When my daughter got her period a few years ago she introduced me to an app called Clue. It tracks your period. You input your symptoms (happy, headache, ovulation, tender breasts), your mood (happy, sensitive, sad, PMS) and your flow (light, medium, heavy, spotting). The majority of my friends report by the hundreds of days when their last period was. The word on the street is that, once you don't get your period for a full year you are officially in menopause.
I still get my period every month but I've noticed my period has changed drastically in the last several months and so I've reengaged with my Clue App to see if I can get a handle on what's coming. This past month my period lasted for thirteen days. I only had one or two heavy days and the rest were just spotting. Annoying and unpredictable spotting. So I'm not in menopause yet, but I am definitely perimenopausal or periodopausal as I have started to think about it.
I get irritated with the constant drip system that has become my body. I hear myself complaining to my family, "Oh my GOOOD. I still have my period!" It must get old, hearing crazy Laura go on again about how many days it's been. I'm know I'm not unique or special. I am totally aware of the fact that, at age 51, I am in good company with lots of other women who experience a similar period surprise party every month, never knowing exactly what to expect.
There is a part of me that feels grateful to still get my period. I get to share the period supply closet with my daughter and it makes me feel like I'm still kind of young. My period is familiar. I've been experiencing it every month for over thirty-five years. The other day at dinner my daughter, complaining of her own period woes said, "Mom, if I live to age 95 like GeeGee, if you calculate all the days of my periods, it comes to twelve years. I will have bled for twelve whole years of my life." That's a lot of bleeding.
My period has not always been thirteen days. I have a feeling that it will slowly start to creep back down until it disappears entirely. So what's all this complaining about? What's the lesson? I'm attached to my period. I am holding on tight to this natural process that I've experienced for the majority of my life. While it comes out as a complaint, when I look back and think about it, I can detect excitement and satisfaction, "I still HAVE it!" vs "I still have it!"
When my daughter got her period I wrote her a letter. I bought her eight different boxes of pads and panty liners. I bought her special padded period panties and I cried as I told her how much I loved her and always would. Getting the period is a big deal. And not getting it is a big deal too.
There should be a ritual for this moment. I wonder what it should be. It should be a ritual moment acknowledging this twelve years of periods in our lives. I don't know what it is yet, but I know it should be special, it should be something that feels like saying hello and goodbye at the same time. And, if you want to know what the ritual is, you can always come to one of our Put Some Claws in Your Pause retreats.