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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at www.debilynsmith.com

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pardon-ing My Period

It suddenly dawned on me yesterday that it has been six months since I've had to use any feminine hygiene products. Thanks to the Chemo and Tamoxifen, I have been completely period free for the first time since my pregnancies, which was almost thirty years ago. This is the moment I have wished for since the very day it started on August 10, 1972. I know the exact date because my mother did everything but advertise it in the local paper. Worse, she put the details in the back of my baby book for anyone to read over the next multiple of decades.
I should be celebrating, but for some reason there is a touch of regret in acknowledging the end of something I absolutely loathed for the major part of my past life.
I was the pig-tailed girl that raised her hand during Sex Ed in Grade Six to earnestly ask “but how does the sperm get to the egg.” Amidst a room full of tittering,I was sent home to ask my mother who handed me a booklet on “becoming a woman.” It talked about bleeding between the legs. It told me I had to start avoiding extreme hot and cold conditions because I might faint. It said I could now have a baby. A baby! I didn't even like to play with dolls. What would I do with a baby?
I was thirteen and a half when I finally got to learn first hand what all the whispering had been about. I was staying at my friend's lake cottage when I got that “baseball bat in the stomach” feeling. Some call it butterflies so they must be on a whole separate level from what I went through every 28 days. Butterflies are sweet and light and fluttery. These were huge tsunamis of pain that rolled through me from the back of my teeth to my toes. I would get sent home from school, not able to run from the nurse's station to mom's waiting car without soaking through the two-inch thick pads we used to have to wear back then. Pads that were held in place with a re-useable elastic belt you wore around your hips. I begged for someone to shoot me. To run me over. It was almost more than my mind could handle. It was disgusting and humiliating. It was gross and obscene and an impediment on my tree climbing and wrestling matches with the guys. Once a month. For 39.5 years. Times twelve. That is 474 cycles. Less two pregnancies, so 456. Okay, it also didn't return right after my daughter was born, while I breast-fed. My son was the result of that. So let's say 450 months. Times seven days for each slot and we are looking at being miserable for 3,150 days out of my life.
Let's not forget the 200 plus Double Fun Days when it wasn't marked on the calendar from the month before and so I was caught unprepared. It's not like it was rocket science but I just somehow refused to give my period the attention it deserved. Even at fifty I forgot and had to bum something from a friend. The “just ignore it, maybe it will go away” philosophy?
And now it has.
No more ugly tell-tale stains on my white jeans, white underwear, white dresses. No more worrying that I'm pregnant even though I told the surgeon I would sue him if it ever happened post-tubal ligation. No more having to call for spare supplies using my friend's CB radio from a remote location.

I'm still getting the cramping, the chocolate binging urges, the two days of snapping at my other half. But the worst, that smelly mess, is finally over. I made it out the other side with some spare money in my pocket. Farewell to “that” aisle in the drugstore and having to double wrap some of my purchases.

But as much as I hated the well-named curse, the “friend” who's arrival meant I wasn't pregnant after finding my diaphragm stuck to my husband's leg in the morning, I have to admit it gave me the greatest two gifts in my life. Karly and Lorne. It was something I hated, but understood. Something I had to work with so that I could be a woman and a mother. It was an ultimate trade off. Four hundred and fifty months of anti-inflammatories, chocolate bars and zits in exchange for two amazing lives that I will cherish until I die and then some.
It's not that bad of a deal when you look at it that way.
I guess the slight melancholy comes from understanding that I am officially what a friend used to call his wife, “an old spawner.”I'm now and forever on the backside of life, never again to reproduce another human being.” It's a blessing,” I tell myself. I can't find my slippers in the morning. How the heck would I look after another child?
No, it's bucket list time. Time to get done what I want to leave behind. Like this book of blogs, may it ever see the light of day in a library somewhere. So, here's to the next five, ten, twenty, who-knows-maybe thirty years ahead of being able to wear white clothes any day of the week.
A parting note to my period: I forgive you for everything you put me through.