The Post-Baby Comeback

During my first pregnancy, in those moments when I wasn’t tired, I found myself plotting my comeback. And it was going to be MEGA.

Usually this feeling would start when I heard a certain song – probably something more suitable for teenage girls, and definitely something that would make me want to shake my expanding arse. I missed nights out, I missed spending time with my girlfriends. I missed carefree dancing. Yes, you can still have fun without a drink. But if you’re the only one not drinking it’s not quite as fun and after 9.30pm everyone starts repeating themselves and people lean in to your personal space and spray your face with spit as they talk. And dancing sober? I can’t. I just can’t. It’s been unavoidable with two pregnancies and a load of weddings, but it’s not something I’m keen to revisit. It starts as an awkward side step, perhaps a little knee bend, and then I’ll try and jazz it up with a hand clap and a ‘woo’, and then I die inside. In comparison when I’ve had a drink, I AM rhythm.

A good friend was pregnant at the same time and we were both due around Christmas. We planned it together – come the Spring, the babies would be a few months old and we would be back in our gladrags, back to our pre-baby energy levels and ready to par-tay. As luck would have it, a friend of ours had her hen do when Buster was four months old. It was at a very cool house with caterers and a DJ and I was giddy with excitement. At 10.59pm I was standing on a chair wielding an inflatable willy (and possibly yelling ‘I’ve still got it’) and – I’ve been told – by 11.01pm I was weeping that I was tired and being put in to my pyjamas. I woke next to my friend who was also breastfeeding and we sat in a double bed synchronised pumping. Her pump made an ‘Um-cha um-cha’ sound whilst mine did a ‘wah-wah-wah’. It became apparent that this was not the comeback we had planned.

What came with the physicality of being away from my baby is not something I could have prepared for; the guilt and the fear, as well as the accompanying breast pump if venturing away for more than a few hours. It was also a while before I wanted to, or could, wear anything but comfy (ie elastic waisted) clothes. I wonder how many other women have wanted to burn all items of clothing they wore while pregnant and in the months after? Clothes bought for practical reasons, or because they fit. Unlike every single one of the 36 bras you now own, your boobs either spilling over the top or (more likely) hanging in a flaccid fashion somewhere at the bottom of the cup.

Putting together a snappy outfit for this comeback is therefore pretty impossible. It’s not something to worry about too much – it’s likely you’ll put some thought in to an outfit and as you’re getting ready someone throws up in your hair and your shower ends up as a quick spritz of air freshener. A friend described catching someone looking at her on one of her first nights out, thinking to herself ‘Oh I have still got it’ before her mate pointed out that a big white breast pad was poking out the top of her dress.

I also found for a good while after having babies that if I went out I felt an intense paranoia the next day. Without fail, I would wake around 5am and lie in bed convinced I’d made a total dick of myself. I’d go over conversations, I’d read in to comments people made and think they thought I was an idiot, and then would be full of regret and guilt at having left the kids. A friend recently messaged me about this after one of her first post-baby nights out.  ‘When I was pregnant I just couldn’t wait to get my body and my life back and party but now I feel so divided by it all. Today I have woken up anxious, paranoid and self doubting. All night I just didn’t feel it, I was drinking for the sake of it and all I wanted to do was be at home with my family. I am spending a lot of time questioning myself; where do I fit in now? Do people think I’m a bore?’

In all honesty, for a short period after having babies, we probably are a bit dull and lacking in conversation.

