Let’s talk menarche - A personal account
Eighth grade was an exciting time for me. The dance institution I was enrolled in organised an annual day event at the end of each year and for two straight years, I had been headlining the opening act. That year would be my third year performing and I was excited. So excited, that I didn’t realise my body was undergoing changes. Most girls my age were a lot more conscious of their bodies and their looks. I would often hear the girls complaining about pimples, body odour and hair in weird places. But not me. My skin was still clear, I still smelt daisy fresh and there wasn’t any unwanted hair in sight.
I guess that’s probably why I was so stunned when I went into the bathroom two days before the annual day event and found my panties stained red. Now I knew what I was looking at. A few of my dancer buddies had been on their period for nearly a year now and they had explained about their period in excruciating detail. From the drip drip drip to clots and even diaper rash, I had heard about it all. But I was still not expecting my body to betray me like that two days before I was supposed to be on stage in front of a cheering crowd.
I remember quietly calling my mother into the bathroom and showing her my underwear. “Mommy”, I whimpered and she said in her best calm and soothing voice that I was going to be okay. She quickly reached for the pack of sanitary pads in the medicine cabinet and brought me a change of underwear. Within a few minutes, I had been fit with a sanitary pad. It didn’t feel that bad. Just felt a little bulky. More than the fact that I had an alien object down my pants, I was worried about how I would be able to dance in two days. My friends had all told me it really hurt and the leaky faucet like dripping was really irritating.
Mum made me a nice cup of hot cocoa and told me to let her know if I experienced any discomfort. She also told me she would show me how to dispose of and wear a fresh pad in the morning. Dad got to know about my first period and came to my room and wrapped me in a bear hug. “It’s okay sweetie, your dad and mom are here for you”, he said. They both knew I was freaking out about my dance performance and not about my period.
In the morning, my mum showed me how to roll and wrap up my sanitary napkin. She also introduced me to a bottle of intimate wash. Because I had been tucked in the night before, I hadn’t really walked around much. This time I experienced exactly what my friends had been describing - drip, drip, wet, wet. My brain was mush. A hundred different questions were swimming around in my head. Could I dance while bleeding? What if my favourite jeans stained? Why does this smell so god awful? Will it smell just as bad when I do a lift during rehearsals? Will my dance partner know that I was on my period?
As I got to the final day of rehearsals, I realised it wasn’t that bad. I was very much aware of a pad in my underwear and the slight dripping. But the cramps and the pain never came that day. Maybe because I was a dancer. Maybe because my body decided to cut me some slack and let me focus on my final dance performance for that year. While the first day of my period is etched into my memory, the next three days are a blur. I do remember forgetting about how uncomfortable I was the moment I walked on to that stage in front of that cheering crowd.
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