Abigayle Mutua's first periodwas traumatic.Today, she vows to guide her young daughter to a better experience.
“I value her enough to teach her about menstruation and sexual health.”
I remember the day when the red showed up like it was yesterday. I was the youngest of three sisters, and it came as a shock to all of us that it started when I was just 11 years old. To make matters worse, I didn’t yet know about periods, and I wasn’t expecting to wake up one morning and find my panty all red! I was beyond horrified.
When the red came that first time, I was ashamed to tell my mum. I didn’t understand why I was bleeding.
Did I cut myself!? Am I going to die!? What would my mother think? These were the thoughts that went through my mind. I remember thinking, what did I ever do to deserve being born as a girl child? I hated God for creating me a girl! I hated everything about being female, especially the horror of the red.
Since I couldn’t tell anyone, it became my big secret. It was not very easy to keep it quiet because I was spotting badly. The red managed to spoil my panties, my towel, my bed sheet, the sofa. Nothing was spared by this horror.
I struggled an entire Sunday, and then, finally, my big sister caught up with me. Then, everyone knew. The drama began when people could say, “This girl can finally get pregnant!”
To make matters worse I still had to walk to school every day with only a tissue to hold the blood. Pads were very expensive, and my mother could not afford to buy me even a single packet. At the rate the red was spilling, I needed at least eight packets—there was no way we could afford them .
What made the red a true horror for me wasn’t the lack of pads, but the way everyone began to treat me. My mother called me into her bedroom and didn’t explain much to me about what was going on in my body. Instead, all she was concerned about was that it meant I could be someone’s mother. She made it very clear to me that if I ended up pregnant I would be kicked out of the home. I was just 11.
I bled for 12 days and 12 nights, but that wasn’t the horror either. My childhood came to an abrupt stop. Just like that, I couldn’t play with my friends of the opposite sex anymore, because I could get pregnant. Just like that, I wasn’t allowed to play with dolls because I was now seen as a grown woman. This was the saddest day of my life. I felt God was so unfair to me. Yes, I had seen the red, but I was still mentally a child. I loved to play; I loved to run around; I loved being free. But for some reason, the red brought with it my mother’s anxiety, and she feared that every time I was out playing, I was organizing to get pregnant.
The red meant that I was on lockdown and lockout.
I watched as my friends continued to play blissfully, without a care in the world. Myself, I was carrying the world on my shoulders. Suddenly, so much more was expected of me. How I wished I could go back to being the young carefree girl, but that time had passed.
It has been two decades since my first period, and a lot has changed over the years. Time has matured me, and I now understand that being a woman is not such a bad thing after all! I used to feel ashamed to buy a packet of pads for myself, but now, even my husband can walk into a shop and buy them for me. Today, I understand that I should be proud of the red.
I now have my own little girl; she is 7 years old. She is my pride and my joy. When I look at her playing and running around like I did when I was her age, in my heart, I desire that she is able to enjoy her childhood days for as long as they last. I look at her and realize that heaven has given me a chance to correct some errors that were done to me and by me! I count myself blessed that I have an opportunity to make her first red an experience that she will forever remember—in a good way.
I have not yet talked to my daughter about periods and a woman’s body, but I am sure that in a year or two, we will have the talk. I strive to create an environment of friendship and parenting with all my children because when I was growing up, I missed having a mother who could also be a friend.
I am very open with my daughter, and she knows that she can trust me enough to tell me anything. She knows that I won’t judge her, and so far, this has worked out well. One day, she told me that while she and some friends were playing, some began to play sex games. I asked my daughter if she played too, and she said no because she knew it was not right.
I used that opportunity to talk to my daughter about sex. We talked about the right time to have sex (in marriage), and I told her about the dangers of engaging in sexual behavior, such as HIV/AIDS. Amazingly, my daughter used the information she learned to educate and warn the other children about illicit sexual activities. They stopped playing the games they had been playing before!
This experience made me appreciate my daughter’s mind. She is young, but she still has a voice. She is intelligent and has a sense of right and wrong. When she is valued, she responds positively. And I value her enough to teach her about menstruation and sexual health.
When the time comes for my daughter to see the red, I know she will not feel the need to hide it from me. I know this because I have committed to not panicking when she comes into adulthood. I know this because I will teach her that seeing red and being a woman is a blessing.
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