The ‘FIRST SERIES’: Nae-Nae, 34

This week’s instalment comes from Nae Nae and how her earliest memories of her period are linked with playing sport…..

Finally settled…..

Is it weird to remember the month and the year of which I began my journey to womanhood? Half the time I barely remember activities of the week before; yet I remember it was October 1998; I was 11years old and finally settling into secondary school. Finally securing my friends for the first semester; finally getting used to waking up at 6.45am to get into school for 8.45. Finally accepting I was soon hitting my teenage years.

Blood and basketball 

It started in an after school club session. I was learning how to play basketball; a sport that was to inevitably play an important role in shaping my identity. During a particular drill I got the sudden urge to go to the toilet so I asked my PE teacher if I could quickly go.

At the time I felt heavily soiled and thought I had actually leaked in my pants. Feeling a little embarrassed I dashed off to the girls changing room to use the toilets.

As I pulled my pants down to see the damage done and finally ease myself; I looked down in shock, horrified at the amount of blood that had sneaked out of me and soiled my knickers.

Am I dying? Yes – I must be dying! Were the exact thoughts that ran through my head. 

A light touch

I remember being taught about puberty in primary school. Lightly touching on periods. Exactly that. A light touch I was expecting, not a heavy flow of redness over my knickers. In my mind something was very wrong.

I remember crying in the toilets thinking God why?? and honestly thinking myself weak all of a sudden. I stuffed my underwear with tissue, washed my hands and went back to continue playing basketball.

I never mentioned anything to my PE teacher nor to any of the other girls at the time. I carried on playing with the daunting thought behind me that I would probably have to go to the hospital when I got home.

Unfortunately I was never taught that some girls may bleed more than others even during your FIRST. Hence why I thought I was suffering some fatality and did not want to worry anyone at school.

That worried walk home….

I rushed home straight after basketball to meet my mum who was already making dinner in the kitchen. I had been crying on my way home so she noticed my red eyes and asked me what was wrong. I told her I had been bleeding heavily. She first looked at me with worry on her face but when I continued and told her where I had been bleeding from she smiled then laughed and continued laughing telling me I was not dying and I had actually had my period.

I was so confused, but relieved at the same time. I asked her why everyone made it seem like it was a tiny drop of blood in your pant not an overflow – in my case anyway.

I later went on to experience regular heavy but healthy periods. 

Upon reflection 

I wish I had been told that girls experience different flows even on your first ever encounter with the ‘lady in red’ as someone once politely and creatively put it. 

Secondly, if I had told my PE teacher she would have reassured me that everything was okay and I would not have wasted my tears crying thinking I was dying on my journey home.

I will always remember my first period experience being linked to my earliest basketball experience and how exercising and playing sport has played a very important part in my period journey. Exercising and keeping fit helped and still helps to reduce some of the symptoms like cramps and bloating. 

One other thing I can say I learned and still practice is sharing your experience with friends or your mother. 

Periods bond us together as women and young ladies. I know wherever I am I can share my experience and there is someone who knows what I am going through.

 Nae-Nae (28-34)

 

Advertisements

First Series: Fanny, 34

Fanny Cool takes time from her crusade to get you to love to reusable sanitary wear to tell us all about the tie she started her period. 

Blood and Grunge

It was 1992 and hopes were high. Madonna filled the air waves, Bill Clinton was President of the USA, and fashion was going grunge.  Fanny Cool was a mere 10 years old, although the tallest girl in her class and was very proud of her fledgling boobs (even though one of her friends gave them a squeeze in the playground and declared them to be ‘ewww..like jellyfish’).

Just a week after her tenth birthday Fanny was at home, with her coat on, running late for an appointment at the optician, when she rushed upstairs for a last minute pee.  She flung her bag down, shoved down her pants and plonked onto the seat in her usual whirlwind rush.  And then she saw it….The little blob of blood in her pants caught Fanny unawares and she let out a blood-curdling scream.  What the heck was going on?! Whatever it was, this could not be good.  Fanny wailed down to Mamma Cool, who bustled immediately into the loo with a sanitary pad.  “I thought this might happen soon”, she announced briskly.

Now, Fanny’s recollection is that the whole bleeding thing was a total mystery, although Mamma Cool swears blind that Fanny had been well informed prior to the event.   To be fair, Fanny probably hadn’t paid very much attention as she was enjoying playing with Lego and beating her brother up in the garden.