These babies take up a lot of mind space as well as being physically demanding, and I’ll be honest, I had no idea what was going on in the world outside my little bubble for a good six months at least. (Keeping up with the Kardashians was my breastfeeding viewing of choice, and they don’t tend to cover a lot of world politics). After one dinner out with friends I tried to explain to Doug how I felt and asked if he thought our friends no longer liked me because I had no chat. He said ‘well you have had a big chunk of time away from socialising, you probably just need a bit more practice’. As an aside, should your friend or partner ask you something similar? Just lie. You can joke about her elasticated waists and multiple references to an episode of Come Dine With Me when, and only when, she has moved on.

bedtime

The thing is We. Are. Exhausted. It’s very hard to be rational when you’re tired and a night out is going to mean even less sleep than you’re already getting? Of course it’s going to make you anxious. Coupled with the fog that I think many of us experience after having babies, it’s just not conducive to wild carefree nights. I actually found myself getting stressed about the lack of sleep I was going to get ahead of evenings doing anything, and basically sucking all the joy out of not only the night but the two running up to it as I became the Sleep-Hunter, becoming more irritable as my quest for storing up extra sleep was hopeless on account of two small children. My youngest is almost two and I still get the fear if we have a busy week with more than one post-10pm bedtime. A friend recently found herself in a swanky bar on a girl’s night out, and rather than letting go all she could think about was that they went out after her bedtime and her pants were uncomfortably tight.

My mum thinks we’re all crackers. They didn’t feel this pressure back in the day, they just stayed in. I suppose it’s a combination of feeling we should to show we still can, but also wanting to because that’s what we did in our ‘old’ life, and we miss it. We miss her.

It’s really easy to look at other people and think everyone else has jumped straight back in the saddle. Pictures of celebs strutting about in clingy outfits mere weeks after giving birth don’t help. Who knows how they’ve done it, but they may well be crying inside. Imagine having to pretend to the world you’re having a ball when your nipples are leaking and you’ve only hissed at your partner in three days? I don’t care if you’re Beyonce or Beryl, those hormones take over us all and I won’t hear otherwise. In those first months I also regularly got to 5pm and realised I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet. I’ve no idea why I simultaneously felt I should be able to hold it together to dress nicely and catch up with friends over dinner? Like many things relating to motherhood, we have these expectations we put on ourselves that no one else is expecting of us.

As well as the passing of time, some more sleep and a calming down of some pretty bonkers hormones, we work out what and who makes a good night. It might not be quite the same as the ones before kids, and there will probably be more dinner and less dancing. Then suddenly, it will happen. The stars have aligned and you’ve managed to wash your hair and put on underwear and make up. You’re not knackered and no one is sick. Heck, you actually feel pretty good. You drink, you laugh and you feel ALIVE.

Even though your tolerance to alcohol is now frankly pathetic, it’s comforting to know she’s still there. The nights out might be less frequent, they may finish a little earlier, and on occasion they may end with you being sick in to your scarf in the taxi home, but it feels good. This, my friend, is your comeback.

Did you worry you about getting back out there, or maybe do it too soon? Or do you live for a good night out? I’d love to know how you found it in the comments below. It definitely wasn’t me that yacked in to my own scarf in the back of a taxi. Definitely, definitely not…

Images: ebay.co.uk; usborne.com

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40 thoughts on “The Post-Baby Comeback

  1. Pingback: Some blogs I love - shutterflies.co.uk

  2. Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) says:

    I dont have friends here at all but if I am back in my country I definitely will be back in no time and be like I never left to give birth and become a mother. I think its because I have my parents there who will take care of my son and so I wont get scared or worried. I miss those days, nights. #pocolo

    • Joanna Mccaffrey says:

      Hi Merlinda, I hope this will work out for you. I went back to my country for part of the maternity and had my parents look after Little F, but they still work full time so at most I got an occasional weekend. I had the choice of party till the dawn, sleep-sleep-sleep or (and this is the hardest option) don’t drink, get up early and have a productive day doing all the stuff you can’t with bb around. Whichever I chose I invariably felt bad for not choosing the other… It seems you can never win!
      Hope you’ll enjoy having your parents around. Your relationship with them will now be on a new and wonderful level! xx

      • Steph says:

        I think it’s tough whatever you choose isn’t it? Life is different! I think in time we hopefully all work out a good mix. Currently though, not a lot beats PJs by 7pm and snacks in front of the telly!

