Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I’ve been bleeding every month since I was about eleven or twelve. The first time I crossed that line into womanhood was one of those pivotal moments of my life that I will always remember. I was at my Grandmother Toby’s house and even though I don’t remember what it was I said to her, I do remember her scrounging around under the bathroom sink until she came up with what looked like a garter belt and a small pillow for some kind of playhouse doll.

Grandma Toby proceeded to show me how to attached the garter-belt thing, which wasn’t a garter belt at all but a “between-the-legs” contraption which held two sides to the sanitary napkin in between my legs. I still remember what it felt like walking around her Miracle Mile apartment the first time I had that thing held in place under my pants. It was thick and uncomfortable and I once asked my mother if there was a way that I could get the doctor to help me stop bleeding until I was ready to have children.

Who wants to walk around for the rest of their life with what amounted to a folded up dish towel in between their legs for seven days out of the month, 12 months a year?

But the days ticked on and I was introduced to tampons which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Sometime in the 80’s I hailed the sanitary napkin God when a company finally came out with thin maxi-pads which stayed in place via a thin strip of adhesive. Most times they stayed in place but sometimes they didn’t and in the 90’s some smart company came out with “wings” on the sides of their thin pads which definitely held them firmly attached to the underwear for those five to seven days.
A couple of kids and one grandchild later, my “bleeding” has become rather erratic. “Will she or won’t she” has become the motto of the month. I knew this time was coming and I was going with the “flow” so to speak until my body decided to do the big period psych-out.

It started with the extreme tenderness of ‘the girls.’ So tender were ‘the girls’ that after coming home from work one of the first things I would do was take my bra off and let it all hang out. Then the bloating got so bad I felt like Violet Beauregarde in “Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” just after she ate the blueberry gum. I was moody, irritable and wanted to jump out of my skin but I knew that in a few days it would all be over. I would bleed and it would all be better.
So I waited, and waited and waited. No blood. Five days went by. Seven days went by. Ten days came and went and after a full two weeks of this without any telltale signs of the monthly menses but all the signs that I was going to ‘bleed any day now’ I thought I was going to explode…literally.

It was one particular morning during this waiting period (pun intended) when I was looking in the mirror that I saw my waist had moved up a few inches.
Now wasn’t THAT icing on the cake!

The curve that was usually right above my hips was just under my ribcage and the middle of my belly looked like it was starting to droop. Whose belly starts to droop overnight?

And then it hit me.

The reason I wasn’t bleeding was because all the blood that was supposed to leak out of me was now going up instead of down. It was gathering where my waist used to be and there was nothing I could do about it.

So many of my woman friends complain that they lose their once-svelt waistlines when they start “the change.” Is it because when the bleeding stops the blood has to have someplace to go so it circulates around the middle of our bodies?

Well, that’s my excuse.