In a bit of daze and with a mega thick and sturdy pad in her pants, Fanny headed off to the optician and selected a pair of ginormous red early 1990’s glasses that made her look like whacky children’s presenter of the era, Timmy Mallett (Fanny can’t be entirely sure if the choice of red glasses was because she had blood on the brain, or whether they were simply reflective of the glorious fashion of the day).   The rest of the day is somewhat of a haze, although Mamma Cool recalls that by the evening Fanny was laughing – whether this was due to genuine delight at entering womanhood or just nervous hysteria is unclear.

cy-resize-AA-Timmy-cropped

                                                         Timmy Mallett: style hero

A period VIP

Once the initial shock wore off, Fanny readily adapted to her new role as the menstrual star of the show, a period VIP.  There were no sanitary bins in the children’s loos at school, so Fanny had to use the staff loo which was very exciting.  Imagine how grand one must have to be, to be seated upon the special teachers’ throne.  Fanny felt like a glamorous, albeit spotty and hormonal celebrity telling the children at school all about what they had yet to experience.  When the ‘period education’ video was rolled out, Fanny thoroughly enjoyed being the ‘chosen one’, and scaring the other children with tales of unknown.  Fanny felt very grown up indeed.

But whilst Fanny felt special, it was tough at the top, and starting her period so early was sometimes rather lonely.  Fanny had quite a lot of period pain – more than most – but found it difficult to swallow pills and, as a result, missed out on fun from time to time, spending lunch breaks with the school nurse and a hot water bottle, or sitting on the coach during a school trip to the zoo because it was too painful to run about.   Was this what womanhood was all about? Fanny had NOT signed up for this!  Fanny grudgingly learned to live alongside her menstrual cycle in a resentful sulk. Pressing on despite the pain and inconvenience.   But oh, did Fanny have a surprise in store…

 

Period perfecto!

17077094_276387142799889_3495613512154087424_n

                                                    Fanny likes to ‘period’ in style

Some twenty years later, and, incidentally, around the time that 90s grunge made a come-back, Fanny stumbled across reusable sanitary pads and experienced a very radical change of heart about her periods.   The sanitary pads and tampons of Fanny’s childhood were thick wedges – like a massive uncomfortable jam sandwich in your pants. But the reusable cloth pads Fanny discovered were comfy and came in lovely colours and patterns and were very cheering.  Periods turned out to be a lot more fun when Fanny used them as an excuse to accessorize! Instead of the familiar dread, Fanny began to look forward to her periods so she could try out new pads.

And once Fanny stopped being frightened of her periods, they stopped being quite so painful in return.  It was a Fanny-tastic new way of experiencing her cycle.

Upon reflection

Now, Fanny only discovered reusable pads at the ripe old age of 34.  For 24 whole years, Fanny believed that disposable pads and tampons were her only option, and that totally hating on her cycle was totally standard.   Fanny firmly now believes that girls starting out on their menstruating adventures should have more choice about how they experience their period – pads, tampons, cups, reusable, disposable.  One size sure does not fit all.

But more than that… In preparation for this post Fanny probed Mamma Cool for her memories of Fanny’s first period.  Mamma Cool remembers that “I didn’t want to make a big deal out of you starting your period.  I hated my periods – they were heavy and painful and I didn’t want to influence your thinking about them. But I thought it was a real pity you started so early”.  Fanny appreciates this – for sure.  However, Fanny does rather suspect that the silence on the subject rather hung in the air.   Fanny really wishes she’d had some kind of period mentor, to learn not just about the practicalities and logistics, but to talk about how having a period feels, and how to take care of yourself now you have this new regular thing happening to your body. That the actual bleed is just one part of the cycle experience. And that starting your cycle has the potential to really be a really positive thing too, a full on and glorious celebration of becoming a woman. A period party! Preferably Definitely with cake and balloons.

Fanny wants to holla this from the rooftops and talk about menstruation to anyone who cares to listen. And even to those who don’t. It’s time to start smacking down the period taboos wherever we find them, to challenge the fearful silence and to fully own our bodies and experience – menstruators unite!  I am Fanny – hear me roar!!  Anyway… it’s just a thought, from one Cool Fanny to another.

