by La Lyonne
Our recent on-line discussion about periods has prompted me to remember what my first period was like. I was eleven years old and had just started attending secondary school. I woke up as usual one morning, went to the loo and was panicked at the sight of my blood-stained knickers. I didn't understand at all what was happening to me. I thought that I was ill or that someone had come and injured me during the night, and that I was slowly bleeding to death. In a state of shock, I called to my mum and explained about my bloody knickers. She said I had to have a bath. I remember my mum using eggs whilst I was in the bath. I remember asking my mum how long my periods (because by then she'd given the blood a name) were going to last - a week? a month? a year? Her reply? 30 YEARS OR MORE. My eleven-year old brain could not compute. I remember my mum telling me that I couldn't bathe whilst I was on my period - despite the fact that I was having a bath at the beginning my first period ever. Hmmm. I remember my introduction to Dr. White's sanitary pads, thick and with loops for pinning into place. (You must remember that back in 1977, innovation and sanitary protection were not even remotely contiguous - it is arguable that the same is true today but that's another whole realm of discussion.) I remember emerging from my bath and drying myself off, getting dressed, and then coming out of the bathroom to see my dad and my older brother hovering about with eager anticipation on their faces. Were they happy? Did they want to say something? What, exactly? Brandy appeared and I was given some to drink together with the refrain "You're a woman now". It's taken me some time to understand what that means.