Honouring My Flow: Surviving A Menstrual Crisis

It was a dark and stormy night and little did I know what was in store for me when morning came and dawn broke.

Staggering out of the bathroom, I thought, “My uterus is trying to kill me.” This was swiftly followed by, “My time machine worked! I mean, why else would my uterus think it’s seventeen again?”

For those who have a uterus that has entertained a pregnancy, post-partum bleeding is, as we know, not the most pleasant experience. Those who have periods know that when in the mood, a uterus can wreak havoc regardless of occupancy rates. With Little Juniper being only five-months-old, the post-partum bleeding feels somewhat fresh in my memory. Add to that: my body is still “adjusting” and “recovering” from pregnancy and a caesarean. I’m also lactating, so it’s safe to say, my body is having something of a moment to itself. This somehow all translated to horrible pain and heavy bleeding when my period turned up on Monday.

The period in question was even beginning to be too much for my cloth pads. Frequent changes and an Internet search ensued. I put in an order with the beloved Wee Notions for their Wall to Wall Fairy, but given this was a custom order, all I could do was make sure I was prepared for my next period (whilst chanting in my mind that surely it wouldn’t be like this again). But I also needed to do something, like, now. Cue an order with the quickest delivery I could find. The thing was, this meant getting Honour Your Flow pads. I mean, my usual cloth pads are called Fairy Hammocks. Having something called Honour Your Flow suddenly felt, well. A little too enthusiastic? I mean, I love cloth pads, but honouring my flow? Did it involve worship in front of the washing machine or the tumble drier? They were the best pads for what I needed though, I couldn’t deny it. But simply the name of these pads caused me to spend the next week wondering what it meant to honour my flow.

Pretty quickly, I was searching for natural remedies. The pain had already lessened but there was only so much bleeding that I could take before I felt my uterus and I really ought to discuss these things before springing a surprise attack. To be fair, I didn’t exactly plan the two pregnancies I put my uterus through. In my defence, however, there was plenty of warning about the caesarean.

My reasoning behind looking at a more alternative path was that I knew going to the GP wasn’t going to achieve very much. I have Feelings about pain relief when it comes to my own body and I knew medication wouldn’t exactly be thrown at me considering, however little, I’m still expressing breast milk for Little Juniper. I did buckle at one point and have paracetamol (acetaminophen). I stopped taking painkillers less than a week after my caesarean, but my period had worn me down in a couple of days. In hindsight, I think it was less the pain and more the shock of the pain. Periods are just a “natural process,” right? But dearfuckinggoodness, certain regions hurt.

When my Honour Your Flow pads turned up, there were more fucks to be heard, primarily from Mr. Juniper. He was a little surprised by the size. After a prod and a poke of these pads, though? I realised they were perfect. Yes they were huge (they’re called Mega pads for a reason!) but they were going to allow me security and comfort. I was also inclined to think that if unicorns used cloth pads, they’d certainly have Honour Your Flow amongst their stash.

HonoursYour Flow pads

I had even succumbed to buying herbal tea that featured a woman in angel wings from Nest, along with my pads.

Herbal tea

I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place; said rock being the aforementioned period and the hard place being my snobbishness over a branch of alternative choices that were veering a little too close to embracing Mother Nature. All I needed was a garland of flowers in my hair. Wait …

Flower

Then, like a ray of sunshine, a little more conventional relief turned up with our post lady. In amongst the letters and packages, there was one in particular that caught my eye. Was it bird? Was it a plane? No! It was “¦

Showgirls

Showgirls had somehow found itself in the midst of conversation and Persephone’s Chief Unicorn said, “If you ever have a chance to see it, you should. It’s terrible, so, so terrible, but it’s still worth the experience of watching it from start to finish.” “An endorsement if ever there was one,” I said, and ordered the DVD from Amazon. And so follows a brief intermission in which I present:


Educating Juniper: 18 Years Late To Showgirls.

So many breasts! So many vulvas! So many nipples and naked arses! Oh my! My British sensibilities – Showgirls is simply too much for them, I fear! My thanks to the Chief Unicorn for the recommendation, however. It’s safe to say that Showgirls is not so much a film, as an experience. A very nude one.


