I am reading in Salon about the changes to Judy Blume's book Are You There, God? It's me, Margaret. Apparently the author updated the passage about the sanitary napkin and belt that used to have to hold them on. I admit, I am old enough to remember the belt and have been shown how to use it. However, being a large girl I managed to forgo the belt and simply tuck the pad between my legs which were chubby enough to hold it in place. The only drawback to this method was that if I forgot to grab it, it could sometimes fall into the toilet when I pulled down my panties.
Then I read this passage in the article:
My gut reaction, like Book of the Day's, was to cheer a little, remembering the perplexity I felt when reading about the belt. By the time I was dealing with this stuff, the mid-'80s, it was always with wings, all the time, at least until we could make the transition (as soon as humanly possible, please, God) to tampons. Tampons were -- and are -- acknowledged in "Are You There God?" only once: when Margaret's mean girlfriend Nancy asks the feminine product representative who's come to show the sixth-grade girls a filmstrip about "menstroo-ation," "What about Tampax?" "We don't advise internal protection until you are considerably older," is the prim reply. I think it took most of my friends about two periods' worth of walking around with pads in their underwear to decide they were "considerably older." But regardless -- Margaret's practice sessions, the distinction between the cool "Teenage Softies" brand of pad and her mother's "Private Lady" stuff, the process of picking out the separately packaged belt in the drugstore -- these details just didn't resonate specifically with me.
As always I am envious to think of those girls and women who bled so lightly that they could entrust their clothing to a tampon alone. I have never been able to use just a tampon. Ever. As I contemplate the end of periods and remember how heavy mine have always been, I am amazed that I have tolerated this heavy bleeding every month for year after year. All the battles with anemia, iron supplements that didn't sit well in my stomach, stained clothing and midnight rinsing of pajamas and bed clothes, damp underwear drying in the shower, the stained underwear in reserve for my periods so I might avoid ruining my best panties, lying in bed dreading the motion of getting up because of the blood that might spurt out--all of this to end after a few days' discomfort following my surgery. Yes, yes, and yes!
I remember the irony of the morning my white binder which contained my vampire story got splattered with blood. It was laying on the floor by my bed, and it was one of those mornings that my bleeding had increased and pooled inside, waiting to be expelled by my movement. Expelled it was, all over the bed and carpet beside it, along with the binder and a few other things I had laid on the floor the night before. I was too tired to put them away. I remember the fatigue that always accompanied my period. I could sleep anywhere from 9 to 12 hours a night, up from the usual 7. I felt that I could really just sleep around the clock if I didn't simply drag myself out of bed on principle.
I love the job my uterus did for me all those years ago when it bore my children and birthed them safely. But my uterus has been too hard working. It should have retired years ago, job well done. Now it is time to usher it to its well earned retirement.
So I am amused by this story of girls with tampons, girls with sanitary napkins and belts, girls with adhesive pads. It took all of the above in jumbo sizes to keep me from bleeding on everything and everyone, like ani difranco and her brown bloodstain on the white chair.
Goddess, I'm ready now. Thanks!