Well Woman Weekly: Amy Cuevas Schroeder on Perimenopause and Parenting

Every Friday, we send out a weekly roundup of what’s new on Blood & Milk along with articles you may have missed from the archives. We also include an interview with an inspiring woman and this week we’re excited to introduce Amy Cuevas Schroeder. To get the newsletter, sign up here.

Amy Cuevas Schroeder founded Jumble & Flow to empower women in midlife. After scaling Venus from a dorm-room fanzine into an internationally distributed magazine and selling the company, Amy dove into the digital content world. In New York, she led content projects ranging from the new Levi.com to a HarperCollins digital startup (and eventual exit) to business-development education for Etsy sellers. Amy then entered the agency world, leading content strategy and copywriting for the new Enterprise.com and mobile app, and somewhere in between wrote product copy for West Elm and served as a ghostwriter for prominent CEOs.

She lives in the Chicago area with her husband—a trauma recovery social worker—and her twin 6-year-old daughters.

Amy Cuevas Schroeder

Tell us a little bit about your background and why you decided to found Jumble & Flow.

I’m a writer-editor who loves the entire process of creating content—I started by making fanzines, then writing for other publications, then making my own magazine, Venus Zine, in my college dorm room and building it into an internationally distributed magazine. After selling Venus to an independent publisher, I sort of reinvented myself in New York and learned a ton by working in content for Etsy, HarperCollins, and West Elm.

On the personal front, I met my husband and helped put him through college, did IVF, got pregnant with twins, and moved back to Chicago to be near family. In my early 40s, I began experiencing common perimenopause symptoms but struggled to get a proper diagnosis from several doctors. That coupled with personal jumbles—raising a special needs child while working full time for a stressful startup—inspired me to write about my experience. I created Jumble & Flow originally as a personal blog and it’s blossomed into a platform to empower women in midlife.

While I’m sure it differs from woman to woman and symptom to symptom, is there any advice you find yourself frequently sharing when someone is just starting out on their journey through perimenopause?

Most women I talk to about perimenopause tend to say they hadn’t heard of perimenopause or didn’t know much about it until they started experiencing common symptoms like weight gain, vaginal dryness, and anxiety. Like me, they struggled to understand what was happening to their bodies and learned about perimenopause through trying to help themselves remedy and make peace with their symptoms.

Now that perimenopause awareness is on the rise—hooooray!—I think the first step is getting a proper diagnosis if possible, which is often easier said than done. Here’s a list of resources of specialists and online resources. After that, talk with other women about your experience. Chances are, they’re going through a similar experience and will be relieved to hear about yours.

Who is a #midlife person you admire? And why?
I admire Jemele Hill, a journalist, activist, and former sportscaster for ESPN. She and I worked together at our Michigan State University newspaper and she becomes a more powerful force to be reckoned with each year. She is unafraid to stand up for what she believes in, even if she gets fired from a large TV network in the process.

Talk to us about not only going through perimenopause but also being a mom of twins AND founder of Jumble & Flow. How do you manage it all?

I have a village of support. My husband and I would have a really hard time raising our kids if it weren’t for my parents who live nearby, our angel of a daycare provider, a public school with an amazing special needs program, and physical therapists for our daughter Isabel who has a rare syndrome called Pitt Hopkins.

In order to work a “double day”—full time for Unusual Ventures and by night for Jumble & Flow—I’m protective of my time and energy. As an entrepreneurial person, I constantly have a million ideas floating around my head, so I keep a “brain dump” list and a log of priorities. 

I also keep a journal (one on paper and one in a Google Doc), meditate when I can, and cut myself slack on the daily. Also, the shift to remote work has made all the difference—I could go on and on about how much time and money I save now that I work from home. Also, I wear a no-fuss “uniform” every day—simple stretchy pants, a black shirt, and a hoodie—with big earrings and blue eyeliner to accessorize from the waist up on Zoom. 

And sleep! Sleep is one of my favorite pastimes. I’ve always needed at least eight hours of sleep and now that I’m in perimenopause I have a regimen that I must maintain; otherwise, I wake up at 2 a.m. with insomnia and eat a ton of carbs. If I’m being honest, no matter how good my nightly regimen is, I still often wake up in the middle of the night because I have to pee. My regimen includes tucking my kids in, reading, thinking about what I’m grateful for, taking a mind-relaxing tincture, and laying on bamboo cooling sheets.

You’ve shared your experience with undiagnosed perimenopause, can you tell us about that? What were your symptoms?

I had and still have a number of telltale symptoms, including trouble sleeping, night sweats, headaches, irritability, and breast tenderness. 

Thankfully, I found a doctor who specialize in menopause at Northwestern University in Chicago and am now taking hormone replacement therapy. I also am grateful for so many women’s perimenopause startups like Elektra Health; I’m hopeful that perimenopause will be a better experience for women starting now and in the future.

I loved your piece: 8 Things I Did to Get My Groove Back. Which of the 8 do you think every woman needs to know/do?
It was difficult but therapeutic to be forthcoming and vulnerable about the things I struggle with, but I’m glad I was honest. I’m finding that the more I share about my own jumbles, the more women start opening up and sharing theirs. 

At Jumble & Flow, we’re hearing from women who want to write about everything from anxiety caused by growing up with undocumented parents to canceling diet culture to major life transitions to workarounds for weightlifting after menopause.

I think the most important thing about finding joy is realizing that you’re allowed to be happy. Everyone has the right to be happy, and while every person’s circumstances and challenges differ, every human not only deserves to be happy but can do something—even if it’s just a mindset shift—to find their joy. 

Some folks forget that if their life path is miserable, they can change it. I realize this is easier said than done in many cases, but I’m talking about focusing on our personal ability to make change. Own up to the fact that if you’re not enjoying your job or your relationships or your environment, chances are, you can do something to fix it. 

How has perimenopause changed you? Do you find yourself more aware of your body?

I’m so much more aware of my body. Before perimenopause, I rarely stopped to think about cause and effect—like I didn’t stop to think, OK, I’ll get my period soon, and that’s probably why I’m bloated and cranky. Or I drank six cans of Diet Coke and no water and that’s why I have a headache—because I’m dehydrated. 

Now that I’m in perimenopause, I’m highly aware of how stress, hormones, food, sleep, exposure to sunshine, and exercise affect my mood, energy level, and sense of wellbeing. 

I’m also aware of the positive side of perimenopause in that I’m taking less bullshit and skimming the fats of life that no longer serve me. I’m excited about the next chapter!

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