6 Ways to Age Gracefully

With the exception of my 19th birthday, when I celebrated my first–and only–birthday/aging crisis, I’ve hit every year with a shrug and a smile.

While I am guilty of trying to remember how and where I wasted so much time (damn you facebook!); I don’t get bogged down in the glory days.

Not about my kids– They grow up so fast– where are my babies?
Not about myself– Wait, wasn’t I 16 like a minute ago?

What makes some people age gracefully? I came up with 6 ways.

1) Choices. The average day represents a series of choices; good, bad, or meh. Be proud, or embarrassed. Resolve to repeat, or avoid. But most of all– make, and accept responsibility, for them.

2) Attitude. Smiling attitudes are pleasant; surly ones are not.
Oh, how I struggle here. I suffer– and I do mean, suffer, from a nasty temper. I will blow up on a mo-fo in a second. I’m a redhead, what can I say? I’m impatient and critical.

See # 1.

It’s not about focusing on the don’ts and the nos and the stops.
It’s not about riding a unicorn on a rainbow of awesomeness.
It’s about Walk and Don’t Run meaning the same thing, just put a different way.

3) Find Healthy Fun: Perhaps you like to do projects that require a sledge hammer and a drill. Perhaps you prefer pedicures for your gnarly feet. Maybe you like to read, write, garden, run, count lady bugs– who cares. Constant complaining doesn’t count as fun. Unless you find another complainer and limit the behavior to that person.

4) Don’t surround yourself with crappy people. Self-explanatory? If we don’t share DNA and the relationship isn’t reciprocal, either in support or services? We won’t be sharing a relationship for long. And I’m cool with that.

5) Sunscreen: This is a no-brainer by now, right? As I sit here with a lobster-red sunburn in 4 places where I missed with the sunscreen. A healthy golden glow is lovely, and a sign of good Vitamin D absorption, but leather skin only looks nice on cows and couches.

6) Be realistic in your reminiscing. My memories of high school are ambivalent at best. Did I have fun skipping school to participate in a variety of naughty behaviors? Sure. Spending most of my Senior year grounded? Not so much.

I have to admit that College, Version 1.0 was fabulous. I hit the dorm room at 17, having skipped my junior year of high school. Which makes that first semester’s 0.4 GPA that much more delicious. College, Version 2.0 was less fabulous, what with that full-time job/school thing. But I still squeezed in the good times.

I’m very happy to have hangovers and wince-worthy dating experiences back in the past. Like, waaaayyyy back there, in a place where my children will never find them.

Then there are the memories so far removed from my present reality that I can’t even quite grasp that they are mine.

Like that month I was in the Navy. Wait, THE NAVY? Yeah, see? Being 18 wasn’t all rainbows and unicorn farts.

Got Juice? Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

Got juice? Or netflix? I went through a documentary phase and netflix made a (surprisingly) pertinent recommendation– Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.

I am fascinated with the sheer amount of bad food Americans eat. My lifestyle– though better– still needs improvement.

I do love my precious-es…internet, and books. Once I tried to internet surf while running on the treadmill– not recommended.

I need to teach my children about informed food choices– now. Not that I expect them to always make the wise food choice– at 5 and 3, I’m just happy they have (mostly) stopped eating food dropped on public floors.

And that took 3 years of constant reminders before they (mostly) stopped that behavior.

Anywho. Despite generally liking fruits and vegetables, I find it to be annoyingly difficult to eat enough of them. Salads are yummy, but they do not meet the consume-while-driving criteria. Apples are portable—but they require a commitment. And remembering to place the apple trash where it belongs, else you will be hunting for what’s-that-smell. Or you will get ants in your car.

Good times.

I sneer at meal replacement shakes– full of artificial crap and just begging for an uncontrolled food-shoveling during the sensible meal.

Let’s face it, eating an entire large pizza has, at points in my life, made PERFECT sense. The perceived definition of sensible kinda being a large part of the problem.

Or, the fasting cleanses like the Master Cleanse, where you are advised to drink lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. And don’t forget the laxatives!

Oh– I’ve totally used both the aforementioned– often with weight loss success.

But, oh how they made me a monster hypocrite. At dinner, pleading with my uber-picky, clinically-skinny kid to please, for the love of not starving yourself, just eat, whilst sipping on my spicy sugar lemonade and NOT EATING. The master cleanse adds up to about 800 calories a day– all from the sugar maple syrup.

