I stood in the shower this morning and I looked down at myself and I was so…frustrated.
I have really let myself go. I have. It’s simple enough to disguise, if I try hard enough. But I have. I have deflated breasts, a sagging belly, dimpled thighs and I really need to repaint my toenails or just stop being lazy and take off what’s already there.
And it’s not just my body. That’s the most obvious part that I have to try and avoid every time I pass a reflective surface, or undress. And I know that so many women fell like this after having a baby. But it’s more than that.
I am an absolute shell of my former self. I am utterly broken. And I want to say that I have tried very hard to put the pieces of my puzzle back together. But in truth, if I am honest with myself and you, I haven’t tried at all.
I came out the shower and Mark was feeding Daisy in our bedroom as she’d fallen asleep there and that’s the life of tube feeding. And I was trying to make a tent out of my towel to hide my body from him. Wiggling into my underwear and swearing under my breath every time the towel slipped.
And he was watching me, smiling, holding a syringe full of milk, and told me I was ridiculous. In a nice way. But I was just not ready for him to see this, in such a normal and natural state. I’m not saying he hasn’t seen me naked – that would be an outright lie – but things look a bit better lying down if you position yourself right. You know what I’m saying.
But I dressed, and then suddenly I started one of my rants. Not at him. But to him. About me. I stood there in my bra and leggings and I wandered around the room. I think I even pointed a finger. And did lots of v. v. serious hand gestures.
I said a lot of things about me, and what I wanted and how I was finding it hard.
I want a nicer body. I want to lose weight and tone up. I start. Meal plans. And healthy food shops. But when I’m tired, not just physically from having a daughter who tends to projectile vomit in the middle of the night from coughing, but mentally and emotionally tired. I find comfort in sugar, for energy and a lip-smacking satisfaction you only really get from cake.
And I just don’t want to do some HIIT routine or squeeze my arse into last year’s sports bras. I have no incentive. And yet I’m waiting here for my old body to arrive like it should just come back. I know I need to do something. I know it’s up to me. And Mark was frank and said: “If you want to do it. It’s pretty simple. Just do it. It’s just will power.”
I went to make excuses. But I sort of tailed off. Because he’s right.
I want to do the things I love again. Do you remember how often I would write on here? How frequent my posts were. And they were good. I was proud of what I’d achieved. Five years of work and I’ve let everything dip because, suddenly, for the first time ever, this did not matter.
I gave up on everything I loved because I didn’t want it anymore. And I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the time. How do you pick up your computer when you’ve spent the last hour suctioning your baby’s breathing tube, aspirating her feeding tube, trying her with a bottle and accepting defeat and giving her the rest via her tube, not forgetting to burp her in between, and sterilise all the equipment afterwards. Oh an express milk. And when that ended. Try your best to stop your child from coughing up her entire feed on you, on your carpet, on your sofa, on your son. Washing countless outfits, sheets, muslins.
It has been such a relentless life. And this, combined with the appointments. My goodness. In the space of ten days, I saw the health visitor, the cleft nurse, the paediatrician, the dietician, the GP, the cleft surgeon, the speech and language therapist. And then I had dentist stare in my mouth after he repaired a filling, which then left me with sensitivity I’ve never had before, and a nurse stare up my vagina because I had my smear. Life goals right there. (But always have your smear girls – it matters).
And then I said this: “Ultimately, I need to move on. I have spent the last few months waiting and hoping for those post-birth baby days I wanted, where you snuggle up with your newborn on your chest. But it’s just not going to happen is it? First it was hospital, and then because of adjusting, and the tubes, the appointments and medical visits, her being sick, and now, well, she’s getting over her cold, but she’s not a newborn anymore is she? She’s four months old and she doesn’t want to sleep like a froggy on my chest. She wants to jump up and down on my belly. I’m not going to get that back and I think I need to accept it and move on.”
I need to move on.
I’m not being unnecessarily hard on myself. I know I have been through a lot. Our whole family has. But I am ready to put this behind me now. I am not going to get those early months of Daisy’s life back. And I can’t change them. And I actually don’t want to.
My daughter is perfect as she is. And she fills my days with such amazing joy. She fills a gap in my life that I didn’t know was there. It wasn’t even a gap. It was a huge Daisy-shaped void. And I have spent too long focussing on what I have lost, that I have not appreciated what I have. At least, not enough. I am looking back all the time. And not realising that I am losing days and weeks of right now, by not being present in the present.
I remember, when Daisy was in hospital, that these days I am living right now, they were a thing to behold. I could barely imagine them. And I thought we would never get here. And fellow parents would tell me that, eventually, this all fades into an, admittedly difficult memory, and you do move on. And I remember thinking: “But how?” And it did fade. I am no longer haunted my hospital memories. Tracheostomy talk. Saturations. Worried. Blood gases. I choose to go back there if I want to. But it doesn’t catch me unawares anymore.
And no. Coming home was not the heavenly existence I built it up to be in my head, while sat in hospital. Of course it was going to be tough. And that’s allowed. And we couldn’t have predicted that Daisy would have a three-week cough and cold that would see her projectile vomiting and leaving me feeling like home would be the best place to stay. Climbing the walls. And pulling my hair out.
But as with all things in life, that passes too. She’s on the mend now. There’s a big difference in her. The coughs are minimal. We’ve been two days without sick now, and I’m hoping that will move up to three, four, five days. Longer. And if it doesn’t, at least I know how to manage now.
I need to start enjoying my life again. I need to find the things that make me happy and grab onto them. And give myself a chance. I took the time that I needed to process what happened, to grieve, to cope, to stare into space.
But I want to be me again.
I had a baby, and she was poorly, and spent six weeks in hospital. It was really hard. I cried many times. I was torn. I was desperate. And it broke my heart.
But I am putting it back together again. We survived. She is perfect. So is her brother. And her father. And we will be okay.
I know there will always be tough days. But I will take the time I need to get through them. Knowing that, the point is, I will get through them.
I think, really, what I’m trying to say is.
Or, if I was totally badass (which I’m definitely not).
I’m back, bitches. Let’s do this.