We are starting to get ready for Reusable Menstrual Products Week here at Go Real. As well as talking about menstruation and the products available, this year we will be talking about other related topics to. Today we are starting with non menstrual bleeding. Here is a beautifully written guest post:
“Since having my youngest daughter I’ve exclusively used reusable menstrual products, a combination of cloth pads and a sea sponge. I’m happy with my stash and feel empowered about menstruation for the first time in my life, the rinsing process is enjoyable, I hang them out to dry on my washing line with pride. Smashing the taboo all over the place.
Here we go with another taboo: A few months ago I suffered a miscarriage at around 6 weeks. I was terrified to be honest, had no idea what to expect or what would happen, what was normal and despite being an ‘empowered woman’ too afraid to ask anyone. Of course I’d never asked anyone before because I never thought I would miscarry and no one had ever told me in detail about their experience, which, when you think about how common it is, is weird, but that’s taboos for you.
Anyway, I had my trusty cloth pads, to begin with I didn’t have to bring out the big guns, it was fine. As the days went on though I was having to use heavier and heavier pads and change much more frequently and realised that I probably wasn’t dealing with things as well as I thought I was. One morning, around a week after the first sign of bleeding I got out of bed and just couldn’t get off the toilet, or stand up, or function to look after my girls properly. I was sobbing through sadness, but mostly through fear, this was not just like a heavy period or even post partum bleeding it was a whole other league of blood and tissue loss. Things were falling down the toilet that I wondered if should even be coming out. I was still glad of my cloth pads though, for comfort, for feeling secure and for never running out. I was already feeling repulsed, defeminised and trapped, the last thing I wanted was the clinical, generic, impersonal feeling that using branded, mass produced disposable pads gives you.
One of the things that I really struggled with was feeling so disgusted by what was going on in my own body, I was confused, I thought I was empowered? I thought I would tell everyone what was going on to try and break down barriers, I thought I would rinse that blood and those clots away just like I did on my period. But I couldn’t, only a few people knew and I couldn’t rinse or look at my used pads. I just washed them and tried to not think about it. So as the weeks went by my pads were looking horribly stained and ill cared for which made me feel sad because they usually brought me joy. In truth 90% of the cloth pads I owned I now loathed, they were marked with loss and were horribly chafing my inner thigh after 5 weeks of continual use. Only the ones with fleece wings and where the topping did not extend on to them were wearable.
Eventually the bleeding stopped and I was so, so relieved. I think I went commando for a week just because I could! I could reflect on the way I had been feeling and realised how ‘normal’ it was and that actually however I felt was OK, was acceptable. The only reason I doubted myself was because I had no point of comparison, I didn’t know how I SHOULD feel.
So do I still feel that reusable products are empowering, even for non menstrual bleeding? Well, actually I do. I think that accepting my revulsion and avoidance was helpful. They helped me to challenge my own feelings and realise that I wasn’t wrong or bad to feel that way and that even the most empowered of people can feel frightened, vulnerable and lonely. That is liberating.
Oh, and after a bit of love, natural stain remover, cold water and sunshine my beloved stash is as good as new, giving me comfort and joy in my body.”