But juicing? Could I? Would I remember to buy fresh vegetables? Would I buy fresh vegetables, get distracted, not noticing until it was too late that the kale had slunk off to the gelatinous green smear of the Vegetable Dark Side?

Could I? Yes. Would I remember to buy fresh vegetables? At least enough to make a juice of some sort. Would kale launch a celery stalk offense, while screaming “LEEK, I’m your father”? Oh yeah– a couple of times.

Here’s what I learned.
1) Eating juiced fruits and vegetables isn’t that difficult. The fiber in that stuff is really filling and my stomach wasn’t actually hungry. My eyes were hungry, but my eyes were what got me into this flabby mess– they aren’t to be trusted right now.

2) I’ll stop adding milk and sugar, but I’m not giving up caffeine. I’ll even substitute green tea. But take away caffeine entirely? Nope. That’s not compatible with my life, my brain function. For the love of… I am prescribed amphetamines. Not. Giving. Up. Coffee.

3) At dinner, I ate a spinach salad topped with avocado. One, because I missed chewing and wanted to eat dinner with my family. Two, I didn’t want to stop running during the reboot and my body needed a bit more fuel oomph to handle both. On longer run days, I also made sure to have more carb-heavy things, like sweet potato juice.

4) Beets juice will make your urine red. While the Small People found this fascinating– it didn’t motivate them to try beet juice more than once.

5) In the beginning, the Small People wanted nothing to do with me, or my juice. Then I made apple juice–um, YUM. Now they will always at least taste. Children who would not take cash in exchange for one bite of cooked kale will drink Green Juice, served in a 3 ounce shot glass.

To make 3 ounces of juice, you use a lot of kale and other assorted fruit/vegetables. So much that those 3 ounces goes a long way (if not all the way) toward meeting a child’s daily vegetable requirement.

I feel like I’m finally winning one not-so-small food battle, which makes the 439th day in a row of PB&J a little easier to swallow (pun intended).


Perspective is easiest in reflection. Only 12 weeks left until I have to run 13.1 miles. To accomplish this, I need to increase my running distance by a little less than a mile each week. Which, though still a challenge doesn’t seem so impossible to me anymore. Even as I sport sore shins after yesterday’s not-quite-5-miles (ahem, 4.62) outside run.

JB did me a solid tonight when he listened to me talk about how I’ve been all running like Forrest Gump yet have only lost 5-ish pounds. I mean, really. I ran 4.62 miles yesterday morning AND went to the pool with the kids in the afternoon. Other Self could watch someone else do that, while chain-smoking from a chair, and still lose 10 pounds.

As I pointed all of this out to my supportive–but not in the gratuitous blowing smoke up ass way– husband, he threw out the hand signal for “Stephanie, shut up”. He proceeded to remind me that Other Self was holding on to the cliff of mental health by one broken fingernail. That Other Self was existing on adrenaline, Mountain Dew, nicotine, and adderall. In other words, Other Self was a teensy-tiny bit Bat Shit crazy.

Alright– so he has a point. A valid one, even. But Other Self, in those 5-6 months before getting herself knocked up, had finally morphed into the Ultimate Hotness (my definition by the way– because who else’s definition matters?)

She’s my control group; my goal. She’s who I look up to, when I’m looking down on myself. But then, in that way that all women have of cutting down other women, I remember that she never turned 30, since pregnancy had already killed her. Rather than repeating Other Self’s 29th birthday celebration– tequila shots in a bar named Hell–my 30th consisted of snarfing down a 16oz T-Bone steak followed by a chocolate cake chaser. Hiding my expanding abdomen in my muumuu…er, maternity dress.

Which is how I ended up laying on the floor, kind of whining about how it wasn’t fair that I’m not already 20 pounds lighter; after all, I’ve been running for 6 whole weeks already. I pontificated about caloric intake data, peppered with descriptions of my resting metabolic rate, finishing with caloric burn, only to sadly confess, “yet I’ve only lost about 5 pounds”.

Then my Quiz Bowl Team husband just tilted his head and said– “um, based on the equation you just gave me, your math is right.”.

Oh. Um. Crap on a stick. Since June 5th, I’ve run 48 miles and burned 4586 calories. And since there are 3500 calories in a pound… well.

I’ve got some more running to do until I find her again. ::absently strokes computer screen in a loving, yet creepy, way.::

But it’s hard to miss her too much, and celebrate the fact that I’ll never, ever see this me again.

My First Half Marathon

Wait, let me say that again– Half. Marathon. Running. 13.1 Miles. Me, at 5’4 carrying 180 pounds of pure muscle leftover pregnancy fat. I’ve totally been running regularly have sporadically ran a mile.

