A Year Ago Today

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today I sat on this couch and said goodbye.

The previous couple of days, after we found out, I’d been gung-ho, all action. Rationalizing that it was better to find out now, to spare ourselves the heartbreak of finding out later on in the pregnancy or even at birth. Making arrangements. Speaking to friends and family, reassuring them that everything would be okay. I put on a brave face, smiled for my husband and my son. I oozed bravado.

But somewhere in among all that noise, two wise women in my life shared what they did before terminating their pregnancies, and their words hit home for me. I realized it was time to go within. Time to acknowledge the sadness that was welling up inside of me, even if I couldn’t quite name it yet. Even if I wanted to believe was somehow strong enough to transcend it.

So I sat on this couch, alone.

Alone not because there was no one around me, not because I didn’t have support. Alone because it was time to be alone. Because there was no one who was going to be able to get me through the next day but me. No one else getting wheeled into that operating theater. Alone because I needed to go within.

I sat on this couch with my hands on my tummy and I meditated.

I took deep breaths and grounded myself into the present. I let myself feel what was going on right then. The visceral, emotional experience – not just the words swimming around my head trying in vain to make everything okay. I felt the sadness, the beginnings of grief. The incredulous shock that this was happening to me, to us. I didn’t want to but I did it anyway. And I sat there with those feelings, for a few long, heavy moments.

And when I was ready to say goodbye, the sobs came right up from that place. As I hugged myself I explained why we had to do what we had to do, in my heart. I didn’t know who or what I was explaining to. I’d been trying to convince myself that this was just a pregnancy, a fetus. Not a baby and certainly not my baby. Yet I spoke with the voice of a mother. About how this was the only decision for our family, for GG. How we’d meet again, if that was even something that I believed in, if it was meant to be.

And somehow I felt better, that cathartic calm that comes after a good cry. I didn’t know then that the worst was yet to come, that I’d crash a month later, and then many times during the pregnancy that followed. But for right now – right then – I felt better.

Now I sit here on this couch, a year later. The same couch but in our new home, with our new baby cooing in her cot beside me.

Would a glimpse into the future that night have brought any comfort? The knowledge that this is how everything would look in the not so distant, only a year later?

Could be. All I know is I’m happy to be on the other side of this year.

Not All Sunshine and Lollypops

Not All Sunshine and Lollypops

A few weeks ago I heard some feedback from an old friend of my husband that kind of stopped me in my tracks. “Elana has a great blog,” he said, “but it makes me so sad.”

Damn.

So not what I’m trying to do here.

Since then I’ve felt this pressure to keep things light. I mention miscarriage and pregnancy loss in my posts, but I’ve shied away from really going into my grief. Pushed myself to write about other topics. Given a stronger voice to my optimistic side.

But there’s a darker voice that wants to be heard every now and then, too. An internal struggle. Even if it’s hard for others to hear.

The grief from those two pregnancies didn’t go away once I got pregnant again. It stayed and brought with it an old familiar friend – anxiety. And I know every pregnant woman has her worries, but those based on trauma seem to hold a little more clout.

Every time I go in for an ultrasound I’m half-expecting to get bad news, even though I feel her moving around all the time now and there’s really no reason that anything should go wrong. The odds are solidly in our favor. But those statistics don’t mean shit once you’ve been on the other side of them. One in 1500 doesn’t sound so comforting when you know what it’s like to be the one.

I went to the doctor earlier this week and he was making small talk. Asked when we’d be taking the baby to Australia to visit, and I was suddenly like – holy shit! He actually thinks there’s gonna be a baby! Maybe this time it’s gonna be for real. I keep getting surprised anew at how I’m still holding myself back from getting excited, at the mechanisms of denial at work in my head.

Talking about the pregnancy is hardly ever fun. I find myself looking blankly at gushing faces, wondering how weird they think I am for failing to make the proper high-pitched noises about having a baby girl. Trying and failing to explain why I feel no urge to make a stop motion film of my blooming belly this time. Mentioning the past pregnancies and watching people screw up their faces uncomfortably, with this “shouldn’t you be over this by now” look.

It’s not just the anxiety that something will go wrong and the hesitance to let myself get hopeful. That’s fading. It’s this weight of expectation on me to get excited. To let go of the past losses. To let this pregnancy replace them.

