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 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.:
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.
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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