Guest blog by Lucy Peach, author of Period Queen.
I’m a period preacher; I help people understand the four phases of the menstrual cycle and how they can be channeled: the dream phase at menstruation, the pre-ovulatory do phase, the give phase after ovulation and the take phase of the premenstrual time. There are benefits and strengths to each of them. It’s called a cycle for a reason and you might has well use it if you have one! I am excited for a future where young people learn this early and that one day period shame will be a thing of the distant past. I love doing this work, guiding people to see their bodies as a source of power and pride, it is deeply rewarding and there is nothing else I would rather do. My background is in human biology teaching and sexual health education but also in performance as a folk singer.
Five years ago as a bit of a dare, I brought these worlds together to write and perform in a theater show called, ‘My Greatest Period Ever.’ It was about the four phases of the cycle and took people through the emotional landscape of the month, explaining the hormones and how they can make us feel. It has science, songs, stories and my husband who animates live throughout the show, trying to keep up with me while I give out capes and chocolates and literally sing the praises of each phase of the cycle. I wrote music to cycle with called ‘Blood Magic’ that features in the show and you can hear it on Spotify if you like. I never thought it would take off in the way it has or that it would lead to a book. It has changed the course of my life. Most of all, I love hearing people’s stories, from all different points of life. I love seeing them own their power and walk out of the theater a little taller. Sometimes I speak to older women after the show, their eyes shining as they say, “I wish I had known, that I could have used my cycle more! That I could have loved myself for it. But I will tell my granddaughters.” I salute these women.
In the second year of touring the show, I got a different kind of email. From a woman who told me that she’d been trying to conceive for 18 months. “I hate my period,” she said. Every time it came, it reminded her of what she didn’t have: a baby, and she would feel devastated. But, she said, “I realized I could be kinder to my body and instead of seeing my period as a failure I could see it as my beautiful body, strong and wise – doing exactly what it needs to.”
Three years later and her words still ring in my ears, and now they are mine too.
I’m day 23 and although my cycle is normally 30 days, this one will be different, shorter. They said, my period could arrive between 7 and 14 days after collection. Or earlier or later than that, so basically, who knows! But I can feel the rumblings of my bleed about to begin. I explained this feeling to my 15-year-old son today and he said, “Oh is it like in Jurassic Park when you see the water glass trembling because the massive dinosaur is coming close, like foreshadowing?” Yes, I said, it is exactly like that. My belly feels tender with little blue bruises and heavy. Foreshadowing.
This month, I did my first egg collection for IVF and I’m grateful to have created two embryos. Our little stars. Twenty-one eggs! And now, two precious little stars. In six weeks or so, one of them will snuggle in and make itself at home. But for now, I will wait while my body soothes itself after being hyper-stimulated. It seems that just this once I may have ‘ovari-acted’ after all.
I am 40 and I have been
trying to conceive/open to receiving a baby for three and a half years. In the past six months, my period has been lighter than normal.
No one knows why or has seemed particularly concerned. I know some people might be pleased to have lighter periods but I have missed it. I see the dream phase as a time to slow down and retreat, to stop before you start, to tune in and go deep. When I bleed, I feel connected to myself, as though I am anchored, sheltered in safe harbors before venturing out again on the high seas. I tell this to the nurses who have all said of my lighter bleeds, “Well don’t you worry, this one will be heavy!”
I was pleased to see my body responding well to the hormones. Pleased to see that as my eggs grew, so did my lining, thick and luscious. A perfect nest. But I have no need of it this cycle for a little star. So, this bleed will be just for me. I will walk along the beach and drag my feet through the soft sand, I will take a warm blanket and watch the sun setting into the ocean. I will make myself a cake, with almond meal and dark chocolate and cardamom and I’ll hide it from my family and nibble on it while I journal. While I write, I’ll let my tears fall like raindrops do against the grateful earth after a warm summer. I will stay off my bloody phone and be with myself. I will avoid the urge to avoid my feelings. I will light a fire and look out for the moon and notice it changing and remember that I am always changing too. I will remind myself that with every cycle and every phase within it, I can still learn, to love myself and to let go. I am day 23 and this is what I need.
Being in the take phase/premenstrual after an egg collection feels foreign to me, I haven’t been down this way before. I am remembering that I don’t need to brace, to stay soft and that I am stronger this way. It feels like a rite of passage and I am proud for this heroine’s journey that I am on. If you are on it then I am proud of you too. We are all somewhere in the cycle. What I have learned is that preparing for a baby, with your mind, body and soul,
it is the greatest exercise in loving yourself that there is.
Thank you for reading, Lucy x
Lucy Peach lives and works on Noongar Whadjuk land in Perth, Western Australia. She is a folk singer who has worked as a human biology teacher, sexual health educator and theater maker. She has a Bachelor of Human Biology and Biomedicine with Honors in Medicine, and a Graduate Diploma of Education in Human Biology. Lucy is an independent theater entertainer, currently performing My Greatest Period Ever (14+) and How to Period Like a Unicorn (all ages) around Australia, including in a TEDx talk. Lucy is now working in high schools and with high performance sports teams to empower and educate the next generation. Lucy has made a podcast to support the book, also called Period Queen.