I was recently asked what it was like to experience my first period. I then realized that I had never actually been asked that, by either a man or a woman, nor had I ever really thought about it.
As a youth, I was extraordinarily embarrassed by anything going on with my body. I didn’t want to have the sex talk, the period talk, or the talk about boys with my parents. And honestly, my father was just as embarrassed by this potential conversation as I was.
I dreaded the coming of the tampon years as if it was the coming of the plague. I was not proud that I was becoming a woman. Imagine my surprise when one day, after a few cramps, it happened. Admittedly it was not quite that simple. I was terrified when I felt the cramps, I hadn’t known what to expect, and at first I had thought that something was genuinely wrong. I can’t blame my mother for this; she had tried to prepare me. But at the first mention of “uterus,” I literally placed my hands over my ears and hummed as loudly as I could until she walked away, frustrated and annoyed. After that she tried leaving a few books on my bed, the “your body is changing” type of reads. I would proceed to hide these in the back of my closet and never go looking for them until high school, when I could no longer understand the sexual innuendos my friends were throwing around.
The day the cramps hit was a particularly bad one as I was stressing over a major test, and I though Jeez, I must be nervous! I’m literally in pain! And like my nausea, they were slowly becoming more and more difficult to ignore. Uh oh. Was my heart pounding from the pain, the churning of my stomach, or the impending F I felt looming in my very near future? I mean, there was no way this is from a test right? I mean, what if I’m dying?! Seriously, who thought it would be a great idea to throw a period at me, age 13, right in the midst of the most dramatic years of my life and when I’m most likely to overreact?
Eventually I felt the trickle one can only describe with a four letter word and suddenly it all made sense. No biggie, I was just bleeding into my underwear. Oh the relief! I’m not dying! My relief was soon replaced by panic as it suddenly occurred to me that I was bleeding through my underwear. Luckily I was prepared! I had a pencil bag sat stashed on the bottom of my backpack, awaiting a moment just like this. Somehow I managed to finish my test and the moment class was over I charged for the restroom with a mission. I unzipped my bag and looked over my arsenal. Did I use the tampon? No, it shortly became evident to me that I wouldn’t know what to do with that, even with the diagram from the box to guide me. My next option was the panty liner, though one look at my underoos and I knew that wasn’t going to be enough.
My tool of choice selected, I carefully ripped it open only to have another surprise. What? Why would there be wings? I vaguely remembered buying them with my mom and how she had told me wings were “awesome”, but why? I pulled the paper off the adhesive strip in the back and placed it on my undies, and the lightbulb went on. Duh! I wrapped the wings into place and hiked my shorts up, cool. Mission accomplished.
The only thing that sucks? In a few hours you’ll be back in to do it again. But then again, I was giddy and feeling like I could handle anything now that I had handled my first “woman” emergency, and this fact hadn’t quite occurred to me yet.
In the past nine years since I received my first visit from Mother Nature, I feel like I’ve learned a few things. One, black panties. That’s where it’s at. Two, tampons are awesome (though I think I may have to try the Diva Cup). Three, Why should I be ashamed?
I spent my school years putting my feminine products into bags within my bags just in case—I didn’t want anyone to know that I am a female in that sense. Now that I’m in my 20’s, I couldn’t care less if someone sees my bra straps, I don’t care if someone sees my panties when I’m doing my laundry (because why are you checking out my laundry?), and if someone asks me if I’m “on the rag” I answer with either “yes and you’re not helping” or “no, you’re just a very frustrating person,”
Lastly, I really should have just listened to my mother. Please, for the sake of understanding why an inanimate, disposable object has wings, listen to your parent when they try to talk to you about your changing body.
Want to tell us your first period story (or just a really funny, absurd, or interesting one)? Email firstname.lastname@example.org!
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