Sunday, November 25, 2007

this is where it begins.

Well, it has happened.
My little girl, my first born daughter is officially growing up.
And I am officially not prepared.

No, she has not gone boy crazy.
No she is not insisting on wearing cleavage bearing, butt sharing "clothing."
No, she has not begged to wear make-up, own a cell phone, have co-ed parties, drink beer or smoke pot.

No, my sweet, innocent 8 1/2 year old daughter is getting her period.

I'll give you a minute to let that sink in...

(Do you really need to ask how I know?)

You bet your sweet potato that I freaked out. I cried. I laughed like a crazed monkey. Then, I got on line and checked every source that I could think of.

Here's what I learned: most girls are getting their first period between the ages of 10 and 12 years old, and some as early as 7 years old or as late as 14 or 15 years old. Most sources think that the earlier onset of menses is due to the stress that more and more little girls are under today. When I asked Via's 3rd grade teacher if she was seeing this in school, she said that by the time the year ended last year, 5 girls had gotten their periods. That means five 8 and 9 year old girls had seriously started to become women.

Well, after the initial shock wore off, Via and I had a long talk - I explained as much as I thought an 8 year old would understand. I showed her the pictures from the human anatomy books so that she could get an idea of what her insides look like, and begin to understand why she had cramps. We went to the drugstore and bought pads. We bought some Jr. Motrin (She's not old enough for regular Motrin, but she is old enough to get her period. Huh.)
Then, we planned a date to get together with all of her special women and celebrate this right of passage.

So, now I need some help/thoughts/advice.

(As a girl, I remember getting my period and asking my mom what to do. She basically said, "figure it out." and walked the other way. I don't have the experience to know the best way to handle this, so I hope that you all have some ideas.)

When did you start your period? Do you remember-emotionally-how you felt? Did your mom step up the the plate and help you figure everything out? Did you help your own daughters? How much advice is to much to give to your daughter? A 8 year old? Anyone have thoughts on how to celebrate this milestone? I have heard that American Girl publishes a great book on the subject - anyone read it? Anyone know of any other good resources to help me? Via? our family?

I didn't think that this was a road that we would go down for several more years, but here we go. I just want to make the trip a good one. I don't want Via to feel embarrassed or ashamed in any way. This is such a wonderful change in her life - and I do mean 'wonderful.' She is on her way to becoming a woman, and I want to her to value her body and her self as much as she can.



by Johanna Brandvik said...

Oh, Ahna. What a remarkable milestone for both of you to share together. Hats off to you for embracing it! I'd love to share some info with you, as I've been researching menarche most recently. I'll email you shortly, as it's bedtime here and I'm headed into the house now for story-time. Love you!

flutter said...

Wow is right...that's early but you know? Girls develop so much faster these days!

Must have freaked her, just a little.

Nonna said...

oh my! How unexpected! And I thought my girls were young at age 10!!!

I don't think you need any advice - you already have the right attitude to guide you. In many ways, our mom's taught us valuable lessons by teaching us how NOT to do it. Did I ever tell you my story? I hide the fact that I got it from my mom. I snuck pads of hers from under the sink. Three months went by without incident. But I didn't know I wasn't supposed to flush them!! That's how my parents found out...I clogged the damn toilette. How humilliating and embarrasing! My mom came to me and said "Why didn't you tell me?" - what was I supposed to say to that? So I didn't reply. So then she just said "Well, don't flush them anymore" and that was that. We never spoke of it again. Ever.

So, you see, you're doing great. When I crossed this bridge with my girls, I was just determined to be open and communicative with them, unlike our mothers. You're doing that, and you'll nurture her through this fine! You are an amazing mom and Via is lucky she has you as her guide!

love ya!

Sue said...

Wow. What a surprising thing for both of you... I really feel for you - I wouldn't know what to do either. My mom was similar - she didn't want to hear about it or talk to me about it. This will be uncharted territory for me as well. What a good mom you are Ahna.

Caroline said...

I was 10... Mostly I remember that my sister was mad because she didn't get hers for another 3 years. (And she is three years older than me.)

As long as you covered the basics, you should be set. I just felt comfortable with my mom, and knew that if I did have questions, she'd answer.

Angela WD said...

Wow, that sure does seem early, but what a milestone!

I was about 12 when I had my first period and my mom and the school had prepared me pretty well. I don't remember feeling like it was a huge deal. But my mom embarrassed me quite a bit by announcing to other women that I had "become a woman". I hadn't given her permission to talk about the state of my uterus.

kalurah said...

oh my, are you telling me I could be in this same boat in 2 years?!?!
I am weeping just thinking about it.
I don't remember my exact age but I do remember my mom being very helpful and not making a big deal over it. she made me feel extremely normal and told me how to make myself comfortable. I seem to recall her making me homemade tapioca as well.
I think you are on the right course, Ahna. and i think it is totally awesome that you are having a "lady" soirée for her with her friends. it will help her feel normal and beautiful after experiencing something that is probably so scary to her right now.
(my daughter cries every time she sees blood when a tooth falls out of her gums.)
how will she deal???
I will definitely stay tuned to see how wonderfully you handle this milestone. and then I'll take personal notes! no running through a Summer's eve field, either!

