You’ve probably seen them by now. Artist and poet Rupi Kaur posted a photo series of herself and her sister in various poses, with their periods. In one, a girl is lying in bed with her back to the camera, with a small amount of blood leaking through her pants and onto the bed sheets. Instagram removed the photos because they violated their community guidelines and women responded with anger. “This is our life every month! This is our normal!” Instagram reversed their position and the photos were back.
When you are a woman struggling with infertility or recurrent miscarriage, your period is a powerful reminder of what you have lost. A period is more than an inconvenience each month, or a minor pain, or just something to be endured. Your period is a reminder that you have failed. This month, yet again, you are not pregnant. My period has come, this baby didn’t stick either. This month means waiting another month to see if you’ll have better luck. You start to bargain with yourself, with God, with your partner, with all the things you will do differently over the next four weeks. This time, I will try acupuncture, a different prenatal vitamin, more prayer, I’ll exercise less, I’ll exercise more…. This time, I will try sex in a new position, or twice a day instead of just once. This time, I don’t care if you have to work, the OPK says NOW NOW NOW. Each month, you are prepared to sacrifice more and more to the fertility gods to try and make it work. And your period coming at the end of that optimistic two week waiting period is just another bloody reminder of what a big fat failure you are (pun intended).
How can we learn not to hate ourselves, hate our bodies, hate our predicament as we try month after month? How can we get the courage to try again? Let’s start by sharing our stories. Let’s start by not being afraid of the stigma, and talking about our struggles, our bodies and the emotional impact this infertility journey has left on our souls. Like Rupi Kaur, let’s reclaim our periods and be unashamed.