Saturday, 7 May 2011

Honouring Moontime

OK, I confess. When I wrote the title of this post, it made me cringe. Our society likes to keep periods pretty quiet. Sanitary products are advertised by letting us know that nobody else will ever know you're 'on'. Fear not! Normal life can be resumed and you can go jogging in white shorts. Any celebration of your 'moontime,' on the other hand, is frankly rather weird. Well, with apologies to anyone's delicate sensibilities, I'm going to tell the story of my relationship with periods .

My feelings about menstruation have been pretty mixed over the years. My first one arrived on Halloween when I was staying over at a school friend's house, aged 11. Thanks to my mum and the school nurse, I was pretty clear on the theory, but the reality was never the less quite disconcerting. In the following years I would dread my time of the month coming. I suffered with awful cramps that would wake me sweating and crying in the night. I had PMT that made me hard to live with, and my acne covered face really knocked my confidence. I always struggled to use tampons, and towels made me feel hot and unclean. I felt far from womanly.

A significant change in attitude came during my university years when I discovered the Mooncup. For the uninitiated, it is a silicone cup inserted into the vagina which collects the menstrual blood. For someone who couldn't even use a tampon, this seemingly giant cup looked pretty intimidating, but after a few tries I was amazed to find I couldn't feel a thing. Emptying the cup removed some of the mystery of my period. It was no longer something foul and hidden. I felt clean and for some reason I still don't understand, my cramps eased considerably.

Then came pregnancy followed by ecological breastfeeding and my Mooncup was packed away. When my period arrived yesterday, 30 months after my last one, my heart sank. It appears my luteal phase (the time between ovulation and menstruation) is only 5 days. Far too short to sustain a pregnancy just yet. I've decided to put away my negative attitudes, and celebrate this time of the month. It is a time when my body is giving me clear instructions to take it easy. It's a few days where I can focus on myself and gaining the energy to begin again with renewed enthusiasm. I've taken the time to learn and try a few gentle yoga positions to relieve cramps. I've taken out sewing projects that have been put to one side and I'm making an effort to eat wholesome foods. My lovely husband is shouldering the responsibilities I'm stepping back from, and as a result, he and Alice are getting some closer time together. By respecting this time, I'm able to see my moontime as a blessing, not a curse.

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