my first period experience is a little hard to remember. i was in middle school, probably 7th grade. we had an assembly at school a year before that taught us what puberty and menustration was, and what to expect, and told us that we would be experiencing all of that 'soon'. we got little samples of deoderant and pads. i went home and tried on a pad, just to see what it would feel like. it made me feel all grown up, although i was a bit worried about the fact that it was HUGE! and i could hear it crinkling when i walked!
i had been expecting my period pretty much every day since then, so when it finally came a year later, i was really glad to see it. all my friends had theirs already, so i felt that i could finally join the ranks of womanhood with everyone else. it wasn't painful at all, it wasn't heavy either, and i actually can't remember if i told my mom or not. i knew what it was, and took some of her pads (probably without asking). my mom and i never had the puberty/period talk, or the sex talk, i learned what i knew from school, friends and books.
my first period didn't last long, just a few days, and it was about 6 months later til i had another one. now that one hurt! and was heavy. after that all my periods were very painful and heavy, and it wasn't unusual for me to miss school the first day or so of my period.
my family didn't broadcast mine or my sisters periods, so when my younger sisters got theirs, i never heard about it, and they didn't share the news with me either. i think that at least some kind of acknowledgement of what is going on with your body is important for both a mother-daughter relationship and for young girls self worth. i'm not happy with how my mother handled that, and i plan to do things much different with my daughter!