When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I was of course over the moon. Not just because I was growing a tiny miracle (and one that I had always prayed would happen for us one day), but because I was actually looking forward to the pregnancy too. I know, how naïve.
I was working in a young vibrant marketing agency in London and it was July. Glorious. Sure, I was gutted that summer drinking was over for me (and racked with the slight guilt of having not realised I was pregnant for a good few weeks. I will openly admit to enjoying ‘a number’ of nights out and at least one festival before seeing those two blue lines… anyway, I digress. It’s fine, she’s fine, so guilt over).
So, while I waved goodbye to two of my favourite past times; sundowners and social smoking (oh, and late nights, uncomfortable shoes and the ability to control my mood), I embraced the thought of a pregnancy wardrobe, bodycon clothes, cosy nights in thinking of baby names while mood-boarding nursery ideas and of course, that infamous pregnancy glow.
The ‘me time’ was crucial. So everyone kept telling me. And I happily obliged. Massages, Pilates classes, yoga, keeping on top of my highlights, manicures and elaborate skincare regimes (I will NOT get stretch marks). I mean, when you’re working fulltime, with no dependents AND you no longer need to fund the annual production of a vineyard, it is shocking what good use you can put your money towards.
And as far as pregnancies go, I was fortunate enough for this one to be pretty plain sailing. With the welcome addition of thicker hair (something I have never had), lovely nails and glowing skin. Bliss. All these things were also a delightful distraction from my swollen hands and nose (yes, nose. Who knew THAT was a thing??) and feet which grew a whole size..length ways.
“You can tell she’s carrying a girl” declared my wise and all-knowing grandmother. “She just looks so beautiful. Look at her skin! And that’s a sign it is a girl. It’s not an old wives tale I promise. It’s a fact.” The fact that my grandma only had one child, my mother, is neither here nor there. Oh the modesty. For the record, she was right. This time.
And in the Spring of 2017, my precious girl was born.
Hands down the best day of my life.
Fast forward to Autumn 2018…and the amazing albeit somewhat surprising news that I was pregnant again. I was thrilled. But with that initial joy came some hugely superficial concerns. I still felt massive from having my daughter (9 months on 9 months off ‘they’ said…), the thought of having to be full term in July (oh the swelling and the sweat) and the fact that I had not actually signed the contract at my new agency (and in fact finding out that I was only four weeks outside getting the company maternity policy. FOUR! Why could we have not waited a few more weeks like a normal married couple?!). Of course the overwhelming excitement of having another baby far outweighed any negatives, but as a human being, it would be unheard of if we didn’t sweat the small stuff too.
And as we move into June, and I am shedding layers of clothes at an alarming rate, what I pretend is a 'dewy' look is actually just the result of housing a combi-boiler in my stomach. I actually can’t bear the thought of having to find an outfit for work any more. I feel like I have exhausted the ASOS maternity website and I can’t possibly go anywhere near actual shops. The main reason being that I simply can’t fit enough snacks into my bag to bribe my, now 2 year old, daughter to confine her to a buggy and therefore allow the amount of time required to try things on. Also, I’m not even sure I can be arsed to go to the shops in the first place. That may be the real reason.
As for ‘me time’ this time round…what an absolute joke. I now work three days a week. This is my ‘me time’. Time to be a grown up. Time to drink coffee, time to talk to adults, time to use my brain and arguably the most important for every mother, time to use the toilet without an audience. It is on these days that I can justify taking the time to put my make up on. And I’m forced to shower as soon as I get up so getting out of pj’s at a normal time is also a luxury on these days.
I’m having a boy this time. And as much we laughed off my grandma’s comment about carrying a girl and how you look (she did have a tendency to exaggerate slightly. One day I’ll tell you about the time a squirrel knocked on her door...), I can’t help but feel she may have been onto something. My pregnancy glow this time is non-existent. My skin has never been drier, my hair has never been thinner and my nails break off if I pick up a piece of cotton wool. W.T.F?
My body feels like I am in training for Ninja Warrior most days. The reality is that I have been sitting at a desk, walked up a few stairs and lifted up a teeny monster (always on the same side and she’s just too young to cling on round my neck despite my pleas). This could of course just be down to age – I am after all a whopping 2 years older with this pregnancy – but it really was so much easier last time round.
And so with this ever flaking face, snake skin arms, and legs only a mother could love/comment on (“Ooo Nats, these are a bit scaly aren’t they”), I went in search of a solution. Just a few items to perk me up and assist my body.
I read an article about some under eye concealer – something I have been lucky enough not to have needed in the past. Now I won’t answer the phone without it on. I have also embarked on a thorough skincare routine (I might try and sell you this another day), but I cannot fault the effect this has had on me. Even when my tiredness and aching body is at a peak, there is something rather opulent about lathering yourself in skincare products at the start and end of the day. That, the occasional tinted glow tan every 3-4 days pre-bed and a bright lipstick and all of a sudden, I feel like me again.
And so this is my little luxury. My must have daily items. The one ritual that currently makes me feel like my old self. Even just for those few minutes while I am getting ready for work. A time of day which was previously one of my least favourites. A time when I had a 2 hour commute ahead of me and inevitably snoozed too many times so was forced to apply my make up on the jolting packed train. Now this time is my sanctuary and I will happily get out of bed a few minutes earlier to make it happen.
Pregnancy is uncontrollable and unpredictable. And so we must do what we can to hold on to the person we know and do whatever we can to feel good about ourselves. Even if that simply means taking 5 minutes each morning to treat yourself, your face, your skin and your soul.