My daughter had a hard time with the concept of putting a tampon into her. I had given her demonstrations and encouraged her with this easier solution, but a pad was all she could manage. One summer she went to summer camp and, of course, this week happened to coincide with her period. After a couple of days of sitting on the shore as others splashed in the water, she had had enough. Angrily, she marched up the hill to the outhouse and in her words she wrote to us. “Mom I just got mad and stuck it in. You would be so proud of me.” I was.
My story is in a nutshell that the first day of my first period was the day Kennedy was shot. For the most part, I keep the rest of the story out of my mind as it wasn't a good day. It was 1963 and I was 13 years old.
I woke up one school morning and found a streak of dried blood on the inside of my thigh. I had no idea where it came from and was a bit alarmed. I went downstairs and told my mother. More blood appeared. As I headed to the bathroom, she got up, and brought me a sanitary napkin and belt and gave brief instructions. Out of the corner of my eye I had seen her show my father what she had in her hand and I was so mortified that I didn't look my father in the eye for at least another decade, nor did I ever hug him again until my mother died 20 years later, I was so uncomfortable and self-conscious knowing that he knew I was a sexual being.
My mother must have tucked a couple more into my purse and gave me a couple nickels to buy more during the school day and sent me off to school. From her reaction I guessed the whole matter must be normal and expected, but it certainly wasn't normal for me. The flow got heavier during the school day and I made trips to the bathroom between each class and worried about leakage all throughout each class. While in the school library it was announced that President Kennedy had been shot, and during the final period of the day, while in Social Studies class it was announced that he had died. This event was extremely disturbing and overshadowed what was happening to me.
My mother picked me up from school that day and it was I who told her that Pres. Kennedy had been shot and died. She was shocked and silent. When at home she attempted the way past due "mother-daughter" talk by asking whether I had any questions. We were both extremely uncomfortable as we had never talked about such a personal matter and I said no, I knew about it (having figured it out earlier that day.) She asked how I knew, and I answered that I had read about it in the Reader's Digest which had been running monthly educational articles about health, some were called something like "How Joe's Digestive System Works."
We were both extremely uncomfortable as we had never talked about such a personal matter, but a look of relief came over my mother's face hearing my answer, and that was the end of the talk.
There are so many feelings about my first period, and all the subsequent ones. I do remember the day I first bled. It was a weekend day, a Sunday I think. Football was on the TV and three of my brothers and my father were lounging all over the middle room taking in all that testosterone. I went up to find my mother who was ensconced in her study writing one of the hundreds of thousands of letters she inevitably wrote to her friends and family. I informed her I was starting my period. She jumped up from her desk and ran downstairs to the secret place she kept the feminine hygiene stuff. She then returned upstairs via the middle room, with a box of tampons raised above her head in what would be construed as some sort of victory march, chanting in a sing song voice “Gussie’s a woman, Gussie’s a woman......”.
I waited upstairs in the bathroom for my tampon-box- woman-trophy, pink, slightly sweaty, with a mixture of awe, pride, and mortification. When asked if I needed any help I quickly closed the door and went to work reading that blue and white pamphlet until mission accomplished.
Because I have never been mistaken as anyone’s guru, it should be no surprise to anyone else who knows me, that I was totally unprepared the following month when that bleeding thing happened again. I understood that you got your period.
I was sitting on a plane coming home from Uganda. We were getting ready to land and I realized that I was leaking blood through my pants. Terrified, I shifted in my seat and tried to keep from getting blood on the seat cushion. As soon as we landed I ran to a bathroom to clean up. I had a full supply of tampons to use and a bathroom with running water. Once I stopped panicking and had cleaned up, I thought of the girls I had just spent all week with. They have to deal with this situation EVERY time they have their period, except it’s worse because they’re at school with no running water, no pads, no tampons, and they’re likely in the throes of adolescence when everything is embarrassing. The MoonCatcher Project makes sure girls don’t have to go through this. It only takes $5.07 to make a kit. Consider giving a little to help a girl a lot.
