Sunday, July 18, 2010

Making Peace with My Period

subtitle: Aunt Flo, who visits most women monthly, doesn't call or write, and sometimes I think she's writing me out of her will


Today, Acorn broke a glass soda bottle. Big Oak had put it in the top of the pop bottle bin (we have a bottle deposit here, so you save your bottles up to take them back). I'd mentioned before that putting it in the top of a full bin was asking for trouble - Acorn likes to pull bottles out and play with them - but it fell on deaf ears, and when Acorn did exactly that today, he dropped the glass bottle on the floor and it shattered.

I try very hard to be the kind of parent who doesn't yell. I know when Acorn is getting into things like this, he really needs more attention - when I give it to him, he's less likely to cause mayhem and destruction.

Today I failed. Actually, most of this week I've failed.

I knew it was coming - I took a medication to try to kick-start my menstrual cycle, which last made an appearance in January with the help of an expired package of birth control pills. Before that, it was the January before.

Taking hormones makes me crazy - super edgy, super moody, achy, and likely to snap at anyone.

Today it was Acorn.


I have a primary diagnosis of PCOS, and I take a metformin and synthroid to manage the easily handled contributors, but even at my lowest weight, with plenty of exercise and a reasonable diet, my cycles have never been regular.

For someone like me, who can go years between cycles without medical intervention, medications like this throw things way out of kilter. And for me, the side effects are more pronounced because they're so out of the ordinary. I cramp, a lot, because I'm usually clearing out far older blood than is normal, for example.

My first gynecologist was a jerk who wanted to give me either speed or the now infamous phen-fen because I was too heavy (at my strongest as an adult, and my lowest weight as an adult) for his personal taste in women. I was 18 and a virgin, and he had a problem with that, lecturing me on how sex was ok, as long as it was serial monogamy. He said I'd probably need clomid to get pregnant, but a monthly script for someting to keep my period regular was needed.

At that point, I hadn't had a period in 4 years.

He put me on progesterone, which made me nauseated (little did I know, but it causes me to have unpleasant blood sugar swings), and then put me on birth control pills.

If there had been such a classification back then, those birth control pills caused symptoms that would easily have been classified as pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder - I was not functional 2 weeks out of every 4, and I hemmoraged with each cycle - bleeding often continued 15 days or more, and I was filling a super strength tampon plus a heavy/overnight pad in about an hour for the first 4-5 days of each cycle. The cramps were so painful that I often didn't leave bed for days.

My doctor back then told me there was nothing wrong with my reaction - that I needed to give my body time to adjust, and then that it was all in my head.

My doctor now shakes his head and says that even then, ultrasounds were available, and no self-respecting sane doctor should have prescribed pills without an ultrasound (or a D&C) given how long it'd been since I'd had a period at that point.


The story of getting pregnant with Acorn is long, and not really for this post, but let's just say that fertility drugs leave me feeling awful.

And Goddess help me, I want another child.

I've tried, over the years, to make peace with my cycle - and when I don't have a cycle, it's pretty easy to do just that. Out of sight, out of mind. When I've had cycles of hemmoraging, peace comes through giving in and sleeping - not that this is a helpful thing in terms of keeping the rest of life in balance. The cycles where I'm cranky...we all just keep our heads down, which is definitely not a peaceful way to be.

While some women find cloth pads and menstrual cups empowering, giving them insight into their cycles and helping them live more in harmony, for me they're a reminder of things that feel broken (the whole fertility process) and a necessity - I can't carry enough tampons for one of those hemmoraging cycles, but a cup can be emptied over and over again.

And if we want another baby, we have to do it all again. So there isn't much choice.

I dunno. I want to find a way to accept this as the way it is, to make peace with this whole menstrual cycle - to get back in Aunt Flo's good graces.

But when it feels like she's suckerpunched you in the pelvis, it's hard not to think about finding her in a dark alley and beating her senseless

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