Like lots of mums, whenever I have a baby, I disappear into The Baby Bubble. It’s a bit like the Bermuda Triangle, but less exotic. And with more puke. Plus you never get to disappear anywhere, because there’s always a small person tracking your EVERY move. So, actually, it’s nothing like it. It takes me AT LEAST 18 months to emerge from the bubble. Not in some moment of glory, I should add. Where I spread my beautiful, painted wings and fly off into the sunset. No. Think more a dusty old moth that has eaten too many jumpers. If jumpers were, erm, McDonald’s.
‘Once upon a time.’
They say that every Instagram feed should tell a story. Well if that’s true, mine goes a bit like this.
Once upon a time, a woman had a baby. She was constantly knackered. So ate lots of McDonald’s breakfasts. Drank wine. Also gin. Broke up the diet with a Pizza Hut. Or a packet of chocolate fingers (which totally counted as a nutritious dinner by the way). Her baby started to sleep. She carried on. The baby turned one. She carried on. He started nursery and she stopped breastfeeding. She carried on. He became more independent and stopped eating dishwasher tablets. She carried on. And was then completely surprised that she felt a bit rubbish, had put on a stone and her thighs wobbled. The End.
Except, it’s not the end. It’s the beginning. Of the realisation that, for me, the baby bubble has burst.
And it’s time to ‘find myself’ again. And crack on. I’m also coming off my medication for PND, something I’ve known I’ve been ready to do for a while, even before my lovely doctor suggested it.
So I REALLY need to be fit in body. In order to be fit in mind.
Bye bye baby.
My ‘baby’ is almost two. Aside from his rather basic vocabulary and the fact he’s still so darn cute I want to eat him, he isn’t a baby. He isn’t.
I can keep telling myself he is, but he isn’t.
There. I’ve said it.
I know why I want him to still be a baby.
It’s not because I’m mourning the fact that I’m NEVER going to have a teeny, tiny baby again. I’ve had three of them. And they all got bigger. It doesn’t take a fool to work out that this is a losing game. Babies have to grow up.
It’s so I’ve got lots of excuses at my disposal. To treat myself at every opportunity. With a McDonald’s breakfast (just because it’s opposite my daughter’s nursery and I’m tired so I totally deserve it).
‘Have a McDonald’s breakfast,’ says the voice in my head. ‘You deserve it. That will make up for the fact you’re tired and the kids made you cry this morning. TREAT YOURSELF. GO ON.‘
‘But she’s already had one this week,‘ says the other voice in my head, the one that has my better interests at heart. ‘We said only one a week, remember?‘
It’s so I have a valid excuse to watch the Channel Five movie instead of doing something constructive and necessary like ACTUAL WORK. All the voices seem to agree on that one.
It’s because, as overwhelming as the baby bubble can be, especially in those early weeks, it’s also a delightful little place that stops you from having to think about what’s next. Stops you from having to stand up and be counted. Wraps you in cotton wool, looks after you and hands you lots of caffeine.
It’s a place that’s actually a bit scary to leave.
Be kind to yourself. Again.
And anyone who’s been there will know that getting yourself back to any sort of normality after having a baby is weird and hard. And sometimes a bit scary.
First you have to remember what that normality was, before realising it’s gone forever and you’ve got to start a whole new one. Just the thought of that can be exhausting enough to put you off completely.
But it starts with small, forgiving steps. Allowing yourself some time to have a little headspace and use it for you, rather than someone else. Doing a little bit of exercise because, in fact, that makes you feel quite good, once you’ve silenced the voices in your head. Actually giving some thought to what you’re putting in your body. Because as nice as a McDonald’s McMuffin is, a slice of toast with scrambled eggs and avocado tastes better. It just takes a little more effort.
It’s about being kind to yourself. In the same way you were hopefully kind to yourself when you had a baby and were making that difficult transition into motherhood. It’s about feeling all the stuff, good and bad, that you have to feel before feeling that first flutter of excitement when, one day, not everything is about babies or kids ALL of the time.
Most importantly, it’s about doing it in YOUR time. When YOU’RE ready. At YOUR own speed. Because everybody’s baby bubble is different. And some may never burst.
But for me, right now. I’m ready.
(After I’ve watched the Channel Five movie. Obviously. Small, forgiving steps, remember?)