Posted: Dec 13, 2013 10:00 AM
 
Aunt Flo hasn't visited for quiet some time. Eighteen months to be precise. Nine months of pregnancy and nine months of breastfeeding kept her away. Then one afternoon I found her waiting on my doorstep, ready to stay for the week.

Contributed by: Masha Sapron

Aunt Flo and I have a complicated relationship. There were times I really wanted to see her, and sometimes after enough begging, praying and making deals with God, she would come. In college I fell in love with a cop. He wasn't actually a cop when I met him but still a student at the Ecole de Policier. I was studying abroad in Paris and the city with its wine, cobblestone streets, art and twinkling street lamps provided the set decoration to our epic romance. The French cop's parents had an apartment in the Alps where by day we explored the slopes and by night we explored various sexual positions. When I returned to Boston, I was so high on life and love and cheese that I didn't even notice that Flo hadn't come yet. Then one day in my Russian History class, while discussing Bloody Sunday, it slowly dawned on me I hadn't seen her for a while.

Go with the Flo

It started as a slow ache, the kind that was normally reserved for the French cop, but I started to miss her badly. My desperation escalated — I wanted to see her — needed to see her. I wasn't sure of the exact date I saw her last but I knew deep down it had been too long. I couldn't concentrate on school and became obsessed with her absence. I thought about her day and night and hoped against hope that somehow she had just gotten lost on the way, taken a wrong turn... Surely she would be here by nightfall. When she didn't show up I locked myself in the bathroom and squeezed my perineum, willing her to show up... not a drop. Finally, with my friends huddled outside the door urging me to just pee on the stick, I came to understand that she wasn't coming anytime soon and I had better go buy an international phone card.

Go against the Flo

It wasn't until years later that I decided I didn't want to see Flo anymore. I gently explained to her that I was married now and that it was time for us to part ways for a while. She didn't take it well and kept visiting. When my father passed away, I filled up with grief and wanted absolutely nothing to do with her but perhaps because she felt like she was part of the family, she felt obligated to keep coming. Left with no recourse, I started plotting her demise in earnest. I bought a fertility monitor and faithfully peed on the stick every morning to see if I was ovulating.

Month after month, Aunt Flo would show up right on schedule, taunting me with a pad full of unfertilized eggs. I stopped eating omelets out of solidarity thinking perhaps karma had something to do with it but she was unstoppable.

It didn't take long before I became that crazed wife from the movies who, without any foreplay, lifts my skirt and insists my husband f*** me now because my eggs are ripe. There was sweat, there was blood and then there were tears. Month after month, Aunt Flo would show up right on schedule, taunting me with a pad full of unfertilized eggs. I stopped eating omelets out of solidarity thinking perhaps karma had something to do with it but she was unstoppable. Until Easter Sunday.

It was a quiet sunny morning and the monitor didn't beep to indicate any ovulation or potential for annihilating Flo. Without any pressure to achieve any particular result, with no commitments or pressing plans, my husband and I spent Easter morning resurrecting love. A few weeks later I was at the gynecologist crying that the monitor didn't give me a "peak" fertility reading this month. What was wrong? The doctor ran some tests and sent me home where I moped and waited for Flo. Except she never came. Preparations began for the arrival of a new house guest who was going to be staying with us forever.

The ebb and Flo

woman breastfeeding childI was surprised to see Flo again after all this time. Life with a 9-month-old is messy enough without her presence and I didn't need to be cleaning up after her too. It's not that I didn't expect her return, but I thought she would wait longer. Most women don't get their period or ovulate for several months when they are breastfeeding. The amount of time varies depending on the woman but it's nature's way of ensuring that the baby gets sufficient care and attention. I felt sad that Mother Nature had pulled Aunt Flo aside and privately whispered, "Psst, that baby has been sufficiently cared for, you may go visit the mother now, let her know if she wants another baby this one will be OK."

Not that I was going to stop breastfeeding just because Aunt Flo showed up, but part of me wanted to slam the door in her face. My baby is not ready for me to move on — or more accurately I am not ready to move on. It's only been nine months! Sometimes she wakes up when it's still dark, cries and reaches her arms out to me. For God's sake she can't even walk yet, she doesn't have a job, hasn't gone to college... If I didn't spend 100 percent of my time obsessing about my baby I would have to be responsible for my career, my marriage, the mess in my house, my lagging friendships, my unrealized ambitions.

I’m not ready to be fertile

My baby is only 9 months old — she's been out of the womb only as long as she's been in — twice as old as when we conceived her. Even though I've been staring at my daughter during these nine months, part of me wonders: Did I really see her or was I caught in the hurricane of new-mom-thoughts? Today I will really look at her. Give me today to nurture and care for her. Give her today to know that I am protecting her, cherishing her.

Aunt Flo's visit is a rite of passage that I'm not ready to face. But resisting is pointless; she's already made the long voyage here across 18 months.

Walking on eggshells

I look down at the bloody pad, and I think of all the lonely unfertilized eggs that didn't meet a sperm. That each one of those eggs had the potential to become a beautiful baby that I would tenderly carry in my womb. When I was pregnant, I knew there was a baby growing inside me but I didn't really understand who it was until I met my daughter. Now I would understand who was inside.

Then I look up and see my 9-month-old chewing on our dog's tail, hear the kettle boiling in the kitchen, see the pile of laundry that still needs be folded and I snap back to reality.

Looking down at my period, I get sad thinking each one these jettisoned eggs could have been more daughters. I imagine them all as silly, sweet, warm laughing babies and I want to save them all. To sweep them out of the toilet and back into my womb and harvest them all inside me and birth thousands of laughing babies. Then I look up and see my 9-month-old chewing on our dog's tail, hear the kettle boiling in the kitchen, see the pile of laundry that still needs be folded and I snap back to reality. I remember that when Aunt Flo visits she usually brings a suitcase full of hormones with her. What would I do with thousands of laughing babies anyway? I guess they could help me fold the laundry.

About the author:^ Masha Sapron is an actress living in Los Angeles. She became a yoga teacher to keep her sanity. She became a mom only to lose it. She became a writer to document it.

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