Forget bounce back culture – I’m a stone heavier than the day after I gave birth
In motherhood, the pressure to snap back is about as welcome as a backwards train journey on a cheap wine hangover (if you know, you know).
I remember seeing images of Emily Ratajkowski’s toned tummy just 11 days after she’d given birth and secretly hoping someone was hiding behind her and holding back her loose skin like a torso version of the Croydon facelift.
My midwife told me not to rush to lose the baby weight and assured me that most women take up to a year to fit back into their pre-baby wardrobe.
But 18-months on and I’m now a stone heavier than the day I brought my son home from the hospital. And I’m sure I’m not alone.
So here’s to the mothers who don’t bounce back or even slither back at a snail’s pace. Because personally, I cannot see how parenthood is conducive to weight loss.
During pregnancy I had gestational diabetes and was forced to cut out sugar, carbs and all things joyous. So once I was given the green light postpartum to eat what I wanted, it’s fair to say I attacked the Sainsbury’s bakery aisle with the same aggression as a Black Friday shopper trying to bag the last discounted Tassimo machine.
In those early days, our house was filled with food parcels and baked treats kindly sent from friends and family and in my state of exhaustion, I’d walk around and inhale food without even realising it.
But it wasn’t just my post-gestational diabetes cravings I had to contend with. The level of exhaustion was intense. Show me a tired person who craves kale and I’ll show you a sociopath.
I know it’s a parent cliché to say you’ve never known tiredness like it, but my word.
The sleep deprivation was like a Bush Tucker Trial I couldn’t Gillian McKeith faint my way out of. The only way to survive was to down vast quantities of caffeine and sugary treats in the hope of feeling somewhat alive.
Eighteen months on, the exhaustion is still severe. My son may sleep more consecutive hours at night but he’s awake almost all day. One small nap and the remaining 12 hours he’s full of beans.
When he does nap, the desire to jump to my feet and work out is not strong within me. In fact, the only way I want to get my heart rate up during his nap time is by watching explosive episodes of Real Housewives or looking at images of Pedro Pascal and his naughty Met Gala knees.
I tell myself every Sunday night that the week ahead will be different. I’ll turn over a new leaf and quit my bad habits. I go to bed with the best of intentions, falling asleep to a mental montage of me juicing something green and leafy before heading to my local park and running up stone steps, bicep-curling my two-stone toddler as I go.
But minutes into my montage, I’ll be woken up by my son who is either teething, ill, or has simply decided that sleep is for the weak and my previous pledge of fitness will disappear.
At this rate, I’m about one sleep regression away from snorting raw sugar and coffee grinds to stay awake.
It’s not my fault that I crave sugary and fried foods when I’m tired. Look it up, it’s science. I’m powerless to resist. And yes, that is the speech I give the UberEats driver when he comes to my house with my third order of Taco Bell that week.
It only recently opened near my house but I’m obsessed. Cut me open and there’s an alarming amount of their bright yellow cheese sauce swimming in my veins.
And this is no shade to the mums out there who regularly work out or actually enjoy a diet that deviates from the food groups of fried, battered and breaded. I’m truly happy for you. A small part of me wants to ninja star you with a Mini Cheddar but I’m mostly happy for you.
I actually did manage to squeeze into an old pair of jeans a few months back. Emphasis on the word squeeze. Ten minutes into wearing them, and the tightness of the denim had caused my crotch region to go to sleep.
I know getting outside to exercise and eating better would make such an improvement in my life. Especially as my current coping combination is Sertraline and sauvignon blanc.
But I’m still just trying to adjust to this massive shift in my life and find my routine.
So until then, I’m going to give myself a break – like all mums should, regardless of their size – and a pat on the back for surviving it all. Oh, and definitely buy some bigger jeans.
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