Motherhood, vanity and the womanly art of Not Despairing

Does it make sense to feel powerful and undignified at the same time?

Yes. Especially if you’ve just given birth.

At this pinnacle of womanhood, I feel less womanly than ever. Any grace I had has been channeled into our beautiful son, leaving me feeling like a flat bottle of pop abandoned at the back of the fridge.

I miss having those great days. The ones where no matter what you generally think about yourself, you walk a little taller because you’re mysteriously at some version of your best. You feel put-together, polished. You feel good in what you’re wearing, good in your skin. These days often come out of nowhere, a lovely surprise that gives you a sort of peace with yourself.

On January 5th, the Kate I knew was abducted by aliens, taken to a solar system far, far away, disassembled for curiosity, then re-assembled and dropped back on earth, naked and shivering.

But they got me mixed up.

I’m put back together backwards, with some warped parts and the odd loose screw. I’m not myself. No more great days in sight. Not with wet splotches on my shirt. Not when I can’t get my pants done up.

In bed last night with the sheets clutched up around my neck, I decided: there’s nothing more unappealing than dwelling on one’s unappealingness. But it’s not easy to figure out how to be a non-pregnant Kate again with the heckler in my head:

Hide those bits! Get out of bed backwards. You really think you are what you were, wearing a polka-dot nursing bra? You’ve got stitches where stitches should never be. Don’t expect this body to co-operate any time soon. Oh, and by the way, you’ve got spit-up down your extra-large shirt. Again.

In addition to having grown a new heckler, I’ve also grown a new emotional fusebox. I hear the voice in my head, but at the moment I expect to get miserable from it, the fuse trips. I can’t seem to muster the necessary despair for a good cry. Some unusual form of post-partum self-preservation, I guess.

So where does this leave me, other than being most comfortable in complete darkness?

A strange state of acceptance. I can't be bothered to spend time considering precisely how I'm no longer myself. It's time to get up with the lights on.

You have to start somewhere.