During our family dinner discussion of Daily Highs and Lows, my son offered us one of his Lows: “My jelly fell out of my sandwich and landed on the lunch table!”
“Did it make a big splat?” I asked.
“I bet it did,” my daughter interjected. “Like the jelly that came out of my butt!”
Though the words sounded odd, I knew immediately what she was talking about—my daughter was having a clotty period. She had recently started her menstrual cycle, and while I’d thought we’d discussed All Things Menstruation over the past year in preparation, apparently we hadn’t talked about the gelatinous blobs that occasionally fall from the vagina. The expectant look in her eye told me she was looking for some reassurance that this “jelly” was normal.
I didn’t care that we were eating dinner—I immediately jumped in to give her the support she needed. “The same thing has happened to me before,” I said. “I’ve sat down to go to the bathroom and a giant blob of jelly landed on the floor. With a huge splat!”
Both of my kids burst out laughing. My husband stared at me with his mouth agape. Apparently he wasn’t familiar with this particular phenomenon.
“I wiped it up with toilet paper,” I added seriously. After all, I had to squeeze some advice in there too—I wasn’t going to let this teachable moment pass without a cleaning tip.
My daughter nodded thoughtfully.
Encouraged, I kept going: “Okay, but you know that women have three holes, right? And that the menstrual flow comes out of your vagina, not your butt, right?”
“Yes, mom,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Butt just sounded funnier to me.”
I couldn’t argue with her on that point. “Okay, okay. I’m just checking. It’s an important distinction. The first time I got my period, I thought I had pooped my pants.”
My husband finally spoke up. “Are we really talking about this at the dinner table?”
“Would it be better if I used a food analogy?” I turned back to my daughter and elaborated: “The blood was brown—like melted milk chocolate. For three solid hours, I thought I’d crapped my pants.”
“Seriously? We’re eating food here,” my husband pleaded. He had a point. But so did I, and I was determined to make it.
“A menstrual cycle is a totally normal bodily function—just like eating.”
My son chimed in: “I burped and some carrots came up.”
“That’s called a vurp. Also totally normal.” I was on a roll.
I turned my attention back to my daughter. “Your period will vary from day to day and month to month—especially in the beginning. Sometimes it will be light spotting; sometimes it will feel like a torrential flood gushing from you. Occasionally you will have small clots or blobs. And the color will vary from brownish to bright red. It seems weird at first, but then you get used to it. You’ll learn what’s normal for your body and what isn’t. That’s where charting your cycle on a calendar is really helpful—so you can see the patterns. When things seem different from your normal pattern, then it’s time to call the doctor. I can help with that.”
My daughter’s sincere smile from across the table told me I had given her the information she wanted.
Satisfied that the entire family had received a thorough tutorial on period flows, I offered them a reward. “Now. Who wants some jelly on their biscuit?”
This article was written in partnership with HelloFlo: Monthly plans. One-of-a-kind care packages. Awesome advice. HelloFlo doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to Lady Parts, and they’re giving one of our lucky readers a Period Starter Kit to make those jelly-filled dinner table conversations even sweeter. Enter through the Rafflecopter widget below. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible! Giveaway will close on 7/15/15 at 12:00 AM EDT.