You Look Good...For Being A Mom

“You Look Good…for having two kids”

For being a mom. For having kids. Much like a rapid-fire disclaimer during an ad for a potentially life-saving drug. Your disease may be cured, but you may lose all your hair, be at risk for a heart attack or stroke, and FYI death could come sooner than planned. But hey, your excessive flatulence will be gone forever, one way or another!

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to look good for having a baby, or having had two kids. I don’t want to be gleefully described as a yummy mummy, MILF, or hot mama.

I just want to look good. Period.

Do I expect to look the same as I did before kids? Of course not. I just grew, literally and figuratively. A human being. Inside my body. I can sense the slightest change in breathing, anticipate the call of hunger, and survive on a torturously small amount of sleep. I’m basically super-woman.

But yes, that comes at a price. And I’m happy to pay it. I know things don’t go back to where they were before. I’m not lamenting the loss of my perky bosom (well, okay maybe), the tautness of my tummy (definitely), and the appearance of stretch marks that I just couldn’t avoid the second time around. Ok, wait. Maybe I am lamenting all of those things, but sort-of passively. They’re all signs of the miracle of childbirth, which is a blessing I don’t take lightly.

But as much as I may appreciate the compliment, that last part always gets me. I look good, for being a mom. I look good, for having had a few kids. I look good…but is it a reminder that I used to look better?

Do you mean I look good for having gone through 10 months of gaining weight in disproportionate amounts all over my body, and consequent months of shrinking in an equally disproportionate manner, ending up like some sort of lumpy “dry-clean only” sweater that was mistakenly put in the wash?

Hmm…that’s actually pretty amazing.

To be honest, I do feel like I look better. I love the curves that motherhood gave me, even if it also gave me 10 extra pounds that, much like unwanted houseguests, keep coming back after I’ve shooed them away.

If it isn’t exactly a reminder, is it a lower expectation? Do we cease to become women once we become mothers, and are therefore not fully expected to hold the beauty or shape we once did? All while we simultaneously marvel at the ability of celebrities to “bounce back” after giving birth, then look down at our own sagging skin and vow to hit the gym at least 4 times this week (or you know, reach for another chocolate bar…po-tay-to, poh-tah-to).  

It’s funny to talk about beauty standards, considering we only discuss how unattainable women’s beauty standards are. And I’m certainly not encouraging adding more to our list! It’s simply an observation. Once motherhood level is achieved, is it assumed that we will let it all go to shit, forever? Sure, there’s a few months where living in our pajamas and rocking un-brushed teeth might be de rigeur, but you know, eventually we want to look a little more like ourselves. Like the women we used to recognize, even though we are now much, much better, in my opinion.  

Is there really no in-between? You either look good, or you look good for being a mom. Now that I’ve thought it through, maybe it’s a title I should wear proudly, considering everything my body’s gone through. Because it doesn’t end with the pregnancy.

Oh no, there’s recovery, which is as traumatic for your body, the sleepless nights for months (or years) which contribute to puffy eyes, raging hormones (which vary far greatly from the type we experienced before having kids – now it’s more Adult acne and less Adult film), and of course, the uncanny ability for your child to need you just as you’re about to’ll eat later. Probably another bar of chocolate, or a handful of *organic* fish-shaped crackers, scavenged from the baby’s high chair. Or maybe you won’t eat all day, and then you’ll inhale an entire pizza at 9.30p.m. (I call that the New Mom Food Pyramid). 

Am I saying that if you see me out and about, don’t dare compliment me for fear that I’ll throw it back in your face? Hell-to-the-NO! On the contrary, I’ve never met a compliment I didn’t like, even the ones that have disclaimers.

Stretchy skin…check.


Dark circles…check.

Safari striped tummy…check.

All in all, I look good.

For being a mom, I mean. 

Mirror mirror on the wall...

