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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Menopause and Beginning Motherhood


Some say that losing is your mind is both a sign of impending motherhood and impending menopause. Nowadays, many are combining the two.

If you’re going to be “hot under the collar” with some child’s behavior, you’re already halfway there with hot flashes. Saves you from a lot of drama in the home. Everyone already knows Mom’s flash-point is simmering just below the surface, and they should watch their step.

I don’t think I’m there, yet. Although the signs are pointing in that direction. When we first traveled to Russia to meet our son in December 2003, I thought I was going to die… from the heat! Were these hot flashes that flared up every time I walked into a building? No, instead, they were overactive boilers, straight from some Siberian oil pipeline.

Every building in Russia is overheated during winter. They say to dress in layers when you go there. Outside it may be 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but inside, you’d be hard-pressed to find a building under +80 degrees Fahrenheit. Calculated into Celsius, that’s a lot less in numbers, but a lot more in heat, apparently. The Russian equivalent basically works out to be: the colder it is outside, multiply by multiples and add 10 (11 on even days in non-leap years) to arrive at the boiling indoor temperature. Let’s leave it at that.

When we returned for our court date in the spring, the judge asked why we were adopting. Our facilitator jumped in, both feet in mouth, and stated for the record, that, “At their ages, it is obvious that they are unable to have children.” I was nowhere near any change of life except to be preparing to have a school-aged child plunked down square in my lap, and that’s change enough, thank you very much. When I tried to protest, fully understanding her Russian declaration of death-of-fertility-goddess, she hushed me.

“Nobody will ever believe that you prefer to adopt and take someone else’s child. Unless you are infertile, the judge does not have to grant your petition.”

Whether or not this was the case, is anyone’s legal guess. If this was yet another hoop to hop through, I might as well have put on my dancing dog outfit and lighted the rings of fire. I have read through the Family Code of Russia and saw no such stipulations, but then I am simply a foreign paean who comes with hat-in-hand. That will probably be the next required document in the series of hundreds already required: state for the record: your name, your date of birth, and your doctor’s declaration of your absolute and irreversible infertility.

No can do.

Which brings us to the present, and having to bring Pasha home during summertime in the south of Russia, where temperatures top +110 degrees Fahrenheit. Just shoot me. The blistering heat and horrific humidity would topple the strongest women among us. Worse than that, every day was a bad hair day. And there I was, sitting in front of the small window unit in our third-rate hotel, blasting myself with a cool breeze any chance I got. It was either that, or climb into the lukewarm mini-fridge that was laboring with all its might.

So if the opportunity comes your way to adopt from Siberia in the dead of winter, a peri-menopausal woman need not give it another thought. Go for it. No need for heavy coats, along with diaper bags to lug. Blinding blizzards, power outages, freezing winds? Ahhh…. And when you return home and need a cool house, remember: children sleep better in lower temperatures as long as their body (not face!) is covered.

Menopause packs that helpful whale blubber onto the mid-section, known to be beneficial in terms of personal insulation. Apart from Sarah Palin, have you met many slim and trim Alaskans? Not that I know many Alaskans. Now that I think of it, there were those actors in Northern Exposure years ago….

Weight gain is often said to be part of menopause. (You knew I would bring that up, didn’t you?) My doctor feels we need to fight this weight gain. She is a trim-freak terrorist, trying to convert the rest of us from our lolly-gagging, La-Z-Boy ways of life. She is the kind that bicycles into work on a regular basis. I wonder why we should stress our bodies by fighting against something that is so… natural?

It makes perfect sense for me to go straight into motherhood and combine the weight gain of that, along with the weight gain of menopause. Presto-chango, and you have one big mama! I believe in one-stop shopping. Why gain weight for motherhood, then lose it, only to gain it back during the change of life? This way, you never notice any “change” when the change of life hits. That’s probably why I’m in a constant state of doubt and denial: there is no change.

But I don’t want you, dear reader, to be led astray. I’m fighting the Battle of the Bulge with my Pillsbury Doughboy friends propping me up on either side. As a matter of fact, with everything starting to droop and sag at the same time, women of my era might want to check into astronautical careers around mid-life. There are absolute benefits to weightlessness, where wrinkles disappear! For now, given my penchant for all things mathematical and scientific and the likelihood of such a future in outer space, I’ll have to stick with doing facial exercises in the car–less dangerous than drinking hot coffee, or doing my makeup during a commute. But it is dangerous for any on-lookers who could jump in fright at the sight of me mouthing a, e, i, o, and u as though it may result in my face being instantly pulled back with the intensity of jet fighter G-forces.

But why be negative? Menopause does not take away all of who we are. I have not lost my ability to multi-task. I regularly listen to my children recite verb conjugations in foreign languages, while brushing the dogs, cooking dinner, and researching on the Internet. As much as we relate such skills to female abilities, I also know of many men who can multi-task. They merely claim that they cannot speak with you, while doing something else, but consider the following: how many men do you know who can hold a beverage or dip a chip, while watching a football game? I rest my case. They also claim that there is no male menopause, but we know better, don’t we?

Rather than think of this phase of life as a time to sweat like a pig, I am embracing my outer fresh and dewy self. The term “hot mama” is taking on a whole new meaning around here.

Wanted to write something else, but now I forget.


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