  3. Verily Victoria Vocalises says:

    This! Oh my goodness, yes! This! I have to say though that these days (irrespective of the fact that I have a 7 year old) I am much happier with a night in front of the telly thank you very much. I just can’t cope with hangovers anymore! Thank you for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x

  4. Peregrin says:

    Does an afternoon hot chocolate consumed in a cafe count as “going out”? Because that’s all I have managed so far, 11 months after the birth of my first child. Admittedly he is the worst sleeper on the planet and I am barely functional as it is. But going out for a dinner? Let alone clubbing? The mind boggles.

    The thing is, even if I had the chance I think the guilt would be too much!

    • Steph says:

      I think looking at all the comments and feedback, most women struggle and the time it takes/what they do varies, but overall we all struggle! You definitely shouldn’t feel guilty though. At some point you will probably want to re-emerge, and we all deserve some time to ourselves. Hope the sleep improves soon – I know it’s a killer x

  5. Jess Paterson says:

    Spot on, Steph! I’m supposed to be organising a monster uni night out and really want to dance like it’s 1996, while also being in bed by midnight. Don’t they always wake up in the night when you’ve been out, too? Great post m’lady. xx

  6. Ems says:

    Another top post Steph, all so true! X

    On my first night out post baby i got far too overexcited about the fact that i was ‘out’ and necked 6 large white wines on no dinner, forgetting that white wine is my enemy when drunk in this foolish way. One minute i was the life & soul of the party, the next I was sobbing about my baby needing me and being put in a taxi home, this was at 9pm. The next effort saw me expressing for most of the night in a pub toilet, again not the raving night out I envisaged! Also the next day dread at the moment (does it ever go?!) just isnt worth it! The pain of looking after a baby when feeling like total shit just isnt cool!

    • Steph says:

      6 glasses and no dinner? Oh no no. I couldn’t have managed that even in my heyday! I love that it was all over by 9pm *snigger* x

  7. WallyMummy says:

    I am totally looking forward to popping this uterus-tennant out and being a one-stella-wonder for a few months! NOTHING beats that first guilt free glass :)) x love this post :))) x

  8. Joanna Mccaffrey says:

    very honest and very true post Steph.
    My baby is now one and has been sleeping through the night for a while, but going out is still tainted with the thought of early morning wake up cry…
    Incidentally, you mention the post baby fog. My hasn’t gone yet!! I find it rather hard to string a few logical thoughts together into a coherent plan of action. By the time I get to the end, I forgot where I started!

    • Steph says:

      It takes a while, and once they’re sleeping through I just wanted to make the most of it as lived in fear they’d stop again! x

  9. Claire says:

    My first night out after baby number 2 ( which incidentally was 12 months after baby number 1 so alcohol tolerance was at an all time low !! ) I was aiming for fun & sexy , promised my (now ex ) husband all sorts of things in a flashback to our previous life before babies …… I ended up being sick on my own feet & he ended up with the night feed while I threw up & spent the next day with a 2 month old, a 14 mths old & the hangover from hell !
    12 years on i don’t think my alcohol tolerance has ever returned & my social life is very different now but I actually like it now & am happy with the occasional late drunken night which takes 2 days to recover from !!!

    • Steph says:

      I think it’s the shock at first because we go from being out and carefree to…not! But with a bit of passing of time, I’m totally with you on spacing out the big nights (and taking quite a while to recover). I bloody love a 9pm bedtime!

  10. brummymummyof2 says:

    Fab post bab! We shall try and drink away our worries in two weeks but you know what makes me really sad? I went to try and buy some new hot and trendy work clothes. And you know what’s in fashion now? SHORTS? and LEATHER SKIRTS!!! Now. I could wear them but 1) I would look horrif in the shorts esp and 2) I would be sacked. Sigh. Is it bedtime yet?? xxx

  11. Jackie Pestell says:

    Love this! Especially the teeth brushing, we were on hols this month and it was 2 whole days before I realised I’d not taken my birth control pill! My fault for ‘letting my hair down’ with 1 glass of wine each night!