Follow Fanny’s adventures here

 

 

Have a minute? Please support our Government petition

First Series (bitesize): Jay, 30

Last week we attended an empowering women’s networking event organised by the Hustle and Heels Ladies!. We caught up with one half of the dynamic duo to discuss her thoughts and feelings around starting her period! 

When did you start your period?

I was still in primary school, I was in Year six.  I was at my friend’s house and went to the toilet, only to realise that I was on my period. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I hadn’t had the conversation beforehand so it was all a massive shock!

Who did you tell first?

My friend’s mother. I just went out and told her, she was like “this is fine, all this is normal”. She spoke it through with me and then gave me my first pad.

Did school talk to you about periods ? 

I don’t remember school telling me anything about it. I remember having the “period talk” when I was in secondary school – but definitely not primary school.

Upon Reflections… 

I wish I had the information beforehand. 

As if you are prepared for something, you know what to expect –  That’s all you can ask for.

 To get more information on Hustle & Heels events , click link

Hustle & Heels Instagram page

Have a minute? Please support our Government Petition 

First Series: Let’s look back…

Let’s Look Back…

This week we are taking some time to look back at the amazing and touching experiences that have been shared so far through the FIRST SERIES.

Have you read our earlier posts ?

We Love….

We love that the experiences have been so varied and some have been really empowering.

We hope that you are enjoying the Series too.

Thank you…

We would like to take a minute to thank those that have contributed and to thank YOU for taking the time to read our blog.

Share, Share, Share…

If you would like to share your FIRST EXPERIENCE, please contact us …

Thanks again 

Kaye & Liz

Periodical Ladies   

The ‘FIRST’ Series: Luci, 30

Blogger Luci takes time out from all things Mooncups to share her feelings regarding her first period. 

Misty memories

My memory of when my first period started is a little hazy I must admit. I do, however, remember bits of it and will do my best to collate these memories. I do remember that it was a week before my 12th birthday. 

It was just a regular, standard call of nature to do a number one in the comfort of my very own home. As I sat down on the toilet I noticed something that had never been there before – dark red stained knickers. Alarm bells went off in my head.

I quickly finished my business as usual and hurried up to my bedroom where I had a small stash of various sanitary towels for this very moment. I just took one and figured out how to stick it to a change of knickers and that was it. There I was with this new alien feeling and what felt like a nappy in my pants. At this moment, I vividly remember sitting on the edge of my bed feeling like it was the end of the world. ‘This is horrible’ I said to myself.

I went downstairs and quietly sat on the sofa in the living room. I knew my mum was buzzing about somewhere in the house and just waited for her to come in. A few minutes of trying to pep myself up to announce what had happened, which felt like I was about to admit to something terribly shameful and naughty for some reason, Mum came into the room and I quietly said ‘My period has started’. 

My mum stalled mid walk and said ‘Oh….School has told you all about it right?’. To which I replied ‘Yes.’ I don’t remember what happened after this – I’m guessing mum would have quickly told or shown me where her drawer of sanitary towels and tampons were but I think the trauma of the above has wiped out the memories of what happened after.

School days 

I went to an all-girls school and a couple of years before the above we were having one of our fortnightly PSHE (Physical, Sex and health Education?) lessons which introduced us all to puberty and menstruation. 

I vaguely remember a TV on wheels being pushed to the front of the class and some sort of animation video of a diagram of a womb and cervix. At the end of the video we were each given a plain plastic jiffy bag which contained a few sanitary towels of various sizes, a tampon holder/storage case and a leaflet of information. Most of the contents were emblazoned with one of the biggest UK sanitary towel manufacturers (ah, the sweet smell of commercialism – gotta get ‘em while they’re young – 9 years old in this example!).

About a year later, a couple of my friends at school had started their periods. One of these girls started at school and had a teacher on hand to support her. So before my time came I had a rough idea of what to expect and do – but I had no idea what sort of emotions and feeling I would go through.

Paranoid or am I?

For a good few years of menstruating I absolutely detested it. Mainly wearing sanitary towels – I just felt so severely paranoid because all you could feel is the sanitary towel, all you could think about was the sanitary towel – Has my sanitary towel leaked? Has my sanitary towel moved from it’s position? Does my sanitary towel smell? Do I smell? Can people smell me or my sanitary towel? Am I going to run out of sanitary towels? Why are sanitary towels so noisy? Why do I have to announce to everyone in the toilets that I’m changing my sanitary towel? Why hasn’t somebody invented quiet sanitary towels yet?!

