Wednesday, May 21, 2008


NewFNP remembers her menarche all too well.  She was preparing to go to swim team practice while spending the summer with her grandparents.  Her coach, Aaron, was hot and newFNP was pretty heavily working a schoolgirl crush.  NewFNP's mom had had "the talk" with her some years before so newFNP knew what was happening and she was none too pleased.  

First period?  Swim practice?  Hot coach?  Bad.  

NewFNP's grandma, after congratulating newFNP on her passage to womanhood, called newFNP's mom to tell her of the news.  NewFNP's mom seemed happy and proud, clearing indicating to newFNP that all adult women were insane not to recognize menarche for what it felt like at the time: a disaster.  The only thing that could have made that experience worse for newFNP would have been if she would have been at her dad's house.

Which is exactly where newFNP's young patient was when disaster struck.

This ten-year old girl spends a lot of time with her dad and he brings her to each and every of her clinic appointments.  NewFNP knows them pretty well and thinks that this man is one of the best fathers newFNP has ever met.  Generally, he is really clear about his concerns or needs when he brings his daughter to the clinic.  So when he came in and told newFNP, in Spanish, that his daughter was here to see newFNP because she 'was developing', newFNP didn't quite catch his meaning.  When he told her that his daughter was now 'a miss', newFNP was equally stumped.   Bilingual newFNP?  Yes.  Bicultural?  No.  It took his daughter saying "I got my period" for newFNP to get on board.  

Dad asked newFNP to do some explaining and exited the room.  NewFNP let her patient lead the conversation.  There were some basic questions.  Will it hurt?  Should you carry supplies with you?  Will it come every month? Why do girls have their periods?  

Now, newFNP has never really given 'the talk' before and her recollection of her mom's talk elicits only memories of embarrassment and desires to return to her room and listen to some Duran Duran albums.  

So newFNP just talked about it medically.  She told her young patient that girls have periods so that they could have babies when they are older.  Her patient wondered how blood and having babies went together.  NewFNP talked about a nutrient-rich environment for babies to grow.  She drew a picture of ovaries, a uterus, a cervix and a vagina.  Clearly, newFNP will have to work on her talk and her art if she ever has daughters.  

The young girl looked at the drawing and took in all that had been discussed.  She took a pensive pause and asked newFNP, "Does the baby come out of the same hole as the period?"  NewFNP responded that it did.  Again, her patient paused although it was clear to newFNP that her mind did not.  "But that hole is small," she said, "and babies are big."

Amen, sister.  Amen.  

She went on to ask, "Why does having a baby have to hurt so much?"  No shit.  NewFNP has asked herself that several times.  And then she immediately downs her birth control pill.

We talked about bodies being made of muscles; about how even though we have periods, we don't need to have babies until we're older; about breasts and sports and school and growing up.  

She left, questions answered, ready to go back to being a ten-year old girl.  Dad shot newFNP a look of thanks and of pride yet clearly tinged with a bit of sadness because his little girl is growing up.  It was quite sweet.  


Anonymous said...

i didn't really get a talk, but my mom did take me out for ice cream....

undergrad RN said...

My mother tells me that the first moment I pieced together that babies and vaginas were functionally related, I started crying.

That's a sweet story though :)

Anonymous said...

ya know, I love reading your blog. It is so good, and so human. Luv.

A. said...

Oh, that is very touching and cute!!!