Alison Ferrell, Co-Founder, Red Moon
My journey to embracing my moon is a long and hard one. In Flint, MI, I grew up in a traditionally religious family who never talked to me about my cycle or my sexuality and how I should care for either. I remember when I was 13, and all my friends had started their periods but not me. I was a “late bloomer,” as they say. I wanted to be in this mature group of peers so badly and felt like an outsider. So much like many other teen girls, I wanted to grow up fast! My older sister (9 years my senior) was so cool; I couldn’t wait to be just like her.
When my period finally came, I could not believe I had craved such a thing. The pain came quickly for me and was severe. I remember trying everything and ending up crying in my mom’s room with my legs elevated while she handed over her prescription Vicodin to calm my pain. Then I would relax and sleep. This obviously wasn’t good for my body, but it was the 90s… did anyone think about long-term effects then?! This story would play out monthly for years. As a young adult, I had made the switch to Midol or any ibuprofen product. I ravaged my gut and liver throughout my youth, not connecting all of the ways my lifestyle deteriorated my already sensitive systems. I had also decided I couldn’t get pregnant. When I was 22, I met my now-husband, and my self-proclamation proved wrong when I became pregnant and gave birth just after my 24th birthday.
I had a relatively easy pregnancy and birth, but the severe pain came back when I got my period while still nursing ten months postpartum. This pain would dominate my world for years. I saw gynecologist after gynecologist who dismissed my pain, misdiagnosed me, and sent me home feeling hopeless. I started my healthy lifestyle journey around my first pregnancy, and it continued as I researched ways to calm pain and heal naturally. Nothing was working. I finally saw a doctor that cared, and I will never forget that experience! Her office was small and cluttered; she was warm and attentive. For the first time, a doctor actually listened to me, she talked to me for an hour and finally said, “I think you are right. You have endometriosis.”, a family condition that I knew was a strong possibility; my mom and all her sisters had hysterectomies young as a result of endo. She recommended a specialist named Dr. Camran Nezhat, who I promptly made an appointment to see. After one appointment, he knew it was terrible and assured me that he would help and that it wasn’t all in my head that the pain was real.
He scheduled my first surgery, and it turned out I had stage IV endometriosis. My left ovary had a large cyst the size of a lemon, and the endo had to be removed from my ovaries, uterus, bladder, urethra, and bowels. I also had severe scar tissue. My recovery was ok, but the pain never fully subsided. Six years later, the pain was constant literally around the clock. There was almost a pinching, pulling feeling in my side. I knew something was wrong. I had scheduled an appointment with Dr. Nezhat, and then to my surprise, I became pregnant with my son after five years of failed attempts and giving up. My pregnancy this time was the polar opposite of the first one. I was sick from start to finish. I had severe nausea, vomiting, pain, leg aches that kept me up all night for four months, abdominal pressure, and a traumatic birth. Once again, I nursed for an entire year, but the pain was my daily story. Peeing hurt, sex hurt bad, my body and mind were at a breaking point.
The mental toll chronic pain can take on someone is often overlooked. I felt so alone and isolated by my pain that it affected every aspect of my life. I decided it was time to see the doctor again, but this time I wanted my uterus gone! I requested a hysterectomy, but my doctor wanted me to wait and save my uterus a bit longer for my health. We scheduled my 2nd laparoscopic surgery in November of 2020. It hadn’t spread as badly this time, but Scar tissue had attached to my nerves, and my left ovary had another cyst. I had adenomyosis which is endometriosis deep in the muscle of your uterus that cannot be removed or cured. We removed my tubes and did an ablation which is supposed to suppress your period and stop it. My uterus wants to bleed, little brat! I never stopped having a period. They even became heavier for about six months.
Early in 2020, before the pandemic, I talked to my husband about finally starting my business focused on women’s wellness and healthy periods and filed the papers to start my business. I wanted to build a community and share what I had learned about caring for your period wellness, even when it’s hard. Resistance to a monthly occurrence is wrong. I don’t want to suppress this side of me anymore. Even through the pain, I found the positive. One day, my husband said to me, “why don’t you add CBD to your products?” I looked at him excitedly, and it all clicked. I spent the next year tirelessly working to bring this product to life. CBD was a friend to me throughout all of my periods and surgeries. I wish I had these pads after my surgeries and childbirth!
Women and people with periods so inspire me. We are all so powerful and carry a true strength and divinity that should be uplifted and celebrated! Red Moon is the culmination of my pain and strength to persevere and grow into an appreciation of my uterus, despite her flaws.
Alison Ferrell is the co-founder of Red Moon and has a passion for helping others discover peace and comfort amidst reproductive health issues. Alison draws on her deep empathy for those who’ve suffered from Endometriosis and reproductive illnesses as inspiration for her business. You can connect with her on Linkedin.