Rose said...

Well, my mom gave me a booklet that Kotex put out specifically for young girls and told me that if I had any questions to ask her, but made it clear she'd rather I didn't. SO, I talked about that stuff a LOT to my girls. There was a magazine out at the time called New Moon and it may still be around that was a total opposite of the Seventeen type mags. Positive self image, no advertising, etc. Check on line for it and maybe that'll help you out. I know you did a good job already though. I also remember reading about a rite of passage bracelet with a red bead for symbolism but neither of my daughters would go for it. Good luck, I'm sure it's worrying you a little.

nan said...

Ahna, this is a great book: Girl Stuff by Kaz Cooke
She is Australian but I would be sure it would translate nicley. She would be too young for some of what is in it but it is a great (and hilarious) resource.

h, said...

Oh, my. What a shock... When I started my period I was 11, and just wanted privacy. I was caught up in the emotional upheaval that was 11. I didn't want to talk to my mom at all, about any of it. Maybe by starting her period earlier, and being younger, your daughter will want to talk to you about it and include you. I pretty much shut my mom out.

Maybe you can work out some sort of special treat or comfort item that can be associated with her monthlies. Like a special, cuddly blanket for her bed during that time. Or a hot water bottle with a flannel coverlet to snuggle with (that is my favorite way of dealing with those icky lower belly cramps).

Nonna said...

AB - one follow-up bit of advice. Today I had Kaitlyn to her doctor to discuss putting her on birth control pills to help regulate her PMS, cramps, mood, and irregular periods. She asked when Kailtyn started, I said age 10. Then I said something to the effect that I thought that was young until my friends daughter got hers recently at 8.5. She said I should suggest to you that you make an appointment to see her doctor. She said someone that young should be seen by a physician because that's outside the normal curve. She added that the average age is 12. 10 is acceptable, but 8 could be cause for concern and you should just rule out other causes. I'm sure she's just being her usual extraordinary Via, but just in case I thought I'd pass it along. Love ya! JG

Bethany said...

Good heavens! I don't even know where to start. Eight! Criminy!

I'm coming over...hope you're home...

P.S. We must celebrate this some way...

nicki said...

Holy cow. I am so glad I have three boys. All I have to deal with is the constant private grabbing. That is way more than enough for me.

My mom was very open and supportive - but she told my aunt and I was embarrassed when she called to "congratulate" me. I thought it was weird. And I wouldn't suggest giving her super sized tampons anytime in the first few years. It's um, not comfy. ;)

Patti said...

holy smokes...this seems sooo early, but what do i know? i raised a boy and only know boy stuff. wish i could give some great advice, but i got nothing. good luck!

emilyruth said...

i was eight, too when i got mine
& we hadn't watched "the movie" yet if you know what i mean
you know the one where all the boys go to one room & all the girls go to another...
i cried & thought that there was something wrong with me...
my mom gave me the right stuff ginormous pads & all but we never really talked about it after that...
like all of the other woman here, that has spurred me on to be sure to talk to my girlie about it & let her know that she can ask me anything (i might wait for this talk until she's out of diapers though...)
i think you are doing so well!
just keep making her feel special & normal:)

ps when my sister got hers she walked around saying "i am a sexual being" no doubt, she had seen the movie....

lisa {milkshake} said...

Wow indeed. How wonderful that you're willing to celebrate with her and not look upon this as a curse.

I remember a good book called The Period Book.

Bethany said...

Hey! I miss you guys!

hiccupp said...


But yes, I've heard more and more girls are starting that young. And I saw someone else mention that her dr. will want to know, I'd heard somewhere else that it *can* be cause for concern, though I can't remember why now. But there's also a trend of girls starting younger and younger, so she's most likely just following the new curve. My only idea would be to call her dr. and see if she could take a half a midol? Maybe they could tell you an appropriate dosage?

I was 12. I remember being freaked out, but ok. I knew it was coming, but having it THERE was another story. My mom then called all of our family and I'd have been happy to DIE right then and there.

I don't really remember her doing anything, gave me some pads and made me some tea I think?

I'll email ya the rest ;)

Pye said...

Yeowza. Wow is right. Lets see here, I honestly don't remember how old I was when I started my period, I only know it was "normal/average" age wise. At the risk of sounding cliched, I believe Judy Blume's book really did make a difference for me in how I handled it. That, and my mom and I had gathered together the things I would need for when "the time" came. You've had no preparation time at all! It sounds like you are handling it wonderfully well. My gut reaction is don't push, stay calm, and above all don't make too big a deal of it. You've quite a challenge ahead to balance the affirmation of her physical maturity with the corresponding reality of her chronological, emotional, and intellectual immaturity. I think you are up to to the task. :)