Eighteen months ago I wrote an article that began with the following:
“I’m 40 years old and this week I got my period for the first time in 13 years. It has been the best week of my life.”
And up until that point, it was true. But that was before I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Frances, six weeks ago. Since then all the best weeks of my life run together in a constant flow. She is nothing short of a miracle.
I stopped getting my period in 2001 at age 27. I was planning a wedding, running marathons and working a fancy marketing job in Silicon Valley. When my period slipped away I assumed it was due to stress. Not eager to get pregnant early my career, I didn’t mind that it was on hiatus.
But a few months turned into 10 years. As my desire to have a family grew, I sought help from every medical professional and healer I could find—gynecologists, endocrinologists, naturopaths, homeopaths, acupuncturists, massage therapists, hypnotherapists, astrologers and Reiki masters.
I did everything that was recommended: I gained weight, lost weight, went paleo, went vegan, stopped running, became a yoga teacher, got my chakras in order, cleansed, balanced my thyroid, drank disgusting herbs, took hormone pills, quit a stressful job, and sought counseling.
All the tests showed I was “normal.” I was not pre-menopausal. Things looked right, medically. But something important just wasn’t clicking.
Around my 37th birthday I sought help from a highly regarded fertility specialist, thinking she would definitely find the missing link. She said my pituitary gland was “likely dead” and I would “never menstruate again.” She added that if I wanted to get pregnant at my age I should start in vitro immediately as my ovaries were shriveling by the second, “your time is now.” I didn’t agree and that wasn’t a route I wanted to take.
I kept living my life. My husband and I found peace not having children. Three more years passed and so did any interest I had in trying to figure out what was wrong. I was so tired of trying. Still, I felt stuck.
Then I turned 40.
Soon after this milestone I started a meditation practice.
For twenty minutes, twice a day I did nothing but close my eyes and gently recite a mantra. Simple, but not easy. Sometimes it was dreamy, other times I would just sit there and cry. I felt like I might drown in my anxiety. But I stuck with it and my life got better. I started to relax more and push less. I had more energy. And I heard myself saying no to things that didn’t feel good and yes to things that made me curious and excited and maybe a little scared.
I was letting go.
I felt my intuition growing stronger. I began meeting the right people at the right time. I was particularly drawn to an intuitive healer, Michele. With her help, I began to see light coursing through my body where before I only saw black. She offered me sage advice, “You are not bound to anything as it was before. Write yourself a new narrative.”
I took this to heart. But I was thinking of my emotional and professional life and not my physical body.
I woke up two weeks later to bright red underwear. My period had returned. I was shocked and elated. I felt like it was my birthday. I had to remember how to use a tampon.
The world felt new and I was part of it. I bought pink coconut water in celebration and floated across Los Angeles bloated and happy. I was my own version of Wonder Woman.
My cycle lasted a full five days—it was real! And six weeks later it was back. Six weeks after that it was back again. And again. Six week cycles were my jam. I felt giddy. I was in a groove.
Until I wasn’t.
Seven months in I felt very tired. So tired that all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and re-watch the entire series of Mad Men. Michele, whom I continued to see regularly, told me that was okay—that I needed to rest—and that although it may appear like I was doing nothing, my body was gearing up for something. It would pay off later. Her advice was to watch all the Mad Men I wanted. And so for a few weeks I escaped into another episode at any opportunity.
And then my period didn’t come. I had some PMS symptoms but that was it. I told myself to have faith. It was just taking longer this time.
As I packed my tampons to visit a friend in Iceland I even grumbled about how it would probably arrive on the plane. But it never showed. It wasn’t until I was at the airport getting ready to fly home, devouring an entire quart of Icelandic yogurt that tasted unusually good, when I looked over and saw a baby staring back at me, smiling. I dropped my spoon and wondered, could I be…?
I was. Two home pregnancy tests, a blood test and an ultrasound confirmed it. I was eight weeks pregnant.
Michele was right. My body had been gearing up for something.
My husband and I hadn’t been “trying” to get pregnant. After so many years I had little faith in my fertility and didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment. But in the back of my mind I had kept loose track of when I was ovulating, just in case.
A healthy pregnancy followed despite persistent doubts of my ability to carry a baby to term. I had to learn to trust my body again.
I gave birth to a beautiful girl named Frances a month after my 42nd birthday. She was two weeks past her due date. After so many years, what’s the rush?
Like any mother of a newborn I am exhausted. I am so tired that half the time I call her Ralphie, the name of our dog. I spend my days holding, breastfeeding and changing her. We play, breathe and gaze at one another. Oh, she spends time crying too. I find windows of time to meditate, even if I fall asleep midway through.
I’m so happy.
I can’t wait to teach her all about the miracles in this world and how anything is possible. Though something tells me she already knows.
Author: Jennifer Brian
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Photo: a4gpa / Flickr