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I lifted Avery into her high chair this morning and pulled a muscle in my back. There have been times in my life when I have put out my back and didn’t have a clue what I did, and others where I felt the damage as it happened. This was definitely the latter. Not fun. I pick her up a hundred times a day without incident; I have no idea what went wrong this time. If I had known, I suppose I would have avoided it.

Back problems aren’t necessarily age-related… I think I was in my early 20’s the first time I put out my back. Still, it happens with somewhat greater frequency now.  I don’t want to sit around and grumble about aging. I don’t feel that old. Most of the time I feel no different than I did in my 20’s. That’s one thing that took me by surprise… the not feeling any older. I feel like overnight I went from getting carded everywhere (that happened until I was in my late 20’s or early 30’s) to getting called “ma’am” at the supermarket. Are you freaking kidding me? Ma’am??? I looked younger than my age for so long it was part of my identity, and parting with perception that hasn’t been easy.

My period is about 10 days late (squeamish male readers can run screaming now). I am NOT pregnant, for the record. Not even the slightest chance. Ever since having Avery, my period has been unusually irregular. I guess it started while we were trying to get pregnant, actually. My normally clock-like period suddenly decided to shift somewhat… a highly annoying turn of events, as it made things difficult to time. We ended up covering the spread, such as it was, by having near-constant sex. I’m sure Chris was the happiest he’s ever been. This went on for months and months… 10, to be exact. No complaints, though. We got the baby we wanted so badly, and Avery brightens every day with her energy and sense of humor. After she was born, my cycles, which were almost always 28 days or longer, suddenly shortened. I found myself having my period every three weeks, a less-than-delightful turn of events. Now suddenly, I’m on day 38, and nothing. Weird.

I suppose it could theoretically be stress. I certainly have an above-average level of stress in my life. That said, I’ve been stressed for ages without my period deciding to take a month off. Is it age? I am 44, so I suppose in theory that could be it. Of course I also had a baby less than two years ago – naturally – so all systems were functional then. We did have concerns about my age at the time, or at least I did. It took us quite awhile to get pregnant with my son, and I was in my 30’s. We decided to start trying for a second child in part because I had the feeling I was running out of time.

We originally put off trying because our finances were so bad. But we reached the point where we had waited and waited and our money problems just weren’t getting better. I decided if we had the baby and still had money problems, we would eventually figure things out, somehow. But if we waited to be on financially solid ground and then discovered I was no longer able to get pregnant… well, there wouldn’t be any figuring that out. So we went ahead… held hands and took a leap of faith. Yes, things have been terrible, financially. They would have been with or without Avery, though. There has not been even a single moment I was sorry to have made the decision to go for it. Avery was meant to be here, of that I have no doubt.

I have been asked if Avery was an accident, both because the kids are so far apart in age and because our financial circumstances are so crappy. Note to anyone reading this: NEVER ask a parent if their child was an accident. It’s rude, and there’s no “good” way to pose it. Regardless of the answer, it’s none of anyone’s business but the parents’. Neither of my children was an accident. Both were sought after, assiduously. Will some people judge our decision? Sure. There will always be judges. I don’t care. We made the only decision we could, the one that was right for us.

So I suppose if my period doesn’t come next month it will be time to see the doctor. I am done having children, so there aren’t any worries there. That said, I certainly am not ready to go through menopause. I can’t be that old. I can’t. I find the thought of it completely disturbing. Back pain I can deal with, estrogen patches and hot flashes (and no, I haven’t had any, thank God), not so much.

Well, that took a turn. I may run screaming myself.