Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dear Susan,
Remember when we were teenagers and a period drama wasn't a TV series starring Colin Firth? No a period drama was being away on a holiday camp, totally unprepared for the first 'monthly' we'd experience for the rest of our long, long, long, child bearing lives.
I was so naive about the whole thing, I thought an ovary was a place where you housed birds, and a womb was something you booked in a hotel when you couldn't pronounce your 'r's; you know like "Can I please order a womb with a view".

After a short but effective education, I increased my vocabulary to include such useful words as 'discharge', 'haemorrhage', 'severe cramp', 'cyst', 'endometriosis',and 'get off the fucking road you stupid fucking bastard'. I was able to participate in periodic conversation with the best of them.

I'm remembering this because although Rosie Josie Eloise and Andrea sailed through their menses with the help of drugs, hot water bottles, small hip flasks of brandy, garnished with straws, I don't think it's fair that our grand daughters should have to go through this monthly mess.

I've spent hours calculating that the average woman in an average lifetime spends 2,400 days, bleeding from 'down there', or to put it another way it's just one bloody month after another. A woman's reproductive organs spend 430 weeks rehearsing for conception which may occur 2 or 3 times in a lifetime (okay so Eloise went overboard with 5). But what a waste; it's like a vegan owning a meat tenderiser in case a carnivore comes over for dinner.

You know my Pollyanna philosophy makes me look on the bright side of everything, well I've been trying to find a positive spin on the subject to tell Bronwyn, Dolcie, Tallulah and Molly. For example even as a teenager I was very conservation conscious and thought that anything more energetic than lifting an eyebrow was a waste of the Earth's resources. I was delighted to discover that one could be excused from gym class if it was 'that time of the month'. I think my gym teacher became suspicious when I pleaded 'periods' every Wednesday for five years.

I'm maybe drawing a long bow when I say that periods stopped me from becoming an alcoholic. At age ten I would spend one day a month curled up in a foetal position, clutching a hot poker to my belly and sipping warm brandy and water. Thereafter I always associated alcohol with severe pain and led a life of total sobriety.

And periods are so sexist. Men don't understand why Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm becomes Atilla the Hun for one week in every four.Even male gynaecologists can't describe ovulation twinges, the ongoing agony of a prolapsed womb. Do they think we like being so irrational we blame the dog if it rains?

 And my gyno lied through his teeth. He told me all my problems would disappear once I bore children ( don't say a word about me and boring children). I had three children to avoid period pain I still had the pain and three Atillas as well. And now the poor little grand girls will soon begin their paths to puberty.

Oh and don't think it ends at puberty, oh no!! Life becomes a series of intervals between 'women's issues'. After one such procedure, from which I would recover in a couple of hours, I haemorrhaged for six weeks.Then one day I passed the bedroom mirror and even though I did see a reflection, it was ghost like and I searched for telltale signs of bite marks in my neck; checked to see if I had an aversion to garlic or crucifixes. Nothing. The hospital gave me five pints of someone's blood, a pint of which I lost three weeks later.

At least feminine hygiene products have evolved from the folded towelling square, tied elastic belt, and giant nappy pins we once had to use. I remember when I was nineteen I told mum I wanted to try a tampon. She told me it was impossible because you couldn't use tampons if you were a virgin. I didn't enlighten her.

Anyway my heart bleeds for all grandmothers out there who are watching their little grand girls become 'women'. I guess there's nothing for it but to wait until someone invents disposable female reproductive organs. You could obtain them for five dollars from a machine in women's rest rooms, you know like condoms or sanitary napkins (do they still have them?)

Do you think Mother Nature may have had a gender reassignment before she reached puberty?

Gotta go.  Having a hot flush; but that's another letter.

Love Janet