Lets start this story with a leading phrase, “a day to remember.” This day was unlike any other day. It was the first day of the fifth grade - this meant so much! It meant that I was not only the “big man on campus” but also next year I was going to junior high school! I was no longer going to be a kid and to me going to junior high was essentially as if I was stepping right into college. Phew, I had so much to do on “my day to remember” because not only was it the first day of school but picture day. Everything was laid out the night before, freshly sharpened pencils, new backpack and more importantly were my clothes. I got to choose an outfit that was only meant for special occasions. Fresh rainbow striped polo, new sneakers and a fresh pair of white khakis. Now, this outfit was quite important to a kid that didn’t have much. My hair was as curly as it was short, I had freckles that could paint constellations in the nights sky and I had enough metal in my mouth that could fill a junk yard. I didn’t care because this was going to be “a day to remember.” Now I paid special regard that morning as I walked with my brother to school , providing kind reminders to my bratty brother to not step on my shoes was constant as we went along our journey. A deep breath and I approached the school because this was going to be, “a day to remember.” I was so excited to get my teacher Mrs. Wilkinson because she was my favorite - not only because she had Jolly Ranchers at an unlimited supply, but she was particularly nice to me despite my unruly behavior. The announcements spoke out, “fifth graders are up first for pictures 10a”.. I was going to take the biggest smiling photo that anyone has even taken I thought. Taking attention to every thing I did I ensured that my clothes remained intact until that 10a hour.
So here we are 10a and for the fifth graders it was our turn to be cover models. As Mrs. Wilkinson called for kids to line up alphabetically I was naturally always last because my last name started with a Y. Mrs. Wilkinson yelled out, ok Ys and I stood up. Not shortly after I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was my teacher, “Brandi stay back here for a minute with me.” With surprise I look at her and she says, “you have a little something back “there” let’s go walk down to the nurse”. As she carefully guided me out of the classroom we stopped at the backpack hook station to grab my sweater and she very quietly asked me to tie it around my waist. By this time I knew that I surely must have pooped my pants without knowing it or sat in a goop of gum. As we approach the nurses station I was preparing myself for a complete embarrassment, which I’m glad I did. I remember the nurse sitting me down and asking me if I knew what a period was. And to me I thought it was quite odd that she would want to talk to me about sentence structure. That was until she pulled out a Purple grab bag full of items to assist in feminine hygiene. I was a very oblivious child and it took me quite a long time to realize that what was in this bag were Kotex pads. Kotex pads like MY sister has to wear when she gets a period. As it started to come together I started to come apart. I said to myself this can’t be, all of the teasing I did to my sister her warnings became truths “One day you’re going to be a woman too!
Be a woman!! I’m still a child, This was supposed to be “a day to remember” and it sure was. As I sat in the nurses office it was like watching a movie in reverse starting with when I stood up - the teacher noticing the blood on my pants - all the way back to waking up in the morning thinking I was going to walk into the first day of the fifth grade like Tom Cruise in risky business. So I was given my bag of supplies and a new pair of pants. This did turn out to be a day to remember. I never got those pictures taken, I was sent home in my mother’s possession and trust me the conversation that she and I had on the way to the grocery store was not like in the movies. It was an awkward conversation about NOW being a woman and the risks of pregnancy, keeping clean etc as I sat there horrified. I only was thinking of one thing how on earth can somebody wear a diaper this big for 7 to 10 days for the rest of my life. I think that’s when the countdown to menopause started. Now being 34 years old this was my day to remember and now it’s my time to share.
Hundreds of people were gathered on a warm early summer day to see the class of 1972 graduate from High School. The event was outside and the graduating seniors lined up in alphabetical order, wearing our bright white caps and gowns. After the processional onto the bleachers, we sat and listened to a state senator give the convocation address, then the awards were handed out to the deserving, exceptional students, and finally, it was time for the graduating class to stand and walk across the raised stage to receive our diplomas. This was done row by row. Fortunately, my row was not the back row, for when I stood, someone...a very kind girl... called my name in a bit of a panic, to point out to me that I had blood all over the back of my bright white gown. And we had all just stood to all march onto the stage in front of hundreds of proud parents, family, friends, and faculty. I had no way to escape at that time, so I gathered up the back of the flowing (in more ways than one) robe in my left hand. I could then quickly shake the hand of the principal with my right hand and then take the diploma with the same right hand. I had a white-knuckle grip on that blood-stained white robe that had enough fabric to fold and bunch up and hide the large red stain.
