Update on sanitary pads and diapers shortage

For those interested, period pads are still scarce around here. The shelves where you used to find five or more different brands, types, and sizes; are filled now with "protectores" (of just one brand, maybe two) and tampons (Tampax) - hardly enough to fool any woman. At some drug stores, every once in a while, is possible to find sanitary pads of brands and presentations that were unfamiliar for me till now. "Stayfree" - some selected presentations - and another called "Mía". Those two are made in Venezuela which is probably why they are available in the first place; but I guess Venezuela doesn't produce enough to satisfy the demand. The few - Venezuelan made - packages that manage to reach those shelves, disappear as fast as they are brought there. Thankfully, those pads are thin, acceptable and still haven't got any allergies for using them. But they are still far way from the comfort of the brand I'm used to.

I confess that when it comes to this shortage, I have acted like a panicked, neurotic, senseless and paranoid woman. On weekends, my boyfriend and I try to go for a walk to different shopping malls every time; so my chances to visit unknown drug stores usually increase. And every time I found at one of those, a sanitary pad package, I simply buy it. Despite the brand, presentation, size, features or costs. Despite that I don't actually need it. I still buy it, terrified about the idea of either me or my sister in period days without pads to face it. "Don't you think you are over reacting?" - My boyfriend asked, totally unaware of what a sanitary pad actually was before periods pain not-so-gently arrived at our relationship; and still ignorant about how many pads can be used in a period, for how long periods actually last etc etc. But that's when I looked at the drawer where I keep all the packages and realized that maybe I am over reacting. And that I should definitely stop. Not only for the sake of other Venezuelan woman who need those packages and perhaps have no taken the precautions I did; but because simply, sanitary pads have an expiration date. I have never seen a pad when it reaches that date, but I'm not exactly trilled about the idea.

A friend of mine got pregnant a few weeks ago. "Given this shortage, I could have not thought of a better time!" - She joked while she was hearing the rest of us sharing our grief due to the difficulties of finding pads. I later warned her not to be so cheerful. As the proud and close aunt of two little ones (the oldest is almost 4); I know that diappers are now not only crazy expensive but, of certain sizes and brands; as hard to find as sanitary pads. For what I have heard in press and radio, both products seem to share a common trouble: some of the materials required for making them can't be imported or are difficult to be imported due to government foreign exchange controls.

As for diapers, the opposite sizes "new born" and "extra large" are the rarest. As for brands, "Huggies" seems to be the one experiencing more trouble. I haven't seen diapers for premature babies in months. And all this situation is not likely to change in the course of nine months.

After naming her brother- who lives in Miami- the godfather of a child whose gender is still unknown; she made him one special request - it was not chic toys or imported "Carters" clothes. No. "We'll talk about it again when we are closer to the date. But please bring as many "newborn" diapers as you can when you come to meet the baby..." - Her brother raised an eyebrow - "Oh... and sanitary pads, for the rest of us" - She added. His brother raised his eyebrow even more, filled with disconcert. Did she was talking about Caracas, Venezuela? About tricks and treats to find what it was always there?

We are amazed at the slight and the big changes that have arrived to our lives. We have never lived a war, but since 2007 we are used to take as normal that not all products will be available. If one product is indispensable - such as sanitary pads - we turn ourselves into an erratic, neurotic behavior. And nothing can calm our paranoia because the shortage could last just a few days or it could extend for years. No one really knows. Rumors come and go about what will be the next product to disappear.

And life goes on. I go to work every day and date with my boyfriend on weekends. I'm learning French, my cousin is getting married in two weeks and my friend is soon becoming a mom. And our periods will still come, every month, to remind us that as women hygiene products are not mere luxuries.