The relationship I have with my period is by far the most inconsistent and toxic one I've ever been in. And I can't leave. I can't just say "Okay, I've had enough. I'll be moving on to more predictable periods, periods who know when enough is enough, periods I can count on."
Nope, me and this menstrual cycle, we're stuck together for the foreseeable future - through thick and thin if you will.
I still remember my very first period. It was on Christmas Day, I was eleven, and I was SO proud. I was officially a woman. The world was my oyster and I was ready for it. Little did I know that all it meant at that time, was my acne was going to go from zero to one hundred, overnight.
It also meant that I'd find myself in embarrassing situations, a lot. On multiple occasions I'd have to go home from school after bleeding through my pants. It meant waking up at sleepovers at my best friend's house to find her golden retriever shredding one of my used pads all over their living room floor. And it meant sitting out of every pool party for the next five years.
Once I mastered tampons and was able to participate in aquatic social events, we started to be able to coexist. My period came and went every 28 days. It was predictable. It was dependable. Our relationship really wasn't too bad. It's like we had an understanding.
And then I had sex.
Introducing sex as a third party to this peaceful relationship threw a major wrench in the works. All of a sudden I wasn't just calmly awaiting the arrival of my period. Now I was panicking and stressing about the possibility of NOT getting my period. Now I was waiting for my period like a call back after a first date. I was desperate. It was officially a one-sided relationship and I had lost all control.
My period used this power play in the opposite of scenarios as well. Boyfriend coming to visit this weekend? It's only day 25 of my cycle? Looks like it's going to be an action filled...oh wait...look who's here, it's the ultimate cock block.
So this pattern of my period showing up late when I was anxiously awaiting its arrival and showing up early when I wanted it to stay away continued for the next ten years. I thought my period had done everything it could to relentlessly mess up my plans, until I started trying to conceive.
I was on a pretty steady 28 day cycle when we decided to start trying to get pregnant. About six months into trying to conceive, my period decided to pull out the big guns and switch to a solid 32 day cycle - just late enough to get my hopes up. Without fail my period would rear its ugly head about five minutes after I took a pregnancy test, just to throw a little salt in the wound.
Once I actually began testing and fertility treatments, my period became the be all and end all of every cycle. I would spend from day 22 to 28 of my cycle begging for my period to get here early so I could start a fresh cycle with the hope of becoming pregnant. That very next cycle, I would spend from day 16 to 28 looking at my underwear with one eye open, panicked at the thought of seeing a drop of blood.
When my period decides to make an appearance, it doesn't just show up. No, no it plays games. Its favorite game to play is the guessing game. I have to guess; Is it just spotting? Or is this the real thing?
The first time I was told to call on day one of my period, I was completely caught off guard by my inability to tell whether or not I had a full flow or if I was only spotting. I had been getting my period since I was eleven years old and could not confidently tell you whether or not I actually had my period.
When I called the nurse line, they asked "Well was it a full flow before noon? Because if it's not a full flow by noon, then it is not your day one."
I literally couldn't answer her. I didn't know. WHAT THE HELL WAS HAPPENING? I thought I knew my period better than this. All these years I thought I was starting my period, but I really wasn't? I felt so foolish.
I read a book called "Laughing is Conceivable" by Lori Shandle-Fox. It's on Kindle and it's hysterical. A nurse told her that she would be able to tell if it was day one of her period if it she treated it like it was the weather. If it's a torrential downpour, then it's day one. If it's sprinkling or intermittent showers, then it ain't your day one. Literally a perfect analogy - one that I hadn't heard until over a year into guessing what was considered "full flow."
So here I am, at the mercy of my period, once again. It's day 31 of my cycle and I've had some sprinkles here and there but no sign of the storm they've been calling for since day 27. I have a fridge full of hormones, ready to be injected, and my period has decided to be fashionably late.
On the outside I'll play it cool and pretend like I'm okay with enjoying another "free" day before stimming. Like I'm cool keeping it casual. But on the inside, I'm a mess. I'm frantic and I'm starting to panic.
My period officially wears the pants in this relationship. And, I, I wear the pad.