Dominique T • Illinois • 25
I got my first period a few months after I turned eleven. Luckily, my mom was proactive - when I displayed my very first signs of pubescence she bought me a ton of What's Happening to My Body? books. We didn't have many conversations about it, but I read the provided literature and knew what was up.
So when, one fall evening, I went pee and discovered underwear full of blood, I was not shocked or confused or scared. I was, however, still panicking.
Unfortunately not all moms are as proactive as mine. Some go the opposite direction and hide the details of puberty from their children. And I was at the birthday party of a friend who had hider parents. In retrospect, I have no idea if this friend’s parents were open with her about puberty or not, but at the time I was absolutely certain that if I asked her mom for a pad or tampon, it would cause a scene, ruining the party and my friendship.
And the red icing on the cake - this was a sleepover.
I threw my underwear away, taking care to hide them at the very bottom of the trash can, and layered up the crotch of my second pair with half a roll of toilet paper. I spent the rest of the night clenching my legs and afraid to sit on anything. My flow was heavy and my cramps were severe straight out the gate, so I clenched my teeth tightly too.
When my mom came to pick me up the next morning I told her as soon as we got in the car. And we both laugh-cried about it all the way home.