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Oh Me, Oh Mãe

I Have A Lot Of Respect For My Body And What It Did

There are two images for this post, but I decided to not put them side by side, so scroll down to see the second, as well as an outtake and comments.

I Have A Lot Of Respect For My Body And What It Did

#IDidThisShoot11DaysAfterGivingBirth #ThereIsALotOfPressureForWomenToHaveTheirBodiesReturnToTheirPrePregnancySizeAfterBirth #TheUterusDoesReduceInSizeButItIsNotLikeTheBabyWillBeBornAndYourPingsBack #ItIsWeirdNotHavingAFullOnBump
#ICanSeeMyPubesAgainWhichIsFunny #AfterBirthTheUterusWasShrinkingAndTheMovementOfItMadeMeInstinctivelyAffectionatelyRubWhatUsedToBeMyBump
#IHaveALotOfRespectForMyBodyAndWhatItDid #IAmStillBleedingAndApparentlyICouldBeUntilBIs6WeeksOldIfNotOlder #ThoughIWasWorriedItWouldBeLikePeriodPainButItisNot #AGoodPerkOfPregnancyAmongstOtherThingsWasNotHavingPeriodPain #IHaveToBeCarefulWithMyStitchesButTheySeemToBeHealingWell #MyBiggestRegretIsNotBuyingAPortableBidetSoonerAsItLetsMeCleanTheStitchesWithoutNeedingToHaveAShower #IBoughtSomeReusableBambooPadsSoIAlsoCleanOffTheBloodBeforePuttingOnANewOne #IWasGoingToSayItIsNiceToNotWakeUpInTheMiddleOfTheNightToBeAbleToTurnOverAndToGoToTheLoo #ButIHaveNotBeenSleepingMuchWhichAccordingToMumFriendsIsNotUncommon #IAmWritingThisAtNearly2AMAfterBabyWokeUsUpAndIDecidedToPump #IAmExpressingAndFeedingWithBottlesMoreThanIAmBreastfeeding #HopefullyThisWillChangeAtSomePointWhenHerMouthGetsBigger #IDoTryToBreastfeedHerALittleAtLeastOnceADayButYesterdayIFailed #IKeepFeelingReallyThirstySoIBoughtSomeRehydrationTablets #ItIsProbablyDueToBreastfeeding
#TheyToldMeToDo10SetsOf10KegelsADay
#DoingSomeNowWhilstIThinkAboutIt #IHaveASoreFingerFromWhereIBurnedItOnSteamFromTheSteriliser #AndThenIGotAPaperCutOnTheSameSpot #IHaveChangedSoMuchSinceGivingBirthThough #IDoFeelMoreConfidentButIThinkItIsCausedByNumerousFactors #IThinkHavingAChildChangesYourPriorities #FeelingDownAndRubbishAboutMyselfSeemsPointless #IThinkThisIsTheHappiestIHaveEverFeltInMyLife
I Have A Lot Of Respect For My Body And What It Did II

Outtake

That’s my bamboo pad poking out of my underwear in case you really wanted to know…

Comments

I realise that my hashtags don’t talk about my linea nigra (the dark line running down my abdomen), which was one of the main reasons I took the close up photo. The pictures don’t really show how dark it is around my belly button. I quite like the line though (apparently it’s always there, but darkens with pregnancy) and how the two parts don’t line up.

The second image also references a couple of photos from my Waiting For Things In A Time When You Rarely Wait For Things project.

The linea nigra is definitely darker in the ‘I Have A Lot Of Respect…’ image.

This week I posted a couple of diptychs to Instagram, which represent my blog posts about B’s birth, and our hospital stay.:

5 Hours Before Giving Birth
24 Hours After Giving Birth

In hospital I took quite a lot of these bathroom mirror selfies. I was interested in how my bump would look after giving birth as I think about articles I’ve seen over the years shaming or praising women after they give birth. Kate Middleton comes to mind with her standing outside that hospital letting the world see her new baby for the first time whilst her post-natal body is reviewed, three times. I’m not about to turn this blog into a commentary on the royal family, but I can see why Meghan skipped the immediate photo call.