That’s right, party people, Scattermom is going to be hoofing it in the Ramblin’ Rose 1/2 Marathon in October. Of this year.

Training and running a half marathon is totally on my Bucket List. That, by the way, was a huge, whooping lie. The only item currently on my Bucket List is to make a Bucket List. The Bucket List sounds so romantic. Sitting down, either alone, or with one’s partner, and detailing a plan for all this cool life experience. Me? I narrow my eyes at the romanticism, recognizing it for what it will become–yet another documentation of great ideas, unfulfilled, mocking me every time I clean out the drawer it’s been shoved in.

So if not a dreamt of goal, how exactly does one go from haphazardly running a mile here and there, to registering to run 13.1 miles?

1) Both Small People nap at the same time.
2) I waste most of that time on Facebook catch up on the lives of my close friends.
3) A good friend posts about registering to run.
4) I do a “whoot-whoot” and offer to wait at the end with a mimosa.
5) Next thing I know, Annie says, “hey, let’s be our own team and run it”.
6) I scoff for about 25 seconds, find out it’s not until October and before you can say, “Hey, did you take your afternoon dose of adderall”, I’m hitting submit on the entry form.

Then my dear, darling husband sparked my competitive streak by reacting with wide eyed amusement asking, “did you know how many miles that was before you paid” (No, but that’s NOT the point).

As I ran through my first mile in dunno-how-many months, I worked myself up to being obnoxiously excited. Six-ish years ago, I did a 5K– as a smoker, with a sprained ankle, in August. Being almost lapped by an 80 year old could have been embarrassing, but dissing on him would be ageism, and discrimination is wrong.

There are now several motivators, starting with:


I do believe I turn 35 this month. Look, I’m not going to lie. I could shit-care-less about that number. Maybe there aren’t as many 3am party nights, but– you know what? There were many 3am– and beyond– party nights. My liver thanks me for being cool with not being in that place anymore. But what better way to say “fuck off middle age” than to set a crazy goal Right? With the power of a woman that can not hear Mom, MOM, MOOOMMMMYYY I’m ignoring the voice that keeps whispering about slot machines and strippers in Vegas. With age comes realism and all I can see is me, easily distracted by shiny objects, prone to impulsivity, in a pawn shop with a gaping whole where my extra kidney should be.

So maybe no to Vegas.

There are 30 more pounds to lose before reattaining Other Self status. And 40 before attaining the Bad Ass–as in, I could kick yours–Status that floats around my head during games of Chutes and Ladders.

I’ve enjoyed running, those rare times when it’s been a regular thing, because it’s quick, reasonably painless, cheap, and doesn’t require choreographed moves in a group class-setting. Drunk at a bar– I’m a rhythmic, gyrating fool. Routine fitness class– more pathetic, drooling buffoon. Running has a certain grace– if you can zone out.

And there my friends, is the clincher. I can run and let my mind wander off at its leisure. And, wow does it go some places, but that’s for another day. Today I just want to say thanks to my ADHD, as it occurs to me that my (dis)ability to make randomly impulsive decisions also works in my favor.

Now, off to spend some QT with Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, Method Man and P!nk, pretending I’m training for a preternatural showdown, for which my latent powers are the only thing stopping total world annihilation.

What? You think about something else during exercise?

You Spin Me

Vertigo, or as I like to think of it: You spin me right round, baby
right round like a record, baby
Right round round round
You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round round round

Yes, you are all most welcome for next few days where that bad 80s song-now-remade-because-original-thought-is-dead will spin round in your head.

My head spinning thing is more about some really obnoxious dizziness mixed with crushing fatigue. Fatigue on adderall? See, that’s just not right.

And after being all good-adult and getting a physical last week my lab results came in. Is my thyroid whacked out like I hoped, thus giving reason the inexplicable 10 pound weight gain in February? And also allowing for a super simple better-living-through-chemistry pill fix?

Nope, thyroid is fine.

Am I like all other women and anemic?

Nope, just the opposite, in fact. Instead of being iron deficient, I am iron overloaded. Which leads to more tests, and some hours spent with Dr. Google. As it turns out my lab tests most closely resemble the pattern of thalassemia, except for that not being Indian, Asian, or African. Unless someone has something to tell me– RIGHT NOW.

There are some other possibilities, none of which make me feel warm and fuzzy– at all. My follow up is this Friday, and I’ve vowed to stay off WebMD (and/or the office of Rare Diseases) until then. I’m drinking water like a good girl. Coffee and tea, too– since they block iron absorption. Oy, can you imagine how high my iron would have been without my excessive drinking of those particular liquids?