But I don’t want this baby to be a replacement. I want to properly grieve the pregnancies that didn’t work out, so I can separate this one out and experience it in its own right. And the reality right now is that there are moments when this pregnancy is just fucking hard. Full of mixed emotions and baggage and hopes and fears.

The good news is – thanks to good friends and therapy and even this blog – I’m working through it all and I know that when it comes time to push this baby out, I’ll be well and truly ready. There will be a rainbow after the storm – she’s just not quite here yet.

 

 

First and only pregnant selfie so far this time ’round
Early Pregnancy After Loss: A First Trimester Diary

Early Pregnancy After Loss: A First Trimester Diary

This post has been a long time coming.

Part of me wanted to start blogging about this pregnancy from the first day I peed on a stick, about two months ago. It was such an anxious time, so raw and personal – especially after a loss – and also so lonely. I told some family and friends pretty early on but no one seemed to get it. The ambiguity, the fear.

I turned to the net for reassurance, and while there are voices out there – anonymous, neurotic women on chat rooms, for example – there are so few developed thoughts. So few full, first-hand accounts of those first, nervous weeks.

I started writing right away; I wanted to help fill that gap, to reach out to women going through similar experiences. But it was a bit too much for me to publish. I wasn’t ready for it to be public knowledge. So instead I saved my notes as I went, diary style, in the hope that I’d be able to publish it now – miscarriage-free, and after the first scan that could rule out the recurrence of anancephaly, the neural tube defect from my previous pregnancy. The fact that you’re reading now this is a big thumbs up on both counts.

Usually when I blog I have some sense of who I’m writing to, but this time I’m not so sure. Maybe women in similar situations? I’m not sure – it might just be therapeutic for me. And it seems important to put out there. Either way, here it is: a week-by-week of the first trimester.

 

Week 1:

Feeling great. Super excited to get my period and with it reassurance that everything is in working order after my D&C at the beginning of December.

 

Week 2:

Excited to start trying to get pregnant again. Appreciating that I’m feeling good in my body for a brief moment – it’s been a rough few months.

 

Week 3:

Convinced already that I’m pregnant – I guess I really am an eternal optimist. Definitely felt little twingy uterine cramps a few days after I ovulated which I’m convinced were implantation pains. Counting the days (hours, minutes…) until I can pee on a stick. Googling pregnancy-related subjects an embarrassing amount – I think the most horrifying thing that could happen to me right now would be Google publishing my search history.

Confession: I actually googled “Am I Pregnant?” today. What the hell. If it’s not the pregnancy hormones driving me nuts then there must be seriously something wrong with me. I used to be an intelligent woman.

 

Week 4:

Well, I was right. Managed to wait until the day my period was due to test, and it turned positive right away! Husband was super excited; I’m still cautious. Told a few friends because I’m the type of person that needs to talk in order to process – but I feel weird about anyone saying “congratulations.” Feels like I’m going to be holding my breath for the next couple of months.

On the plus side, I’m relieved not to feel guilty anymore for wearing maternity clothes most of the time. Damn these stretchy bands are comfy!

 

Week 5:

Starting to feel some symptoms on and off – exhausted by 7pm every night, reflux during the days and some light waves of nausea. Most of the time I feel fine though, which is of course the most terrifying thing as I’m on-and-off convinced that I’ve miscarried multiple times a day. Next week I’ll see my doctor for a dating scan and hopefully calm down after we see a heartbeat.

Every time I go to the bathroom it’s like I have the Jaws theme music in my head… Will this be it? Will there be blood? I’m struck again by the absurdity of this whole process – just a month ago I was so excited to see blood. Now it’s the nightmare scenario.

As well as miscarriage, I’m keenly aware that this is the week for the neural tube to do its thing. So I’m kind of double freaking out, in the back of my mind. I know there’s nothing I can do – apart from taking half my weight in folic acid daily, which I’ve been doing since the termination back in December. So I’m hoping for the best, and pausing every now and then to send good vibes to the little cells hopefully multiplying away in my uterus.

 

Week 6: 

I keep worrying that I’m not feeling over-emotional enough – an early sign in each of my previous pregnancies, which saw me bursting into tears at things like a mean teller at the bank or sad news on the radio. There’d been nothing like that this pregnancy until this weekend, when we took GG to watch people running in the marathon. One look at those crowds running their last kilometer and I was bawling – literally sobbing with tears rolling down my face. It makes no sense, I know – what a relief!

Another relief is that I’m starting to feel properly nauseated at least a few times a day. So in my better moments I’m pretty confident that everything is okay.

