What they say is true. You only go round once. And if you are LUCKY, you will age. It's inevitable. We all do it, as we should. So in this, the year of my 40th birthday, I've already been enlightened a number of times about all sorts of things that growing older has taught me. And if you care to take a listen, this older (and perhaps a little wiser) blogger has a few things to share.
Health: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Truth
- Conceiving Children: Let's start with the easy stuff. Ha! What I'm about to share is something I haven't shared with many people, but it's time. If this reaches at least one person who needs to read it, then it was worth it. I was 35 years old when John and I married. We started trying to get pregnant shortly after we were married, and my naive 35 year old brain never once considered that it wouldn't be easy. Until it wasn't. I couldn't understand why it wasn't happening. We were both (relatively) young and healthy. I read and researched everything I could get my hands on. I tried all sorts of things that I read about. I tested and tracked my basil body temperature religiously each morning. Eventually I went to multiple doctors who poked, prodded, tested, and so on for far too long. No one really had any answers other than the obvious. I was a female over the age of 35, and the odds of getting pregnant just isn't as likely the older you get. It's not impossible. Women do it all the time. But the odds definitely are no longer in your favor as you age. To make a very long story short, we did finally conceive our precious Lexi with the help of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). I was 37 years old when she was conceived and 38 years old by the time she was born. I had an incredibly easy pregnancy and birth story, and Lexi is a happy and healthy little girl. We are a success story, and even though the process was long and difficult at times, I am still beyond thankful that it turned out to have a wonderful outcome. But I am not blind to the fact that many people have struggled even with the help of IVF and other similar procedures to get pregnant. We are fortunate, and we know it. My advice to any young woman out there is to really think about what you want your future to look like. And even if you decide to hold off on starting a family, like so many women do nowadays, know that you have options. Technology has come so far. You can freeze your young healthy eggs and utilize them later. Or at a minimum, have discussions with your health care professionals about your options and about your health in general. It's a conversation worth having. Trust me.
- Mammograms: At my most recent annual check up, I asked my doc about getting a mammogram this year. She informed me that there was some talk among the powers that be to possibly change the age that women should start getting routine mammograms from 40 to 45, unless you have a family history of breast cancer or are experiencing some sort of symptoms. However, insurance companies still pay for this annual screening starting at age 40, so she asked me what I wanted to do. Now I have no desire to torture myself any sooner than need be. BUT, most cases of breast cancer are women who have no family history of the disease. And it's still a highly treatable and survivable form of cancer if detected early. So I made an appointment that day. In fact, I am glad to say that I had my first mammogram earlier this week. There was no pain involved in this procedure at all, and it literally took less than 5 minutes total to perform. The tech did tell me that with first time mammograms there's usually at least a 50 percent chance that they will call you back for additional films/ views because there are no previous images to compare your results to. I'm so glad to have it checked off the list, and will continue to take advantage of ALL the appropriate screening tests that I can.
- Back Pain: Over the course of the past week, I seem to have wrenched my back somehow. I'm sure it has NOTHING to do with carrying around a 25 pound toddler on the regular. :) In any case, back pain is no joke. The only other time in my entire life that I've experienced back pain was in the 11th hour of my pregnancy. Little did I know I was carrying around a nearly 9 pound baby. Even my doc estimated that Lexi would be born between 6 and 6.5 pounds. So that explained things then, and in the days following her birth, my back pain magically disappeared. Incidentally, my brother-in-law, who also just turned 40 a few months ago, is experiencing back pain too. His is far worse than mine. Thankfully, mine is improving and things are starting to get back to normal for me. I'm afraid he still has a way to go. So does 40 and back pain just go hand in hand? Eeek! I certainly hope not. Moral of the story- take care of your body. You know what feels "right" so when something isn't right, make sure you get it checked out. Go to the doctor when you need to. Take the medicine when you need to. Take care of yourself, and be well. You only have one body, and it has to take of you for many many years to come. :)
Responsibility: Voting and Elections
It's an election year, as you know. You'd have to be living under a rock to be unaware of that little factoid. In any case, this election year has been different for me than any other since I've been of voting age. Yes, I have been registered to vote since I was 18 years old, and yes, I have always voted in every election. I am pretty proud of that.