Like I said in the hashtags your body doesn’t ping back to how it looked pre-pregnancy, but from what I read years ago you’d have thought that it did based on the comments that are said about post-partum bodies. I think people are a lot more honest about these things now (or I’ve just been more aware of these talks over the last few years), and I hope my ’24 Hours After Giving Birth’ picture helps add positively to the conversation.

With the ‘I Have A Lot Of Respect….’ photos, they move away from the hospital pictures a bit as these are taken from the front rather than the side. I guess seeing my ‘bump’ from the front it doesn’t look like much, and actually by the time I took the pictures it had gone down a lot.

Reading the hashtags 5 weeks on it feels like so long ago.

I stopped bleeding a couple of weeks ago (I think) but I still have some aspects of lochia, which I learned about for a recent photo/set of hashtags.

‘#ApparentlyTheBleedingIsCalledLochiaIndItIsAMixOfBloodMucusAndTissueFromTheLiningOfTheUterus’

I feel awkward that I wrote about seeing my pubes again, but I was feeling very open after not long having 6 people staring at a baby coming out of me and numerous women touching my boobs to help me breastfeed. It is strange not being able to see your whole body though. In my birth story I talked about having to give a urine sample, but you just put the cup ‘down there’ and move it about hoping to get some in there. Whenever a midwife came to visit I had to pee on a stick so they could check for protein and maybe something else? This was also an exercise in peeing, moving the stick and hoping.

Some pubes are present in these photos and again I felt awkward, but then Pretty Gardens by Róisín Murphy came on. I’d never heard it before. I really like her music, but decided to explore more of her discography and it felt reassuring that it’s okay to talk (or sing) about these things, if that’s what her song is about anyways. ‘Look at me all naked, I let my pretty garden grow wild’.

‘#MyBiggestRegretIsNotBuyingAPortableBidetSoonerAsItLetsMeCleanTheStitchesWithoutNeedingToHaveAShower’ – A portable bidet was definitely something I should have bought sooner – it’s basically a fancier version of a squirty plastic bottle.

‘#IBoughtSomeReusableBambooPadsSoIAlsoCleanOffTheBloodBeforePuttingOnANewOne’ – The reusable bamboo pads seemed like a good investment (I also have reusable bamboo breast pads), as I was getting through a lot of maternity pads and I thought if I could be bleeding for 6 weeks then it was worth trying them. Plus I can use them when my period comes back, which I hope isn’t for a while but knowing my luck it could be imminent.

‘#IWasGoingToSayItIsNiceToNotWakeUpInTheMiddleOfTheNightToBeAbleToTurnOverAndToGoToTheLoo’ – I thought I was going to say well I have to wake up to look after B, but I said ‘#ButIHaveNotBeenSleepingMuchWhichAccordingToMumFriendsIsNotUncommon’. That does kind of sound like it’s because I need to look after B, but the not sleeping was due to just feeling high on life I think.

I talk about breastfeeding and bottle feeding in the hashtags, but I won’t say much on it as I have an image of me expressing so I will write about it more then. I’ve breastfed a lot the last couple of days, but I’ve mainly been expressing and bottle feeding. Her latch is definitely better now though, which I think is due to her mouth being bigger. Sometimes I don’t guide the boob to her and just let her latch on by herself now.

‘#TheyToldMeToDo10SetsOf10KegelsADay’ – I have an app now to remind me to do them. It’s just called Kegel Exercises. Everyday it builds up the amount you do. It’s great! (Again, I’m doing some extra ones whilst I think about them.)

‘#IHaveChangedSoMuchSinceGivingBirthThough’ – I have definitely changed a lot.

