in which I try the blood-absorbing underpants

Shortly after Bumby was born, when my mother-in-law discovered that we were planning to cloth diaper him, she told me about her experiences working in hospitals in the ’60s and ’70s. Disposable diapers were relatively new, and the new mothers were afraid of them. What were they made of, that they could absorb such massive quantities of liquid without feeling wet? The prevailing fear was that they would absorb all of the water right out of the baby, leaving nothing but a shriveled up husk lying in the crib.

It was with this same sense of trepidation and awe that I purchased the blood-absorbing period underwear.

In case you are not familiar, they are called Thinx, although for some reason in my head I always call them Spanx. I don’t know why. I realize that this is another brand with an “x” where there should be a “ks,” but common misspelling aside, I don’t know why I get the two brands confused. You may be familiar with Thinx because of their bizarre ad campaign involving women covering up each other’s ears and eyes:

Covering-Eyes-2

or falling to the ground:

fainting woman

I have no idea what these ads are supposed to convey (maybe she has fainted from lack of blood?). Also, the orange and brown is not that flattering.  Anyway.

Now is the part of the post where you hear a lot about my particular period. Fair warning.

Despite exclusively breastfeeding, I was lucky enough to start my period right away, six weeks after Bumby was born. Thanks, body, that was awesome of you. I was still sore, and did not want to wear tampons. “Fortunately,” I had a huge pack of super-sized overnight pads in my wife’s closet, and even some of those free hospital underwear to put them in, so as not to ruin my beloved maternity underwear (I seriously love and still wear my maternity underwear). I was sexy, y’all. Since then, my period has followed a familiar pattern:

Day 1 – Light flow, always a fucking surprise now that I am no longer tracking my cycle.
Day 2 – Super heavy in the morning, then gradually tapering off to something normal. Need to wake up to change tampon at least once overnight in order to avoid a murder scene in bed in the morning. Almost always ruin at least one thing because of walking all the way to the bathroom at work and forgetting to bring a tampon, or not realizing that one hour has passed so clearly I am about to start hemorrhaging all over the place.
Day 3 – Same as day 2.
Day 4 through ??? – Very light, just enough that I have to wear something all day or I ruin underwear and clothes, but not enough that I can really use a tampon because pulling out a dry tampon hurts like a mother and yet you can’t leave it in because of toxic shock and all kinds of other grossness. Usually at some point I “forget” I am on my period and just wear dark underwear and hope for the best. I never know how long my period actually lasts because my annoyance and “forgetting” ranges from day 5 to day 7 and I don’t know when it actually ends.

So, there it is. I still don’t love tampons, since Bumby was born. I just feel a little uncomfortable still, and don’t really like putting bleach and asbestos and who knows what else in my vagina more than I have to. Don’t say diva cup at me, either, I just can’t. So I thought, what the hell, I will give these things a try.

I bought one pair of hip huggers (for heavy days), two sportys and two cheekies (each for medium days). In retrospect, look back at the list above, and ask yourself why a person with two heavy days would only buy one set of “heavy day” underwear? I don’t know. It was stupid of me. Anyway, this ran me about $135.

Do they work?

Yes, they work. I tested this by pouring 1/4 cup of water into one of the pairs before putting them on my body, to make sure I wasn’t about to ruin (yet another) pair of pajama pants or set of sheets. They somehow absorb a lot of liquid while still feeling relatively dry and not getting all bulked up and weird. Science, is all I can say. For the record, I also did not wake up as a shriveled up husk. I am still a normal person with water in my body.

For my first heavy day, I wore one of the medium day underwear as a backup (the cheekies), and used tampons anyway. I was going to work, and could not risk an “issue,” plus even the heavy day Thinx are not designed to absorb 900 tampons worth of blood. The bottom line was that I could relax a little. When I walk all the way to the bathroom and forget to bring a tampon with me, no big deal. I can still take out the old one and just put a new one in next time. That kind of thing. No issues, no smell, not wet feeling, overall pleased.

The second heavy day, I was at home, so I thought I would see what happened if I just wore the Thinx alone. I decided to go to a yoga class that morning for a lot of complicated reasons that are irrelevant here — normally I do not spend my weekday mornings doing yoga, but particular day I did. At the end of the class, I had a feeling much like the feeling I had in seventh grade band class, when I did not expect my period so all that was between me and my ergonomically correct chair were my jeans and white Hanes Her Way. You know the feeling I mean. It’s a scary, scary feeling. I was like, please Spanx, please work. (By Spanx, I meant Thinx, of course.) And they did, but they could not handle what all of the twisting and lunging and warrior poses had caused. Luckily both my yoga pants and the seat of my car are black, so that unnecessary embarrassment was avoided, but let’s just say I need to do the “backup” method for the heavy days, and leave it at that.

For the light days, these things are perfect. I can just go about my business without worrying about the dry tampon problem or wearing pads like I am back in the 7th grade band class and also without ruining anything. Also, my days of waking up overnight to change tampons are over, because I use the Thinx as a backup for the tampon overnight.

Overall, 8 out of 10, I would say.

Washing: You are supposed to rinse them, then cold wash, then dry. The first time I washed them, I rinsed right away and then put them in a wet-bag (the kind you use for cloth diapers) until I had collected enough to wash. But after the fateful yoga class, I was in the shower with my Thinx soaking in the sink. Bumby was tooling around the bathroom doing Bumby things. And wouldn’t you know, that little shit threw my wife’s toothpaste into the sink where my Thinx were soaking. I didn’t even know he was tall enough to reach! Gross. Oh well, at least it wasn’t my toothpaste. So then the next time, I washed them the way I do my cloth diapers – throw them straight into the wet bag all nasty, and then when it’s time for a wash, dump the whole thing into the washer, run them through a cold-water rinse cycle first, then a regular wash cycle. Seems fine.

Now, the cost: I had hoped that these things would prove cost-effective in the long run, like cloth diapering, but because I can’t eliminate tampons all together, I am not sure that is the case. So let’s do some high-school algebra:

5 pairs of Thinx, which is enough to get me through one cycle having 2 washes = $135.

Tampons, in this stupid city where everything is more expensive than it should be = $0.36 each.

Number of tampons before Thinx: Maybe…… 30? or so? = $10.80 per cycle

Number of tampons after Thinx: Maybe…. 10? = $3.60 per cycle (and 1/3 of the bleach, asbestos, etc.)

So that’s a savings of about $7 per month. So these babies are paying for themselves within about 2 years. This is not SO bad, but it’s not going to make all the difference in your budget, either. Especially since, if I could do this again, I’d probably buy 7 or 8 pairs to space out the laundry a little more. I always have this feeling like they are a little scarce, and I am about to run out. And although you technically do not need to change them during the day, I liked to put on a fresh pair at night. I don’t know how long they will last, either — it is possible I will need to buy new ones after two years.  Although, I will have saved a lot more if you think about the number of sheets and pajamas I will have avoided ruining, and my entire family is probably grateful that instead of waking up overnight to change my tampon during a time of the month when I am not at my most patient anyway, I can now sleep through. God and Bumby willing, that is.

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