Monday, May 17, 2010


At age 12, I had read all of the Judy Blume books, been to the "girls only" assembly, sat through the talk with my mother and endured countless stories from many of my friends about their experiences. I had seen the special episodes of the Cosby Show and Full House. I had watched after-school specials and read all sorts of articles in magazines like "YM". I couldn't wait until it was my turn. I had boxes of maxi pads and tampons ready to go and I waited expectantly for the arrival of my first menstrual cycle.

I have no idea, looking back, why I was so eager for this milestone to occur. Maybe it is like every other milestone when you are young and it feels like you can't reach them fast enough. Maybe it was because I wanted to be "one of the girls" sharing feminine products in the locker room and comparing monthly aches and pains. In any case, the irony is not lost on me that a few years down the road, I was positively thrilled to switch to a birth control pill that would all but eliminate my monthly discomfort. Say goodbye to tampons, panty liners, painful cramps, back aches, tearfulness, irritability, monstrous cravings for peanut butter M&M's and cookie dough? (okay, I still have those) SIGN ME UP! Unfortunately, when my husband and I wanted to start a family, I had to "get back in the game" so to speak and resume my regularly scheduled programming. But it wasn't so bad, and in the end I have a bouncing baby boy to show for it.

Which brings me to my recent menstrual drama discovery. Obviously, while I was pregnant, I was without the frequent visits of "Aunt Flo" (hasn't anyone ever told that lady that visitors start to stink after 3 days??! Why doesn't she leave?!). Happily, I also found out after I had my son that no period is often a side benefit of breast feeding. Fine with me! To add to my joy, my OBGYN also prescribed me birth control that she said was likely to keep me from having any period at all. Joy, Joy, Joy!

So, when I stopped nursing and pumping back in January and my period did not return, I was not alarmed, I was thrilled. I continued to go on about my merry life and my Tampax box continued to gather dust in the corner. Huzzah! But then in April something awful happened. It had been so long, it took me a couple of days to recognize what was happening but then I realized exactly what that familiar twinge was. Cramps. The dreaded predecessor of all things menstrual. Drat. Sure enough, my period started again within a couple of days. Only, it's not really my period, it's someone else's. I think it might be my mother's (she's the only one know who used Super Absorbency Tampons. Until now).  My period used to be only a few days long. It started with cramps for the first day or two and then they went away. I rarely needed anything more than a regular absorbency tampon. It lasted four days, five tops. This is not that, this is different. It just stays and stays and stays and never lets up. I swear it lasts a week or more. The cramps are horrific - three Motrin don't even make a dent. And the idea of using regular absorbency tampons is just laughable. It's like my body is angry with me for trying to skip on out this process for so long and now it's paying me back.

Upon doing some internet research (ahhh, Google - you are my vice!), I have discovered that this kind of change is not unusual following a pregnancy. However, I feel in some way like I may have been tricked. I am almost certain that in all of the books about what to expect and how to care for your infant and what changes happen after giving birth, somewhere in there should have been some information about this. In bold print and underlined, preferably. Okay, maybe there was but it got lost in all of the bliss and excitement of pregnancy or the sleep-deprivation and anxiety of new motherhood. Not that it would have changed anything for me, but it would have been nice to have been more prepared. On second thought, maybe it's better not to know.

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