An Unforgettable 12th Birthday
Saturday 15th February 2003 - it was my 12th Birthday and my cousin Dea planned a slumber for us at her house. We were going to grab snacks, watch a scary movie, and paint our nails. I was beyond excited, and ignored the aching pains in my stomach from when I woke up.
I was uncomfortable on the car ride over to Dea's house; knots in my tummy that I tried hard to continue to ignore. I didn't want to say anything to my mom because I didn't want to risk our slumber party falling through, so I gave her a hug, quickly got out of the car and rushed into Dea's house.
Dea had balloons and streamers hanging in their living room, a stack of DVDs with our most favourite movies, and chocolate and chips in little bowls. "Happy Birthday! Let's change to our PJs!" she squealed excitedly.
As I changed into my pyjamas, I noticed dark spots on my underwear. I knew right away it was my period because Dea told me the story of when she got her period. She was 9 years old. "Dea, I think I got my period!" I yelped. "I'll call my mom, stay there!" she cried out from outside the bathroom door. I could hear my aunt's footsteps running up the stairs. She taps lightly on the bathroom door and gently asks if she can come in.
"Can I see your underwear?" she proceeds to ask as soon as I let her into the bathroom. I was very shy and felt so awkward about showing her my underwear, but she had me cornered. I showed her the little dark spots. She smiles and says "Congratulations! You're a woman now. This is a good thing sweetheart, it means you're healthy. God is good." She opens the cupboard and hands me a sanitary pad. "Go get clean underwear and then you can put this on" she says. I did as she said and when I got back to the bathroom my aunt was still in there ripping out the packaging from the single sanitary pad. "I'll show you how to do your first one OK and then we have to call your mom", she says and begins to position the pad on my underwear.
I remember thinking how do women walk around with these big nappy-like sacks in their underwear, but I was too shy to say anything and just kept my mouth shut.
I finally mustered the courage to ask my first and only question, "Tita Jojie, my stomach hurts. Is this supposed to happen with the period?". "Yes that can happen, I'll give you some Tylenol and you will feel better" she responds. I took the Tylenol and wondered if I had to do this every time my period came.
What does a period do anyway? Why do we 'become a woman' when we get our periods? Will my classmates know I'm wearing a pad underneath my school uniform? How about when I'm wearing my tennis shorts? So many thoughts and questions for another day, because today is my birthday. Dea made a fun slumber party for us and I don't want to "become a woman" today!