Your body used to be a temple. But since you had children, it’s more like an abandoned warehouse on an industrial estate in hell. What is this leaky, creaky, heffalump you’re dragging around with you? How come you have an extra arse on top of your original arse, and a jelly belly that puts Santa to shame?
Yes, a mother’s body is a strange place indeed, full of changes and not-very-pleasant surprises.
Let’s start with the arse shelf. When I was pregnant, I remember catching a glimpse of myself in the window of Sainsburys. I never really gave much thought to my bum before, but now, all of a sudden, I had this thing that seemed to extend out from my backbone like a huge gourd. It could have created its own lunar eclipse.
We’re not talking Kim Kardashian booty, either –more like Judy Finnegan after a few too many custard creams. The arse shelf is still with me, seven years later and is a major cause of wardrobe malfunction. Gussets fall down with alarming regularity and if I wear skirts, they ride up and show my knickers, usually in the vicinity of a good-looking guy 20 years my junior.
Of course, none of this is helped by THE MUM GUT. When you have a baby, you get this lovely bonus prize – a rope of unshiftable fat which refuses to respond to diet and exercise and flobs over your waistband like a drunk slug. The Mum Gut makes jeans ride down and creates the fabled ‘Mum Crack’ (which is the technical term for that acre of unclothed arse you see whenever anyone bends over in a soft play.) Unless you’re prepared to shell out for liposuction, this baby is staying with you forever, so invest in some baggy tops or draw a face on it and call it Bob or something.
And of course, some women also get a network of beautiful stretch marks to embellish their new extra parts. You can slather yourself with Bio Oil all you like after the event, but as with the Mum Gut, they’re here to stay. If you’re breastfeeding, your boobs will probably resemble a pair of veiny, blotchy coconuts. You could spend your whole life covering up your crepey stretch mark ‘shame’, but really, life is too short, so put on a bikini with big knickers and give them an airing. Just think of yourself as a really interesting human Google map.
Ooh, and there’s more fun to be had. Let us not forget that flirtation with our new friend - incontinence! Yep, you need only to bend over to pick up a toy and your compromised pelvic floor will open up like a flooded mine shaft.
Unless you’re one of those people who prioritises squeezing their pelvic floor muscles 200,000 times, you’ll probably forget in between all the childcare and working and washing and ironing and not sleeping, and you’ll soon be the proud owner of a slack Annie fanny, which catches you out when you sneeze, laugh, breathe and bend. You used to joke about Tena Lady – now you’re quietly eyeing the packet in Boots like a perv in a dirty raincoat.
There are many other new developments in your body after you have a baby. Basically, everything you originally started out with is replaced by a bunch of out of shape parts that are completely unrecognisable. Bits get swollen, from your feet to your flaps. Your libido can only be aroused by a box of wine and a Housewives of Orange County marathon. Your hair, which was so lustrous while all those pregnancy hormones were rocketing around your body, starts blocking up the plughole and makes you wonder whether you should attempt a comb over. (A year after I had my child, I looked like Janice from the Muppets).
Oh, and talking of hormones, you’ll be constantly terrorised by them until menopause. People talk about ‘emotional rollercoasters’ but that’s not really accurate. It’s more like an Alton Towers of emotion, complete with the ‘F***** MELTDOWN’ ride, the ‘Screaming For No Reason Ride’ and of course, the up and down ‘Teacups of Tears And Irrational Laughter’ ride. You are trapped in this infernal theme park until menopause, when the whole thing explodes and you punch your way out kicking and screaming and realise that you’re now a middle-aged woman who quite likes gardening and watercolours.
So what can we do? Well, there’s nothing much we can do. The only true response is to learn to love our bodies, because our body is the only body we’ll ever have. We must try to accept ourselves as we are now and be proud that it helped us give birth to a miracle, despite the fact that now our boobs are around our ankles.
Ha ha! Yeah, RIGHT.
I don’t know about you, but I’m saving up to get a new one. (Preferably Gisele’s.)