‘#IDoFeelMoreConfidentButIThinkItIsCausedByNumerousFactors’ – The confidence comes and goes though, just like before. A few days ago we took B out in her pushchair for the first time. As I’d done it once I’ve now done it everyday since and yesterday I took her out in it by myself. I also managed to do the lying down breastfeeding position last week for the first time. I’d only tried it once before and hadn’t attempted it for a few weeks. If I’d done it in the hospital I probably would have done it loads since. I’m also still not confident about sharing these posts on social media beyond Instagram.

I think hormones have a massive impact on confidence. I used to do improv comedy when I lived in London and some weeks I’d feel super confident and other weeks I’d be a nervous wreck. This week I’ve felt pretty confident with looking after B. Tiago left the house for work a couple of times last week, which he hadn’t done since before lockdown. Yesterday I was alone with her for the longest time so far (about 7 hours) and it was fine. It would have been a lot sooner if it wasn’t for the pandemic, so though I wish there wasn’t one, having T around more has been positive.

Still can’t believe I became a mother during a pandemic, but I don’t know any different and my past life seems like decades ago now.

I do love the word awkward I know, but that is how I feel about sharing the underwear pictures. I like the chosen one, but I initially went for the outtake as though the outtake is a bit too zoomed in for my liking I felt like the chosen one is a bit more ‘showoffy’. It’s more confident with the placing of my hands, though I like the oddness of them, whereas the outtake is a bit more shy.

I asked Tiago which one he preferred though as I was doubting my decision and he said the more confident one, so it confirmed which one I preferred. He said he liked it more though as it is more symmetrical. The top is more wonky in the outtake…

I am proud of my body. Our inbuilt knowledge and instincts are pretty incredible – with giving birth and I think this when I see B’s mouth doing its different ‘breastfeeding techniques’.

I still want to exercise more than I am though, as I did more when I was 37 weeks pregnant. A daily walk is great for my mental health and my confidence, but I also need to make more time for stretching. I try to do a bit whilst waiting for things – like the sterilising machine. Yesterday we did a baby yoga class and got all the way through, so that was great. Normally B starts to get upset around the bit that is more for the parents, but we do get recordings since they are online. I doubt that we would have ‘been to’ a baby class yet if they weren’t online, and I don’t think there were many online classes pre-Covid, but I could be wrong.

I still haven’t breastfeed in public, so that’s the next thing for my post-natal body and confidence checklist but I think it might happen fairly soon… Watch this space.


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Categories
Oh Me, Oh Mãe

What I Wore For My Four Night Hospital Stay After Giving Birth

So when I was in hospital I basically wore the same dress the whole time. After getting home I washed everything apart from it as I knew I wanted to photograph myself in it, though now I have decided to keep it as part of my ‘archive’ (I feel funny saying that even though I have so much work).

Anyways, it seems weird to continue my pregnancy project now I’m no longer pregnant, so with motherhood I have started a new project called Oh Me, Oh Mãe. I came up with the title whilst I was still pregnant as a play on the phrase oh me oh my. I tried with and without a comma and I seem to prefer it with one.

Mãe is mother in Portuguese (my husband is Portuguese and our baby is British-Portuguese, or Portuguese-British depending on who you ask). You pronounce mãe similarly to my, though you can listen to the pronunciation here and tell me I’m wrong. Maybe it’s more like myy.

A funny coincidence was that I listened to Devendra Banhart a lot in hospital and it wasn’t until getting home that I realised he has an album called Oh Me Oh My… It seems meant to be, though I was a bit discouraged as Tiago (my husband) had never heard the phrase oh me oh my before and didn’t like it for ages. Now he gets it and I think it is here to stay. If you ever need an honest non-artists opinion on something he is your guy!

So… the photo and hashtags (yes I think I am still doing the hashtags for some stuff, but I seem to be experimenting with other writing styles on different pictures).

