Tomorrow I’m off to a Black Tie ball. I used to dream about going to events like this – wearing a beautiful long dress, doing my hair and makeup, feeling glamorous. What changed?
Having a baby. That’s what changed. Firstly, there’s the guilt of leaving him so I can go out and enjoy myself for the evening, but that’s another post. The thing that’s really getting me, though, is trying to look and feel good with my post-baby body.
So, what are my main problem areas?
- Tummy – A common complaint amongst mothers. It is never going to be flat again. There’s a slight overhang at the bottom, stretch marks around my belly button and it’s soft and flabby.
- Thighs – Somehow they have expanded so much that the entire top half are constantly touching. They feel huge.
- Weight – I’ve struggled with my weight for a few years now. I’m not massive, just have a stone or so to lose and don’t seem to be able to shift it. My problem isn’t with the weight, as such, but that it exacerbates the tummy/thigh situation (and when I look down I have a double chin).
- Hair – Not such a common complaint, but I seem to have lots of short wispy bits at the front, and definitely around the sideburn area, that weren’t there before. They’re so hard to control and makes my hair constantly look messy no matter what I try to do with it.
I think what I forget is just how much my body has been through and what an incredible thing it has done. It has grown and given birth to a baby. A 9lb 2oz baby, nonetheless.
A woman’s body goes through an enormous amount of strain when she has a baby. Our hips and rib cage widen, our internal organs get pushed out of the way and squashed to make room for the growing baby, and then we have to push the little human out of a hole that definitely isn’t big enough to start with. It’s no wonder it can take us a long time to recover, and there’s no shame if we don’t ever get back to how we were before.
The media put such pressure on women to snap back into shape within a few weeks. They make a big show of celebrities who have got their perfect bodies back almost immediately and print articles about what women should do to achieve the same.
But is this realistic? Celebrities have so many resources at their fingertips to help them – personal trainers, dietitians, nutritionists. They can afford childcare help to give them time to get back into shape. Us regular mothers? Not so much!
Looking after this tiny, completely dependent human takes all of our time and becomes the priority. We don’t have to get back into shape for our next film or TV appearance and have unflattering photos printed for the whole world to see if we don’t. There’s a lot to be said for that and I’ll take a flabby tummy over that kind of pressure any day.
I know women who have easily snapped back into shape after giving birth and I think that’s amazing. But for those is us who are finding it a bit harder, let’s give ourselves a break. We have grown, birthed and nurtured a whole new life. Our flabby tummies, stretchmarks, massive thighs, extra weight and wispy hair are our reminder of what an incredible thing we have done, and continue to do.
I’ll go to the ball tomorrow and I won’t look like I would have a few years ago, but a few years ago I hadn’t got my son and the huge sense of achievement I feel when I manage to look after him for another day. I know which I’d rather choose, I just need to remind myself of it occasionally.