A Mom's Journey To Ensuring Her 11-Year Old Had A Better Period Experience
Name: Ryan and SaBella
Age: 41 and 11
Length of time on My Happy Flo: 7 months
As a mother, Ryan R. was hoping to have a little more time before her daughter Sabella began her journey into womanhood. Although she’d been educating Sabella since an early age on the ins and outs of puberty, nothing quite prepared her for the sudden arrival of her 10-year-old daughter’s period. Thankfully, months of reading books on the subject had put Sabella on game. She’d read about the painful periods and heavy bleeding that usually started around the age of 12, but neither her nor Ryan expected that the early arrival of her period would be Sabella’s best teacher.
When the cramps started getting so severe that it would leave her nauseous and in tears, Ryan knew that there had to be a better solution than the ibuprofen and heating pad that the pediatrician prescribed SaBella to. After all, she had dealt with her own bout of severe menstrual cycles and desired more natural options for her baby girl. So when she learned about My Happy Flo, she jumped at the opportunity to alleviate her daughter’s menstrual woes. Since starting with her first bottle in January, now 11-year-old SaBella’s cycles have not only been lighter, but shorter and more regulated than ever. And while she may still not be in love with Aunt Flo, she’s certainly no longer dreading her arrival.
Here, the mother-daughter duo share with My Happy Flo the steps they took to prepare SaBella for her first period, how My Happy Flo has helped to eliminate SaBella’s cramps, and Ryan’s advice to mothers navigating their daughters into womanhood.
SaBella, how old were you when you started your period?
What was that like for you? Do you feel like you were prepared?
Sabella: No, because I was expecting it to come later. Since it was COVID and was being homeschooled, I went to the bathroom and was confused by what I saw. I just thought it was an abnormal amount of discharge, so I asked my mom and she said it was my period.
Ryan: We talked about it. But she thought she still had some time before it would happen.
SaBella: Yeah. So I wasn’t worried about it and then it came.
Ryan, how did you prepare Sabella for her period?
We read the American Girl, The Care and Keeping of You books. From an early age, SaBella has always been very inquisitive. For me, it was looking for clues. I noticed she was getting hair and she was developing those buds. Plus, at her yearly physical, the doctors showed us her growth curves and began telling us signs to look out for.
As SaBella read the books, she would ask questions about what different things meant or looked like. I tried my best to answer those questions age appropriately and that was difficult. Just trying to answer each question in a way that she understood.
SaBella is very smart. From the time that she started talking and learning, we called our anatomy parts by their names. So for me, it was having conversations, especially as the questions came to her mind. I try to keep an open line of communication for her to understand.
But again, it was one of those things where we talked about it and SaBella knew what it was going to look like, but we felt like it would probably happen between 11 and 12 years old since I was 12 when I started my period. It was between fifth and sixth grade and SaBella’s started between fourth and fifth grade, right before her summer break.
Another question for you, Ryan. Based on your experiences with your period, do you feel like you were prepared for it? And in turn, did you use that experience as a way to prepare SaBella for hers?
" I did what I didn’t have for myself. I was not prepared. I didn’t have a mother who talked openly about menstrual cycles. So it was a very traumatic experience for me."
Ryan: And as I struggled with my menstrual cycles, I had severe cramping and heavy bleeding. The one thing I will say is that my period was very regular.
SaBella’s are more spaced out, so we're tracking it through an app. For example, it could come every 24 days or every 31 days. It's kind of all over the place whereas my periods came every 28 to 30 days. That's one of the things that we want to talk with her provider about, just to see if that's normal.
SaBella: That’s normal. I read about it in a book. Sometimes for the first year, it can be a little wonky.
Ryan: It’s only been over a year that she's had it. So these are things we're figuring out together.
SaBella: One time I was having really severe cramps, and I actually threw up. My mom was concerned because she didn’t know if it was a stomach bug or something else. She had never thrown up because of her cramps and had to call both of my grandmothers. They both told her that they threw up once.
SaBella, when did you start having painful cramps?
I don't know if I experienced cramps for the first one, but it's been like that for as long as I can remember. When I threw up was the one time it was severe.
Most of the time, I just use my heating pad. But the cramps usually come at least once or twice, but they’re not always as bad.
How have your period cramps impacted areas like school activities or hanging out with friends?
SaBella: I've had to miss a few days.
Ryan: She's had to stay home a couple of times. I understood that my mom would tell me that my cramps weren’t that bad. And I wouldn't be in tears doubled over at school and have to just tough it out. It wasn’t fun and none of the other girls my age shared the same experiences. And if they did, no one talked about it.
SaBella: Everybody talks about it now.
SaBella, do you and your friends talk about periods?
What are some misconceptions or things that you all talk about or that you’ve heard?
Sabella: One girl who had just started her period would ask me questions about it and was worried about if it was going to hurt and if the cramps were going to be bad. I had a hard time answering that because my cramps aren’t always the best. So I was trying to make sure she knew that it could be different for her and that it depends on the person. And it really didn't seem to make her feel better.
Ryan, have you taken SaBella to see the doctor about her cramps?
Ryan: We’ve seen the pediatrician. The other thing I’m wondering is, do I make an appointment for her to see an OBGYN? Or is she even old enough?
They’ve suggested ibuprofen and a heating pad. And have said that it’s normal. But I feel like there has to be more information today than there was when I was growing up. I mean, this has been the plight of women. Because I can remember being put on birth control when I was 15.
And you're trying to get ahead of this so that SaBella won't have to endure the same thing.
