Tag Archives: hormones


I was worried.  About vaginas?  Well, no, actually.  I haven’t worried about vaginas in ages.  Not since Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues told me in the late 90’s that they come in every shape and size and color.  Participating in V-Day for years has helped me to believe that someday we will live in a world that is not so rife with violence against women and girls.  So, I wasn’t really worried, not about vaginas.  Not yesterday.

I had plans to see UNC’s production of The Vagina Monologues with some friends.  It was Natalie’s birthday.  She had sent out an email to a bunch of girls “Let’s go see The Vagina Monologues for my birthday!”  I cautiously suggested we see the matinee.  Groups of girls don’t go out for drinks and birthday shenanigans at 2:30.  But… I have this baby, see?  I know, I know, she is more than 13 months old.  But… bedtime. I can’t, I won’t be out at bedtime.  I just… can’t.  And they said “Sure.”

I had more than a month to think about it.  I was excited.

The Vagina Monologues changed me.  My first year in the OBX production I wore a black pants suit and a bra, no shirt, I was the Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy, the Moaner.  I drank wine after the show and laughed with my new girlfriends. I hadn’t ever been a part of a big group of women.  I have been lucky in life to have always had a best friend, a sidekick, a confidante.  But a tribe of women?  I’d never felt that way before. And it was fabulous.

In the years to come I would have different parts, I would wear pigtails and slouchy gaucho pants to mask my newly postpartum body.  I would sport electric blue hair to distract you from my sunken eyes from lack of sleep.  I would skip out on the wine because I feared the things I might say.  I would mumble to no one really in the middle of a rehearsal “I don’t think I want to be married anymore.”

The Vagina Monologues, these stories of women, they inspired me.  They moved me. They taught me that women are all the same.  I had always felt like an odd duck.  I was “one of the boys.” Standing on stage with a group of women I’d only known a short while I was one of a group.  I was part of a tribe.

And then I had a baby.  And I got stronger every day. A little over a year after Em was born I was in a rehearsal for The Vagina Monologues when I said out loud for the first time that I would be leaving my husband because it wasn’t working.  No one pitied me.  No one made the “I’m so sorry” face.  One woman said “Good for you.  There’s happiness out there for you” and I believed her.  It was ten months before I moved out but I started getting ready to go that day. 

20130302-193232.jpgShe was right.  Happiness.  It was out there.  I am Happy.  Most of the time.  Unless I am trying to get dressed.  Unless I am leaving the house all alone without my kids for three hours.  And then those old feelings of being the odd duck creep back in. And I am in tears in my closet, surrounded by clothes that don’t fit right.  I was planning to meet my girlfriends to celebrate being a woman and I was sobbing because I am thirteen months post-partum and I still feel like I live in someone else’s body.  We would be heading to UNC’s campus to surround ourselves with 20-somethings spreading a positive message and I was crying because my jeans are still too tight.  I could see the irony.  I just didn’t find it all that amusing.

I changed my jeans.  I swore.  I put on make-up and then washed it all off.  I picked a zit, I picked a fight.  I cried some more.  I said I wasn’t going.  I said I had to leave right now.  And then I got in the car and I went.  It was important.

I would paste my Pretty Kelly smile on my face and I would say “Happy Birthday, Natalie” and it would be fine.  I would introduce myself to someone I didn’t know and I would try not to talk about my kids at all.  I would just be me.

I opened Nat’s front door and steeled myself.  Game face.  I don’t know who I was expecting to see.  But I know I wasn’t expecting to only see people that I knew.  I made it exactly four steps in the front door before I burst in to tears. “I was afraid one of you would ask me why I was crying and I would have to be that crazy woman in front of someone I just met and say ‘Oh, because I get mad anxiety every time I leave my THIRTEEN MONTH old baby and I can’t get dressed and…'”

There they were.  Four women. A friend I have known since high school, a friend with two small children, a friend who has seen me at my lowest and a newer friend that understands more than her fair share about body image bullshit.  I spilled my big, bad ugly “I have my period and everyone hates me” guts and in moments it was over.  We laughed about how I was afraid to be “that crazy woman” in front of strangers, you know, strangers not on the Internet.

The longer I stay at home the harder it is for me to go out.  What will I say? Where will I park? What will I wear? What if someone asks me what I do? What if I start crying? Or I have a glass and a half of wine and am plastered because that’s all it takes?

I feel like if you prick me with a pin I will explode.  20130302-193239.jpg

Eve Ensler taught me that there are 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris.  Sadly, it isn’t any of those that are making me weep with confusion and joy and fear and excitement lately.  I am not sure where exactly the nerve endings are that make you lose your shit in your closet while you get dressed.  Or panic because you don’t know where you are supposed to park when you get where you are going. But I think I have at least 8,000 of those, too.

I will keep going, out of my house, away from my kids. I will go even when and especially when I don’t want to and think that I will not possibly survive the torture.  Every time I leave the house there’s a good chance I will stand in front of a woman that has felt exactly like me, at least once.  Because we are all the same, all of us, at least sometimes.


hȯr-ˈmō-nəl: of, relating to, or effected by hormones

I was standing in a crowd of people that all smelled a little like sweat and a lot like beer when he said “Hey, how the hell are you?”  And I smiled the “Oh wow, I haven’t seen you since high school” smile.

We exchanged some “You look greats” and a few “What have you been up to” kind of questions when I started to feel my cheeks get flushed.  There are obligatory “you look fantastic”s and then there are the kind that you can dish out to someone you knew long ago in a meaningful way.  These were definitely the kind of compliments that can make a gal stammer but not the kind that make you feel like you’re being hit on. 