My Vitamin D is also too low, so I’ve been popping those like candy. Like really large, kind of burpy candy, but still. I kind of want an EKG since I’ve been on those amphetamines for like a decade and heart issues are spread like a not-so-comfy quilt on both sides of the family tree. How about a whole body scan, hmmm?

Getting old. It really is eye opening. Not clearly visioned, since I also need glasses. But opening.

It’s Alive

And by “it’s“, I mean, me and by “alive” I mean, the antibiotics finally kicked in. But it’s too close to Halloween to miss the opportunity for a Frankenstein reference.

Last Thursday (it’s now Saturday) I woke up feeling as if I had swallowed a bunch of razor blades. Since sword swallowing is not part of my carnie repertoire, I knew this meant nothing good. After a shower where I cried (literally) just from the spray of water touching my skin, I knew this meant something beyond nothing good. My husband kind of silently watched me cry and whimper about the house for about 5 minutes before asking if I needed him to stay home from work to take care of the kids. Now before we all rise up and prepare to beat his ass for taking 5 WHOLE minutes before offering to give me a sick day, I have to say he’s rocked it since those minutes–taking care of pathetic (that would be me) and our Small People. Without his insistence I might not have gone to Urgent Care right away– and by “urgent” I mean, anything but.

When I left Slower-than-Snails-Because-it-Takes-5-People-to-Swab-One-Throat Care, all doped up on a butt-shot of painkiller and my first dose of amoxicillin, it was on his suggestion that I drank a milk shake instead of getting a hamburger. And it was him that sent me straight to bed, where I pretty much stayed until this morning.

It was him that went out and bought me soup and Fudge Popsicles, then filled the waking hours of the Small People by taking them on bike rides and other assorted outdoor adventures.

It was also him that finished Elliot’s Halloween costume–painting the helmet that I hadn’t gotten around to yet. It was also him that went to the library and picked up my book requests before the hold expired– including such literary titles as Chains of Ice, No Rest for the Wicked, and Everyday Life in the Middle Ages. What? I read cerebral stuff, too–ahem, nonfiction about the Middle Ages– but my pleasure reading? Not so much.

I’m really happy to feel mostly alive today–I bathed the sick/dead smell off of myself and I’m blogging–that’s a huge accomplishment for a woman who has been keeping a newborn’s sleep schedule. I’m glad that I am no longer contagious, which means the Small People can attend Trunk or Treat tomorrow. I’m sad that I procrastinated my own costume so long that it won’t be going to ToT tomorrow (and don’t worry, Z has mentioned this to me at least a dozen times. “Mommy, if you would have started your dress when I told you to…”) Out of the mouth of babes…procrastination is my greatest motivator and worst enemy.

I’m a little disgusted that one of the side effects for my antibiotic happens to be sore throat and that it took good ol’ Chloraseptic to kill the throat pain because–and I never thought to say this out loud–hydrocodone wasn’t working.

I’m trying to stay smart today by not jumping back into my life at full speed, mostly because I know my dear husband needs to go back to work on Monday. And I don’t want to ever feel again like I felt yesterday. So, take it easy day…and since it’s already 5 pm I guess I pulled that off, too.

If Facebook Burned Calories

If Facebook burned calories then I would have no need to write this post. I wouldn’t be getting ready to call myself a fat ass on the internet. Because if it did then all of those hours spent updating my statuses (status-i?) bemoaning and/or cheering the nuances of my day would have eliminated all this baby weight.

If it did, I wouldn’t have to yell “FAT ASS” at myself in the mirror in order to go downstairs and run. And before anyone simpers on about how it’s not nice to talk about one’s self in this manner I have to inform you that anger is—and always has been—my greatest motivator. Tell me I can’t teach myself web design? Screw you, I’ll teach myself in a weekend. Tell me that no one fights the Veteran’s Administration and wins, I’ll show you a reversed decision that only ate up 5 years of my life (and a fair chunk of my soul) to get. So you see, for this battle–since no one is saying “you can’t do that”–my acrimonious self view is the only thing that’s going to get me motivated.

And while some might say my mindset is slightly unhealthy…at least I’m funneling my anger into something I can control.

