Pregnancy is different for all women. On Instagram and in the media pregnancy means glowing skin, a perfect bump, gorgeous matching maternity lingerie sets or sunny bikini pics. And for some very very lucky women this is their reality. But for many it is the furthest thing from the truth. Luckily for me I didn’t get slaughtered for it like poor old Kim K. Although my ass did get big enough to give her some rather wobbly competition.
My reality was regular steroid injections, horrific stretch marks, heart burn, sleepless nights, 5 stone weight gain, self loathing and loss of identity. This still haunts me now as in my head sometimes I still think that I look like this. Now this all might seem a little overdramatic to some, but when I look at these pictures I do not see myself in them. I see someone I loathe. As my self esteem took a nose dive, so did my public appearances and in turn any potential photographic evidence of my pregnancy. There is the grand total of ONE bump pic of me carrying my darling Primrose. And this monstrosity below that until now I have kept very tightly under wraps.
11/12/12 (the day before my labour began)
I went from being a funny, fashionable person who loved makeup, clothes and socialising- to being someone who lived in leggings and baggy tops, didn’t leave the house and never wore makeup. Pregnancy stole my identity.
Luckily for me these feelings never transferred onto Primrose, I never resented her for changing my body or my life. She was, is and always will be utterly perfect. Ultimately this is what changed my attitude towards my self. I never wanted her to associate those feelings with the magical time I spent carrying her, and for a second to feel blamed.
When I found out I was expecting Olive- I was overwhelmed with panic at the idea of getting fat and loosing myself again. Luckily, this time I was more confident. I could make decisions about my treatment for my self and could make judgements against the advice given by doctors who didn’t know me and my capabilities. I knew myself, my body and my parenting skill set inside out and I felt fully equipped to deal with the full force shit storm that pregnancy was about to throw at me. Much to my surprise- it was in fact the polar opposite. I didn’t gain a lot of weight (the picture of me on the beach is two weeks before I gave birth to Olive- granted its a great angle but STILL pretty much half the size I was with Primrose), I didn’t need lots of medication, I felt confident and carried on wearing clothes that I loved.
Second time round, in the newborn phase, I didn’t feel lost. I felt completely like me- with the addition of a soft wobbly sack of spuds where my bump used to be, but like me none the less. Granted my boobs swelled to gargantuan proportions still, my hair came out in clumps and blocked the drain several times, my hormones meant that I cried at tiny bottles of shower gel and I was so sleep deprived that I put multiple personal belongings in the fridge. I did all of this in my skinny jeans, lipstick on and milky tits out.
The positives of social media in parenting often get besmirched by the Mumsnet judgement shadow. When I had Primrose I didn’t have any social media. I felt isolated and alone and this was backed up by my behaviour. Fast forward 4 years and if I don’t Instagram my dinner- whats the point in making it right? How will people even know that I made those delicious pancakes? Seriously though- the communities of Mums that I surround my self with on social media make those ‘WHY ARE MY KIDS BEING ASSHOLES?” days bearable.
Long, and slightly tangent heavy, story short- if you are feeling lost, you will find your self again. If you are feeling hopeless, have hope that there is light at the end of the long dreary parenting path. If you are feeling disgusting and horrible and mourning the old you- she is inside you! It might have taken me a few years to escape the blubber and metaphorical scars it left behind, but I have done it. And because of that- I am stronger, I am wiser and I am all me. And if showing my swollen jowls can give someone else hope or even a giggle at my expense- i’ve done alright.
x o x o x