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I was 11 when I just started my period. But the problem was, I had no idea that I was having one.
It happened at my grandma’s house. We were waiting for my parents to come home from an anniversary dinner when my grandma had me and my sister wash up for bed. She had my sister use the bathroom by the kitchen and she had me use the one near the office. She handed me a fresh towel and waited at the bathroom door to take away my clothes.
I stripped down to my towel and opened the door to give my grandma my clothes. It was five minutes later I heard a loud scream. I opened up the bathroom door and looked at my grandma in the hallway holding my bloody underwear and pants. The clothing was soaked with blood, it was everywhere inside the pants and the white underwear was pink and red with blood.
“What happened, why are your clothes so bloody?” my grandma asked me. I told her I had no idea why there was so much blood. She looked at my legs as I was slowly walking outside the bathroom and a thin trail of blood ran down my left calf.
“I’m calling your mother and letting her know I am taking you to the hospital, there’s blood going down your leg,” she said. I looked down in my towel and saw the blood snake its way along my feet. I looked back up wide-eyed and horrified. I started freaking out too.
My grandma was holding onto my clothes while she nested the phone in the crop of her neck. I heard my mom on the other side of the phone and my grandma telling her what happened and that there was blood going down my leg. She was going to take me to the hospital because I was hurt.
“Beverly, calm down,” I heard my mom say on the other end of the phone, “Heather is having her period. She just needs to clean herself off and get a sanitary pad on.” My grandma reached for her chest and let out a sigh of relief. The clothes crumpled in her right hand.
She escorted me into the shower and said to wait for her to get the iodine for me to wash off the blood and sanitize the area. She handed me the soap by the sink to use for washing down there and came back five minutes later with the iodine. She handed me the bottle and left the bathroom. I turned off the water a few minutes later and she opened the door to give me some underwear and my pajamas, she grabbed a wad of toilet paper and placed it in my hand for me to make a makeshift lining for my underwear.
“I don’t have any of those pads your mom mentioned, so this will have to do,” grandma said. She had me wait in the office while she took the swiffer mop and Clorox bleach to clean up the tile in the bathroom and hallway where some of the menstrual blood sat in a tiny perfect circle. My parents came to pick us up two hours later because my mom ran into Eckerd's to grab me some sanitary pads.
Before we left my grandma’s house, she handed me a pad and said to place it on my underwear and take the plastic wings to help secure the pad so that it doesn’t come off. I followed the instructions she gave me and on the box of pads before we left the house. It wasn’t until the next day that my mom presented me with a printed packet of pages from Wikipedia about menstrual periods and told me that it was my job to keep my legs closed and left me the packet to read over and understand what a period was. She also left me a calendar with a circle on yesterday when my period started. She said to follow my period with that calendar and keep it close.
This is how I learned about my first period and what it meant to follow and track them. I wish there was a way I could have learned about periods from my mom without having to use Wikipedia or a calendar with no instructions on how to use them to my advantage. It wasn’t until I got on the pill during college that tracking them was easier.