On the season finale of Real Housewives Of New York last night, 53 year-old Ramoma Singer missed a period, gets swollen breasts and thinks she’s pregnant. When she tells her friend Sonya ‘the news,’ rather than a sober, “Come on honey, get real” response, she gets a bouncy, girlie OMG and the following startling line: “Do you know how many people are begging to have another baby right now in our clique?!!!”
Yeah, I bet. What says “young” like a pregnancy scare? Joan Rivers has a joke where she says– and I’m paraphrasing–“What you really need to do to be youthful, is have tampons spilling out of you purse.” But no such cutting self-awareness here. No, on RHONY, the excitement about Ramona’s pregnancy news is drawn out in Blanche Dubois proportions, revealing, in it’s wake the one big glitch in our turn-back-the-age culture. You can dye the hair, plump the cheeks and labia and erase fine lines but there’s one thing that’s not on the menu at the youth bodega, and that’s pregnancy.
Still, we can pretend! Even Ramona’s adorable husband plays along with her fertility make-believe. “I don’t know if we’re ready,” she tells him, big Bambi eyes looking up at him. Wow, she’s not just trying to be a mature aged mom, she wants a teen pregnancy!
Look, I know some women over 50 can conceive and I’m pretty sure there’s some random 65 year-old who gave birth and made the news last year and everyone flipped out. And I know there are drugs that can help. But it’s rare. It’s hard enough to get pregnant at 40 or 45, let alone your mid-50s. Thank goodness Jill eventually points out that a woman missing her period at this age only means one thing: menopause.
But wait. I’ve been reading up on menopause lately and I’ve been surprised to discover many perks of being relieved of the hormonal obligations of fertility. For one thing, your oxytocin levels go down which means you’re not as driven to care for others. Hence an incredible time for many women in their fifties when they pursue interests and work outside the realm of being helpful and nurturing. I think it’s Christiane Northrup who says, it’s the birth of you. Also, I’ve heard the hormones leading up to menopause can be so intense during ovulation as to require a good deal of attention. Who says we peak in our 30s? Look, I’m with Woody Allen, I’d rather not get old and die. I am not going to romanticize aging. But I do think that we have some pretty screwy ideas about a woman’s hormonal life, namely that all hormones basically suck except for the youthful ones that get you pregnant.
At the end of the show Ramona nervously takes a pregnancy test– because, really folks, is she ready??? We all wait, anxiously. Could she have done it? Just willed her ovaries back to the 90s? Is it possible? No, not this time. But let’s not despair. Let’s celebrate the mid-life rebirth of Ramona as she enters menopause. Surely, someone can throw the woman a cocktail party.