He leaned against the wall and suddenly the crowd of people seemed to be gone.  I got all antsy and took a big swig of water just for something to do.  I could remember seeing that smile in the hallway when we were young and thinking I wish I had known him better because he always looked like he knew a funny secret.  He grinned and said “Just water for you, huh?”  and I smiled and gestured to my pregnant belly and somehow he managed to say in a way that didn’t sound like bullshit “oh wow, I hadn’t even noticed.” 

And he hugged me and I felt like my whole body was on fire. Like if I held on just a little longer I might know the secret that made him smile, too.   It was awkward when I let go and I said “I better be careful, I am a pro at making a scene” and my eyes welled up with tears inexplicably.  He smiled and hugged me again, dipped me like a movie star. 

“Me, too.” he said.  And that smile again. 

“Who cares about the scene, huh?” and I laughed.  “You just get this one life, right?” 

“Oh, I know that.  But do you?”

And I woke up.  That kind of wide awake from a dream where you turn to see if your alarm clock had gone off and then are surprised to find it is the middle of the night.  My first conscious thought was that I was going to blush when I saw him next.  And I rolled over and reached for MQD and he wasn’t in bed.  In the same breath I realized that MQD was gone (likely he had fallen asleep on the couch) but that the boy that made me blush and suggested that I was the one that needed to remember that we have just this one life had passed away a little over two years ago.

Analysis of one’s dreams is the height of navel-gazing in my book.  But this one really got me.  “You just get this one life” is my standard advice.  Why was I having it handed back to me?

I have remarked recently on the fearlessness with which MQD and I have taken this Marriage Bull by the horns.   I am, by nature, not one to take kindly to change.  I stay put.  It’s the Taurus in me, perhaps, that doesn’t want to give up combined with the laziness that is bred of insecurity.  But lately I have made great strides in that department.  For years it scared me to say out loud that I wanted something, the good old “don’t try and you never fail” hadn’t served me so well in my twenties.  By thirty I had so little to lose it seemed like a good idea to start wishing and trying.

Five years later I am trying and wishing my ass off.

MQD is a do-er not a talk-er.  It is inspiring.   I talked and talked about a baby that I wanted so desperately.  And science be damned, I think he made this baby happen.  Because he gets things done.  We sat up late nights and laughed and drank wine and planned on getting married “someday” and it was MQD that put on our shared google calendar “Go ring shopping.” I fell in love with a house and five days later he had a mortgage broker, a real estate agent and a plan.

Sometimes I feel like I am riding the coattails of his actions.  They may be our  dreams but much of the time it his actions  that get the ball rolling.  If pressed he’d tell me that my belief in him and my support is crucial to him having the courage to take these big steps.    We have a pretty perfect marital synergy in that respect.

So when I found myself sitting on the floor Sunday afternoon with my head in my hands, big fat tears rolling down my face I realized what it was that I wasn’t letting myself do.  That advice about how you only get one life?  That is just one of my inner mantras.  The other I have adopted in the last five years is the simple “fake it ’til you make it.”  It seems I have gotten a little too good at the latter.

It is so important to me to identify and reach for my dreams these days.  And in order to do that I need to feel positive and capable.  So I have focused extra hard on the “fake it” part, and believe it or not I have “made it.”  I feel good almost all of the time.

But in doing so I was failing to let myself feel afraid.  I just crammed it all back down so I could keep reaching for the next milestone, keep dreaming bigger.   Maybe what my dream visitor was encouraging me to do was to go ahead and voice my fear?  I am not sure yet if that is what he was telling me to do… but I know that after I said it all out loud I felt better.  So, I thought I’d better write it all down before I lose the courage it takes to be afraid.

I am terrified.  I am afraid I won’t be able to love this baby as much as I love Emily.  I am afraid I won’t be able to love MQD as much as I do now once I have to share my heart with the baby and Em.  I am afraid MQD will resent me not bringing in the income I am now. I am afraid that it will be five more years before I feel like myself inside my body and that I will be forty god damn years old next time I lose the “baby weight.”  I am afraid that I will repeat the mistakes I made in my last marriage.  I am afraid because it is all happening so fast and it is what I wanted so desperately.  What if I get what I have always said I wanted and I am still blue?

This weekend I came up with a bunch of questions and very few answers.  I’m still not sure if I am taking full advantage of “this one life.”   But I am present.  And I am feeling.  Even the shitty hormonal-pregnant-putting my baby on a school bus feelings.  I am even feeling those.  And I feel pretty okay.  The one answer that I managed to come up with that I completely believe is the one that will tide me over for a while. I sent MQD a text on Sunday post meltdown “I am scared, but in my “not crazy” mind I know we have what it takes.”

I went to sleep last night with the kind of burning eyes you can only get from a good cry.  And it felt good.  And I slept hard.

The Stick

I spoke not long ago of the day I stopped being afraid.    But not until now do I feel comfortable mentioning exactly why that is.

We had an amazing time on our honeymoon.  We enjoyed each other’s company and did all the things that two adults that rarely get much time alone with one another do.  We drank too much.  We stayed up too late.  We ate dessert before we had lunch and  then we ate some more.

And we napped.  I never nap.  I can kill some time reclining in a beach chair with the best of them.  I might even close my eyes.  But not since Em was teeny have I napped.  And nap I did.

And we came home from our honeymoon and there was much to do (not AS much as I’d anticipated, thank you very much Cleaning & Organizing Fairy, cough*Nick*cough) Gifts to be put away.  Laundry to be done.  And still, I napped.  The time between getting home from work and putting Emily to bed seemed to last forever.

I knew why.  It had to be.  My period was days late.  And the first stick said yes.  And so did the second.  And so did the third.  And suddenly I was not afraid that I’d never get pregnant.  Just like that. It was still too soon to get too excited… but in my heart of hearts I already knew.   Looks like my  luck had turned  around.