In a moment of the universe showing a tendency towards kindness, I also happened to have a rather considerable amount of cake in the house. Maybe this was the alternative pain relief I needed.

Cake

I had reached a point where I was even wrapping Little Juniper more, and putting him in the mei tai a little less because the wrap spread his weight a little differently, and I could tie it a little more comfortably around my chest, alleviating a little of the aching. There was also one incredible bonus to wearing Little Juniper on my back: portable cosiness! With Little Juniper snuggled in against my back, I had no need for heat packs and, oddly, I kind of enjoyed the pressure of him against me.

Whenever I glanced at my cloth pads in the washing machine I’d be reminded that I had been wanting to re-read Carrie. My literary choices over the week took a different path, however.  Where lately I’ve been reading parenting books like Sue Palmer’s 21st Century Boys: How Modern Life is Driving Them Off the Rails and How We Can Get Them Back on Track and Gill Rapley’s Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food, I reached without thinking, for this:

Twilight

I have a tendency to read poems to Little Juniper as I carry him around the house to get him to sleep. There’s something about a copy of Palgrave’s Golden Treasury that simply begs to be read aloud. Also? There was something kind of magical about reading sonnet 116 to Little Juniper as he fell asleep. Ahem. But in my menstruating state, Twilight was calling to me. It had been a while since I read the first book and whilst I wandered around with Little Juniper snorkling against my back, the pages protesting a little beneath my fingers, I allowed myself to think a little of when I was the same age as Bella Swan. That is to say, the age my uterus had apparently regressed to. Maybe all this wandering around had affected the blood flow to my brain. Perhaps I had tied the wrap a little too tightly. But I had a moment of thinking that even now, I was pretty hard on my seventeen-year-old self. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to acknowledge all that my seventeen-year-old self went through. Uterus included.

I remembered not being terribly much older, and Mr. Juniper being accustomed to finding me face down on the bed with the a hot water bottle across my back. He quickly became accustomed to providing chocolate, too, in the same manner one would toss meat to a lion.

It has only been in the years since having Juniper Junior that I’ve begun to make my peace with my periods. That actually it is incredible that my uterus (with a little help from the rest of my body) has nurtured two little humans. That it simply has the capacity to. This past week has somewhat shaken that peace. To be honest, I’m not sure where I am with my body right now. I’m trying to balance a natural process with day-to-day life. I’m trying to cut my seventeen-year-old self a little slack for having moaned and whined my way through teenage periods. And I’m trying to let my adult-self take a breath and allow my body to figure out what it needs to do.

I guess, in the end, honouring my flow was maybe just about having a little more respect for myself and admitting my snobbishness over alternative ways of managing my period. Like tea, Showgirls, and cake, maybe honouring your flow is about simply doing whatever works?

Here's to periods.

N.B. That herbal tea was utterly scrumptious. For that alone, I’ll be having it again!

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Juniper

Rarely to be found without herbal tea nearby. Team Unicorn. Often in pyjamas. Also: TEAM KATNISS!

6 thoughts on “Honouring My Flow: Surviving A Menstrual Crisis”

    1. Mine waited until I had stopped breastfeeding, and after a pregnancy and 18 months I wasn’t used to it anymore. Add to that my newly-acquired coil, and BAAAAAM. Seriously. It was like an apocalyptic zombie war movie. I’m still a bit traumatised… Cake seems like a great cure though.

      1. Cake is a magical substance. One that can have wonderfully helpful effects when enduring moments of suffering. That first period, though? Ack. My first “proper” one after Juniper Junior was a shock, in the space of almost three years all I’d had post-partum bleeding and a couple of light periods. The first proper one was darn shock to say the least.

  1. I hear you! While I still use tampons (pads are just not my jam), I found myself with a heavier flow recently for various reasons I shan’t go into. I bought one of those heating pads you heat up in the microwave and then you can tie it to your belly. My cramps were so bad one day, I brought the thing to work and when questioned, I just said, “It’s either this or I don’t help you finish this major project. Deal with it!” All the other ladies thought I was genius.

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