June 3, 2010

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon A Time... there was a little girl in the park with her family. It was her grandmother's birthday, and her brother and sisters were playing together and laughing. But that little girl remained firmly planted in her seat at the picnic table. 

You see, this little girl had started bleeding. And she didn't know what was wrong, because she was only 10, and hadn't had the pleasure of those kinds of motherly talks yet.


I read somewhere once, that after you get your first period, you typically have a couple of months off to recover before it shows up again...

I didn't.

From the very first day, of my very first period, I was on a 31 day cycle. 

School was embarrassing. I would hide in the bathroom, and try to unwrap the bulky maxi pads without making a sound.  A few times, I would overhear conversations between older girls. They wanted this. They looked forward to the day when they would need pads and tampons and Advil. I would hide until they left the restroom, readjust my pants, then wash the traces of blood from my hands.

By the time I was 11, I was a pro at using tampons. Tampons were way better than maxi pads. Tampons didn't make your pants fit funny in the back. You could wear them while swimming. They flushed down the toilet, and fit into your pocket. They didn't chafe your skin, and you didn't feel uncomfortable if you used them correctly.

To say that tampons saved my teenage years would be an understatement.

No longer was I hiding in the bathroom. In fact, I explained just how to use them on more than one occasion.

The next few years were fine, by my standards.

Because when your only experience with something is extreme, it's your normal.

It was normal for me to be severely incapacitated a week out of the month.

It was normal for me to get blinding headaches, and vomit every last thing out of my system.

It was normal for me to feel like I was being stabbed, over and over and over again, in the gut.

It was normal for me.... so I never realized anything could be wrong.

I got married when I was 19 years old.

Before I got married, I went to the doctor so that I could get on birth control.

Not that it would matter in the long run.

The year I was on birth control, was good and bad. Good because, for once, I wasn't completely bowled over in pain for days on end. Bad, because the hormones made me crazy.

I would fight with my husband over the stupidest things.

And I remember after one particularly awful fight, I got in my car and I drove away.

I drove for hours to clear my head.

It was during that drive that I realized that something was wrong with me.

It was during that drive, that I knew that a part of me was broken, that it always had been, and that it always would be.

That long and lonely drive shifted my perspective in ways that I can't explain.
When I went home, my husband and I had our first real talk.

And for the first time, in over a decade, I finally felt like I could be myself.

Acknowledging that there was something physically wrong with me, even if it was just to him, lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders, because that was the day that I finally realized that I didn't have to do this alone.

Then I got sick....


  1. I remember when I read your engagement story thinking that you were a great story teller. You still are, even though I know this is about much more than just telling a story. Keep writing, Mombabe. Keep writing!

    My dear friend deals with crippling, percocet requiring cycles every month. I've seen first hand what it does to her and it isn't pretty. My heart goes out to people who struggle with this.

  2. You really should write a book or something. Blurb your blog or something.
    You are very inspirational at times and VERY hilarious at others!
    A perfect mix.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. I was SO excited to go and have all my innards ripped out for good... (SO done with that part of life and tired of having to stay home for 3 days out of every month) and then Tauna told me what Premarin is made from...

    This is good stuff - can't wait to read more, although I'm sure I'll be wanting to send along a few painkillers as a gift from the sound of things. (and yes, I promise not to, I DO realize I can get in a lot of trouble for mailing narcotics - sheesh, where are the good old days when I didn't have to worry about the internet police reading my comments :)

  4. Wow. I don't know what else to say...what an experience!

    Keep writing! I can't wait to see how things go...

  5. Ten? I thought I was young at 12. I remember those girls who thought they wanted to start - what idiots.

    You're not going to do normal posts in between the story telling right? Because now everyone is going to be thinking about this ALL DAY (and night) until you finish.

  6. This post is so well written, I can't wait to read what happened next.

  7. This is beautifully written. Good for you for beginning to share it. May it be a healing process for you.

  8. It's so true -- when you know nothing else, whatever it is is normal.

    And husband can be really great, sometimes. It's nice to feel like you're not alone.

  9. You are such an amazing writer. This was gripping. Totally gripping to read. I am blown away that this uphill journey began at only age 10.

  10. You are a good story teller!
    On that note:
    I've been hating my girl parts for a while now & especially the last couple months where I've been bleeding since like April 13!!! Dr's say "oh you're just having a heavy period" Incompetent dorks! Turns out on Kimber's bday May 21 I went to the ER to find out I had miscarried. I didn't even know I was preggo & actually had an IUD scheduled & I've had to use fertility drugs for my other two kids WTF!? So me & down there aren't getting along right now.

    So when you coming out here:)

  11. Seriously, the same thing happened to me when I went on birth control when we got married. I lost my dang mind! I once threw an entire basket of socks at my husband and then threatened to throw his entire comic collection over the balcony!

    I feel your pain!

  12. What woman can't relate with this? I never did get the hang of tampons before getting married, oh how I wish I had.

    Now I want to know more....tell me your life story, girl.

  13. You are very inspirational at times and VERY hilarious at others!
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  14. I am SO glad I clicked through to your blog from MMB!

    1. Your tagline (on your header) = priceless.

    2. This story = incredible and heart-wrenching (and I'm only two chapters in!)...and

    3. You're awesome.

    (A NZ MMB)

  15. I'm eager to see how this plays out because so far, you're telling my story. My first period was 7 days, my second was 15. I bled every 30 days, then after children it's gone down and down. I'm down to bleeding 8 days every 26. Yet no one admits something is wrong. All the women in my family had hysterectomies around my age for similar problems but clearly, that doesn't mean I have the same issues they did. I'm sorry you've gone through all that.

  16. Like everyone else has said, this is SO beautifully written. Raw and real. And I can't wait to hear the rest of it.