I had been dreading Isla getting her period.
I was worried how she would cope with it all.
How would she manage the sensory issues of wearing a pad, the sight of blood, having the motor skills to use sanitary items, the pain and the discreetness needed?
Then at the age of 12 it happened.
But much to my surprise, instead of it being the nightmare I had envisaged, Isla handled it like a pro.
She immediately sprung into action grabbing her supplies purse from her school bag.
We had prepared this a few months prior with a few essential items in case her period arrived while she was at school.
I cannot tell you how relieved and equally proud I was for the way she handled everything.
With learning any new skill and concept there is always a lot of preparation involved for Isla.
I believe things would have been very different if we hadn’t done the work beforehand.
We are very open in our household.
Isla has 2 older sisters and has been exposed to period talk over the years.
However, every time I brought up the idea of puberty and periods Isla not unlike most preteens, shut me down.
She didn’t really want to talk about it with me.
Luckily I knew she was being well prepared in her satellite class at school. Isla with some other girls her age had regular chats and explored social stories about puberty, self care and periods with their teacher Maxinne.
There was also a video they watched together from the IHC here in New Zealand called Tara Grows Up.
Isla also had a few chats with her Nana and her advice is always followed implicitly as Nana’s know everything!
So when the day arrived Isla was completely comfortable and I would nearly say excited.
My husband wasn’t nearly as excited however as he was going to be the main caregiver while I was at a course for the weekend.
It all worked out fine though as by the time they were left unattended Isla had had enough practice to be independent with minimal prompting.
She quickly learnt her way around a pad and actually enjoyed peeling off all the sticky parts and talked herself through the steps of sticking the wings underneath.
Isla has poor executive functioning skills so steps needed to execute a task have to be broken down.
We quickly made up a visual chart for her to follow and I laminated it for her to carry to the bathroom with her.
I had heard that Period Pants were a game changer but I hadn't purchased any in preparation.
To be honest I found the choices and sizing overwhelming.
It was so much easier once we were at the stage of her needing them as I knew the correct size and had her input of the style.
We do now have 2 pairs for the next round.
We decided for a boy leg from Modibod and Isla finds them really comfortable.
Isla is due again now so she has been wearing them to school just in case her period arrives during the day at school.
We have a slightly different plan for this time.
She will wear a sanitary pad with her period pants to school.
Then at lunch time she will dispose of the pad and wear the pants for the duration of the day until home time.
We created another visual schedule for this to help her through the necessary steps.
I have been a little reluctant to share these personal details.
However if I can help another mum who worries how about this like I did then it is worth sharing!
This is not something we should be embarrassed talking about.
In fact, it is key that there is a lot of talk and preparation.
To celebrate Isla becoming a woman I took her to the shops to choose a gift.
She chose a Disney car.
The stark reality of where she is mentally compared to where her body is was night and day.