Elijah was latching on well; we were getting into a groove, me and my boy. So of course, I was basking in the glory of my own fabulousness! My sense of self was peaking to the point of me being almost cocky! 😎🦚
To celebrate ME, I thought why not take Elijah out, my destination being our corner grocery store. I felt that I was doing so well that I deserved a treat. I started making my mental shopping list - maybe chocolate, or ice cream, chips, or maybe all! 🤭I excitedly popped Elijah into my front pack carrier and almost skipped to the store, feeling 10 feet tall & bullet proof! I felt I had this thing called parenting sussed. When I got there, I greedily grabbed more treats than I needed (even a couple more!), for no reason, just ’cos I could. With my basket full, I started pre-planning in my head in what order I was going to eat my stash - I was literally mincing (walking with swag!) to the counter to pay! 💃
The owner of the store greeted me with the hugest smile, told me that it was great to see me & that I was looking so good, glowing in fact... & then enthusiastically asked when my baby was due!! 😱 For a split second I was panicked - OMG I'VE FORGOTTEN my baby!! Then Elijah cooed - phew... hang on... what, was my jacket covering him? No!! Then out of the corner of my eye I caught a reflection of myself in the window. 😭Feck I was mortified - I did still look pregnant!!
Holding back my tears, I then pretended that I'd forgotten my wallet, as I sadly backed out of the store, and went back home. In one fell swoop, my sense of self had been erased, I think I cried for a couple of hours, while looking at myself in the mirror. I didn't recognise the person looking back at me, I was shocked to see how much I had changed. I looked like a snowman - a small round head on top of another huge shapeless round ball! ⛄
I had been so busy trying to recover from a C-section & being a new mum, that I didn't notice my belly - I didn't even know that there was even a thing called a postpartum belly! I was just distracted by how big my boobs and nipples had gotten that I didn't see past them, to see what had happened to the rest of my body .
I wish I’d known & researched more about postnatal or postpartum stages - what happens to our bodies once we've given birth. This would've helped me understand that my body changes were normal, and I was going through a normal process of recovery and healing, at my own pace. I would’ve learnt as a first-time mama, that my body had just gone through trauma, especially since I had a C-section. Knowing just these basic words, I would've been kinder to myself. The disappointment that I felt when looking at myself in the mirror, sadly the only likable angle was looking over my shoulder... (although my optimism kicked in for a second, as I tried to think of ways of how I could enter a room backwards!! 🤭)
After having Elijah, I thought my tummy would automatically go flat & my body would be back to normal instantly. I honestly thought I'd be like Victoria Beckham - too posh to push ‘cos I had a C-section, so shouldn't I be looking equally fabulous once I'd given birth?! In my mind, it wasn't like I'd be renting out the space after evicting my bubs, my tummy was empty, so no more bumps – right? 😕 WRONG – sadly my reality & that of the rich & famous are worlds apart!
So, I was in full swing with my own wee pity party back home, & I picked up Elijah to comfort myself. I looked into his eyes & pretty much straight away, my overwhelming love for him jolted me out of my doom & gloom. This was not about me anymore, I had to provide & care for my baby - I chose to have him, this was a decision I made. So, I just had to get over myself & leave my pity party quickly! Besides, I was sure that I could rock a kaftan, learning hard & fast an easy lesson - I just needed to dress differently for my new body – all its bumps & glory! 🤰
Now that I'd gotten over myself & focused on what was important (my baby!), things started to dramatically change for me. I didn't have a car & being an urban dweller, I walked everywhere from getting groceries, visiting friends or going to work. & surprisingly this exercise not only helped melt away my baby weight, but I also started feeling happier. Working & being busy all the time also meant that I was fortunate enough to put Elijah into daycare, so we had time apart, giving me a much-needed break from parenting (which TBH was good for my own mental health), & him a chance to be with new faces.
Just recently, I found this link here -After baby is born: what to expect | Raising Children Network
Now I know as a first-time mama, I would've embraced, appreciated and found this information valuable in those very early days / months. It’s a worthwhile read for any mama who has given birth, planning to give birth, and to the support partner / people after the birth. Giving birth is both traumatic AND rewarding, so KNOWLEDGE IS POWER - having the tools and understanding is the best way to maintain healthy mama vibes from the outset. Reading this article from the outset would've given me permission to embrace my body, fill my basket of treats to the brim with no shame, paid for them happily & guiltlessly gorge myself; because I deserved to celebrate - DAMN having a BABY is no mean feat!! 👌👊💪
So, while the physical changes were just one part of my journey, there were other aspects I needed to overcome & find my own way to get through, and you’ll no doubt need to do the same when it comes to looking after YOU! You've just got to find that outlet for yourself. If there’s one thing that has always helped me maintain my sense of self, I’d have to say it's my sense of humour. Even in my saddest & loneliest times, I've always been able to laugh. I was also lucky because of my group of friends - Elijah was brought up by a village - a rainbow community full of love, acceptance, & with their pompoms & high kicks, my friends were my cheerleaders. 🥳 It's important to have that network of friends & family that can be that light at the end of your tunnel when times are tough.
I also realised that I needed to be able to pick myself up without the need of others, especially when there were moments of bub crying uncontrollably amongst the absolute chaos & mess. Moments like these (even pre-Elijah times), my love of music prevailed, helping me escape my doom & glooms as I did the things in Brene Brown's quote:
Sing like no one is listening.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching,
and live like its heaven on earth.
It's always the little things that you can do in the moment, that’s always going to make the biggest impact when you need a wee booster shot of happiness. Every little boost encourages you take the next action; I had to make myself happy first before I could start planning what I needed to do to get back into shape. Like eating an elephant, it’s one bite at a time. 🐘
After all these years looking back, my final action I would've done for those early months is this - I would've made myself a ‘Welcome Home Mama’ box & filled it with treats just for me! Jam packed with pamper goodies. Eg silk pajamas, silk eye mask, bed socks, snuggle rug, rejuvenating mask, body lotions & a Grabber Reacher Tool - this would've been so handy, especially for C-section mama like me! Whatever makes you feel loved & joyous!
My next blog, I‘ll change it up & share one of my favourite holiday recipe dishes. It's one that is very special to me - it has been passed down & taught to me by my very own mama.