When I was pregnant, I often tried to imagine life with a baby. Each time the same image would appear in my mind; I could see myself, lying on the sofa, with a baby sleeping peacefully on my chest. I have my hand on the baby’s back, and we are breathing in tune with each other. That was all I could ever imagine. I couldn’t imagine being out with the baby, or changing nappies, or playing with the baby. All I could imagine was a tiny baby asleep in my arms. Of course in this vision, my hair was sleek and shiny, I had make up on, and a calm knowing smile. I was back to my pre-pregnancy self, and life was good.
When Ebony arrived, I did spend almost the whole two weeks in this position. But instead of a calm knowing smile, I had an expression that simply screamed “Help me, I have not slept for days”. You’ve heard of knee-length skirts, well I created a similar trend with my eye bags. I wore them long, defined and heavy for quite a while after Ebony was born. I didn’t have time to put make up on, and if, by some miracle, I did have make up it was probably three days old and I just hadn’t found the time to take it off yet. I spent a lot of time lying down with her asleep on my chest, but it was most probably because I didn’t have the energy to move.
I didn’t realise how terrible I looked. Mostly because I didn’t have time to look in the mirror, and on the rare occasion I accidentally caught sight of my reflection, I would look away speedily like when you are caught staring at a stranger on the commuter train. Who was that insane looking woman with small crazy eyes and an open gormless mouth staring at me in the bathroom mirror? A good friend said that she loved seeing photos of Ebony on Facebook, but if I was in the photos she couldn’t help but notice that I looked like death warmed up. And she was right, I really did. But I think most women struggle to look their best when their babies are so small, so it’s ok. You’re allowed to look terrible for a few weeks, it just reminds people what a wonderful job you did pushing that baby out. It is hard work, you know.
Ebony is four months old now, so I can’t use childbirth as an excuse anymore. Yet I do still have a severe lack of glamour in my look. This is partly due to the fact that a lot of my clothes won’t fit over my chest anymore, so I can’t really be blamed for this. Only nature can take the rap for that one. So, my wardrobe is limited in size. And on top of this, breastfeeding restricts what I can wear even further. I only really like wearing layered t-shirts so I can feed discretely. So, with these limitations in place, it’s safe to say I’m not looking at my most fashionable.
This was made painfully clear when I attended a party with my most glamorous friends on Saturday. There they all were, wearing beautifully fashionable clothes and high heels. They were primed to perfection with long fluttery eyelashes, bright lipsticks and carefree smiles from ear to ear. I turned up wearing my usual hideous layered t-shirt ensemble. The layers, incidentally, mean I’m always too hot and, as a result, quite sweaty, so this adds a pungent flavour to my unglamorous look.
Some women boast about their new, fuller breasts thanks to breastfeeding. What I’ve found is that nursing bras are hideously unflattering, like sports bras, and do little to compliment this new attribute. And as if the saggy misshapen bra was not enough, the bra pads, I noticed on Saturday night, are visible through the t-shirt. So, like a child’s drawing, I have two circular shapes where my boobs should be. Great. Just like all the models in Vogue.
And I couldn’t even get drunk to forget it, because I had Ebony with me. I am a primary caregiver now, I cannot let my hair down and drink Jager Bombs to make me forget my strange circular breasts. No, I must stay sober and mumsy.
I wore Ebony in a sling, because I didn’t want her to be scared by the lights or music. And also, having the baby attached to me means I have a very visible excuse for my terrible clothes, sweated off make up, and knotted hair (Ebony has recently mastered grabbing and pulling). But there are certain risks involved in having a baby in a sling. At the very least, with a teething baby, you will end up drenched in dribble. But, as I discovered on Saturday night, it can be much worse.
I was in the toilets attempting to sort out my ridiculous hair (see above), when I noticed I had a smear of shine across my chest. Like bling, only made of baby snot. Yes, Ebony had forced out a whole booger, dragged it across my already unfashionable outfit and then, because I had been unaware of said smear, it had dried and gone shiny. Awesome.
Admittedly, this is my fault. I have a somewhat laissez faire approach to Ebony’s snot. Mostly because I have no fricking clue what I’m meant to do with it.
I have no idea how such a tiny lady, with such a delicate little nose, can possibly produce such an impressive amount of snot. And what on earth are you meant to do with it? I have a kit which features a seemingly surgical implement for removing boogers from baby noses. For those of you who don’t have children and are not accustomed to the strange and wonderful world of pointless implements designed to claw precious pennies out of your ever emptier purse, this snot remover is basically a pipette that sucks snot out. Or doesn’t, as I soon discovered. It is completely useless, it doesn’t get any snot, and it confuses Ebony when I jam it up her nose. So I’ve given up on that. Now I just play the waiting game. I see the snot appearing high in the nostril, and I know there’s no way I can reach it yet. And so I wait.
In a short time; hours, or sometime days, I know we shall meet. The snot and I. Usually it sneaks up on me, appearing on my clothes like an unwanted guest. I don’t notice it when it first appears, when it is no doubt moist and easy to get rid of. No, I notice it a few hours later. At a party, or at dinner with friends, when it has hardened and twinkling in the light, drawing attention to itself and putting people off their food.
It is distressing to look around at my friends with their perfect hair while I pick snot off my t-shirt. I did not foresee this part of parenting. The shiny badge of motherhood I would wear proudly each day, often without realising.