First Period Stories: New Year, New Me

5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Happy New Period!

I got my first period on New Year’s Eve 2009, when I was 13 years old— about a month away from turning 14.

I was on a vacation in Hawaii with my family, and I woke up that morning ready for the last day of 2009. I remember going to the bathroom to get dressed, and when I pulled down my underwear, I saw a bright red spot in the middle.

I was instantly freaked out— it hadn’t even occurred to me that I might get my period that day, and I did not want to have to deal with it. From what I understood, periods were a hassle and not really relevant to 13-year-old me (I wasn’t planning on having a baby anytime soon, so why did I have to deal with having a period?).

Even worse, I knew I would have to tell my mom, which made me feel so embarrassed. My bloody underwear was the last thing on earth I wanted to talk about! Yet I knew I needed to do something so I wouldn’t bleed everywhere.

My embarrassment got the best of me, and instead of telling my mom, I decided to wad up a bunch of toilet paper and stick it in my underwear. It was extraordinarily bulky, and I was already having anxiety about flushing it down the toilet later, but in the moment it felt like the best option.

But of course, a ball of toilet paper can only catch so much blood, and during dinner that day— the New Year celebration, my period had leaked through the paper into my underwear once again (thank gosh I was wearing a red dress, or else it probably would have shown through that too!).

I quickly realized that if I didn’t want to keep ruining my underwear (and if I didn’t want to be even more embarrassed from visibly bleeding through my clothes), I would have to tell my mom what had happened.

So I took her aside after dinner, and told her that I found blood in my underwear and I wasn’t sure what to do. Her first reaction was “that’s so exciting!” and of course I cringed. I didn’t realize until recently how exciting it really is — I have the potential to bring life into the world! Pretty cool!

But then my mom gave me a pad and showed me how to put it in my underwear, and I was relieved that I could at least get rid of the anxiety about bleeding through my clothes.

I had a complicated relationship with my period for the next few years — it really felt like a huge hassle, and there were times in my teens when I wished I would never have to get it again (I even thought about how “great” it would be to get a hysterectomy so I wouldn’t have to have my period). I especially disliked having to wear pads during that time of the month, as it felt like I was wearing a diaper (and it was very confusing feeling like a baby in a time when I was technically more connected to adulthood).

But now, after years of reflection, I’ve realized how powerful and wonderful your period can be. Even though I’m still not having a baby anytime soon, it’s really cool to know my body is capable of that. And even better, I’ve fully moved away from pads, which definitely made the whole experience worse.

Now, I manage my period using tampons and my period proof underwear from KT by Knix! I don’t have to worry at all about reliving my 13-year-old days waking up to find a blood stain in my underwear, and my period doesn’t feel like as big a burden as it used to.

I’ve come a long way since age 13, and I’m so, so glad that I’ve formed a good relationship with my period. Because it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and it’s much better to be at peace with my body and this monthly occurrence, instead of wishing this wasn’t a part of me!

@zoestoller

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