I am a reasonably normal sized person. Children don’t run away in fear if they spot me in the street and I can fit through doorways fine. A handy stomach bug a week or so before Mexicangate (see previous post) also meant that I headed into the festive period in negative equity so that the last couple of weeks of eating chocolate at any point of the day or night (that is the meaning of Christmas is it not??) have not hit me too hard. Like a roundish cork bobbing to the surface again I have just about balanced out where I was pre digestive meltdown.
I am in fact, pretty much about the same weight I was before I had kids now. However I am most certainly not the same shape. This is most irritating! There is a massive list of things that you did not sign up for when many months/years ago you thought very briefly that having kids might be a good idea. Reading ‘What to Expect’ when pregnant was a veritable mine field of obscure physical conditions. My favourite past time was shocking non pregnant friends and family with what could happen to myself or them in the future. ‘Fanny grapes (vaginal varicose veins) I could get buggering fanny grapes! my face could change colour, my nipples could grow hair – what the fuck!’ And then when you have the baby it’s still a surprise. I certainly never imagined sucking snot out of anyone’s nose or having a potty training toddler poo on my flip flopped foot whilst they performed an alfresco wee in the middle of a park. But from a body image point of view I had only prepared myself for weight gain. This was pretty much assured from the whole cake a day diet during my pregnancy and through early baby days when in the home survival lockdown mode everyone survives on emergency rations of chocolate mini rolls, tracker bars and grapes. I had not really prepared myself for the actual structural changes. Your feet can get bigger – the only time that I have ever been smug about not having an extensive, expensive designer shoe collection was when I realised I now appear to have hobbit feet. Your boobs can go up or down in size and even location potentially ending up becoming better friends with your navel than you ever wanted them to be. My pelvis is now wider making jeans shopping even more of a snigger fest for the teenage shop assistants than it used to be. But my least favourite change is the fact that my rib cage is now larger. I already had a broad back – but it was positively delicate compared to the Victorian farm hand number I now seem to be sporting. And getting your head around your new body takes some time – particularly when it comes to clothing.
Managing your wardrobe once your baby is a few months old is very tricky stuff. There are three broad areas that clothes fall into: A – maternity stuff, B – stuff from your old wardrobe that you can still fit into, C – stuff that you can’t fit into right now but are hopeful that at some point that you might. There is also a D – stuff you will never fit into again that is made up of things uber short, glitzy and revealing or stuff that was always a bit tight even when you bought it but you thought you would probably lose a bit more weight and it was 50% off. I personally have a top in D which appears to be a strap of black silky stuff that apparently you just wrap around your body in order to vaguely cover your nipples. I am amazed I ever wore this but by god I had fun in it and it will not be thrown out. In fact part of me wishes I really had worn more hot pants when I really could despite the fact that at the time I really didn’t think I could. D can live in the loft. This means that you don’t really have many options. Wearing A makes you so depressed that it’s impossible not to go out and mainline lard. There are so few options in B and though you can fit into the stuff in there it doesn’t necessarily mean you look good in it anymore. And often stuff in B only really went with something else that now resides in C so it shouldn’t really be in B but you can get the buggering zip closed so it stays there.
This means at some point you will have to go shopping. Even the most ardent shopaholic, the type whose eyes light up at the sight of a TK Maxx can feel a little daunted at going shopping after babies. To be quite frank it sucks. It is quite normal to have a bit of disconnect with your body after babies which can affect everything from how you feel, to having sex or going out. And in the harsh lights of a department store dressing room there is nowhere to hide. I am not a shopper and I have many friends who are much better at it than me. My best mate can run her hand along the rows of clothing until she hits something that feels right – a bit like water divining but with a hot girl and clothes rather than a nerdy man with a stick. She shops like magic – I shop with grit and determination and a slighty sweaty upper lip. But in my position of shit shopper I have pulled together some basic guidance for others like me about how to make this crap experience as positive as possible.
- Make sure it is the right time. Survive in your shit clothes until you have finished breast feeding or your body has normalised and your boobs have stopped fluctuating.
- Think of whether you can organise any childcare or time the shop so the baby may sleep in the pram.
- Have some idea of the clothes you will need and stick to it.
- Take someone else with you, someone who’ll focus on you and not sort out their outfit for Saturday night.
- Prep yourself. If you feel you look shit all the clothes in the world won’t change it. So apply make up, brush your hair, shave your armpits and even legs(!). And if you have the time, apply the half moisturiser/half fake tan stuff for the few days prior – it really does make a difference.
- Wear things that are easy to put on and take off and wear thick black tights and reasonable underwear.
- Do not only pick up the stuff you would have prior to babies. Your body shape really could have changed. If the old stuff doesn’t work it’s not so much a question of losing more weight but of getting used to the curves being in slightly different places. Try on lots of things and view it as an experiment.
- Most people are a bridge size i.e. 12-14. Pick up the larger size – if you like it you can always try the smaller one on to make sure. There is nothing more depressing than repeatedly failing to fit into a line of clothes. And you have to be able to get into it to see if you like it.
- Now is not the time to online shop no matter how sensible it is considering you have a baby. It really is best to try stuff on and see how things will fit your body.
- Do not buy –
- something just because you fit a smaller size
- anything fitted with no give in it – your body may take a long time to really settle down. A bit of stretch either way will mean you’ll still look great even if you lose or gain more weight.
- a pair a shoes because nothing else would fit – unless you really need the shoes.
Good luck! x