Still counting the days till the scan – this anxiety isn’t getting any better. I worry about every little thing and then feel stupid and neurotic, but my therapist says it’s to be expected so I’m trying not to beat myself up about it. Rather than buying into the anxiety I’m doing what I can to just accept it – this is a hard time. Nothing more, nothing less. I let the nervous thoughts do their thing and try not to buy into them too much.

The morning of the scan my stomach is a mess. I guess it’s a combination of morning sickness and nerves. Well, I hope it’s morning sickness. I’m playing scenarios over and over in my head, trying to convince myself that even if we don’t get a good result I’ll still be okay. That I can deal with this, too.

But I so hope I don’t have to.

The scan turns out to be kind of a disappointment. Not bad news but not yet good news either. Everything looks as it should for just before 6 weeks, but no heartbeat yet. Gotta wait another week and see.

So the anxiety continues.

 

Week 7: 

A week later and I’m filled with jitters before the scan, yet again. But I’ve been feeling so rotten for the past week that I’m pretty confident everything will be ok. And it turns out I’m right – we get a clear picture of the little heartbeat and the fetus has quadrupled in a week. Good stuff.

Next up: flying to Australia for my sister’s wedding. Time to see how morning sickness and turbulence mix, followed by first trimester exhaustion and jetlag. And did I mention morning sickness?

 

Week 8: 

Flying wasn’t as bad as I expected – I just rested as much as I could while my champion of a husband spent hours running around the plane with GG. Jetlag though, that was a bitch.

Great to be around family and off work while I’m feeling so bad, though I did get asked if I’m pregnant twice in the past few days. Once by a great-aunt who apparently hadn’t been updated about my previous pregnancy, and another time by an aunt who said she could just see it. Considering the fact that I’m carrying a fetus the size of a kidney bean, I guess she was just calling me fat. Oh well. The truth is I don’t really care who knows. All I care about is that this pregnancy goes smoothly.

I’ve got a scan scheduled for the week after we get back home. That’s in 4 weeks. We should be able to rule of the neural tube defect of the previous pregnancy… And then exhale completely and start getting excited.

All I need to do is keep myself distracted until then.

 

Week 9 

Pregnancy announcements have lost all of their fun for me. I’m surrounded by family and old friends and I want to share, yet every time I tell someone I’m pregnant I feel uneasy. I can’t accept the congratulations, and I then get worried that I seem weird for not being appropriately excited.

Just a few more weeks to go. Hopefully it’ll be easier after I know that anancephaly hasn’t recurred.

 

Week 10 

More of the same this week. Lots of nausea to keep me confident that I’m still pregnant but then I keep thinking… I felt like shit all through the last pregnancy and fat lot of good that did. Nothing to do but wait, and try to stay positive. The truth is that the optimistic thoughts do outweigh the pessimistic ones – it’s just that this fear hits me deep.

 

Week 11 

Flew back home this week and again – the flights were surprisingly bearable. One week until the nuchal translucency test now and I feel like time has almost ground to a halt. I just need the next week to be over. This wait is near driving me mental.

 

Week 12

I’m so nervous the morning of the scan I want to cry, vomit and run to the bathroom all at the same time. I keep trying to reassure myself with the probability that everything is ok – it’s like 98%, those are damn good odds. It works sometimes but over and over again I’m struck with the thought, “fuck, I’m going to have to terminate another pregnancy.” And even then the reassuring voice comes back in, telling me that I can get through that if I need to, that I’ve done it once and I can do it again.

But of course, I don’t want to. I can’t stop thinking about how unfair that would be. But fairness has nothing to do with this shit.

Bottom line: it’s no fun in my head today.

The scan itself is incredibly quick. I’d been imagining that I’d need to close my eyes as the doctor checked the brain but he had a visual of the whole fetus in a matter of seconds and reassured us right away that everything looked fine. Cliched as it sounds, the heartbeat on the sonogram was music to my ears. I look over at my husband and grin, and a few minutes later we’re outside hugging in the hallway.

And now it feels like a weight has been lifted, like we might actually be having a baby! I feel the fear disolving and my optimistic attitude seems to be taking its old place back on center stage. I’m finally starting to get excited.

My Muddled Up Sandwich of Grief

My Muddled Up Sandwich of Grief

Yesterday marked two months since I had the procedure to terminate my third pregnancy. My second miscarried at 6 weeks earlier last year. My first was about as successful as they get – GG turned two last week.

