I remember when I was a teenager and one of my greatest nightmares involved light coloured pants, a surprise ‘visitor’, and my high school hallway. Yes, I’m talking about unexpected menstruation: the newly welcomed period, curse, ‘that time of the month’. As I got older, ‘Aunt Flo’s visits became more regular, and other worries like whether I had bathing suit under-boob, muffin tops, or low-rise, midlife, denim ass-crack took over.
That was until the peri-menopause.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Perimenopause, also called the menopausal transition, is the interval in which a woman’s body makes a natural shift from more-or-less regular cycles of ovulation and menstruation toward permanent infertility, or menopause.
Women start perimenopause at different ages. In your 40s, or even as early as your 30s, your may start noticing the signs. Your periods may become irregular — longer, shorter, heavier or lighter, sometimes more and sometimes less than 28 days apart.
Last summer, I was picking up my 12-year old son from his sleep away camp bus. So excited to see my boy, I forgot that it was most likely THE DAY for my ‘friend’ to visit. Borderline late as usual, I grabbed my purse and rushed out the door, failing to prepare properly with the appropriate emergency supplies. I was wearing my favorite pair of baby blue linen shorts from Bloomingdales (translate: expensive).
I don’t know about you, but usually I don’t keep tampons in my purse. They seem to come out of those slinky wrappers very easily resulting in loose applicators and cotton ‘inserts’ floating around in my purse. I have handed my kids an opened tampon instead of gum on one too many occasions.
Anyways, while I was waiting for the buses to come, I started to feel quite ill – hot, and sweaty, and all achy. Pretty much I was overcome by the heat of the day. In fact, I may as well have been wearing petticoats and a corset, and holding a tin of smelling salts. It felt like a vice was tightening on my stomach. I thought was going to pass out, or at the very least, swoon.
I pretended I was getting the flu, since I didn’t have tampons with me.
To compound the situation, and since I’m a professional mom and all, I had gotten the days wrong, and had booked a dental cleaning for the poor child the same day as his return. So, we were not going home. As soon as I picked him up we were off to the dentist.
His bus came, and I hugged him, noted how filthy he was, and got into the car. He was chattering away, I was driving, but all I wanted to do was double over in pain. I was sweating buckets. Imagine eating 100 cans of beans. That’s how my stomach felt.
He was hungry, so we stopped at Subway. I said to the kid, trying to hide my mounting desperate agony, You wait here; mommy has to pee . By now, I was shaking, and not just with pain. With nerves. I had no idea what I would find down there. Nobody had pointed at me screaming, Call an ambulance, that lady’s butt is bleeding!!!, so I still had a measure of Hope that all was well down there.
My hope that was quickly dashed in that Subway bathroom.
For, what I found in my baby blue linen shorts can only be termed as PERIOD-MAGEDDON. It was scary. It looked like my uterus had fallen out. All over my shorts, my thighs, everywhere. I just stood there, dumbly, my pants around my knees. Nothing in my womanly experiences had prepared me for this situation. I had no idea what to do. Finally, after what seemed like several seconds, I used every piece of toilet paper in the bathroom to fashion a lady diaper. It was a masterpiece. I waddled out and rejoined my son, a fake smile plastered on my face.
We sat by the window and as my eyes glanced across the parking lot, they lighted on Utopia: a Shoppers Drug Mart. I said to my child:
Mommy needs to go to the drugstore for a minute. I’ll be right back’
I snagged a box of Tampax, and some triple strength Midol, and headed back to retrieve the kid.
Driving to my brother’s office, the car was very quiet. The box of vagina plugs were burning a hole in my handbag. My unfortunately astute son finally broke the silence.
Mommy, what did you have to buy at the drugstore?’
Believing that honesty is the best policy, and too flummoxed to lie, I answered him, Mommy got her period and needed to buy tampons.
His poor little tween face turned purple, and for the rest of the drive, he didn’t say another word. Personally, I’ve never seen two people so happy to arrive at the dentist. Once, I was in the bathroom, however, I had a dilemma. What to do with the makeshift lady diaper and the unsaveable panties? Making an executive decision, I shoved the whole mess in the Shoppers bag, smushed the bag into my purse, and went Commando. It was brave. And slightly liberating.
I learned three valuable lessons from my experience:
- Don’t leave home without tampons.
- Period-mageddon can happen at any age.
- Oxy Clean gets stains out of baby blue linen shorts.
- 12 year old boys don’t want to talk about menstruation with their mothers.