So, I’ve been feeling like crap the last two weeks and I was about to make an appointment for the doctor. I was worried I had some kind of deficiency, maybe low iron or B12 or something… I was exhausted round the clock and feeling just generally unpleasant with migraine symptoms, had suddenly gained about 8 pounds out of nowhere, was getting really down on myself about everything that wasn’t important and couldn’t get myself out of bed in the morning. ANY morning. No matter how much sleep I got the night before, I was waking up like a zombie every day and it was not only maddening when I REALLY DO want to go work out at 6am, but frustrating, even a little scary at this sudden, strange change. I couldn’t explain it, so I was starting to grow concerned.
Well… I woke up this morning and it all just came together. Nope. Not deficient. Nope, not sick…
“Surprise!!” my body said… “Remember, you’re a girl???”
“Oh yeah…” I said, growling and shuffling my way to the coffee pot with a squeezing, wrenching pain in my lower abdomen…
“Crap” was all I could manage to vocalize.
I huffed and puffed from the kitchen to the bathroom… “grumble grumble”… yep… hooray… (in an Eeyore voice with the sounds of sad trombones playing.. *waahh waahhh waahh waaaaahhhh*) then shuffle to the hall closet where I kept my storage of pads leftover from when Lottie was born, huff and puff back into the bathroom. I sat there for a minute, suddenly realizing even in the midst of wallowing and being bitter about it, that something pretty amazing just happened and I suddenly couldn’t help but NOT be upset. I had this whole internal dialogue with myself the rest of the day about it and I wanted to post something, but… didn’t, because, well, people don’t talk about that sort of thing, right?
Weird, I know. But really, why should we NOT talk about this?
So, truth is, I had a good run and, let’s be honest, I had nothing to complain about! My last period was October of 2011, a few weeks before we became pregnant with my daughter, who is now 2 1/2. It’s been over three years! Three years of being nothing but mommy, inside and out. Three years of simply moving from day to day, not worrying about what time of the month an event falls on, not worrying about monthly headaches, weight-gain or battling unnecessary cravings and emotions, what I could or should wear to any sort of event or outing.
Truthfully, I’m a little shocked I was able to hold it at bay for so long and I suppose I should just be happy. Tandem nursing on demand certainly has it’s perks, right? You can stave off the inevitable even longer than normal if you maintain that hormone level and keep nursing consistently.
Well, my youngest is now speaking in full sentences and using a potty at least 2 times per day. She can count to 10 and knows her ABC song, she and her older brother still nurse daily, but unless they are sick, injured or overtired, it’s rarely more than 3-4 times per day and once or twice in the night. My oldest is sleeping through the night most days now and even when he crawls into bed with us, he doesn’t always want to nurse, he just wants to be in bed with us, so there are days when night nursing is very brief, if at all.
I knew it was coming, I was just pretending it wasn’t going to happen, hoping it somehow wouldn’t.
If I don’t think about it, it won’t happen, right??
So, here we are again and like I said, for as annoying and inconvenient it is, I really can’t help but be okay with it. There is a wonder at work in there and now important decisions need to be made. Decisions like…
Are we really done having more babies?
There are so many options for it now, too! Tampons? Cups? Pads? I know I saw some fabric pads at the baby store last time I was there… do people actually do that? Seems creepy and totally inconvenient to me, but I guess it’s healthier, or greener… or something…
Then there’s also the sad reality that I can no longer take ibuprofen (it messes up my stomach), so Mydol is out… man, oh man, time to muscle up, I guess. It’s okay, I’ve got a high pain tolerance, I can handle it with raspberry leaf tea, a heating pad and some positive thinking. Oh, and wine. Always wine.
We’ll have to have the birth control conversation again. Will husband get… “the procedure” or will I end up back on some pill that makes me crazy again? Lord, I hope not…
I also realized- now that I work out almost daily, that adds a whole new element to my life… how the heck do you work out when you’re on your period?? Do you just… not? Do you suck it up and do it anyway? Ugh… talk about uncomfortable… Maybe I’m a big wuss, but going to Boot Camp right now just sounds awful.
So many questions, so many choices… it’s like I’m literally starting all over again.
Is there “adult etiquette” for how a mom handles being on her period? I mean, I know what it’s like to be a girl, don’t get me wrong. I had 23 years of this before I started having babies, so it’s not like I’m a total newbie, it’s just been a while and now with the added element of children, it’s all a little new. I never get to go to the bathroom alone, should I force them to leave the room now? Is bathroom time now “too adult content” for my toddlers to learn what’s going on? I mean, they’ve already asked and I’m not sure what to tell them. The “mommy what’s that” question happened while I was putting on a pad earlier today and I told her, “it’s a pad to keep my undies clean”. She said, “oh okay” and that was the end of it. I guess that’s fine, right?
