- Not long after my husband and I got married, I realized my period was almost two months late.
- With four kids between us and me, in my early forties, I had mixed feelings.
- It turned out not to be a pregnancy, but still I sometimes wonder if it really is perimenopause.
I checked my period app: two months late. “Are you prepared for baby number five?” I asked my husband. His eyes widened and I could see we were both having the same thought, “Oh no, please don’t.”
We had always been careful, but had we been careful enough? I’ve scanned my memory for nights when we may have slipped. Nothing crossed my mind, but I knew all too well that surprise babies happen. Several of my friends and relatives have had babies in their late 40s. At the age of 43 and married for the second time, it was not impossible.
After a long pause, he replied, “I mean, no.” He lets his eyes fall on my stomach. “But if it did, it would be good. I think.’
“I think it’s just hormones,” I offered. But in my head I felt less sure about the cause of my missed period. My stomach felt firmer and rounder. I could have been pregnant. Could be?
Consider another pregnancy in my 40s
As I said the words, I wondered how I really felt. In my rational mind I didn’t want any more children; four between us is more than enough.
Still, I couldn’t shake that deeper desire for another baby. We are a blended family with two birth children each and I have often wondered what it would be like to have a baby with him.
An “our” baby – that’s what they call them. He’s a great dad and I’ve always loved the baby phase, even though my pregnancies were complicated and stressful. My girls are both teenagers now, and there’s a little part of me that misses those sweet, rhythmic baby years of cuddling, feeding, and soothing to sleep.
Until I hit 40, my periods were so easy to track. Now, at age 43, they appear at random times — if at all. I’ve heard that menopause usually starts around age 50, so I’m way too young for that, right? I’ve even avoided thinking about it. Menopause sounds scary, but so is a geriatric pregnancy. I wasn’t sure what I stood for, or what I was hoping for at the time.
Getting a test to find out my fate
I walked to the grocery store and took three pregnancy tests off the shelf and tucked them under my peanut butter chocolate bar and packet of Pringles. My basket looked like a pregnant person’s basket. “I might as well announce it over the loudspeaker,” I thought as I watched the cashier scan my things.
As soon as I got home I used all three, one after the other – and they were all negative. But I was wondering if it might be too early to say that. After all, when I was pregnant with both my daughters, I knew I was pregnant before the tests confirmed it. I really had to be sure. I booked an appointment with a nurse and explained my situation.
“It could be perimenopause,” she said when I arrived. “The stage before menopause. You’re a bit young, but within the age range.”
‘I hope so,’ I replied, part of me meant it, another part completely lied. I wrapped my hand around the urine sample jar and headed for the toilets.
“You really don’t want any more babies,” I repeated over and over in my head as I waited for the nurse to take the test. With my history of preterm births, cervical complications and my age, it wouldn’t be safe. Then I put my hand on my stomach. I thought, “And yet…”
A few minutes passed. “Not pregnant!” the nurse told me with a look of relief. I think the potential of some pregnancies may also cause medical staff to worry.
So perimenopause. I went home and announced the news to my equally relieved husband. “It would have been nice,” he said. He held my shoulders and his eyes became dreamy for a moment; in that moment I could see that he had had the same inner conflict. “But we already have four kids and babies are hard work.”
“No more babies!” I said, and we both laughed. We had been discussing booking him a vasectomy and this may have been the reminder we needed. With the pandemic and our wedding in November 2020, we have postponed and set the rest aside. I brought it up with my doctor the following week, but we live in a very small, isolated town and staff shortages have put vasectomies on hold for the time being – possibly until 2023 – unless we travel to get one, which my husband isn’t very happy about. to do.
What Perimenopause Is Like – If That’s What This Really Is?
Nearly 6 months later, the symptoms of perimenopause have become more apparent: brain fog and mood swings strike at random times and make me feel like I’m on a premenstrual roller coaster. It’s like going through puberty all over again, but in reverse.
My menstrual tracker tells me I’m now on day 107 of my cycle. The doctor ordered blood tests to get an official diagnosis, although it will take another month and more blood tests to get accurate results. With the nature of perimenopause and the hormone fluctuation that people experience, it is not a quick or easy process to diagnose.
Meanwhile, the pregnancy is still in my head. I can not help it. Maybe a small part of me will always want more babies. I catch myself sometimes fantasizing about holding a newborn. I loved rocking my babies to sleep with their soft little heads on my neck and their sweet, milky baby scent.
It’s easy to forget how exhausting and difficult those early years are. My husband and I are tired enough juggling four kids and busy jobs. Another baby is a nice thought, but in reality it would mean giving up many of the freedoms I have now that my children are older.
The pregnancy test last month was negative, but I keep thinking about the women I know who had babies at 48 and 49 after they thought their periods were over; it’s a bit scary. I’m sure I’m in perimenopause, but maybe it’s time for another pregnancy test, just in case.