However, as I said, this year is different for me. I have been following the process in a way that I never have before. I am genuinely interested in the candidates and what they have to say. I have watched every debate so far this year (and there have been MANY.) I have been out to the candidates' websites and read up on their stances on the issues. I urge you to do the same. Reading directly from the horse's website, as it were, is vastly different than reading or listening to the media's interpretation of the same.
I live in Tennessee, which is one of the Super Tuesday states, and for the first time in my life, I voted in the Presidential Primary. It was a rainy and stormy day, and as I mentioned above, my back was in bad shape. Not to mention that I also had my wiggly toddler companion in tow. There are a million reasons why it would have been easier to just pass on the opportunity. But there are far more reasons why it was so important to take advantage of my right to vote. I'm glad that I did. While I was there, it struck me how many others were there that it couldn't have been easy for. Lots of moms with their babies and children, lots of elderly- some with walkers or in need of other assistance, lots of people at the wrong polling place who patiently took instructions on how to get to the correct polling place across town in the rain. Sure, it's not always convenient, but if they can do it, so can you. It's important. I'm proud of me, and all the others who made it out to vote earlier this week.
And who did I vote for? Who am I endorsing in the race for the White House? It matters not. I mean, yes, of course, it matters- to me, and ultimately every vote matters greatly. But it's not my intent to impose my opinions on you. The important part is that I exercised my right to vote, and I will do so in November as well, regardless of who the nominees end up being. Know the facts. Read up on the candidates and where they stand. Be well-informed and do your part in the process. No excuses. End of story.
Skin Care: Taking Care of Yourself
I'm glad to say that skin care is nothing new to me. I have consistently used sunscreen most of my adult life and a daily moisturizer since I was a teenager. I never go to bed without removing all my makeup and moisturizing again before bed. It's a routine, and one that I'm glad I adopted long ago.
But sadly, when we were young it seemed like sunscreen was something we only used once a year at the beach, if then. And I've had the sunburns to prove it over those years. They say freckles are little more than sun damage, and I've got more than my fair share of those too.
Despite having good skin care habits in the second half of my life, I am still learning and adapting, and I hope to always do so. One product that I recently started using is Argan Oil. I've had a big bottle of it for a while, but haven't been very good about using it consistently. The French women swear by it as a moisturizer. I have started using every night now before bed on my face and neck. It softens your skin beautifully, and really is a wonderful moisturizer. But it is too heavy for me to use during the day. I still use the tried and true Oil of Olay to start every day, just like Mama did. And she always had the prettiest skin of anyone I have ever known.
No matter which products you land on, just be sure you are protecting your skin from the sun's damaging rays and giving it plenty of moisture, both with skin care products AND with hydration. There's no replacement for drinking plenty of good old fashioned water!
Practicalities: Renewing Your Driver's License
Every so often, it happens that the DMV asks you to renew your driver's license, and this was my year. But I learned something new this go round.
When I received my renewal reminder in the mail, it actually informed me that I could renew online, by mail, or in person. Wow! That was news to me. I thought you had to go wait in line at the DMV to renew your license. I guess the last several times I have updated my license it was because of changes that required that you go to the DMV- eight years ago when I moved to TN, and then again five years ago when I got married and needed to change my name on my license. Those sorts of things still require that you appear in person. And that's also the only way to get a new photo and signature. Otherwise, they will just use the photo and all other information that they have on file for you.
My initial knee jerk reaction was to go wait in line at the DMV because I really wanted a new picture. I actually like my photo very much, but it just doesn't really look like me anymore. It was taken about a month after I had just gotten a chin- length bob. And of course, now my hair is much longer. I thought it would be good to update it, but then I weighed that option against carrying my toddler to the DMV for an unknown wait time, and immediately updated my license online.
My license arrived in the mail exactly 10 days after I applied for it online. By that time it was, in fact, expired. However, when I applied for it, along with my confirmation, there was a printable page that certified that I had completed my license renewal and served as my license until the real one came in the mail. Aaaahhh, technology.
I did notice that my new license is valid for the next eight years, so by the time I renew it again, my photo will be 14 years old. Oh dear. I bet they will MAKE me come in to update it next time. :)
So that's all for now. We can lament getting older, or we can just be grateful for the life we live no matter how old we are. I choose the latter.
Life isn't easy. Life isn't perfect. But life is good.