperm met the egg—but who knows? I don’t know what is going on in my body at all these days.
I peed on the stick and set a timer for three minutes. Since I wasn’t trying to conceive and I didn’t sincerely believe there was a chance I could be pregnant I wasn’t in that much suspense but still a part of wondered, “What if?” Even if I truly didn’t think there was anything in there, if I had been pregnant, it would be such a miracle of science I’d probably have to keep the baby who would then probably grow up to have a dedicated online following of people rooting for the little baby who shouldn’t have been born but was anyway. I thought, I can’t be pregnant again, give birth again, have a newborn around again. Except that if I was, that baby did work really hard to arrive, given the odds, and should that beating the odds merit the chance to join the world?
Absolutely not—I could not be pregnant, give birth, have a newborn again. This imaginary miracle baby was already taking up a lot of bandwidth for a thing that didn’t likely exist.
I am not pregnant. I did not discover any hidden sadness about it. Or even hidden relief since I wasn’t really that worried it could be true.
Where’s my period? I don’t know. Maybe it’s my birth control pills, but they’re not the kind that makes you skip your period. Maybe I indeed hit menopause early. Maybe COVID the last several years went through me like a wind storm and after the fact there are just a few scraggly tumbleweeds left.
Should I feel sad about this? I don’t right now. I do just want to know if my period will ever return so I’m not caught unaware the first time in my life I decide to wear white jeans. I also kind of miss the catharsis of it actually arriving as well as this special time of month:
Without my period I don’t have something to cross reference how I feel. Sometimes, when I still had it regularly, I’d feel off and check my period tracker and it would still be several weeks away, which would help answer the question, “Am I crabby because I have a period coming down the chute, or is this just a bad day?”
As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m working on an assignment about what women talk about when we’re not in mixed company and crowdsourced what women these days have been discussing on their girls’ nights. Common themes that came up included aging parents, Roe vs Wade, kids, jumpsuits and perimenopause. We all seem to find it incredibly confusing, this period of not being young but not really that old yet. It’s amazing that we know so much about so many things and nothing still, really, about how our bodies work. (Has anyone read Vagina Obscura? That sounds promising.)
If I ran the country, I would find funding so that people received continuing health education every five or ten years or so, letting you know this is what your sleep might be like, what your mood might be like, what your diet ought to include, what your sex might be like. Here’s how your skin and hair and feet and teeth and private parts might be looking and feeling. Here are things you likely want to look out for, that sort of thing.
But that’s not how this country works.
What I did see, when I was out of town this weekend, were numerous ads for a new company where you can send in samples of your dog’s hair and saliva and learn about his possible food sensitivities or hormonal imbalances.
Thanks for reading Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers. Feel free to forward this issue to someone who may find this relatable or funny or what have you. If you haven’t yet, I hope you consider becoming a paid subscriber which gets you bonus content and subscriber threads but moreover supports independent, unsponsored reporting, essays and humor.:
One witchy thing
My friend and I chaperoned a 1st grade zoo field trip last week. It was a warm sunny day and a Rainbow Cone truck on the premises was extremely tempting, but we had been instructed not to buy extra treats for the kids and we weren’t feeling evil enough to buy ice cream for ourselves and just eat it right in front of them.
School ends at 3; the buses got home at 2:45. All the kids wanted to go home early with their parent if possible—it’s like summer Fridays at work. But we both put our boys back in school/aftercare to take care of business alone for awhile. At about 3 PM, she sent me this photo: