Monday, November 5, 2012

Her First Period

When I was in 3rd grade, I read Judy Blume's "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" and became obsessed with getting my first period.  Unfortunately, I had another 4 long years to wait.  It happened at church on a Sunday night in late October of 7th grade.  It was the best day of my life.  My mom took me to the store for pads and told me I was now a woman.  Wow.  From a girl to a woman just like that.

At almost 42, I can tell a big shift in my cycles.  Two days and I'm done.  My two oldest daughters have both started in the last year.  One was excited (then 7th grader) and the other, not-so-much (almost 6th grader).  They both knew about it, but you never really know what to expect until it happens.

I asked the question this week on my Banned From Baby Showers Facebook page if women remember the exact date they first started and if they were happy or upset.  I've thought a lot about the answers this week and wanted to talk about it a bit here.  Here is a sampling of the responses:

I was scared out of my mind!! My mother never told me anything and I had major cramping as a teenager. I literally thought I was dying!

I remember it was August and I was 14 1/2. I was a late bloomer and embarrassed that my mom told EVERYONE! My dad hugged me and said that his little girl was becoming a woman. I had people from out of state calling me. I was so upset.

Dec 1st, 7th grade. It was a good day. Both of my parents made me feel very special. Took me out to dinner to celebrate.

I don't remember the day but it was just before my 10th birthday and it was a Saturday. My mom was sleeping in and I got up to pee and made my discovery. My mom is not a nice person when she wakes up, but on that day when I woke her up to tell her what was going on she shot out of bed, got me what I needed, and went on and on congratulating me on my entrance into womanhood, she treated me like a queen and called me a "woman." It was a really good day.

May 12 1996, I was excited but embarrassed to tell my mom who never told me what was going on. She was red in the face while standing at the store trying to pick out pads.

My Mother was on the phone with some relative and she proceeded to blather the news out to everyone she could, despite the fact that pieces of my soul were crumbling into ashes. Because of this, my sister told me vs. our Mom when hers came, so she wouldn't call people and tell them.  I was so ANGRY that day. I felt ashamed and betrayed by my body and full of the sort of powerless rage that I'd never experianced before or after. I just HATED my body for doing that to me. I was a couple months shy of turning 11. I was too young.  It was horrendous. Not a good memory, sorry.    

I was in 7th grade and cried... I didn't want my childhood to end. I was mad that I was becoming grown up. Or so I thought in 7th grade. Plus my mom is not great with that stuff and we didn't really talk about it. My dad was much better about it. Still not a great day in my life.

I was eleven and mum was so happy she rented a movie and bought pizza.

I got mine Sept. 9th.  My mother had explained it to me but never actually mentioned blood. I knew I would get my period. I knew it meant I could become pregnant etc...I came home from school feeling awful and went to the bathroom. There was BLOOD!!!! I had watched enough episodes of Emergency - yes, dating myself - to know that internal bleeding meant I was going to DIE! After my mother got me to stop screaming, she found it all very amusing - I did not.

Thursday, May 12, in 6th grade. I've always said that nothing ever happens on Friday the 13th. It's Thursday the 12th that will get ya.

I was 12. I woke up and used the bathroom and saw blood in my underwear. It was long-awaited because I had an older sister who had it. I was so excited!!

Summer camp and completely uninformed and unprepared. Totally terrible.

13 years old. I was home in bed, with strep throat. My mom sat down on the steps of our house and cried, "My baby's growing up!"

Now that I'm older I appreciate my body and the miracle of motherhood, but I pray that all my girls are much older and more prepared when they first start.

I do remember my first cycle. My mom had just moved out so it was just my dad & I. I woke up several times that night with horrible cramps, was in & out of the bathroom thinking maybe I had to have a bowel movement....  By the morning I knew what was going on (it was pretty much like labor in that way).  My father had heard me all night getting up & down & had a pretty good idea of what was happening, poor guy. He ran out that morning & picked me up some pads & let me stay home from school!  Major props to my father for taking care of me in what must have been a very awkward situation for him. I was 15.       

I was mortified, but she (mom) was all happy and wanted to take me out to lunch. And I told her I didn't want lunch or to ever talk about it again. Also, to make sure no one said anything to me about it. And that was that.

I couldn't wait to get my period until I got it. As soon as I saw the blood, I thought "Oh no." Darn you Judy Blume and your romanticizing of it!

September 11th 2001. Yep. I was 14, my mother was in the states (we live in Canada) so it was a bad day. We didn't know where she was, couldn't get a hold of her, not to mention. I couldn't talk to my dad about these things so I was very embarrassed and just kept it a secret, luckily my mom had prepared me well so I knew what to do but I just needed my mom!  I had really bad cramps, was really emotional and on top of that scared about 9-11. When my mom came home a week later she walked into my room at midnight, I remember so clearly... before bed I had done my own laundry because I was embarrassed my dad would find out, so I had them folded by my bed... when she walked into the room I was half asleep and I said 'Mom!" and pointed at my clothes (like that explains it) and first she was like 'What? I dont get it.. What? You did the laundry? Wow you never do laundry.. WAIT!" and she knew just like that. 

A few final thoughts...
As embarrassing as it may be for you as the mother, remember how you felt -- or were made to feel -- when you first started.   If you think it is the most awful week of the month, don't tell your daughter(s) that.  She'll come to expect it.  It's just like birth - if you hear enough awful stories, you'll think that is what it is like for everyone.  It's terrible to think of a young girl scared of what is happening to her and the adults in her life are not helpful.  

While a menstrual cycle may be inconvenient and even uncomfortable, it is a sign that your body is working right.  It is an honor to be a woman and having a period each month reminds us of the sacredness of our bodies.  Arm her with the facts, but more importantly, empower her with the joy of growing older, into a lovely young woman whose body can and will do amazing things.  



Krista Eger said...

I think it's really sweet to read the comments about moms treating their daughters like it was a rite of passage! I want to do that for my daughter (she's only 2). It's also interesting to see the range of emotions depending on what your birth order is. My sister is 8 years older than me. My brothers and sister are 2 and 3 years apart from each other, but I'm 5 years younger so I was always the young one trying to catch up. When I heard about periods in 5th grade I became obsessed with the idea. I would wear pads sometimes just in hopes that it would start that day. Then I didn't actually get it till 8th grade. I have always appreciated my period because it was a reminder that I'd get to be a mother. Now I've got two little adorable monsters :D

Sporinsky Family said...

I don't really remember how i felt when i had my first cycle at age 12. I do remember how I felt when my cycles came back after 8 solid years of pregnancy & breastfeeding--devastated that I wasn't pregnant again and so grateful for the amazing design. I grew up in an environment that made cycles out to be an inconvenience and gross. When I had my first cycle after my last baby I decided then that my girls would be taught differently. I am using a program from Blessing God's Way to teach my daughters and other Mother/Daughter pairs the blessing of our cycles. It is especially poignant to me as my body is again changing and heading into menopause. I'm having a far more difficult time dealing with the loss of fertility vs gaining it.

Vickis_Divine_Kitchen said...

I remember not telling anyone- I had prepared myself well by reading all I could and just "took care" of it when it came. My mother had to ask me three days into it if I had gotten my period and when I said yes she asked why I hadn't told her-- I just responded that I thought shed figure it out. She seemed disappointed and that made me feel Guilty on top of embarrassed.

Janet said...

Your last paragragh made me cry, the sap I am. :)

beccalouise said...

I don't remember the day but it was sixth or seventh grade. It started without me knowing at school and a boy came up to me and told me I had blood on my pants! That was embarassing! My mom was positive but didn't make a huge deal out of it. I think I will make a bigger deal when it happens to my daughter. Not calling family members out of state, but treating like a queen sounds nice.

Jimmy Harvey said...

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