After you give birth, you feel untouchable.  Like you have achieved the most challenging of tasks, climbed the highest of mountains.  As I was being wheeled from the delivery ward to the rooms, I felt like a victorious Rocky Balboa.  My brain threw up her gangsta colors and shouted “I just added to the Earth’s population, bitches! What did YOU do today?!”

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Sleep Regression: Babies Is Pimps Too (Go On Brush Your Shoulders Off)

Where have I been for the past 2 weeks?

In New Baby Purgatory, otherwise known as 4-Month Sleep Regression, otherwise known as the Land of the Barely Living.  Our anthems? "Stayin' Alive" and "I Will Survive."  Maybe a little Aretha, if I'm feeling sassy (and really, when am I not?)

What is sleep regression?  It's when your adorable, chubby, sweet little bundle of eyelashes and spit bubbles basically acts like a bit of an asshole.  For weeks.

He won't nap, but he'll be super pissy and cry for an hour.  This doesn't mean I can sit in the glider and scroll through BuzzFeed's latest must-read list (15 Ways You Know You Went To Boarding School in England).  Oh, no.  It's an hour of standing up, bouncing, swaying, praying, shushing, rocking.  His little baby-radar goes off as soon as I try to get comfortable (how does he KNOW when I'm sitting down?)  I swear, my butt-cheeks start to quiver as they approach the couch.  Feed and repeat at the next naptime.  Long walks in the stroller?  Nope.  Wide-eyed and full of wonder, he'll happily stare at every freaking branch we pass, but God forbid he closes his eyes for longer than a blink.  Actually, is he mocking me?  I swear he didn't even blink.  It was like his eyes just took turns blinking, so yeah, a series of winks.  Lest he actually fall asleep.  When he does deign to sit, it won't be in his bouncer, rocker, or any of the baby accoutrements we were suckered into buying, instead insisting on sitting upright on my lap, just so, mind you.  A degree off here and there will Set. Him. Off.

So what is the big deal?  Well, naptime is when I eat breakfast - shower - write - take a full breath - think. It's when I collect sanity for the next few hours.  Especially for bedtime.

Bedtime. It used to be so simple.  We had a whole bedtime routine.  Bath, feed, sit in bouncer, swaddle, sleep.  Now it's Bath, feed, moderately successful burping effort, and the second his sleepy, heavy body touches the bouncer he is up again.  With a vengeance.  As I helplessly watch his placid, sweet little face turn bright red with anger and his eyes glower with rage, it's kind of hard not to take this personally.  When he starts to roar at me for DARING to put him down, and punishes me for the next hour by continuously crying ("See? I'm rocking you a maniac...doesn't this make you happy with me?" "Bitch I'll teach you to put me down like that again...") all he needs is a tiny little PimpCup and a cane.  I'm in uber-exhausted mode.  We're both crying and screaming.

Right now I'd settle for the lack of R-E-S-P-E-C-T to get some S-L-E-E-E-E-P.

When he finally does suddenly fall asleep I'm such a bag of nerves that all I can do is zone out for an hour and then fall into my bed, teeth unbrushed (I know, it's so awful, don't judge), living in fear of when he will next wake.  The nightmare isn't over.  He'll be up multiple times, at which point I'll cycle through patting&shushing (squinting without my glasses in the dark, to ascertain whether we are about to enter the "feed me now or you'll regret it" phase), rushing to the living room with a sleep-sacked baby over my shoulder, while simultaneously popping buttons on my pajama shirt, desperate to pull out the boobs before the shit hits the fan, and then sitting in the dark for 45 minutes until he digests.  Because if I put him down to sleep too soon, I'll have a crib full of congealed breastmilk to deal with.  And even though I seem to bathe in it, I do not like congealed breastmilk.

I know I owe you recipes, a Favourite Thing, and a story...but have pity patience.  I'm working on it!

Oh, how did we get through the sleep regression?  I'll let you know when we get there.  Still cursing about 16 hours a day, sleeping about 4 hours a day, and somehow eating cookies 24 hours a day. 