I will never know how many other students saw this bloodstained gown, and I certainly hope that I was able to prevent the audience from seeing this overflow, but I will forever be grateful to that unknown girl who gave me the heads up! My parents, who were certainly paying close attention as I received my diploma, did not notice a thing. As soon as I got back to my row on the bleachers, I slipped down under the bleachers and ran as fast as I could to my car. I drove 15 minutes back to my home, changed clothes, and got back to the graduation during closing remarks. My parents were disappointed I didn't have my gown on for photos. I was mortified that I had to hand in that blood-soaked gown. This was not a small spot. It was an area about 10 inches in diameter. This was a time in my teens when I had a string of very heavy periods. From that day forward I doubled up on tampons and used pads as a safety net.
The joys of womanhood!!
My first period (came when) I was 12 years old and knew about menstruation. My mom had told both my younger sister and me about it. .
I was swimming and felt cramps – which I thought was the cold water. However, when I went to change into my clothes I knew differently. The worse part was at dinner that night when my Mom told my dad and my sister that “Wendy became a woman today” I wanted to die of embarrassment. I have never forgotten it.
I remember getting my first period when I was in 7th or 8th grade. Fortunately, I was wearing a brown print gathered skirt so nothing really showed when I turned my skirt around and pinned the area shut, until I got home. My mother had already told me about getting my period, so it wasn't a real surprise when I got it. I do remember also for a few years afterward, I had pain whenever I menstruated and would use a hot water bottle to help alleviate it.
Hmmmmm. First period. It was so very long ago.
I had two older sisters, so the concept of having a period was not a strange one. One of my sisters had very bad cramps and was sometimes in bed and in misery. But I remember that my mother told my sisters (about my first period), but both of whom were in college and not living at home. A short while later, I received a letter from my older sister. It was a letter of celebration. She congratulated me on becoming a woman and said what an important milestone that was in the life of a girl, becoming a woman. My mother's reaction had been rather matter of fact, so the very excited letter from my sister, bursting with pride and enthusiasm, was really wonderful.
Age 13, on my uncle's sailboat. Never knew you weren't supposed to flush sanitary pads since I'd never used one before. Needless to say, he needed to get the holding tank pumped to get the pad dislodged. Talk about embarrassing!!!
Here’s a MoonStory that was told to us, over the phone, by our fundraising guru from NetWork for Good. She told us we could share it.
Leigh is the youngest of three sisters. She had the kind of Mom who never ever spoke about periods or ever said the word SEX. The way she let her older daughters know about menstruation was by leaving a book in their bedroom about the subject but it only stayed there for a few days, then disappeared. That was her equivalent to the “Talk”.
Leigh found out about her period from that cartoon movie shown in schools back in the 70’s. When she actually started to bleed she snuck into the bathroom and stole her sisters menstrual supplies for several months and didn’t tell anyone that she had started. Her Mom eventually figured it out and simply added more pads to the ones her sisters were getting. They just showed up. No conversation…ever!
Leigh says she was determined to give her own daughter a better experience and has been very open with her from the start. She calls it one of her best “Parenting Wins”.
I had my first period when I was in boarding school. I was rooming with my sister so I got some help from her. A couple of years before, my Mother had already told me all about what was going to happen and why and I thought that’s how everyone found out.
But the thing that embarassed me was when I went home for the weekend and told my mother I had started my period. She thought it would be a great time for a refresher course so called me into her bedroom along with my younger brother Mark. Not only did she tell both of us about how it all works but made it clear to Mark that I was having my period that very minute! She was comfortable with all of this but I sure wasn’t. I’m pretty sure Mark wasn’t either.
My younger sister remembers our mom dancing through the house waving menstrual pads singing “Gussie’s a woman, Gussie’s a woman”.
And now I am as comfortable as my Mom was and want all of us to “Talk About It”.