Because I can’t the other things that make me angry right now—a huge oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, poisoning water already toxic to begin with; Glenn Beck and anyone that thinks he cares about anything but his own paycheck; and people—both American and otherwise—dying in a war for oil that we could be replacing with other energy sources; off-shore drilling on my beautiful coastline (hmmm…I’m really angry about oil stuff right now). Look…a squirrel. Sorry, got distracted.

A few weeks ago I went to the doctor for my annual check-up, complaining of mysterious back pain (self-diagnosed as a bad gall bladder), exhaustion, and other assorted aches and pains. I’m not going to lie, a big part of me was smug in my certainty that I had developed a thyroid issue and all of my problems would be solved with one eensy-weensy prescription.

And, dammit, other than being overweight, there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. Nada, zip, zilch. And since there is nothing medically wrong with me that means my sluggish weight loss is nothing more than a simple case of surf-the-internet-and-eat-too-much-itis. It’s an epidemic disease in our country, so I’ve been told by the same folks who provide the solution–exercise and a healthy diet…yeah, yeah.

Gah- this one’s going to be long. Remember my Other Self? Sniff, she was so thin (not that I thought so at the time). She was rocking a size 8 (which is as small as I ever want to be—any thinner and I’d look sickly). She had perky boobs and a mostly flat stomach. Her butt was not suffering from approaching-mid-thirties-white-woman syndrome.

Then she got pregnant and sat her ass on the couch and ate. And then ate some more. She gained 16 pounds from the moment she found out she was pregnant (at 8 weeks) to her first OBGYN appointment at 12 weeks. She had convinced herself that she was having twins.

She was wrong. But still she reveled in her gluttony, remaining blithely unconcerned, even when the well-meaning doctor mentioned eating more vegetables and less pizza. After all, she had just polished off a bag of M&Ms while waiting for him. Then she hit 199 lbs at 6 months pregnant—but by then the train had left the station, so to speak, and there was no stopping it. The end result of her first pregnancy was a weight gain of 80-ish pounds. She is 5’4. Without doing any final math, we can assume that 80-ish pounds on someone that short is not graceful.

At this point, Other Self had morphed into someone else. She was now Dumb Ass. Dumb Ass immediately started exercising after the 6-week go-ahead from the same OBGYN that tried to warn her before. Postpartum weight loss victory was going to be hers!! Dumb Ass found out that she was not one of those women that shed weight while nursing and thus decided not to waste her time with it.

Nursing stopped, weight started coming off, and Dumb Ass went and got pregnant again, still needing to lose 30 lbs to be back at pre-pregnancy size. I’ll give Dumb Ass a little credit here; she did SO much better with the weight gain the second time around—constant puking and having a toddler who refused to take 5 hour naps helped. Dumb Ass only gained 35 lbs. Dumb Ass was ecstatic with this because she lost 28 lbs from labor to birth with Baby #1 and fully expected to repeat this pattern.

Dumb Ass was surprised and horrified when she only lost 7 lbs with the birth of her second child. Seven. Pounds. The BABY weighed 7 lbs. What about the rest of that…stuff?

Dumb Ass bought a new scale, because surely there was a malfunction with the one she had. Nope, no malfunction.

Ahh…but Dumb Ass (who is going to morph into Current Self, stay with me—I know it’s all a bit Sybil-ish) was more determined to lose the weight this time. She was recruited into a nutrition study thanks to her impressively bad BMI. Current Self signed up for 5K training at the local Fleet Feet. She ran on the treadmill, did pilates, and ate healthy foods.

Imagine her shock when she gained 5 lbs, her milk supply tanked and her youngest son was diagnosed as failing to thrive. She stopped exercising, cut the most common food allergens out of her diet, and lost 8 pounds while her youngest gained two. The universe righted itself—after all her child’s weight gain was infinitely more important than her own weight loss.

All of that was exactly a year ago. Since I quit nursing—for good—last June, I’ve shaved another 35 pounds off. Yippee me. For the past 2 months I’ve been wearing jeans and shorts that I could pull on and off without unbuttoning them. I finally went out last Friday and bought the next-size down pair of shorts. It feels really weird to wear pants that fit…like self-conscious weird. But, hell, continually wearing baggy clothes means you have room to grow…I don’t want that either.

Current Self is angry at Other Self for gaining the weight to begin with. Current Self is angry at Dumb Ass for getting pregnant for the second time without losing all the weight first. Current Self is especially angry at the hours wasted on Facebook. If only Facebook burned calories.

Current Self loaded Pandora with a Korn-based radio station and pounded her anger out on a squeaky, neglected treadmill tonight. Current Self is feeling better about the likelihood of getting back into Other Self’s pants. See her down there–all smiling and happy? She has no idea that a fatter, future-her is coveting her body. Poor girl.

