During pregnancy and the newborn days, I think I lost it. I don’t really mean lost my mind, but if I’m honest there are days when I did that too. But what I mean is, I lost the knack of being the ‘real me’.
The ‘real me’ read lots, knew what was happening in the world, went to the gym, ate well, laughed a lot, socialised, got dressed up, was intimate with her fiancée, slept with her bra off, and was well groomed.
Looking back, I think I lost a fair few of ‘her’ traits for nearly a full year. My pregnancy was fairly rubbish because I had bad morning sickness. I couldn’t stomach anything other than toast or dry cereal for the first 28 weeks so I wasn’t eating well. I couldn’t do any high intensity gym sessions because they made me more nauseous.
Swimming was my only savior, but I used to criticise myself for ‘only’ being able to do 500 or 600m. With my huge belly dragging me down into the water, I’d splutter and cough my way through it, chastising myself the whole time. Then there was the time that I actually lost my eyesight from swimming on an empty stomach – yes, apparently a slight lack of oxygen and low blood glucose can do crazy things to a pregnant woman.
I couldn’t socialise as I was flat out just getting through my busy work days. I didn’t feel like sex and whinged A LOT. And the newborn days were, as any mum could attest to, an absolute blur with no time to myself. Even though I have a super helpful husband who was around a great deal, we don’t have any support where we live so there was no one to offload our little man to even just for an hour during those emotion-charged and weary first weeks and months. I feel like shit and looked like it.
Now, six months after giving birth, it’s all coming back but I’m certainly different now. Becoming a mum will do that to you! But when did it get better? At the six week mark we were getting more sleep and that improved things A LOT. I was able to start exercising again and was eating clean, which made me feel much more ‘me’. At three months I remember thinking ‘ok, I’ve got this, this is good’ and had lost all the baby weight so felt a bit better about myself. At four months our little man started sleeping through the night (winner!) and I felt like a new woman – but only for a short while until he began refusing to sleep during the day and started teething, so it all went a bit haywire. It’s only now, at six months, that things are really getting back to normal – well, as normal as they can be with a baby!
I’m finding that I do get more time to be ‘me’ again. I’ve stopped breastfeeding (not my choice, you can read about it here) which means I have a bit more freedom to exercise when I want, my husband can share the feeding and I don’t have to wear a bra all the damn time (I even had to wear one to bed my boobs were that huge, heavy and painful – that may seem like a small thing but OH THE FREEDOM!)
With the sleep regression during the day over and Harry being a bit less high maintenance, these days I can leave him to play while I do things like read the news (usually only for five minutes until he’s commando crawled across the floor and needs rescuing, but still!), shave my legs or make a cup of tea. Oh, the luxury! The intimacy is back. And last week we got a nanny in so we could go to a Christmas party – and the best part is that my husband came home from work early beforehand purely so that I could actually blow-dry my hair! Bliss.
It really is the little things that make up the ‘whole’ and the ‘real me’. Some of the above might sound trivial and make me seem shallow but I’m sure many of you will agree that when you’ve been a milky, teary, hairy, flabby, emotional and tired mess for some weeks or months feeling good about yourself and get some much needed time out really makes a huge difference. If you can, do it!