I am glad I am 63 and not 30 years younger

I read a blog that was written by a woman in her 40s. She had been flushing her tampons and wondered, “who doesn’t?” I bet her mother told her that was the sanitary way to dispose of them because her mother is probably close to my age and that’s what we were taught.

I am happy I became a woman of menstruating age in the late 60s. Tampons were acceptable for virgins (there was a time it was believed otherwise) and they were the clean, hygienic, sanitary solution for active women. It was a perfect time as a matter of fact. The tabu on horseback riding, swimming, and other fun, physical activities during menstruation were a thing of the past, but it was still an excuse to get out of high school gym class.

Tampon use and its effect on the environment was yet to be a worry. Being the conscientious person I am, I would be worried about where my used tampons would eventually end up if I were flushing them or even bagging them to go into a landfill. In fact, I even thought about it a little in 1971 when I tried the torturous tassaway which was the forerunner to today’s diva cup. I’ve read mixed reviews, but I tend to think the positive ones are written by Pollyanna.

It’s not just the challenges of finding an environmentally friendly way to deal with menstrual flow, childbirth opinions were much kinder in my childbearing years than they seem today. I had 4 daughters born in 1981, 1983, 1986, and 1989. I had all 4 at Maine Medical Center in Portland. The attending OB for my first two children was the highly celebrated women’s author, advocate, and public speaker, Dr. Christiane Northrup.

I felt the most judged under her care. She gently scolded me for enjoying milk (it’s not good for you, it’s just becomes mucus in your gut”) and lack of exercise (“caring and riding horses isn’t exercise.”) I actually think that she was on the cutting edge of making women question everything they did and become dissatisfied with most of it. That’s a good way to sell books and get fat fees for speaking engagements.

My last two pregnancies were much more positive experiences with a midwife attending the entire process from prenatal visits to the labor and delivery. I felt accepted rather than a lot of pressure to change. There was no Internet to spend my days surfing to ensure I was making the healthiest, safest actions for my unborn babies and me. Thank goodness.

I’m glad I had my babies in the 80s before Facebook.

I delivered all four daughters vaginally with the help of Lamaze and a local anesthesia to sew up the tear. I felt no pressure or judgment to deliver the way I did. I did it because it’s what I wanted. My friends and I basically did what we thought was best for ourself and didn’t spend a lot of time lecturing each other about why our choice was superior and to do it any other way was all wrong.

Other women chose epidurals and in those days there were even women who could elect to deliver by scheduled c-sections. It seems like there is no shortage of people who want to blab in social media about the right and wrong way to deliver a child. I’m glad I escaped all of that.

Breastfeeding is another controversial topic. Some women are made to feel like unfit mothers if they chose not to do it. Others are attacked for where and when they feed their babies. No matter what a mother decides, trolls judge her for making the wrong choice.

I breastfed because it was the easiest way for me to feed babies day or night. I didn’t have to mess with formulas and bottles, and heating them and keeping them cool to prevent the growth of bacteria. It just seemed logical to me.

When the baby wasn’t feeding at my breast I gave her a little beer to keep her happy until she was big enough to hold her own can. Just kidding – that’s apple juice in the bottle and the other daughter is holding an empty. In 1987 pediatricians said give babies juice in a bottle.

Some of my friends also breastfed and some didn’t. It didn’t matter much. By the time my fourth daughter arrived there was a growing pressure for all women to breastfeed with the “breast is best” movement. It’s not best if you don’t want to breastfeed and I’m happy I escaped pressure one way or the other.

I was too thin at times and too fat at others. When I was too thin nobody ever accused me of being anorexic or hollered at me to, “eat a sandwich.” When I was too fat, I did experience some rude comments but at least I didn’t have any open hostility aimed towards me.

Fatty haters and prejudice towards obese people isn’t new, but when I was obese people weren’t accusing me of driving up their healthcare costs. They were accusing the parties that were, and still are, responsible – the healthcare insurers.

I think a lot of all this judging and unkindness is the predictable result of people being able to anonymously judge each other on various social media platforms. It’s easy to go off on a stranger on your computer screen. They’re faceless, they don’t personally know who they’re attacking and they’re compelled to “educate” their target.

 

I’m 63 and eternally grateful that I escaped the pressures young woman have today worrying about doing everything perfectly.

 

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.