After 4 years of pregnancies and breast-feeding, my periods returned to me and for environmental reasons, I had begun to question the choices in feminine products here in the United States. I had been washing cloth diapers during these 4 years, and it occurred to me, “Why can’t I do this for my own menstrual cycles?”
I discovered there was a company here in Portland, making reusable menstrual pads from organic cotton. It took me a while to really think through the process, but I realized I just needed a vessel to collect them in the bathroom, and I could easily wash them with our bath towels. I found baskets to store the clean reusable pads in our bathroom cabinets, and I found a second hand pot with a lid that I would bring to the bathroom during my cycles and I would collect them there till it was time to launder. It worked well and didn’t seem like much extra work at all.
This began as an environmental gesture and turned into something much more meaningful. The bringing of my reusable pad collection pot to the bathroom each month also serves as a statement to my family. It serves as a signal to my husband and children that Mom is menstruating. Let’s give her a little space, and let’s be extra gentle and kind. That also became an invitation to offer the same kindness to myself. Four years without a period, they returned to my body with a strong statement! I realized my body was telling me I needed to take time each month to take extra care with myself, to be gentle with myself, to listen to my body. It’s not always easy to do this, and many months there is simply no time. But I always have the reminder, and the opportunity for the ritual. I also believe in the benefit that by using these hand-made reusable menstrual pads, I am supported. Someone designed them and sewed them with care, and that gives me an extra feeling of strength and support when I’m bleeding.
I don't have daughters, and I can't share this practice of kindness with my own girls, but I hope I’ve created a beautiful foundation for my two boys and how they see menstruation in the world.