Sleep Regression: Insane In The Membrane

As a continuation of my enviable state these days, let me invite you into a night in my life...

8-9.20 pm:  Crying.  In my ear.  WHY won't he sleep?!

9.30 pm - THANKS BE TO GOD all is well! I must reward myself with some reality television (Hey there, Real Housewives of Melbourne!  You and your Australian accents will remain my dirty little secret.  Dirty because that's what I am.  And not in a fun way.  I mean, I used to be, in a fun way.  Now I'm just actually dirty.  He spat up down my chest and inside my shirt.  It was warm and kind of lumpy.  And now it's so, sooo cold.  I couldn't put him down because, shitfit, and so I just let it pool in my bra, and dry.  This is why I need you, Real Housewives.) And dinner. I'm so hungry.  Wait, there's only a spoonful left of the food I made yesterday.  After facing the reality that I might eat my own arm by the time Seamless gets here, I'll just have peanut butter on toast.

11.00 pm - BED.  Is there any feeling more wonderful than cool, freshly laundered sheets underneath my aching limbs? I do a little starfish dance to luxuriate in this pleasure before I pass out.  I'm so tired. I secretly hope hubs doesn't want to "cuddle."

12.00 am - WAAAAAAAHHHHH!  What. The. Fuuuuuck.  Shush/pat doesn't work. He wants to nurse; off the living room we go.  Shitshitshit! I forgot the nursing pillow in my toddler's room! I can't go in there! I proceed to nurse on stacked couch cushions, one hand preventing the baby from slipping off and the other holding a boob in place. I can practically feel them sagging with every suckle. Stupid stupid me!

1 am: He must have digested by now. I'll wrap him and put him back in his crib. He's asleep. I'm awesome. I hear an angel's chorus as I get back into my welcoming bed.

42 minutes later: Crying. Again! WHAT is going on?  He spat up! Thank god it's not on him though.  Perhaps he'll be more comfortable out of the crib. I throw him over my shoulder, and we go to fetch the Rock'n'Play.  BURP! A little cottage cheese on my tee shirt; no biggie...EWwww! It's in my HAIR!!! Like a bird poo in a tangled nest! That shit'll brush right out, right? (It won't. I'm currently mustering up the energy for a shower).

When I reswaddle him I notice parts of it are wet with spit up. Whatever, I'm sure he won't even notice. Except now he's awake and gurgling at me in the dark. I can feel him staring. Ignoring him, I poke one foot out from under my duvet and rock him. Once. Because I've fallen asleep. Not to worry though because a few minutes later...

1.52 am: A door creaks. That ominous sound is my toddler's calling card. Suddenly he appears at the foot of my bed, a tiny shadow staring at me and pointing to my bed, wanting permission to sleep with us.  I get up to take him back to him room.  "But I eurgh lebyrch" What?? He says it louder. Nope. Whatever it is, I can assure you it's a nope. I scoop him up just as his face starts to crumble into that high-pitched, elongated wail only 3 year olds can master, and run with him back to his room.  I plop him back into his bed.

Wait, why is there a wet spot on his pajama pants? It's too large to be from tears, but it's in such an odd place that it couldn't possibly be pee, could it??? Mystery wetness be damned! Let's cuddle and sleep. I tuck him in and head back to my room after a few hugs.

4.00 am: Loud lip smacking. Baby is happily chewing away at his chubby little fingers, loud enough to wake the dog up.  But I got 2 solid hours of sleep! I can do this. He wants to eat.

We go.

5.00 am: Guess who's back, back again? Mommy's back, back in bed...I practically faint into a deep sleep.

6.00 am: WHY? WHY IS HE AWAKE? Why is this happening to me?!  This can't be happening! He can't be hungry. I pick him up and try desperately to rock him back to sleep. IT WORKS! Hallelujah!

As I'm putting him down...the toddler comes back in. Oh. My. God.