What I Wore For My Four Night Hospital Stay After Giving Birth #WeHadPackedTheBagJustInCaseACoupleOfWeeksPreviouslyEvenThoughWeWerePlanningForAHomeBirth #IThoughtAtLeastEverythingIMightNeedEvenForHomeWouldBeInTheSamePlace #IKeptSayingWeShouldRevisitThemButWeNeverGotRoundToItEspeciallyAsSomeThingsWeNeededForEverydayUse #SoWhenICalledTheHospitalToSayMyWatersHadBrokeTheySaidToBringBagsInJustInCase #WeSpentHalfAnHourRushingRoundButIDidNotTakeItTooSeriously #INearlyDidNotPackThisDressAsItWasWhatIWasWearingInBedWhenMyWatersBroke #ItWasALittleWetAndItDidNotSmellSoIPutItInMyBagThinkingIWouldBeComingHomeSoonForMyHomeBirth #WellObviouslyIDidNotComeHomeAndWasInHospitalFor4Nights #AndILivedInThisDress #ICouldHaveAskedTiagoToBringMoreThingsButByTheTimeIThoughtAboutItIKnewMyStayWasComingToAnEnd #OriginallyIWasInHospitalDueToProblemsWithBreastfeedingAndThenBabyBGotJaundice #TheDressShowsColostrumStainsAndThenMilkStainsAfterMyMilkCameInOnDay3 #ItWouldHaveBeenEvenMessierThanThisButOftenISatWithMyDressOffToDoSkinToSkin #SoManyWomenTouchedMyBoobsDuringMyStayToHelpMeTryToFeedSoIDidNotCareAnymore #PlusAround6PeopleWereAtTheBirthPlusTiago #ItWasWeirdToSuddenlyBeAroundSoManyPeopleAfterHavingNotSeenMyFamilyFor3MonthsDueToCovid #MyCurtainWasNeverFullyClosedAsThereWasALightSwitchJustBehindItThatTheHospitalStaffUsed #SoPotentiallyPeopleCouldSeeInButIReallyDidNotCare #AfterAFewDaysIThoughtIBetterWearSomethingElseButItWasTooHot #TheOtherWomenOnTheWardProbablyJudgedMeForWearingAStainCoveredDress #ButSoManyCameAndWentBeforeMe #IDidNotWearMyWatchBecauseOfBreastfeeding #ISometimesWoreANursingBraButInTheBeginningIDidNotAndThenIUsedBreastPadsOnceMyMilkCameIn #IHadMyEyeMaskOnMyHeadAllTheTimeAndEvenAfterIGotHome #TheJokeWasIWasNotSleepingThoughAndIStillAmNotReally #IBoughtItAsItWasOnARecommendedHospitalListButIAlsoThoughtItWouldBeGoodForHomeAsIFindItHardToSleep #ItWasProbablyTheMostUsefulThingInMyHospitalBagInTheEndAndIAmUsingItAtHome #AndThenIWasGladThatIWoreMySandalsAndNotTrainers #SoEasyToJustSlipO

A few outtakes

(Though I’m thinking maybe it could be a set of images, I don’t know?)

I’m calling this one ‘zombie mum’ – can you tell I hadn’t slept much in the week+ since she was born? I don’t think I really slept for another week.
A classic head to waist-ish shot.
Mmm armpits… though I like the closeup as it kind of looks like a face – two eyes on my boobs and a bit of roundness around my belly as a mouth.

Comments

The whole picture has a similar vibe to my 21st April 2017 (Today’s Look) picture, which I did think about when I was doing the shoot. Different flat and a post-birth belly instead of a hot water bottle, toothpaste stains on one and colostrum/milk stains on the other. With 21st April 2017… it was the first time that I’d wrote a long piece of text to go with a photo, which definitely started to help me feel more confident with my own words.

21st April 2017 (Today’s Look) from Don’t Take Me Out Of My Melons (2017-18).