Reinforcement

I started to wear some cotton shorts every time I had my period thinking it acted like an extra protection barrier between the outside world and my sanitary towel. This only made my paranoia worse – are people wondering why I have shorts on under my clothes? Has my sanitary towel leaked and now stained my shorts and my clothes?

Upon Reflection

I will be forever grateful that I was handed a freebie bag at school at 9 years old. This meant I was physically prepared – I didn’t have to ask anyone to get me a towel and I didn’t have to run around frantically trying to find one. The moment my period started was truly my own private moment for those few minutes. I didn’t have to ask anyone to intrude into my private moment.

I felt a little sorry for the girl who started her period at school – there were other girls in the toilet and a teacher got involved. I remember the scared to death look in her face during her moment which I am sure she would have much preferred to have experienced privately or in the comfort of her on home.

I do wish my mum had spoken to me more about these womanly things. I am not angry at her at all – I am sure she probably had a terrible experience when she started her period. However, if we had had an open and relaxed conversation about periods the emotional trauma would be less, well, traumatising. This goes for the general consensus on periods – there definitely needs to be more open conversation about it to strip away the taboo and shame of even just talking about it!

I am 30 years young now and being a menstrual cup and cloth pad fan I also wish we were educated about reusable products at 9 years old too. I dread to think of all the waste I’ve created using throwaway products and wonder if I may have been a more confident young lady if I knew about the alternative options to towels and tampons.

So, go ahead and speak to a female friend or family member, old or young, about periods. Let’s open a conversation about periods.

screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-22-30-59

The ‘FIRST’ Series: Leah, 32

Our lives are full of ‘firsts’.

Our first day at school.

The first real friend we make.

The first time we fall in love.

Some we remember, like our first kiss, and some we don’t (no one remembers what their first word was but we know it, thanks to our parents telling us), but they’re all milestones that occur at some time or other in life.

Aunt Flo

One that happens to all females is the day their first period arrives. I had just turned 12 when I got mine (or as my friend still says, Aunt Flo came along). I’d started an all-girls secondary a few months earlier and there had been minimal, if any, chat about periods. There wasn’t much among my classmates and PSHE had just about covered the basics. I discovered Aunt Flo had arrived when I went to the loo just before home time. Caught totally unprepared for this visitor, I stuffed some tissues in my knickers and just wanted to get home as quickly as possible.

Mum knows best

I met my mum on the way home from school. She was the first person I told and I’m so glad it was her. ‘It’s a good thing your period has come,’ she said. ‘It means your body is working the way it should do.’

I wasn’t so sure the accompanying stomach and back ache were good things but having her react in the completely calm way she did made me feel everything was ok. We went home via the chemist so she could buy me some pads and showed me where she kept hers when we got home. The rest of the day carried on completely as it should, the rest of the world oblivious to a new first for me.

Upon reflection 

That was 20 years ago now. Periods soon become a monthly occurrence that all females get used to, however annoying, inconvenient or damn painful they might be. As more of my classmates got their first period, it became a topic that was easier to discuss.

There’s no wrong or right, no normal or abnormal. Some girls get their first at 9, some not until they’re 16. Normal is whatever is normal for you.

The ‘FIRST’ Series: Mary, 30

Mary’s account highlights that sometimes our parents/families can get it right and even throw a party into the mix!

Where it all began

Dressed within a bright pink Bon Bleu tracksuit I got up to change the television channel over and I heard the words I didn’t except or clearly feel to hear. “You’ve stated your period ” noted by that time of the month residue on my trousers. I ran upstairs to the toilet in embarrassment at only 10 years old how could this be occurring.

What follows next I am forever grateful to my family for, only recently appreciating their efforts as assumed everyone got this response. Initially my mum and oldest sister came upstairs providing me with comfort, reassurance and guidance. Helping me feel ok with placing that first pad on my underwear. Actually felt quite ceremonial, a rites of passage, a tiny step into womanhood.

By the time I come downstairs as my sister was giving me information and advice such as how long to use each item for, disposal and hygiene regime. My mum had enlisted my other siblings and next door neighbour who were like family (now the case via marriage) came around and we had a party with a KFC bucket, cheeky sip of Pink Lady, music and sharing stories of entering into womanhood. Both sexes present which only alienated any fears, doubts, distress or discomfort I could have felt with feeling different to men or awkward to discuss my period with.

