An Open Letter to Sanitary Towel Companies

Dear Sanitary Companies

I have noticed a rather disturbing new trend over the past few years, a change has occurred to sanitary products and it’s one that I find rather unpleasant and very disturbing.

For those who are not yet fully aware, you may or may not have noticed your olfactory orifices triggered as you wonder past the sanitary product section of a shop. Without warning, it hits you, a heavy headache-inducing plume. “What is that overpowering smell?” you may have asked yourself. Perhaps you shrugged it off as a passing fellow customer or a mass spillage of all laundry detergents in the vicinity at the same time. No. You would be wrong. The truth is, for some curious reason, a large proportion of sanitary towels now smell like my Great Aunt Nancy, well known for her massive breasts and overuse of terrible perfume!

I take serious issue with this new approach to ‘sanitary scenting’, in the first instance to the implication that women on their period smell at all. I can tell you this much, I have never ever smelled a woman on her period. The overpowering strength of the perfume in sanitary towels though, seems to suggest not only that menstruating women smell bad, but that they smell so malodorous and fetid that it is necessary (perhaps even a kindness to others?!) that they be immersed in alternative pungent scents to keep their deep, dark and bloody secret hidden.

Perhaps for a very few it may be an issue, but following careful hygiene would be enough to solve this, not wearing heavily perfumed panties! This message that women smell when they are on their period is shaming, untrue and unnecessary. Perhaps the scent was added to clear up any questions on sanitary products being a ‘luxury’ item? I just don’t know. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to why a thick bouquet needs to protrude from my knickers for one week of every month? Maybe you hope that people will smell the perfume, recognise that my crotch now only smells like their Gran when I’m bloated and emotional and will rush out to purchase me chocolates and painkillers to support me through this tempestuous time?!

I wish I could believe that your intentions were good, that girls and women were at the heart of this decision, but I don’t. I think that as a business you wondered hard at how you could keep your products fresh, new and modern and that you concluded that the best way to take more money from the female sex was to make them feel ashamed and embarrassed. These products tell girls that they must hide their ‘period smell’ with heavy perfume, that people will notice if they don’t. What does it mean if people notice you are on your period anyway? Why must this be hidden? I cannot even fathom.

I urge you, I beg you, to give up this ridiculousness. Don’t sell me something I don’t need or want. After spending 15 minutes today searching the aisle for something unscented (unsuccessfully!) I have decided that my vulva and I will be taking our custom elsewhere until this nonsense changes!

Regards

Bethany Evans

Hello…it’s me

It has been a while since I have written a blog post. A large part of that is due to my little bean napping less, but also around the same time life stepped up a notch, I returned to work 3 days a week and with adjusting to having a family/work life balance and having a somewhat demanding toddler on my hands I just haven’t prioritised writing. Also, if I’m really honest, I started to really enjoy being a Mum. Apparently I’m more drawn to write when I’m annoyed/frustrated/distressed! As my little one got older, we have grown to understand each other better, I feel more confident in the decisions I make on her behalf because she is now very good at letting me know if I’m wrong!

I want to return to writing though, as my journey seems to be moving away from focussing on how I can make my baby happy and a little more toward how I can find myself again, the woman who existed before pregnancy, child birth, breastfeeding, endless nights of pacing and unconditional love.

I’m enjoying feeling like me again. I remember in the early months of Boo’s life a friend telling me about the ‘newborn fog’ and how she thought each month that she had left it when another month would go by and she would look back and think “nope, I was still in that fog”. I feel like I have been in the fog for the whole year after having Boo. By no means am I unhappy with this, she was my entire focus and my energy was spent on making her happy, and I was so lucky to have the luxury to do this. Towards the end of her first year though I felt ready to find myself again.

In the months to come I am going to reflect on ways in which I have managed to reclaim myself and to explore and trial new ways to carve out time for me, to be just me. I am sure I will still write about parenthood joys and woes, but the focus of the blog is going to change, maybe…

The Parenting Experiment

Before I entered the world of parenthood I was blissfully unaware of the stark truths that lay behind the parenting door.  I believed (as parents want you to) that parents know what they are doing.  Perhaps they have a strong passion or inclination toward a particular form of parenting, but generally (I believed) natural instinct kicks in and we follow those to produce a happy well-rounded little person.  So confident was I about this, that when my Husband asked me when I was 5 months pregnant “after we have the baby, what’s the plan?”, I laughed in his face.  What a ridiculous question I thought!  Isn’t it obvious?!  We simply raise said baby…  Yes, that is the plan.

What I’ve learned thus far (almost 8 months in), is that ‘plans’ and ‘children’ do not mix.  The reality of this hit me first during labour.  In the weeks leading up to my daughter’s birth I was advised to create a ‘birthing plan’.  I carefully took my time over this, trying not to be too specific so that I wouldn’t be shocked when those ‘plans’ didn’t quite happen.  Well, I may as well have used that plan to mop up my waters, it would have been more useful.  The only person that looked at that plan was my Husband for about 30 seconds before it became apparent that this ‘plan’ wasn’t ever going to materialise.  Goodbye low lighting, goodbye classical music, hello about 20 odd people up my bloody chuff!  I’m only glad I didn’t laminate the thing, so it could mock my pre-birth naivety.