"I have seen the impact birth control has had in my life. I know that it has played into the years of depression and some of the anxiety that I have experienced. To have been put on it at 15 was a lot. "
My periods were always regular, so there was no need for me to start taking birth control. Other than my mom being afraid of an early pregnancy since she had me at a very young age. But I guess she just trusted what the doctor suggested as a solution for my cramps. And it never did. I still had severe cramping.
I know you said that the doctor recommended SaBella take ibuprofen for her cramps. So, SaBella, have you taken it? And Ryan, how comfortable are you with SaBella taking ibuprofen or other pain medications?
SaBella: Yes, I have taken it multiple times.
Ryan: Yes, but I don’t think her version of multiple is the same as mine. We give it to her when it gets so severe that she's balled up. But I'm not giving it to her proactively as my mom did. It’s only to the point where she’s in tears. We try to reserve it for that because it's just so bad that I don't know what else to do other than give her that.
Ryan, what concerns were you having when the pediatrician initially suggested pain meds?
Ryan: I just don't like being fed pain meds at all. So SaBella does have hemiplegic cerebral palsy. And from a very early age had to begin getting Botox injections for the muscles in her legs. As we become more advanced and more knowledgeable, there are concerns.
In our family, we try to use more essential oils, and vitamins, and do things more naturally. Rather than constantly relying on pills and medication to help.
What kind of relationship to have with your period or have you begun to develop a relationship with it?
Sabella: I just don’t like my period. But I do like my body.
And is it because of the cramps?
And how long are your periods?
SaBella: Like a week.
Ryan: I would say they’re more like six to seven days, with two or three being heavy.
SaBella: I’ve noticed with My Happy Flo, that my period almost went away instantly. It went from being heavy to almost stopping.
Ryan, how did you find out about My Happy Flo?
A friend of mine reached out to me on Instagram and told me that if SaBella ever had any problems with her period, there was a vitamin that would help. I had already seen it starting to pop up on my Instagram feed.
I then started following Necole Kane and saw some of the things she shared on her Instagram stories. So I already knew of it through that. This was in the fall of last year, and SaBella’s periods were starting to become painful. There was also some fatigue and weakness, and exhaustion. So my friend reached out to me and I decided to give it a try.
We received SaBella’s first bottle in January and I feel that it has helped. Just from where I saw her periods before My Happy Flo, to the present day, there’s been a difference.
I was really worried.
"I could sympathize and empathize with her because I didn’t have that reassurance and that comfort from my mom. So that’s why we talk about it and I let her know that I understand. I try to do the best I can to make sure that she knows that she's not alone and that she's being overdramatic."
SaBella, how long after taking My Happy Flo did you notice a difference?
SaBella: Maybe after a day. It was an instant thing. Normally my periods were like six days, but after My Happy Flo, my periods have become shorter.
Ryan: And even though SaBella said her period was heavy before, it wasn’t to where I was concerned. My Happy Flo also seems to have regulated her period.
How else have your periods changed since taking My Happy Flo?
SaBella: I have more energy. I started taking it at night and my mom told me to take it in the morning because it gives me more energy. I noticed that when I don’t take it, I’m more tired.
Ryan: SaBella also doesn’t have diarrhea or constipation anymore.
Ryan, how do you make sure SaBella stays on top of taking her My Happy Flo vitamins?
That's one of the things that we're working on. SaBella already takes medication that is common for cerebral palsy patients. Because of that, it’s helped to put her on a schedule. When we started My Happy Flo, I would tell her to take it at night with her other medication. But then I started having her take it in the morning before she brushes her teeth. I didn’t want her taking it at night and risk not being able to sleep.
I do ask if she’s taken her My Happy Flo vitamins because when she first started, she thought she only had to take it while she was on her period. So I had to remind her that she needed to be taking it every day. And it has helped.
Is SaBella taking one or two vitamins a day?
Ryan: She’s only taking one a day. And here’s the other thing, when SaBella went for her physical in March, her iron was low. That was around the time we switched from her only taking it like during her cycle to me encouraging her to take it every day. They sent us for a follow-up to see where her iron was probably a month later, and her iron was beautiful. There were no issues or anything. And I know it’s due to her taking My Happy Flo. Because before, they were talking about putting her on an iron supplement.
SaBella, what is your relationship like with your period now? Do you still hate it?
Sabella: No, it’s gotten better. But it’s still not something that I look forward to.
Now that your periods are shorter, your cramps are almost nonexistent, and you have more energy, what other wins have you experienced since taking My Happy Flo? Or what other activities are you able to do now that you weren’t before?
Sabella: Swimming. But I can’t really do that while I’m on my period because I don't wear tampons.
What other activities do you enjoy?
SaBella: Basketball. But my periods never got in the way of that
Ryan: She does musical theater and loves to sing.
SaBella: If my periods were still bad then it probably would have interfered with that because a lot of that has to do with the diaphragm. But it definitely helps now that the cramps aren’t as frequent.
Sabella, what are some things that you know now about your period that you wish you knew back when it first started?
Sabella: I wish I knew that I could start it at any time. I knew what it was so I was a little prepared, but I wasn’t expecting it to come when it did.
And what's some advice that you would give to others?
Sabella: It doesn't have to hurt. And it’s different for everybody. What may be one way for one person may not be the same for another.
And Ryan, what advice would you give to other moms of daughters who are starting their periods?
Ryan: Have open communication and do not be afraid to talk to your daughters about what's happening with their bodies. We are the gateway to explaining what's happening inside of their bodies. And if we can't be open or vulnerable or transparent, then how are they going to know? Where are they going to find that information? And how do we know that they're getting the truth?
We're the only ones that can talk to our daughters about these things. So we have to put any embarrassment and shame, and pride and ego to the side and remember what it was like for our younger selves. This is what I needed. This is what I wish I would have known. Now let me have that conversation and relay it to my daughter.
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