Let’s Talk about Sex

Let’s talk about sex! That was my first thought when I was approached by the Museum of Motherhood to write an article related to women’s health my immediate thoughts were of the big three—breast cancer, heart disease, and cervical cancer. Then my mind wandered over to the other big ones—fertility issues, thyroid disease and auto-immune diseases. I started doing research on what I had picked to write about, but my mind was dissatisfied with my choice. It kept wandering over to the problem that many women face, both before and especially, after, motherhood. The one we don’t talk about, the one without its own black lace ribbon magnet showing support. Sexual dysfunction.

Since the onset of the women’s movement, sexual freedom—prompted in large part by the ability for women to control their own reproductivity with hormonal birth control—has become a banner which many women wave proudly. In theory women were no longer laying awake after an unsatisfying encounter with their now-snoring husbands. In essence, the dissatisfying sexual relationships of my grandmother’s era were to be replaced by mutually enjoyable experiences between consenting partners. Right?

Wrong. A survey conducted by the American Medical Association in 1999 indicates that sexual dysfunction affects approximately 43% of women in the United States. In general, data related to sexual dysfunction, especially for women, are limited. The medical and pharmacological communities have made strides in treating this problem—for men—who hasn’t seen the commercial of a loving couple in side by side bathtubs gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes? And for the heterosexual women whose dissatisfaction stemmed from a problem with their partner, this is great news.

Well, what about the rest of us? Specifically, what happens to a woman with normal function after they have children? I know very few women who jump back into their normal relationships after they have given birth. Is it all related to body image? After all, the end result of carrying a child for 10 months is not kind for many of us (no accounting for awesome genetics, personal trainers and babysitters; though I am super jealous of all of you, too.) Is it all mental—the transition to a sexual being after fulfilling that mother role all day? Is it physiological—the result of decreased blood flow or other vaginal changes as the result of getting aforementioned baby out of one’s body? Or—more likely—is it a combination of the three?

Becoming a mother adds new layers on to a woman’s psyche—layers that we can neither predict nor control. That none of us believes that will happen to me until we are a mother for the first time is part of the transition from a sole entity to a mom. I remember being really tearful when my OBGYN gave me the go ahead to “resume relations” (her words) after the birth of my first child. Secretly I was hoping for another reprieve—a medical excuse whose validity could not be disputed by my husband.

We were both to find out that being a mother reduced my desire a hundred-fold from our pre-parent days. After spending both day and night nursing a baby I was less than excited about the prospect of someone else getting to my body. So I did what lots of women do—I faked it.

Thankfully my libido righted itself as the months progressed; I regained ownership of my breasts, my baby started sleeping through the night, and the 75+ pounds I had gained began to finally come off. Ironically with the reintroduction of my libido I got pregnant again, which restarted the entire cycle.

However, my approach was different the second time. Instead of faking it—both initial desire and the outcome—I was honest with my husband about what I felt (and didn’t feel). All of the advice in parenting magazines—“renew your intimacy”, “go on dates together”, “just hold each other”—didn’t work for us. What worked was time, but during the interim we had to deal with the fall-out of my lack of desire.

I’m very lucky that I married a mostly-understanding man. I’m lucky that my issues largely resolved themselves after a year or so. I’m lucky that my problems weren’t a symptom of a bigger medical problem. But what about the women who aren’t so lucky? What about the women for whom these issues cause long-lasting rifts in their partnerships? Or worse, what about those rifts that become chasms so wide that the relationship ends, forever altering the family unit?

Why don’t we talk about this more, amongst ourselves or with our doctors?

Personally, I think that 43% of women reporting some sort of sexual dysfunction to be a far lower figure than is truly accurate. My feeling is that there are many other women who don’t even view it as a problem, perhaps never accounting for how important sex is in maintaining a healthy partnership. I worry that there are too many women who don’t realize that sexual dysfunction can be a true symptom for other diseases—like diabetes, thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis, vaginismus, endometriosis, uterine fibroids and others.

If my concerns are correct that means embarrassment is leading too many women to suffer silently. Will undiagnosed sexual dysfunction lead to death the way heart disease and cervical cancer might? Probably not. But life isn’t just defined by longevity; it is also defined by quality. Women should demand the same quality of life for themselves as they demand for their children and their partners.

So don’t be embarrassed…talk about it. I’ll bet you find out that 1) you aren’t alone and 2) you don’t have to suffer silently.