In the days that followed that horrible ultrasound, I was in shock. I cried and I was sad, but overall I felt okay. I talked a lot about gratitude, acceptance and counting my blessings. And that was important – to get me through everything I needed to endure that week. Somehow I eased back into regular life, unsure if maybe I hadn’t cried enough, felt enough, mourned enough.

And then a month later, there it was. A big-ass emotional crash. I cried more – a lot more. I was plagued by thoughts like “maybe there’s something really wrong with me” and “three years ago I was normal and now I’m broken” and plenty of “fuck fuck fuck, I can’t believe that happened!”

I was obsessed with giving it a name, explaining what was going on. I’d been fine and now I was losing my shit – what the hell? I kept googling the Stages of Grief and getting myself all muddled up, trying to figure out where I fell in the process. This cartoon I found in such a googling frenzy seemed to sum up the accepted process:

The-5-stages-of-grief1-e1373497045473

But it didn’t feel like that to me. I wasn’t going through stages – I was just grieving. Layers of sadness on top of denial spread with shock, and some acceptance sprinkled on top. It’s not a five-part course with an “over it” certificate at the end. It’s a grief sandwich.

I accepted both pregnancy losses pretty early on, straight away even – to some degree. And yet denial lingers. A part of me looks forward to getting pregnant again as getting “back on track” – rather than starting a totally separate pregnancy. I still wear maternity clothes sometimes. Okay, most of the time. I say they’re just more comfortable (and they are), but I wonder. It’s like I’m just holding my breath, hoping to put three pregnancies together to make one healthy baby.

That crash last month – that was depression. I mean, I would use the word sadness rather but either way, I was feeling the loss in my heart – and it made the whole world around me look horrible. It was a heavy, dark feeling in my stomach that bubbled to the surface and stuck around for a good couple of days. And with those feelings came a serving of anger, too – though it probably didn’t get directed at the right source. Sorry dear husband.

What I’ve realized in the weeks since is that the labels don’t matter. I’ve made an effort to create some space for these feelings to come up and play themselves out – time that I’m not at work or with GG. Lots of yoga and good food and even some time alone when I can snatch it. A quick getaway with my husband and this stunning view worked wonders:
 

Looking out over the Ramon Crater

It’s a weird kind of grief, this pregnancy loss. So disappointing and sad, and yet tinged with hope – for the next one. The truth is – I think my acceptance will only be complete once I have a healthy baby in my arms. Hopefully sooner rather than later. In the meantime, this is where I’m at – still in the thick of it but better and better every day.

Who I Am, Today

Who I Am, Today

It seems that every time I’m in a transition period, I get the urge to write. I notice more and more words swirling around in my head, forming themselves into sentences and paragraphs and blog posts. Begging me to let them out. Elaborate metaphors and repetitive musings on the perfect headline.

I am a writer, after all.

This blog, in its first incarnation as The Juggling Act was born as I took part in a 10-day Vipassana meditation course, while I was in between jobs and about to settle down with my now-husband. I was bubbling with inspiration to share what I learned on that course with the world. More recently I changed the name to Mama in the Moment, in the midst of two pregnancy losses, a reinvigorated mindfulness practice, and endless hours fun and learning with our two-year-old son GG.

Why am I telling you all this?

As part of my most recent push to get this blog off the ground, I signed up for a Blogging University course, Blogging 101. This is my first assignment: to write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

So, who am I? 

I can tell you who I am today – it’s not exactly who I was yesterday and I’m making no promises about tomorrow. Well, tomorrow I’ll probably just be one day older, but who knows what happens next week or next month.

I am a mother. A mother trying to be as mindful and intentional about raising my beautiful son as possible. I believe that respect and communication are the most crucial parts of this budding relationship. I question what we’re doing and how we’re doing it all the time, whether my poor husband likes it or not. I love being a mother.

I am a writer, of sorts. At the moment I am the Editor in Chief of a happy nonprofit site called Goodnet.org – check it out; I like to think there’s something fun and inspiring for everyone at any given time. I also blog, here.

I am a wife, a daughter, a sister and a granddaughter.

I am a friend. I like to think I’m a pretty good friend, but the past couple of years have made me question that at times. I used to be incredibly social – out all the time and in touch with dozens of friends at a given time. It was a juggling act that I loved dearly, but not surprisingly I haven’t been able to keep it up since having a kid. I cherish the moments when my girlfriends and I do catch up and I laugh like I haven’t laughed since I stopped smoking pot. Those laughs nourish my soul.

