Before I had a baby myself, it used to annoy the life out of me that people, especially first time mums, would share pictures of their child on social media every blooming day. Not only that, there would be the mums that would share a whole album of photos of essentially the same 10 mins of the day from about 90 different angles (just take a video?) or the mums who were all about a selfie before, never to be seen again, instead replaced by this mini-me. But now I get it. And it’s not what you think.
I used to think these mums were filled with self-assurance that their child, was, in fact, the cutest baby there ever was. And don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely an element of “aww cute” about baby pics, especially if, like me, you like to dress your baby up in old man outfits. But actually, the heart-melting factor wears off after a couple of weeks when you remember other people have kids and you see their photos and, oh gosh, isn’t little Amelia/Max (insert on-trend baby name here) cute in that little outfit/doing whatever they are doing.
So no, it’s not an egotistical thing where we magically think we’ve co-created the perfect being. It’s for a few reasons. Firstly we want you to know we are still alive. You may not have heard much from us in the first few weeks after we announced the birth of said perfect being. That’s because no matter how many books we read or sites we researched or advice we took, absolutely nothing prepared us for actually having to take care of these tiny beings all day every day. It’s like when you go off the radar for the first day at a new job, except you can’t just clock out at 5pm and join the real world again. There’s been a lot of learning, going with the flow and general panic and disruption at every hour of the day, so we haven’t had the chance to brush our hair let alone get ready and pose for a selfie, never mind actually go anywhere or do anything like we used to in the good old days. But we did get our baby up and dressed, and they did a windy smile. That was the highlight of the day rather than a fancy meal at a nice restaurant or catching a new film/band, so you’ll just have to deal with it.
Secondly, many of us feel like absolute shit. Our bodies have been through more trauma than any non-childbearing person will know; we are fragile, trying to recover and simultaneously being flung into the most difficult role we’ve yet faced, with about 5 minutes sleep into the bargain. We currently consider it a good day if all parties in the house can manage to get washed, dressed and fed, so forgive us if we don’t feel like taking a selfie or doing anything other than take a quick snap of this beautiful little creature with wide eyes and perfect skin and long eyelashes and heart-melting smile. We’re not jealous, honest.
Not only do we feel like shit in the exhausted, outward-looking sense,
we’re mentally exhausted too. We are tired of looking in a mirror, not sure of what we see. We’re tired of being told about mums who walked out of the hospital in their size 8 jeans, or the mums who manage to get their kids into a routine and sleeping through the night by 6 weeks old. We’re tired of society telling us how we should behave as a parent, what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our lives and bodies now our child is here. And despite knowing that all this stuff doesn’t really matter, it still gets to us.
Whether it’s scrolling through our Facebook feeds to see some supermum taking perfect pictures from the perfect adventure with her 3 perfect kids in tow, or the Pinterest infograhics telling you how to lose the baby pouch, it all creates an overwhelming amount of pressure and guilt. It’s so hard not to compare ourselves with others in this situation, even though we know all pregnancies, births and babies are different. Us ladies get a rough time as it is from the media always telling us how to look, what to wear, how to behave, never mind when you throw a child into the mix. And despite our best efforts to rise above it, sometimes we just can’t.
Sometimes we feel really low and hate our bodies and the way they have changed, even if we have already been told a thousand times that pregnancy and childbirth will change your body, and that creating the miracle of life doesn’t always come without battle scars. Nevertheless, we still can’t quite come to grips with the fact that our body wont 100% go back to the way it was before, and, for impatient people like myself, it can turn into an internal battle between your head and body, when you still don’t fit into those pre-pregnancy clothes months down the line.
Sometimes we hate that we can’t even do our simple daily makeup like before, and hate it enough that we have to go to the shops for nappies with bags under our eyes and spots on our face, and don’t really feel like showing anyone that face, other than the cashier at ASDA – and that’s only because we absolutely have to. Everybody tells you about the changes to your boobs, belly, bum and thighs as a new mum, but nobody warns you about the massive changes to your skin and hair post-pregnancy. For me, my skin returned to that of a teenager, with eyebags you could carry a Primark spree in. Then, my hair started to fall out at an alarming rate (more on that here), so now there’s even more desire for me to actually do my hair and make up, despite having no time. This created more feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth (still comparing myself to supermum with her perfect eyebrows and coiffed updo), meaning I was reluctant to go anywhere and do anything unless necessary, in turn meaning less life updates, pics, witty things to Tweet etc.
Sure, this may not be the case for all new mums. Some might really believe that their kid is the cutest on the planet and that everyone else deserves to see at least 45 pictures of them a day. But for many of us it’s a mask, preventing people from seeing what we don’t want them to see. Our child (or children) represents the light in our life – smiling, bright-eyed, learning and doing something new every day, where sometimes we don’t feel good enough ourselves, we know that they are perfect to us and worth sharing. So please remember that the next time you see another new mum posting yet another album of her little treasure.