I Got My First Period and Thought I Was Dying


On January 1, 1983 I went to the Rose Bowl game. For some reason my father had season tickets for UCLA football. I’m pretty sure it was just because a bunch of the guys went, because my father is basically an unassimilated Euro that has no interest in how American Football is played.

There were a few adult women in the group, but none close to me. After the first quarter of the game I went to the restroom. If you’ve never been to the Rose Bowl I assure you that the restrooms were antiquated in 1983. They are low ceilinged with not enough light or ventilation, the lines are long and everyone has to pee RightNow.

I went into the restroom and as I took down my pants I saw brown on my underwear. Brown, like the color of shit. I panicked and wiped my bottom about 12 times but saw that there was no reason for there to be feces on my underwear, plus it was a little far forward for that. I went ahead and peed and wiped and saw the same brown on the tissue.

Now I’m hyperventilating while sitting on the toilet on New Years day with a thousand drunk and hung-over women who are waiting to pee in a dark and musty bathroom. I’m a good student. I know what my anatomy is and there is no way that poop can make it’s way into my vagina. Those are not connected systems…. unless… maybe when I was playing soccer something tore loose and there’s a hole or a tear connecting them? Or maybe it’s from running long distances?

I cleaned my underwear as best as I knew how and went back to my seat. I watched the Bruins lose miserably and visited the restroom a few more times before the end of the game. Each time there was a little more brown, and each time I worried a little more than the last.

I sat watching the game and wondering what had happened to my body, and then I realized that it was obviously cancer. What else could it be?

My father brought us home from the game and I flew into the house. My mother was there with her friend and I begged her to have a private talk with me. I showed her my underwear and started crying and explaining that I was dying.

My mother and her wacky friend practically danced around the house telling me that I was a woman now. And welcome to the sisterhood, and all sorts of other hippy dippy remnants.

No one told me that your first period probably won’t be with red blood.


image via flickr creative commons

About Anissa Mayhew

You can read more Anissa at her blog Free Anissa and as a contributing writer at Babble. She's at Twitter, FacebookG+, and Pinterest too. And yes, she's probably up to no good either.



  1. My experience was pretty much the same. Change “1993″ to “1984″ and “Rose Bowl” to “Gramma’s house” and BINGO. Oh, but no one did a dance for me. I was 11 and lived with my dad, and there was no way I was telling him. So I loaded up a wagon of empty beer bottles and hauled them to the return depot for money to buy pads. I bought a Slushie with the change.

    That how I became a woman.

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  2. Love this post. Totally reminds me of the time I got my first period while staying at my grandma’s house. When I confessed to my mom what happened she literally shouted throughout the house (which was filled with any number of random male relatives), “NAOMI GOT HER PEEEEERIOD!!” I wanted to die. Or never leave the bathroom again. Either one.

    You know, someone should really write a book about all these, “How I became a woman” stories. The commenter’s story above mine is hilarious and awesome too.

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  3. MamaKaren says:

    Mine came when we were at my aunt’s house using the pool. I noticed the stain in my suit when I changed back into my regular clothes, but was too embarrassed to say anything. Instead, I rolled up a bunch of TP to use as makeshift pad until we got home (since I knew exactly where the supplies were in our own bathroom). Imagine my chagrin when I opened up the cabinet under the sink to find the package empty. The extent of my mom’s pep talk/”welcome to womanhood” speech was her handing me a new package of Stayfree maxis through the crack in the bathroom door.

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  4. Emilie says:

    My first period was rather unremarkable, but I, too, once thought I was dying, all because my mom had failed to fill me in on the details of growing up. I had started to develop breasts, which of course I expected. But no one had told me it would involve hard, rather painful lumps on my chest. I was convinced I had cancer. When I finally worked up the courage to tearfully tell my mom several weeks later, she laughed hysterically. I still remember the shame I felt at having been so stupid. It was many years later before I understood that the fault rested with my mom for not being more sensitive to what a young girl might be feeling.

  5. Allison says:

    Wow…I had none of this. I knew exactly what would happen and how it would happen and I was prepared. Mine came on the way home from school. I told my mom when I got off the bus, she showed me how to work a pad (it was…1992), gave me a hug and some chocolate and we moved on. I think the chocolate made a difference.

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  6. Kelly says:

    I got handed the pack of Stayfree through the crack in the door as my induction to womanhood too. I was mad at my mom for not telling me, but I was FURIOUS at my twin sister, who had gottern her period THE DAY BEFORE and not bothered to clue me in.

  7. Juliana Marie says:

    I had the “the talk” with Mom at age 11, but did not get my period until I was 13. Mom and Dad were both weepy and loud with the “our little girl’s a woman!” celebration. By the way, sisters, this was back in the day when we used belts to attach the napkins (1976). Not quite as glamorous as garter belts, I’m afraid: http://www.mum.org/belts.htm

    My second or third period was actually more significant. I was expected to play kid-hostess at a pool party and tried to beg off because of my period (I was just shy). My Dad correctly called B.S. and basically told me, “Knock it off and get into the bathroom with your mother,” so she could show me how to use a tampon. That was a father-daughter moment to treasure, ha!

  8. Mine was on January 1st of 1958. My mom had not told me the fact of life and must have kept her pads well hidden. I woke up and found brown stuff all in my underwear and went running into her with my underwear around my knees. I too was convinced I was dying. The reason I remember it was January 1st, is that was the day she had her family reunion party and she announced it to all the women in the kitchen. Yes, I wanted to die.

  9. UnknownMami says:

    No one told me either and I just kept throwing my underwear away until I figured it out.

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  10. Katie C says:

    I had a pretty similar experience in terms of misunderstanding the brown goop. I however thought I’d contracted AIDS from my cat, who had Feline AIDS. Yes, really.

    I’ve never been real open with my mom, so it wasn’t until she did laundry that she pulled me aside and told me what was what.

    She bought me maxi pads and showed me how to track my periods, but for some reason, I was under the impression that I had to wear pads for life. My mom had to adjust this thinking when I needed more pads 2 weeks after my period.

  11. mine was brown, too! fantastic telling of a tale we women can all relate to!

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