I believe that meditation and yoga – and probably many other contemplative practices – hold the key to true happiness. The thought of more and more people using these tools to sort their minds out – me and mine included – makes me happy and hopeful.

I was born Jewish, but recently I’ve been thinking about coming out as a Buddhist. Shh… don’t tell the rabbi. I’m guessing there will be a post or two on that when I’m ready.

I am a woman, and proud of it. More and more so over the past couple of years, with my initiation into the weird and wonderful world of motherhood. The female body is amazing. I wish I felt that way about my own body 100% of the time – I’m working on it.

Elana Goldberg
This is me, right now: 9:25pm, on the couch, probably mere minutes away from sleep. Nice to meet you!

Well, that was a rant.

Next question:

What topics do you think you’ll write about?

Meditation, mindfulness, parenting, pregnancy, health, yoga, family, relationships and women’s business. Not in that particular order.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

I’d love to connect with mindful people around the world – mothers or otherwise. People who want to see the best in themselves and the people around them. Honest, thoughtful, beautiful people.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what do you hope to accomplish?

This is an important question – and again I can only answer for right now.

At the moment, I’m writing to polish my voice – in terms of my writing and also something deeper. I feel that I have a message to share, and I’m working on building the strength and confidence to shout it from the proverbial rooftops and feel okay with whatever happens after that. Some days it seems like the most natural thing in the world to do, other days it fills me with fear. If I blog successfully through the next year, I’d hope there would be more of the first kind of days.

From a more analytical perspective, I’d also like to grow my reader-base. I recently opened a Facebook page for this blog and I’m loving seeing the community develop there, too. So if what you’re reading here speaks to you – I’d love for you to either follow the blog or join me over on Facebook.

And that’s the end of the assignment! How did I do?

The Internet is My Best Friend 

The Internet is My Best Friend 

I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for the Internet. There, I said it.

And no, I’m not talking about my work – that’s obvious. I’m talking about where I am as a person – a woman, a mother, a wife, a mindful being of sorts.

In the modern-day discourse on mindfulness, technology gets a bad rap – but it’s not that simple. With skillful use, I find the Internet can be an invaluable tool for growth, research, connection and healing. It’s gotta be used in moderation – like anything else – but seriously, the Internet is my best friend.

The Internet started making its way into this special place in my heart around the time I found out I was pregnant with GG. It was then, among fits of obsessive googling, that I began to connect with my tribe. On forums and blogs and Facebook groups I found women saying things that made sense to me. As I researched natural birth and delayed cord clamping and hypnobirthing and breastfeeding, I started to find my place in this jungle of information. I found trusted sources and voices. I came across points of view that challenged me to my core, opinions that aligned with my own and everything in between. I prepared for what was to come.

And then when GG was born, and I became couch-bound for hours at a time while breastfeeding – the Internet was always there for me. Whether it was texting with two close friends who also had babes in arms, sending photos to my family and friends back in Australia or continuing with the new mother version of the previously mentioned obsessive googling – again, this technology was a lifesaver.

The relationship developed in the months that followed – I shared video clips of first foods and first steps and first words, researched imagined diseases then calmed myself, and found resources for sleep training and night weaning. The Internet was a library that was always open and accessible.

But it was when things got rough that the Internet was really there for me. When I was diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse, when I miscarried and most recently when I had to terminate a pregnancy for medical reasons – those were the times when the true healing power of this medium were became apparent to me. When Facebook groups and blogs took on the role of therapist and support group rather than just a friend with all the info.

One by one, often as I shared my experiences, friends and friends of friends introduced me to the most amazing support groups on Facebook – most notably one for pelvic organ prolapse and another for trying to conceive and pregnancy after loss. Whether I’m asking questions and hearing back from other members or passively following threads, these groups make me realize that I’m not alone – on a daily basis. I feel instantly supported just knowing that there are women going through similar things to me – all over the world. At all different stages in their lives and journeys.

And in the blog world too, brave women sharing their beautifully written stories have sent out a virtual embrace. Whether its reading about their losses – some similar to mine, some different, all painful and real and raw – or stages that are yet to come for me, there’s a bond of womankind that flows through these digital pages. I’m so thankful for it, and proud to be a part of it.