Old top that I don’t like wearing in public anymore as it took me too long to realise that if I lean over I flash my bra/boobs, trousers that I wore out once in public but felt self-conscious wearing so they are now in the homewear only pile (with toothpaste stains as I can’t seem to brush my teeth without making a mess anymore), 2 pairs of slippers (one – my pair – not really visible, boyfriend’s pair visible), no makeup (haven’t worn any makeup since July, wore makeup twice last year – once for a costume party and once for 1 wedding out of 3 that I attended), brushed hair that I washed yesterday (it’s usually every 4ish days), hairy legs as I haven’t ‘dealt’ with them since February (I went on holiday to warmer climates) and a hot water bottle for period pain as I try to avoid painkillers as much as possible (except when it comes to tooth pain – wisdom tooth removal is not pleasant). 

Also hidden: Bracelet that I made when I was a teenager, a watch (boyfriend’s one that he gave to me after my similar one broke – which was identical to one I bought in 2009, my parents also wear similar watches), a bra (fairly old, I hate bra shopping so I usually just wear the ones that my mum gets me for Christmas), armpit hair (my skin is sensitive, shaving is too much work and epilating hurts so I’m going to try to embrace the neatly trimmed armpit hair look this summer whilst being self-conscious about it), 2 x temporary medicated fillings (I’ve never been to the dentist as many times as I have this year), permanent fillings (wish I had looked after my teeth better – can’t be bothered to go and count them in the mirror), pants (I’ve never been into small underwear, these ones I don’t wear very often but I need to wash my clothes – they are meant to be not be visible through clothes but I still see them under the new trousers I bought so I’m too self-conscious to wear those too), pubic hair (I’ve never understood the prepubescent look/can’t be bothered with more pain), menstrual cup (wish I had bought one years before I did) and a liner (because the cup still isn’t perfect).

I guess walking around loads in front of people in a massively stain covered dress is something I wouldn’t have done pre-baby, but since having B I have changed so much already. I plan to do a photo and text about that soon.

Well you probably won’t catch me walking around Liverpool in it either, but my clothes definitely have more stains on them and I care less. With this project I don’t want to change how I look before doing a shoot if I’m suddenly in the mood. So far that has meant mainly just not retying my hair/brushing it, and my hair misbehaving has ruined a lot of shoots in the past so I guess they’re going to be slightly irritating pictures (I call myself a lazy perfectionist – love perfection, but get annoyed trying to achieve it).

I love it when everything is in ‘the right place’ in a photo and you’ve just got a bit of hair that is doing its own thing, and continues to do its own thing no matter how many times you brush it, restyle it (I don’t style my hair – but I guess more retying it and trying a lower ponytail or something) or try to tuck it away (that is a common approach of mine).

It seems weird posting pictures where there is a big focus on my boobs and all the stains on and around them. I was feeling really awkward about the nudity in my pregnancy project, but since giving birth I also care less. My work is not sexual and my boobs are finally being used for the purpose that I have them for. I remember in high school being mocked for having no boobs (two paracetamols on an ironing board, haha) and me saying ‘well they’re only made for babies anyways’ whilst crying on the inside.

(I feel the need to say I can totally understand why people choose not to breastfeed/use their breastmilk – it is definitely a journey, and if you don’t have kids or don’t want them then enjoy not being covered in stains and having sore nipples).

Rewritten 2003 diary entry for my 2013 project Your Mind & Body Is All That You’ve Got II.

I feel like this sums up my feelings about my misbehaving hair and having no boobs – I was happy having none though (if people had left me alone about it) and I still don’t think having boobs suits me. Time was a club that I don’t think I ever went to.

(I just thought about that calculator thing where the answer upside down is boobless).

I was not sure whether or not to start posting this new project whilst I’m still trying to finish posting my pregnancy project on Instagram, but I think I need to get on with it otherwise I’m going to be months behind with posting it – and B is already growing so fast!

I think that’s it for now… Thanks for reading 🙂


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