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This is Emma, and this is the most shameful story of her life so far. A lot of girls will be able to relate to this story, as it’s about her first period. When she thinks about it now, she laughs – but at the time, she was absolutely sure that her life was over. Please don’t laugh at her!
Emma comes from a very religious family, and her parents were never keen on talking about physiological stuff. Her mom loved her a lot, of course, but it seems she was terrified that at some point she would need to talk to her daughter about periods and sex (she probably gets goose bumps even pronouncing the word) and all things like that. Emma turned 11 convinced that children come from nowhere and just materialize in women’s bellies. All in all, she never pondered the concept of puberty or her changing body.
One morning when she woke up and went to the bathroom, she saw some strange brown stains DOWN THERE. She had no idea what they could be and became scared. Her first thought was that she needed to ask for help from her parents. But the idea of coming out of the bathroom, going to her mom and trying to explain what had happened to her – including saying the word for her intimate parts – was just too embarrassing. Asking for her dad’s help wasn’t even an option, and she had no siblings to consult. So despite being really scared, she decided to wait and see if the problem would disappear on its own.
Emma went to school, but she couldn’t really concentrate on her studies. She just sat focusing on her body and trying to understand how grave her condition was. It didn’t occur to her to ask for advice from her classmates – it was still too shameful to mention WHERE the stains were coming from. A couple of times, she went to the toilet and saw new brown stains. She didn’t feel sick though, so she thought that she should wait for some time before panicking.
Then in the evening came the pain. That awful dull nagging pain every girl knows. Now, she thought, it’s time to panic. She sat down at her computer and boldly searched for “stomach pain with blood”. At the age of 11, she wasn’t very knowledgeable about anatomy, and was sure that the stomach was somewhere in the belly. As you can imagine, “an ulcer” was the most optimistic result she got. So now she knew she was going to die, but asking for help still seemed too shameful. So Emma decided to sleep on it...but obviously, that night she didn’t get any sleep.
Emma went to school the next day feeling all nervous and panicky, because that morning when she had checked she still had new brown stains on her underwear. Her condition didn’t get worse though, and she ended up being distracted by her classes after all. Until the moment in her math class when she felt something wet, and ran to the bathroom. She discovered a Niagara Falls of flaming red blood. She nearly fainted, her hands trembled, and she sobbed hysterically. So she ran to the school nurse’s office and explained that she was bleeding, that she had an ulcer, and was going to die! By that point she was no longer ashamed to share her problem with anyone.
At first, the nurse seemed really worried. But then as she asked Emma in detail what was bothering her, and she seemed visibly relieved. “I don’t want to disappoint you, but you’re not going to die – you’re just having your first period.” Her first...what? “A period. Don’t you know what a period is?” She was quite surprised by her ignorance, but explained patiently what it was and how to deal with it, and also gave her some pads to start off with and explained how to use them. Obviously, the news that she was not going to die made Liz very happy. But as she was about to leave, she asked Liz if she could ask her mom to come in for a private talk.
After giving her mom the news about her first period and seeing that she was embarrassed, she passed on the message from the school nurse. She had no idea what they were going to talk about, and was just so happy to know that she was healthy again. Only several years later, when her mother told her about sex, and was visibly uneasy about doing so, she confessed that the nurse had told her that explaining these things was crucial for teens, and that she insisted that her mom would have to overcome her embarrassment and find a way to explain these important things to her daughter. Emma feels very grateful to that nurse, as now she understands that there’s nothing shameful about her body, and if we have important questions that we need to ask, we shouldn’t keep them to ourselves. And also, it’s always better when parents answer our questions rather than someone else who doesn’t know us as well as they do.
Let us know in the comments if your first period was also embarrassing, and share this story with other girls so that they know there’s nothing to be afraid of about periods.
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