This online community also reminds me of the importance of my ties with real-life women offline. From reading stranger’s stories I’ve come to understand my friends better – a miscarriage is not a miscarriage; there are many different ways that these stories can play out. I’ve also learned how telling my story can encourage others to tell theirs – and the beautiful connections and conversations that flow from there.

So I guess really it’s these women who leave traces of themselves out there on the Internet for others to find – they’re my real best friends. The words of women who have grown from grief and adversity give me the strength to look forward to the path ahead – to keep a positive outlook and find happiness in the here and now.

The Internet is just a brilliant vehicle.

Musings on Blood, and How Being a Woman Is Just Freaking Weird Sometimes

Musings on Blood, and How Being a Woman Is Just Freaking Weird Sometimes

No one wants to admit it, but it’s true. This whole childrearing thing, it’s a veritable freak-show for the female body.

I’m thinking about blood today, having just got my first period since terminating a pregnancy for medical reasons just over a month ago. Oh – I guess this is the bit where I warn you that I’m going to talk about blood coming out of vaginas in this post. Anyone who wants to pretend this doesn’t happen all the time, or thinks it shouldn’t be spoken about should probably opt out around now.

So today, I’m filled with excitement and relief – seriously I think I might feel happier than when I last found out I was pregnant. How weird is that? It makes sense, of course – I’m relieved to know everything’s working, glad to stop wondering when it’s coming, excited to try again etc – but still, there’s something decidedly weird about it.

And this isn’t the first time I’ve had this realization either. When I started bleeding during my miscarriage earlier last year (yeh, it’s been a fun few months), I felt exactly the same way. I’d been concerned that the pregnancy might be ectopic and really wanted to avoid surgery and/or medication, so knowing that my body was sorting it out made me really happy.

As I celebrate today’s blood, I’ve been musing over this journey that ‘the fairer sex’ goes on with the red stuff.

In Western society, we tend to receive our first periods with a sense of dread. We learn about the equipment needed to deal with this annoyance. We read Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. We hide what’s going on from the boys and men in our lives. We feel awkward and broken and alone.

A few years later once we start having sex, the arrival of our monthly blood comes with a sense of relief – we did it! We avoided getting pregnant and don’t need to admit to the adults that we’re having sex! And of course the awkwardness persists – we still hope swimming parties don’t fall on days when we’re bleeding. We master tampons. We avoid boyfriends during our time of the month so we don’t have to discuss our monthly disability. Or maybe we’re among the more liberated of women, and we do talk about periods – even to men. Maybe we like having sex during our periods, and we have to deal with weird looks and wives tales if we’re brave enough to talk about it.

And then five or 10 or 20 years down the line we start thinking about kids, and again, the blood takes on a different meaning. We get more in touch with our bodies and (hopefully) come to appreciate a regular cycle. We get off birth control and notice differences in our physical selves. Perhaps we start to appreciate this blood for what it really is – a part of our complex and brilliant reproductive systems, rather than just a monthly nuisance.

When we’re actively trying to get pregnant, the period takes triggers different emotions again. Now the blood signals failure, disappointment. It means we didn’t get pregnant, not this month. It means we’ll have to wait at least another month for that coveted positive pregnancy test.

All going well, at some point we do indeed miss a period, yay! But the thought of blood is still there at the back of our minds, always. As we tick off those days and weeks of the first trimester, holding our breaths every time we wipe, just hoping not to see anything red.

And meanwhile the blood is all just building up in there, providing a cozy home for little blastocysts and then embryos and then fetuses… until eventually we’ve got a baby in our arms, and week after week of bleeding that makes us cackle evil laughs thinking about how we used to complain about our periods.

And I can only imagine, on the other side of childbearing and childrearing, after menopause – what happens then? I guess I’ll have to write a follow-up post in a few decades.

Either way, it’s clear – this whole being a woman thing is a weird and wonderful journey. But despite the highs and the lows, the physical and emotional pain, and the gruesome nature of it all, I feel pretty grateful to be in this body, on this path. Every cramp I feel as I’m writing this fills me with a sense of hope and empowerment, and a connection with the women of the world – past, present and future.

One day, I hope to tell my imaginary future daughter: embrace this bleeding! Each and every time. Let it anchor you to the strong women in your life who inspire you, and to a future in which you get to join the sisterhood of mothers. It’ll be the most important, life-changing and empowering thing you ever do – and all that blood will be more than worth it.