First Blood.

This post is inspired by Stephanie, and also brought to you by the letters P M and S.

I got my period the summer I was twelve. I’d done sex ed in school and several of my friends had their periods. It wasn’t something I was expecting, though. I was flatter chested than anyone in my class, including some of the boys. I lived my tree-climbing, Duran-Duran listening life, and menses were far on the distant horizon.

Except then I went wilderness camping with my father and brother. Some eight hundred miles of highway away from Vancouver. Then twelve miles down a gravel road. And then another three miles by boat. We were really in the wilderness.

I woke up and there was blood on my nightgown. I thought, “Oh. My period. Right. How do I deal with this?” Because of course, I had not brought any pads or tampons or anything.

So I went to our bathroom facilities (teepees made of random poles and plywood bleached silvery grey by the weather) and considered my options. I knew Dad had a trip to a nearby town (about 50 miles away) planned, so I couldn’t just shuffle off to the teepee every half-hour to change wads of toilet paper. I needed a plan.

Luckily, the Kootenays are drier than Coastal BC or I would have been stymied. But in the interior, things get tinder dry. There was moss.

Yes. My first sanitary pad, adhesiveless and bulky, was a wad of moss wrapped in toilet paper. Thank God we spent most of the travel day in the car.

Dad had a surprise in store for us. Mom was flying into a small airstrip to camp with us. This was the most unexpected thing in the world: My mother hated camping.

My mother brought pads. She said she’d ‘had a feeling’ I needed them, when I finally got around to telling her that night, as we washed pots in the lake. In terms of embarrassing to a twelve-year-old, this is about as embarrassing as it gets.

Embarrassing or not, I was grateful for her foresight then. I am even today. A girl should only have to wear makeshift maxi pads made of moss as long as she has to.

8 Comments to “First Blood.”

  1. By Duncan, March 13, 2008 @ 10:38 am

    What, seriously? She had a feeling? Wow. That’s pretty amazing.

  2. By Liz, March 13, 2008 @ 11:05 am

    Amazing and a little creepy, really.

  3. By cheesefairy, March 13, 2008 @ 11:28 am


    1. I love how the blood always comes when you are far away, on an airplane, planning a beach vacation or wearing white.

    2. Moms are freaky. Invaluable. But freaky.

  4. By rachel, March 13, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

    Ha. I got mine at home, in the morning, and then was overheard (by my mother) telling a dirty joke in the evening. That was a difficult day, but not as bad as having to use moss, I think.

  5. By Liz, March 14, 2008 @ 12:15 am

    Cheesefairy, my beloved friend Amy got her period EVERY TIME we went camping with our teenaged Boy Scout compatriots. So vair vair awkward.

    Rachel, that would have been awkward as well. Moss was mostly just uncomfortable.

  6. By sarah, March 14, 2008 @ 6:48 am

    Grade six. January. Two months before I turned twelve. I was at home, after school. My mother made me pancakes for dinner and gave me an iron pill.

  7. By stephanie, March 14, 2008 @ 8:20 am

    You’re sort of like MacGuyver. I would have had to dig a hole and sit in it for three days because I would not have known what to do.

    Isn’t it funny? The blood? How it comes just whenever it feels like. Damn cycle.

  8. By Liz, March 15, 2008 @ 11:43 pm

    Sarah, what a nice mother you have.

    Stephanie, the blood has a will of its own.

    Incidentally, I have just looked at my calendar. I’m due to start my next period the morning I touch down in London. Periods are a bitch.

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