I’ll start this post writing about the very thing I am sure most of my audience would most like to read: a detailed history of my menstrual cycle.
I started my period when I was thirteen. I was in science class, year eight. I remember my mum saying: ‘Don’t tell your nan, we both started our periods at fifteen so she’ll assume there’s something wrong with you.’ Thanks, cool.
And I had the most mundane, average, run-of-the-mill periods known to man.
I had a cycle that averaged 30 days, and my bleeding lasted between three and five days. Heavyish for a day or two before trailing off. Not much pain but super sensitive on the ol’ emotions front. Craving pizza and anything beige. Bloating. Maybe an upset stomach.
And it went on that way for years, regardless of what contraceptive pill I was on or how much stress I was under. My life changed dramatically but my period was this one stable pillar I could rely on.
And then last April, it never came.
Cos guess what fellas? I was pregnant.
Dun dun dun.
Which meant I not only went nine months without any casual monthly bleeding, but an extra four or five months on top of what whilst I breastfed. Huzza.
Then earlier this year it came crashing back into my life with all the subtlety of a 19-year-old Hannah after a cheapo bottle of vodka and a tray of Sourz shots.
Super tampons decimated in under an hour, cramps that threatened to shred my soul into teeny tiny pieces. It was really quite exciting leaving period stains on friends’ sofas and leaking through clothes and onto bed sheets and leaving a literal trail behind me everywhere I went.
Since then, things started to settle down, and periods have started to become recognisable as y’know, a period rather than a five-day labour.
The one thing that has not changed in all this, is my cycle length.
I mean, some months I hit 28 days and other months it’s 31 days. But y’know, my period always turns up. I am never late, and she is never late.
I went the entire month of September without a single day of bleeding.
FUCK. FUCK. FUCK.
I took no less than five pregnancy tests.
I even tried to hunt out one of the magical pink dye First Response ones because everyone in those ARE WE PREGNANT online forums seems to harp on about them.
And each and every time, as I waited for the results, I thought about how a new baby would change our plans.
I thought about the weddings I would have to pretend to be drunk at. The Ibiza hen party I would have to either pull out of, or find a way to take a two-month on. The Christmas I would spend dancing between vomming in the toilet and taking photos of a one-year-old rolling in wrapping paper.
I thought about work and whether I’d have to take on more family and parenting campaigns to make ends meet whilst my bulging bump cut me out of the running for fashion collaborations.
I thought about whether it would be a boy or a girl. Whether it would look like Atti or have my green eyes.
And then each time, after two minutes of chaotic thoughts, the results were negative. No baby, no pregnancy.
And I think my overwhelming emotion was relief.
But I have found there is always time in that two minutes to get your head used to the idea, to come to terms with it, to allow yourself to believe, and then just like that you have to shake it off and get on with your day as if it was never a possibility.
I want more children, and I’m incredibly excited about that idea. But not now. Not this year. Not when the baby I currently have is still, well… a baby.
I feel like I am finally emerging through the wonderful/all-consuming/fuck-what-have-we-done/omg-I-love-you-so-much new baby mist and I quite like breathing the air on the other side. Everything feels manageable and I feel like I might be on the cusp of thriving on the odd day rather than just surviving.
I take my hat off (not sure I’ve worn a hat since I got really into berets at the start of 2017, but you get what I’m saying) to anyone who has babies close together. YOU ARE SUPERHUMAN. But I’m not sure I could do it. Some days I can only survive through to bedtime because I’ve eaten an entire pack of biscuits and I know there is a fresh bottle of red lurking in the cupboard ready for 7pm.
And so, it was a jolly good job when, on day 40 of my cycle, my period showed up and acted like nothing had happened.
No pain, no hideously heavy flow threatening to embarrass me in public. Nothing.
Just a bog standard period fucking around with me.
Ha, very bloody funny.