The monthly reminder.
How can I explain it? This feeling that keeps coming over me each time I cycle lately, wondering if I am in the final months of experiencing the fullness of being a woman, wondering if things will change drastically the next time they cut me open to alleviate the lingering pain.
For several years, I have been quite aware of my fertility thanks to the dermoid cyst resting on my left ovary, never letting me forget when the egg is released each and every month. Never letting me forget the possibilities that could have been or could lie ahead if only the pills and the condoms were tossed aside. No other time of the month did I hear the ovaries scream, “create life! ” And yet, the door to doing so has been slowly closing all this time – and it may be slamming shut soon enough.
More than that, for twenty-one years, the monthly cycles have appeared. Not always clockwork, due to stress or illness or by manipulation of the birth control pill, though more times than not, a perfect twenty-eight days. Despite all the pain and the moodiness and the mess of it all, it makes me feel whole to cycle, it makes me feel like a woman, it makes me feel strong.
There are no guarantees that I will have enough tissue left to produce the monthly cycles. There are no guarantees that I won’t enter a new phase of my life much earlier than I ever expected.
Beyond all the concerns over increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer and osteoporosis, there are the practical concerns. Will I still feel sexy if I’m menopausal at the age of thirty-four? Will he still want me with all the hormonal confusion?
When this was an emergency situation, where we knew it could all end right then and there, I didn’t have time to really think it all through. Now I think about it constantly. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep, sometimes I have to take some moments to breathe in the bathroom at work, sometimes I have nightmares. Everything else seems insignificant when I think about what could happen.
If that seems selfish, I am sorry. It’s just that I don’t know how to be me without that monthly reminder of being a woman.