Upon bringing my little bundle of tiny fresh baby home I realised that I didn’t have a bloody clue what I was doing.  So focussed was I on pushing her out that I hadn’t really considered ‘what next’.  The natural instinct wasn’t quite at its strongest following labour, childbirth and a whole 11 hours post birth of wide awake and feeding baby.  What became really apparent to me and my Husband at this point was that we were basically making it up as we went along.  How often should she feed? Does she need a bath? Is she supposed to be able to lift her head like that?!  Why the hell is she pooping black stuff???  We didn’t know, we were too tired to read about it, and all knowledge we had previously had slipped away in a sleep deprived oblivion.  And so it began, the parenting experiment!

An Experiment in Action
An Experiment in Action

The experimentation is an ongoing joy, and covers pretty much all babying areas:-

  • Crying – Yeah, babies do this a lot!  All you can do is try out various different things in the hope that one of them stops said baby from crying.  Clean nappy, check. Not too hot/cold, check. Full up, check.  Being cuddled, check.  That’s the basic checks done, let me tell you this, sometimes those things can all be accounted for and your baby will still cry.  Sorry.
  • Sleep – Things that may guide your baby to sleep may include some,all or none of the following; feeding, rocking, pacing, singing, putting them down, picking them up, going out in the car/sling/pushchair, allowing naps, preventing naps, music, white noise, silence.  Through much desperate experimentation we discovered Lady Gaga (see previous post), and after she hit 4 months we learned that she actually would nap, but only if we put her down.  Phew.
  • Feeding – Do you breastfeed?  Can you breastfeed?  Can baby?  Is formula the best way for you? Or combination feeding?  Would a formula feed make your baby sleep longer at night (for us not a chance in hell)?  Would a dream feed bring you a more peaceful night? How much, how often, who best to do it…?  More recently we’ve had the joys of weaning too, though this is more openly a big experiment it has still caused stress in other ways and prompted previous rants!

The more I talk to other parents about this the more I realise that it is all just one big experiment.  None of us know what the frig we’re doing!  NO ONE EVER HAS!  Parental knowledge is a ruse, an illusion, a hoax!  Sure you can read a book, seek advice, but even the application of these to your own child, in your own setting is one massive experiment, and all too often a failed one.  That’s why there are so many books out there and so much unsolicited advice!

So here I am, still at the beginning of my parenting journey and the experiments have only just began.  I have decided to just embrace this venture, perhaps if I ever have another I will have some kind of clue what the hell is happening (unlikely).  I shall willingly accept that just giving something a go to ‘see what happens’ is OK, it’s more than OK, it’s what we’re all bloody doing anyway.

A little more detail

I decided to start writing this blog on a whim one Thursday night. I enjoy reading articles and blogs and thought I would try my hand. The problem is I have no idea where to start. I have an idea, but not a clue on how to make it interesting or useful for other people.

The idea is to find effective ways to make the more monotonous components in life a little more pleasant. How can I minimise the time I spend keeping the house together so I can spend more time with my family? What things have we used that have changed our lives for the better? What things can I do to just improve my general sense of well-being? And how on earth do I judge that?!  Most of all I hope to try some new things and have some fun doing it.

I’m thinking perhaps I can break the blog down into categories:-

  • Material items – what objects do we use that make life a little bit better, what was not worth investing in?
  • Actions – what things do I do personally or we as a family do that make us feel happier?
  • Hacks – what tips and tricks have we learned that simplify annoying tasks

I will try and share my honest opinions and give balanced reviews. Obviously not everyone will agree with me, and that’s OK. I would definitely be interested to hear what others think, what advice they have to share, perhaps I can try some of them out.  I imagine that over time the blog will evolve and it’s true purpose will become clear to me, until then, please have a peruse and let me know what you think.

The Beginning

As a 32-year-old new mother to a (mostly) lovely 7 month old daughter, a wife, a nurse and an owner of 4 cats I have decided to take a moment of reflection on my life.

What I looked like last summer through the hazy eyes of Instagram.
What I looked like last summer through the hazy eyes of Instagram.

I have lived a pretty nice life, and as you can see above it has culminated in some really lovely things. I have been struck however, particularly since having a baby, by how there is a big expectation to have and do it all, and do it well! Work full-time, mother full-time, wife full-time, be free, be sexy, be natural, have fun, be careful, be thrifty, be thoughtful, be kind, do the best, be the best.  I’m not entirely sure where this pressure comes from, a general source of ‘others’, the media, from myself?

I am often shocked and surprised by the amount of debate that surrounds every single parenting decision that is made. It seems people and ‘the media’ all have an opinion about everything. The way you feed your baby, the amount your baby sleeps, how you dress your baby, the way you wean your baby, how you transport your baby, where you take your baby…and the list goes on. Overwhelmingly what I notice is the strong sense of guilt that arrives whatever you so choose to do. It seems you are damned if you do and your damned if you don’t.  Well sod that!

I have decided that what I need (and maybe what we need?) is to treat myself better, more kindly. I hope to find a way to achieve everything i so desire.  I think perhaps starting with a little step back to take a moment to decide what I actually want to do, and how best I can do it would be wise.  That is where this blog is going to come in.  I’m going to take my time to assess the daily details, what helps me to achieve my goals, what helps me through the days, what makes me feel good, what makes me feel better. This will include how I feel, how I look, how I manage my daily tasks at home, at work and out and about. Hopefully I can learn which stuff to ditch and which to keep, use and develop. I shall graciously share my discoveries here, and maybe, if we’re lucky, it may help you too.