Defeated, I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. I send him to my bed and get in. Only I can't sleep because his tiny little feet are burrowing into my butt crack. How? Why? What the hell? I'm losing my temper. Hubs wakes up and tries to cuddle him (by putting him in a headlock).  Now I'm worried and can't sleep. I get up to reposition him. I fall back down and try to sleep. Andy feels my seething anger and quietly takes him to the living room.

7.00 am: Baby is awake for the day.  I want to shoot myself.

Today I have subsisted on a diet of chocolate biscuits and a bottle of wine.

"Sleep Like A Baby"

I think it's safe to assume that the person who coined the term "Sleep like a baby" was a man.  Obviously some well-coiffed buffoon paid a visit to the nursery on his estate and, while the exhausted nanny struggled to remain upright and awake for Sir's visit (which cut into the brief rest she was to have), remarked upon how envious it was to be able to "sleep like a baby," while chewing on his pipe and peering down into the bassinet. Requisite fatherly duties dispensed with, he exited the room in a puff of foul-smelling Turkish tobacco smoke and in his sound-insulated, wood-paneled study, put quill to paper to record for centuries the most maligned term in English language.

Sleep like a baby, my ass.

In fact, I hope he spent the rest of his days sleeping like a baby.  Waking every three hours desperate to eat, crying for no apparent reason, and shitting his pants.

Between the baby being awake, and the short spurts of blissful sleep, there is an arid wasteland of putting the baby to sleep.  It is in this desperate time period that we are at our most harried, exhausted, sensitive, and imaginative.  There will be WORLD PEACE if only I can get this baby to bed.  I will dance in a field of flowers with sunlight streaming through my hair, if ONLY I can get this baby to sleep.  Woe betide you who interrupt me from this task.  The blinders are on.  There is NOTHING more important and completely necessary than getting this baby to shut his eyes and sleep.  On a recent car journey, with the baby refusing to sit in his seat and instead spending three hours wailing away in my arms (I possess biceps like the Hulk at this point), when Andy asked me to wipe our older son's sticky face, I almost picked up the car seat and threw it at his head. "Cleaning his face isn't on my priority list right now!" I snapped back, before being absorbed back into the hellish world from whence I came.

But once the baby is asleep, oh then, it's all summery breezes and butterflies.  The tornado raging away around me dies down and everything is beautiful.  Unless he is just pretending to sleep, of course.

This happens only when I MOST need the baby to sleep.  Say, for example, when I have been up for hours at night and it's finally morning naptime.  He's pissy but through a dizzying combination of bouncing, patting, and continuous swaddling of those tiny fists that love to break free and pull out the pacifier just as he is falling asleep, it's working!  Eureka!  Now I totally know how Archimedes felt! I have an out of body experience as I forget my weary limbs...I'm completely focused on my task of putting the baby to sleep.  Suddenly, I can climb mountains.  I start imagining all the wonderful things I can achieve when he (definitely) sleeps.  I could NAP!  Wait, who has time for a nap when there is food to be had?!  I could eat a HOT breakfast!   I could write!  I could shower AND brush. my. teeth!

My head swimming with dreams and possibilities, I realize I am bone tired.  I need to sleep, before anything.  All else can be achieved...later.  I'm still bouncing, I'm still patting, but my eyes are heavy.  The baby is breathing steadily and sleeping soundly.  My eyelids are drooping.  I'm actually already dreaming.  Dreaming of the cool sheets under my tired body, the soft feather-stuffed pillow beneath my weary head, the fluffy duvet insulting me from reality...I just can't wait.  I'm already there, even while bouncing with the baby in my arms.  I just need to transplant him successfully from my body to the crib.

Half-asleep, I glance down before I make my stealthy moves. One.  One tiny little beady eye is open and is peeking up at me.


Then, a gummy smile.


The beautiful, peaceful world I just built around me comes crashing down.  It's really cold in here, I really need a shower, and my eyes are burning.  Stupid hopes and dreams.