I have really come to hate my hormones. It was like as soon as I decided I wanted to have children, there they were, mocking me. Oh, you want to get off of the pill and get pregnant? Hahahahaha! Fool! Now, pull your hair out for six months and have fun with that 52 day cycle. After I had L, it actually seemed to help things. It's like the shock of pregnancy evened things out, but that was not meant to last. After E, my low progesterone screwed my milk supply and when I was finally done with that struggle, I got back on the pill. I love the pill. I lost weight and I felt even. Best of all, I didn't have to face the wonkiness of my hormones. A few months ago I realized that I couldn't keep taking those things like I was 25. I'm 35 and it's time to face the facts that I need to do something more permanent that has fever long term health risks. M is not keen on getting an operation because of this study and I have given up trying to convince him otherwise. I am still in the information gathering phase, so we'll see where that takes me.
In the meantime, I am determined to win. I gave birth to two healthy kids, didn't I? I lost the baby weight both times, didn't I? Hormones will not get the best of me. Some days, though, some days it really feels like they will win. The second I got off of the pill I gained 7 lbs, which is driving me insane. I can feel the approaching mood swings when I really feel like crying because we are out of my favorite hummus. I have devised conversations with myself, where the rational Miss K tells the hormonal Miss K, Calm down. This really isn't worth getting upset about.This is not really you. I hate it. I hate feeling like such a cliche!
So, to the gym I go. The battle rages on. I will win! I will not let this get to me! I realize that this isn't a big problem in the grand scheme of things, but I guess I felt like I won the battle with my hormones since I have two beautiful children. Oh, how wrong I was, but it's not over, yet!
I remember watching the first shuttle launch on the news. I remember my teacher crying when Challenger was lost. I remember when endeavor made a cross country tour on its way from California to Florida, the cars lined up at the side of Bergstrom AFB where the special shuttle carrying airplane made a stop. I remember meeting my first astronaut. I remember crying with M when we lost Columbia. I remember being deep in the East Texas woods looking for shuttle debris and the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I found a circuit board on top of the the leaves. Now, I will remember watching the last shuttle launch on a big TV, in a room full of fellow space workers, completely silent.
Everyone is trying to be optimistic, and it's true that we still have ISS until 2020 and there are other projects in the works, but all of this feels like an ending. It feels like the end of something that really captured everyone's imagination. It feels that way, I suppose, because we don't really have a plan for what's next. Not really. Low Earth Orbit (LEO) space travel will be turned over to commercial ventures, and perhaps it will become commonplace, but I truly believe that human beings have a need to explore beyond that. We owe this to our children and to future generations. There is so little wonder in the world today, but this is something that still touches even the most accomplished among us.
We all knew this was coming and I am not arguing for a return to the shuttle program, but where are we going now? Where is our direction? There is no agreement on a path and no consensus on where human space flight will go from here. That is what makes people sad. That is what breaks my heart when L tells me "I want to be an astronaut." I tell him that he can because I want to believe that we will get back on track. I hope we do.
Thirty days after landing, thousands of workers will be let go. They will turn in their badges and try to figure out what to do next. As you think about what the shuttle program has meant to you, spare a thought for the people who loved it enough to make it their job. They will retire or move on to new careers, but if you've ever known anyone who has worked for the space program, you know that a piece of their heart will stay there, forever bound to the idea that we must explore and reach beyond our place here on earth.