I lied to my mother and teacher and the school nurse when I was 9 years old, telling them that I had started my period. My best friend, Rhonda, was an overweight girl who “developed” early and started her period when we were in 4th grade.
When I claimed to have gotten my period, my mom took me out for a special “girls day out”, and suddenly I was on another level… no longer just a kid, but some kind of budding woman.
I learned quickly that even mentioning anything having to do with my period to male teachers would elicit a scared-rabbit response… or a red-faced, stammering excuse to leave class, go to the nurse, and sometimes to even go home.
“I’m sorry, I can’t do math today. I am having my period.”
I didn’t try this too much with my female teachers, sensing that they might possess some sort of “period radar” (padar??) which would allow them to see that I was carrying out this great big lie that I could not bail myself out of.
I worried during the next few years that I might never get my period, and something was terribly wrong with me, ruining my chances of having children. I was unable to confess this terrible malady to my mother because I had to keep the lie going.
I was one stressed out kid. I checked my panties every single time I sat down to pee. Sometimes I’d feel a twinge in my tummy and I’d run to the bathroom to see if it was here. I practiced wearing pads and belts in a sort of “dry run” of the event every single month. Tampons were out of the question, as my mother feared it would affect my virginity or something to use tampons at too young an age, or maybe she was just afraid I’d leave one in there for a month or something.
I can’t believe she even found belts available at that time. You don’t see those anymore.
Later on, things had sticky strips, dri-weave, and even wings. This was all too exciting not to be a part of.
Finally, at age 12, I got my period. I called my mother immediately to tell her, and she was like “yeah, whatever. I’m at work right now—gotta go.” Of course she thought that this was all “old hat” to me by now. I’d had my fake period for 3 years, after all. She had long since made sure I had my very own copy of “Our Bodies, Our Selves”, and various pamphlets from planned parenthood, She had the talk with me, and answered all the questions. She figured her part in my bodily functions was done.
For the next 23 years, everything was normal. I had bad cramps until I discovered the joys of the pill. I used the nuva-ring, and fully intended to spray paint all of my used rubber nuva rings gold and hang them on my Christmas tree. I never felt that the sponge was really “sponge worthy.” I had a few late periods that scared the hell out of me, because I never felt “ready”. I learned early on that a shot of booze totally relieved cramps, so I drank even more liberally that usual at “that time”. I still believe that a good stiff cocktail is the best thing ever when you’re crampin’ hard. I successfully survived PMS without killing anyone, as far as I know.
So last week, I stood in the “feminine protection and family planning” aisle at Walgreens. Isn’t that a funny name for an aisle? What exactly do we need protection from? And do people really plan their future 2.4 children while perusing the Trojans?
Anyway, my purpose for being in that aisle was to say goodbye. Goodbye scented panti-liners, dri-weave technology, flaps, wings, and pearl applicators.
A few days before that, I had gotten a call from my nurse saying that my blood-work came back, and I am very healthy. This is, in itself, a small miracle, since I battled a severe case of chronic necrotizing pancreatitis and organ failure, lost 100 pounds, and had 2 major surgeries during the past year.
My last period ended on May 10, 2005, immediately before I got sick and landed in ICU on a Friday the 13th of May.
My docs kept telling me that I never had another period because of the trauma my body had been through, including the rapid weight loss. They said it would return when I got better. I had a suspicion that they might be wrong, and that 3 years of having a fake period was coming back to haunt me in the worst possible way.
Finally, I requested the essential blood work, and learned that I am fully menopausal at the age of 37. I don’t know if I ever would have had kids, but I do know that it’s one more choice that has been taken away from me now.
I wish I had that extra 3 years now that my life is together, I don’t drink, and I am more mentally healthy than ever. I wish I’d had some warning… some knowledge that I would only have a small window in which to get my shit together and procreate.
I know I still have options to adopt or foster a child… and my work gives me plenty of opportunity to help others and take care of people…and I can wear white jeans anytime, even after Labor Day!!
But in addition to all of that I am going to just fulfill my dream of being the kooky old lady on my block with 19 cats who wears ridiculous outfits and too much jewelry and lipstick in the wrong shade.
If you hear of any free kittens, let me know.