It’s almost like an old piece of the Self I happily left behind when having children is returning to me and I have to figure out how to fit her back into the person I’ve become. I have no idea if that makes sense, nor how to accomplish it.
Either way, strangely, it excites me somehow. It’s almost like a new chapter of my life is opening. It’s familiar, yet completely different than before. I feel like I aught to commemorate this day… open a bottle of wine or eat some pie, take a ritual bath of some sort LOL… I know, I know, how silly, right?
Yeah, it really is and I am mostly kidding. Mostly. Because I do like pie… and wine. And any excuse to have either one is a great thing in my book. I also just found out it’s National Pie Day, too! I wonder if pizza counts…
But seriously, this whole internal conversation I had with myself and the fact that I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it, made me realize something about our culture that I’ve never considered. I mean, I have… but not exactly in this context.
We really don’t honor the incredible gift, the divine mechanics, the sublime magic that is our bodies. I mean, we do when we are pregnant, but even then, there are always more “oh man let me tell you how miserable it is” comments than, “what a blessing, feeling creation take place, bone of your bone, blood of your blood”. It’s all, “oh man, say goodbye to sleep and seeing your toes and your abs will be wrecked for life and your hair is gonna fall out and good luck ever getting back into your pre-pregnancy jeans again”… rant, rant, bitter, inconvenient, bla bla bla…
Then, all too quickly after, we forget the magic of what we are capable of and it returns to annoyance, obligation and inconvenience, especially from the peanut gallery and a woman is pretty much taught by her peers that it’s all just a stupid mess to wipe clean and pretend doesn’t exist in order to be happy, accepted and “normal”. So many reject those gifts of creation, of life-giving nourishment, gifts some women would pay THOUSANDS to be able to have and they never actually realize how astounding they are, how lucky they are… how important those trivial irritations really are.
As soon as the baby is born, society draws our attention away to become trapped up in “breast vs bottle” and “voluntary c-section vs natural birth”, we take birth control to regulate and make things more convenient, we dry up our milk so we don’t have to pump during conference calls and we teach our girls to discreetly purchase tampons at the store in hushed voices like it’s some sort of hidden disease we can’t tell anyone about when we know everyone knows and it’s really not a big deal.
We treat our mechanics like the world treats poop.
Everyone does it, but for some reason, the mere mention of it has people freaking out and running to the hills or to the nearest bucket so they can vomit at even the thought of it. Now, we know for the most part, this is deeply ingrained in us. Any anthropologist can tell you about how women, especially while in the midst of her “moon time”, in almost every ancient culture was feared, respected and considered dangerous. In many cultures, people were so terrified of a woman during her cycle that they would hide her away and some would say, if you look a woman in the eye while she is within her time, you could DIE.
Well, I don’t think anyone in our modern age believes they will die if they see a woman on her period (okay, well, maybe that’s true for some women), but I do think we certainly strike fear and even disgust into the hearts of the average man and even other women, just at the thought of having to confront it or talk about it openly.
Well, if it’s one thing I’ve learned NOT to be in the last 4 years, it’s being afraid of bodily fluid. I’m not afraid of my period, anyone’s poop, my child’s vomit, my, or anyone else’s breast milk and I’m not afraid of society’s nasty scowl as I openly don’t care, either. A little blood a few days out of each month? Nope… not scary. A little hormonal insanity every 28 days? Meh… just a regular, human experience. No different, not unique. Just human… and divinely special, precious and perfect.
I wish our culture honored this a little bit more. Taught our girls to respect themselves a little more, instead of hiding it away and keeping it all secret, maybe we should teach our girls to use this time once a month as a mental alarm clock. Time to reconnect with our humanity. Time to do some introspection, meditation and prayer. Time to reevaluate our relationship with ourselves and to cleanse our minds, as our body is cleansing itself in preparation for a new cycle to begin.
So many other cultures in our history, as well as currently all over the world, celebrate a woman’s cycle as sacred, a divine connection with creation and an opportunity to honor that relationship we have with the world around us. Entire communities celebrate these moments in girl’s lives, giving honor to them, their place in the community and showing them the support most girls wish they had when they don’t know what to do. Originally when writing this, I was going to go on a rant pinpointing all the different cultures who actually DO honor this and how much better their communities are for it, but that’s not really my point.
My point is, I do feel like I’m starting over. I do actually feel pretty good about it, even though I physically feel miserable and cannot wait for it to be over. I want to honor myself, my journey, where I’ve been and what I’ve helped to create, as well as the unknown future. I also hope everyone can honor themselves during these moments. Without shame, take the time to recognize the perfection of your machine, see how very blessed you are and take a little time for yourself to love, honor and take care of you. Because you are an amazing creation, an amazing creator and a miracle worth celebrating.
Oh, and if you want to talk about it and don’t have anyone who isn’t squeemish, I’ve got a cup of raspberry leaf tea and an extra chair at my table, anytime.