Small town girl, year 2004
Mum and Dad are in Perth so they may as well be international. I am at a friend's house, it's summer, and we are about to go in her pool.
Cue first period.
Totally unprepared. Both logistically and mentally.
‘Welcome to womanhood’. Some pads were exchanged. Um..help?
No idea how to use these. Friend (who doesn't have a period yet) questions why I can't just use a tampon and get on with it.
It gets more awkward. We got dropped at her grandparents house. They ask why I go to the bathroom so much. I am red all over not just in my undies. I use so much toilet paper on top of my pad. I am that scared of a waterfall scenario.
I don't remember knowing much about periods except that they happen once a month-ish, (which mine never stuck to in the end), I certainly had never tried attaching a ‘sticky surfboard’ to my underwear and was NOT keen on shoving that lipstick size sponge up my vagina. Pads and tampons were not really on my radar - and I was late to the period game so I cannot imagine having been in my early teens experiencing this.
Young women in Australia now are certainly more informed with the plethora of resources available online and the reduced stigma levels around period talk and period product use. I don't know if this translates to first periods being any more comfortable or familiar for those first cycles and experiences but I like to hope so for many. Maybe their Dad doesn't toss pads and tampons like a hot potato when the shopping is unpacked?
Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I just had a pair of period pants like I use now. I wouldn't have had to tell anyone that first day, I could have waited until my parents got home and just slipped the period pants on without having to know where to position them or what to do with the sanitary waste. I may have felt less urges to run to the bathroom and check that trickle, gush or weird sensation didn't just leak outside my pad zone. I may have been less paranoid that someone could hear the crunch of my pad moving or see what felt like a huge nappy through my jeans.
These fears continued through what was left of high school. I worried about blood on my teal dress all day long, all week. School brought new anxieties like sneaking a tampon down your bra into the bathroom or the rustle of a new pad from the packet in the stall. Imagine I could have worn one pair of period pants that whole day. Maybe it would have been easier to adjust to.
I guess we are finding out in the new age of period products.