When I was 11, I got my first bra...from Mom and Grandma on a shopping trip, while waiting for Dad to have yet another round of tests and surgeries. One of those little cotton balconets... my cousin, always on the bigger side, had had to start wearing a bra at about 4 or so. I was built like a slim 8 year old at the time... short, slim, bony... and still they were trying everything they could think of for nutrition, etc... it fit quite nicely, like a loose, cropped t-shirt.
My father, perhaps realizing time was running short, sat me down for the "father daughter talk"...he was as blunt as a whack to the head with a baseball bat, so seeing him a little embarrassed kind of shocked me.
"Soon, you're going to be a young lady"... he flushed. I reddened watching him. I think the seminary training had not prepared him for blushing 11 year old girl. "And with that, you'll grow." I sat, watching him while tucked into the recliner on his lap. "Well, baby, a woman's life is like this..." attempting not to be crude, he fished, looking for a way to say it without beating around the bush as well. "It's 1 week of ragtime, 3 weeks of jazz."
About 4 years later, working as a counselor for the youngest girls, I felt a tap on my shoulder, saw a sweatshirt being held out to me. I was wearing khakis...and well. Quick change done, a whisper from a cruder person... "So, how's your aunt Flo?" I don't have an Aunt Florence, so suffice it to say, I was flustered. Not being able to control the volume of my voice--- I don't hear myself talk... I actually squeaked "I don't have an Aunt Flo!" a bit more loudly than I should have.
That said, I quickly realized that 6 weeks of ragtime was an average for me... and I couldn't have gotten up to dance if I'd wanted to. What was this 28 day thing? Turns out I had ovarian cysts and endometriosis...so, it was massive appointments added onto my schedule. At 20, surgery was necessitated there. Now, with what options open to me, having had seizures and kidney issues, among others, I can't take birth control pills. Until I'm ready, a Mirena works. But... I go to Catholic Health for my needs...it's great, I finally have pretty much universal care, and no separate driving to a clinic for blood tests. But they don't give out birth control. So I had to peddle my butt into Planned Parenthood. Imagine my surprise... the one in the city is a bit dark and grimy, with bullet-proof glass, etc... and a sign on the door that said "Protesters have used cell phone cameras to take photos of procedures." So, in order to help myself, universally, I kind of have to take in dirt and grime, and all of that. It's cheery, oh so cheery and doesn't help my confidence in the least.