“It finally happened,” I remember thinking. I had been preparing myself for this moment for many years prior and by the age of 14 I simply wished that I could turn back the clock.
It was my grandma’s birthday and my uterus decided it was time to show me who’s boss.
I usually know what I am doing, but always tend to underestimate myself. I knew how to use a pad and I could have quietly went upstairs and pulled out a pretty pink square from my secret stash. But, me being me, I had to second guess myself. It just felt like the sort of event that I should let my mom know about right away. I called to my dad who was luckily on the same floor, and I asked him to give me a phone. He seemed a bit perplexed but complied quickly and asked no further questions when I said that I just wanted to call Mom.
So there I was. Sitting on the toilet and calling my mother who was out running errands. I told her what had happened and she congratulated me on this special event. Of course, she told me to take the obvious action and go put on fresh underwear and a pad. I headed up to my room, changed, and crawled under the covers of my bed.
Obviously, my dad knew what was up when I asked him for a phone from the restroom, and my mother gave him confirmation upon her arrival. He too came in with a big smile and congratulated me. It was a funny, yet slightly awkward moment for all involved.
The day was not close to over, though. We were driving 45 minutes to see my cousin off before she left for an exchange student program in Australia. I had terrible cramps and did not have much fun at her going-away party. All of these sensations were new to me and I did not yet feel comfortable to fully express that I was on my period. Instead, I put on a smile and did my best to act like I was perfectly fine.
It just got better from there. One of my other cousins came back to our house to spend the night before my brother’s birthday party the next day. We had arranged to put on a mini restaurant complete with printed menus and waiting service. On top of having my first period, I was now to hang out with 11-year-old boys. I felt lightheaded and faint. And, being tween boys, they were far from sympathetic. Of course, how could they be when I did not feel that it was appropriate for me to share what was happening with my body.
I survived the day and the rest of the week that followed. I have made it through countless other periods since.The main difference – and what I learned from my first period – is that I am going to talk about it. I am going to discuss menstruation openly, proudly, and loudly. And most of all, I am going to share, unashamed.
Jessica Leeds Richman
Jessica Leeds Richman is a student at Denison University where she is a women’s and gender studies major. She is an editor for the Arts & Life section of The Denisonian. She is a huge fan of the oxford comma, but will always edit it out when it comes to journalistic writing. When not writing and being over extended Jessica enjoys rambling/ranting about social justice topics, jamming to 80’s music and hanging out with/obsessing over her cat.