For me, it was a life changing moment.
I was eleven years old and had gone to see An American Tail with my best friend, Molly. I loved the movie so much I ignored how uncomfortable I was feeling. Well, I tried to. I knew I had to urinate (badly), but I wasn't about to miss any of the movie, so I just sat there chomping on popcorn and sipping my Dr. Pepper. Fieval couldn't find his family fast enough as far as my bladder was concerned.
After the movie, I told Molly I had to go really bad. So bad that I wasn't sure I'd make it down the long corridor to the women's restroom. It was there I found out why I was uncomfortable. The moment most every little girl longs for, but is probably a little scared of at the same time.
I don't remember if I even told Molly that I started my period. I think I just went home and told my mom. I don't even remember how that all went, but I'm sure my mom does. I wasn't afraid because my mom had already explained everything to me, come to think of it, I was even a tad bit excited. After my mom gave me my very first pad to wear, I remember looking in the mirror to see if something had changed on the outside. Would my classmates know that I was now a woman? Did I somehow look older? More mature? More sophisticated? This was a gift I had been given even if my stomach hurt.
As the years went on, my gift was becoming more of a curse. I had joined the ranks of all the other teenagers I knew and began wearing tampons. In fact, I would even wear them to bed sometimes because I could not stand to wear pads. It never failed, I bloated up like a pufferfish a week before and the cramps set up camp for a five day vacation. Honestly, I don't remember any terrible mood swings, but that's because I was the one having them. To those who loved me, I know I was very difficult to live with.
One of the worst times for me was for the six weeks I had to wear pads after having a baby. I hated them. They were sticky and they hurt in a place where things were already a little sore. It's just not right, but I was always happy when the six weeks was up so I could go back to wearing tampons again, even though I was starting to not like them either.
When I was pregnant with Caleb, our final baby, I decided to look into cloth diapers. A friend of mine loaned me some to try on Chloe and that quickly pushed her into potty training. I didn't realize that at the time, but they definately helped. As my due date was nearing, I couldn't imagine going back to weeks and pads...especially after nine whole months of freedom. My friend had told me about "Mama Pads", but I just wasn't so sure I wanted to spend the money on them and not like them. I hate being wasteful. I decided to buy just one pad. You know, I'd give it a try and see how I could handle wearing them. I bought my very first pad from Pretty Pad's. It was beautiful and felt so soft. I spent a couple weeks experimenting with it and knew I needed more. Another friend of mine made me a few more that were velour topped with a waterproof backing. It was really nice to have more than one.
During this time I was also cloth diapering my own son and loved every minute of it. I wish I had started with my other children, I liked it that much. Over the next year, I started keeping track of my PMS symptoms. I noticed a dramatic decrease in my cramps and headaches. Not only that, but I was no longer protected by sticky paper. Instead I had cotton fabrics like velour and sherpa next to my skin. I was hooked!
Photo from Essence of Eve
I remember the day I decided to never go back to paper. I actually felt free. Free of societies views on menstruation and the impact it had on my life each month. Free from the limited choices that were offered at the local market. I don't know about you, but I'll take comfort over convienence...especially when it comes to my girly bits. Thankyouverymuch!
For about two years I only had twelve pads, but it was enough to get me through a couple days before I had to wash again. I still have those pads, after 7 years, and I still wear them from time to time. These days, I'm extremely lucky to have a dear friend who sews amazing menstural pads for me. Check out her online store The Essence of Eve. I love these pads and hope she continues making them...or is at least willing to stock me up for the another decade or so.
If you decide to try them out I suggest the velour or sherpa top with micro fleece back. I get a medium thickness because my flows are heavy normally.
Do you want to know the best part?
My nine year old daughter can't wait for me to buy her very first cloth pads. I've made a difference and have succeded in teaching my daughter that she doesn't have to suffer with uncomfortable toxic products from the market. That's not the only against the flow topic I've had the privelage of teaching her, it's just the one she'll live with the longest.