She goes by so many names nowadays and truthfully, she deserves the entire name calling and more, for showing up every single month, where she is not wanted, and not going where she is wanted. She is the witch; you know this emoticon, which shows Aunt Flo riding a stick. That captures exactly the feelings.
She is Aunt Flo, your menstrual period, when you are just exasperated. This aunty that shows up every month, like say dem send am, dashing yet another month’s dream. The dream of a baby, of having someone to carry, of family expansion, of having one child, of giving your child a sibling, another baby for Mister to rock to sleep. Obviously, Aunty Flo did not get the memo, she’s not wanted. And like Yoruba people would say, if something or someone is your senior, you call them aunty. So, Aunty… Flo, you are not particularly welcome everywhere.
She is called the curse! The curse of every woman of reproductive age, the curse that brings with it, loads of cramps, bloating, and unusual cravings every single month. The curse that means her second in command, Madam PMS was going to show up too, causing unexplainable behaviours and wants.
You know Aunt Flo is coming, when you start to watch your sweet consumption a week or several weeks before her arrival. Because you know if you don’t cut back, or even cut off completely, you are going to pay heavily for it. Your whole house would know you are having your period. You would not need to tell them, by the time the cramps hit, they will be looking for pain medications for you or even taking you to the hospital, because they can’t understand why you are howling in pain or rolling on the floor. That was my reality for several years, before I had my kids, and I still have episodes of that time, when I have been crazy on the sugar.
To the young girl who is longing to have her first period, Aunt Flo is a gift she is eagerly waiting to unwrap. Well, that was not my own story, it was totally unexpected. Aunt Flo was not on my radar. Somehow, I had thought I was going to start late, as everything was flat, and I was still straight up and down, no pubic hair, nothing except my growth spurt, no, make that my ‘height’ spurt.
Aunt Flo came anyway and forced me out of my childhood, into womanhood I was not ready to be part of. That’s Aunt Flo for you. She cannot be controlled, she is one strong fierce lady, who rules the roost, and does as she wants.
If she decides to play hide seek for days, a week even before she shows up, nothing you can do about it, except to be on panty watch and get some panty liners to tide you over, until she comes properly.
To the woman who has done the deed un-protected, either married and unmarried, it becomes a waiting game, being on panty watch like never before. Now, every twinge, cramp and wet feeling down there is put under the microscope, anything to find the traces of blood in there. Honestly, I think it is at those times when you need Madam Flo to show up that she now becomes very late, putting on you on tether-hooks. Like she is taunting you, “You have done the deed and you don’t want the result. I will show you.” What do you do at those times? Everything and anything to coax Aunt Flo to show face! Will it work? You might get lucky and she comes…or maybe not.
Before I decided on a birth control method, I had hoarded home pregnancy tests, but not for the reasons TTC moms do. I wanted to be sure AF was going to show up, even if she is late, as she was wont to be those months.
To one set of TTC moms, Aunt Flo is an unwelcome visitor, a BFP was their expectation. Yet for another set, Aunt Flo is such an irregular visitor, yet she is needed to take some major decisions, especially if going the assisted route. Ask the PCOS lady and she would tell you about the hide and seek game the witch plays; coming one month and showing up several months later.
For the mom who had gotten pregnant regardless of the morning-after-pill, or regardless of the safe sex, Aunt Flo was on a vengeance mission. At least, that was how it felt when I got pregnant the first time. It was like dumb luck. How could it have happened like that?! I often wondered, but a fellow Fertile Chick had that dumb luck the first time around and now, she is TTC.
In the months and years since she has been trying, her body had in cohort with Aunt Flo, lied and deceived her into thinking she was pregnant every cycle, when she wasn’t. She had mistaken PMS for early pregnancy symptoms and for that, nearly beat herself up. Her mind and body were working at cross purposes.
She had moved from using the app on her phone to track her cycle to charting her basal body temperature. She even joined a Facebook group, where they shared their charts every weekend and fellow group members helped to read the chart and perhaps deduce some things that might not have been obvious before to her.
Before she realised it, the two week wait was upon her and every single cycle, it looked like she had all the top symptom for each DPO; achy boobs, sensitive nipples, backache, gas/flatulence, vivid dreams, nausea, heightened sense of smell, you name the symptom, she’s got it.
So, she hoped but tried to keep it to herself, away from others, including her husband. She didn’t want him disappointed if Madam Red showed anyway. And then Aunt Flo would most likely be late, 13DPO, no show, and test would say BFN.
Two days later Red was here, full force with loads of pain, just for icing. But despite that humiliation and another disappointment, she keeps moving; after all she’s a warrior.
Another cycle starts, past frustrations buried and gaze fixed on the new fertile window coming up, as soon as Madam Red packs its load. Maybe, she will see her again in a month. But then again, she hopes, maybe not.
For the woman approaching her menopause, either naturally or by hysterectomy, not seeing her period is often a welcome development. Unfortunately, not seeing Aunt Flo also comes with so many side effects that she might be tempted to ask that Aunt Flo continue to come, even when it has gone past its due date.
A curse, a gift, unwanted visitor, welcome visitor, disrupter of fun time, saviour from unwanted advances, the witch, period, menstruation, AF, Red, she is all of these things and more and every one of those names, she deserves. But, she is all part of our make up as women. We learn to live with it and the different sides, it presents to us.
Aunt Flo, learn to go where you’re wanted and stay off, where you aint, please.
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