The first but not the last…

The actually hardest and most difficult part was telling friends.  I was the first in my class or at least the one to state that I had started. My peers were amazed unknowingly looking at me differently, already being physically diverse to my whole class another tick to the list I felt.  I began to live within conflicting dimensions, at home confidently articulating any concerns or just stating facts about my menstrual cycle but within school I shied away not wanting to discuss it at all, feeling embarrassed and ageing too quickly.

Acceptance

Only once other friends started I began to feel ‘normal’ an identity shared I felt, being within an exclusive club as an alumni quickly began to form in class us (bleeders) verses them (non-bleeders) despite whole class being friends. We started supporting each other with pads when someone was too heavy that day or had forgotten to pack a few extra in their bag coupled with advice (not sure how much a 10 year old can give lol) and recognising the pain associated with our monthly scheduled  ‘friend’ and the beloved joy of being within a group of girls our periods all became in sync.

Passing on the B.A.T.O.N

Blessing
Acceptance
Talking
Overt advice
Never ending love

To my daughter: If or when I am blessed to have a daughter I hope to offer her the same support, advice, guidance and allowing it to be a family affair of celebration…. But of course within a sensitive way allowing her to be the driver within the path we take together.

Upon Reflection

With my mum and siblings reaffirming conviction I believe it allowed me to more easily accept ‘becoming a women’ and it has given me the confidence to talk about it so nonchalantly in my adult life.

Thank You 

I proudly thank my family for allowing me to loudly express that I am a women and yes so what I regularly bleed!!!

Mary 30

THE ‘FIRST’ SERIES: Dominique, 29

Welcome to the third instalment of the ‘FIRST’ series…. this week’s contribution is by Blogger Dominique from Melanin, Mind & Soul check out her content.

The Moment

I remember going to the toilet and seeing a spot in my pants that wasn’t normally there and I said to myself “I’ve started”. It was a Saturday morning, and my pops was at work. I was glad this happened at home and when the old man wasn’t home because I didn’t know how I was going to explain this to my mom.

When I started I was 11, nearly 12. It was a few weekends after I started secondary school.

I knocked quietly on my mom’s bedroom door; she was still sleeping because it was still early. I peeped my head around the corner and said mom I think I’ve started. Started what?! I’m not sure I really knew what was becoming of me.

It’s about time

Mom didn’t give any advice at the time. I had woken her up to tell her I started and I remember her reaching over to her bedside draw, taking out a pack of pads and saying its about time. The end. There was no advice or questions about how I was feeling or what to do next. I don’t even recall whether we had had ‘the talk’ in primary school. I do remember it in secondary school but by then, for me it was already too late.

Womanhood? What is this?

I felt scared about this thing and I wasn’t sure how to tell my mom. I didn’t understand that this was the start of becoming a woman. I knew it was something that happened but I didn’t really understand it.

Brookside

I was taller than the other kids in school and had big feet from a young age. As I grew a lot quicker than my peers, I used to get a lot of cramps or ‘growing pains’ but I didn’t know that this was my body preparing me for this new monthly experience. During an episode of Brookside, Gemma who lived with her single dad and brother was stealing money. Gemma had no one to talk to. My mom said she was using the money to buy sanitary towels. She then told me to bring a spare pair of pants to school. I had no clue what she was on about and why I needed to bring spare pants?! That was it, that was the talk prior to my first experience.

I was pretty close with my nan. One day when we were out shopping I complained that my stomach was hurting and she asked if I had period pain. I don’t recall how long it had been since I had started but this was my first understanding of period pain. I didn’t know this was a thing until my nan had asked me.

Upon reflection

Later in secondary school, when ‘the period lady’ came in to talk to the girls, we got a really useful booklet which I kept for years and then passed down to my younger cousin because I didn’t want her to go through the same unknown as I did. Google wasn’t a thing in 1999, and I was quite shy and didn’t feel comfortable asking questions, especially to my mom.

In hindsight I would have asked more questions during that episode of Brookside because I really didn’t understand what Gemma was going through or why I needed to bring spare knickers in my school bag – I mean what if one of my friends saw them, I’d be mortified?!

If I could do it all over again, I would ask my mom or my nan to explain the changes my body was about to go through.

When I was having those cramps in primary school, it was a sign. Hence why mom said “it’s about time”

Dominique, 29