  12. Sceptical Mum says:

    I remember organising and going on a hen do when my boy was 5 months old. The hen was pregnant but had insisted it was still a ‘proper’ hen do. By 11.30pm I was in the toilets in a Cabaret club in Leicester Square desperaty pumping because all my breast pads were full, my boobs were killing and I was starting to look like Jordan.

    Just as I came out, reinvigorated and ready to dance the night away, the bride decided she was too exhausted and the baby was kicking the living daylights out of her so we headed off to catch the last tube. I was up again 4 hours later feeding.

    One way or another, kids are determined to stop you going out!

  13. claire says:

    Yes! This is me!! I’ve had 3 post baby come backs and they have become ever more pathetic!

    Now when people ask what I’m doing in the evening the question just confuses me – clearly I’m in my pjs and in bed by 9pm, what evening??

    When I attempt the crazy night out I can just about look the part but I fall down on the execution – I do mean literally fall down, I have zero tolerance!

    Loved the article, glad it’s not just me!

  14. Allie says:

    Haha! I had my first night out two weekends ago after 9 weeks. Home in a cab by 10 with my husband holding my hair back as I was sick on the bedroom floor. Not my best moment. He looked after junior all of the next day like a star :0)

  15. Sarah says:

    Love your blogs. I am a stay at home Mum with 2 children age 6 & 2. When we go out with friends I still worry that I don’t have anything to talk about. When I go out with the girls I always seem to over compensate & talk too much. It’s fun being a Mum!

  16. Debs says:

    Love all your posts but this was is so true. I too worry about how much sleep I wont get on those very few nights out and to be honest would much rather not go especially as I have a one year old still taking a night feed and a 2 year old who never stops 🙂

    But those few nights out have actually been great and it is so good to have that little break of not being mam for a few hours, totally not worth it the next day though!!

    Oh and I am glad to not be the only one who is absolutely exhausted come 7pm was starting to think there might be something wrong with me!!! Love my nights on the sofa in my jammies with a cuppa, a biccie and the babies safe and sound asleep, ahh bliss x

  17. Rosie says:

    Thank you for sharing for experience! I still haven’t made my comeback and my little guy is 14 months. One day in particular comes to mind when he was a couple of months old, and there was a poo-nami incident. Having a particularly demanding baby, I didn’t have the chance to change my clothes until my husband got come, and spent the rest of the day COVERED in the telltale mustard-yellow of baby poop. It was while I was thus adorned that my (unfairly glamorous) child-free uni friends asked me up to London for an all-night cocktail party. I laughed maniacally.

    Also, nursing clothes? I am *actually* going to burn them. After 14 months of the same bloody functional tops and droopy bras, I will probably set fire to my husband instead if they are not destroyed in a triumphant blaze. (Men just.don’t.understand the horror of saggy bras.) I don’t even care if I’m unknowingly pregnant right now, I hate them with a vehemence that may be irrational but that I suspect you understand.

    • Steph says:

      A ritual burning! I love it. And I had a similar experience where my best (and glamourous, single, NYC-living) friend came to visit shortly after Mabel was born and said ‘Oh, er you have something down your front’ and it was mustard-yellow shit. I hadn’t even noticed. Sob. Thank you for reading and making me laugh x

  18. Life at the Little Wood says:

    Steph, I still don’t think I have made my comeback, and my youngest is FOUR!! Truth be told, I still love a stretchy pj trouser of an evening, and am generally knackered by 4pm! I think I’m just embracing being past-it now. I’ll be rocking some rollers and a house-coat in no time, wait’ll you see! Fab, fab post sweetpea xx

  19. Nicola says:

    You have just reminded me of my first weekend away post baby. A hen do – I was so excited. But like you the reality was rock hard boobs as I’d just stopped b’feeding P and my hormones were racing all over the damn place. Luckily I shared a room with a good girlfriend of mine who was going through the exact same thing. We both looked like Dolly Parton as we danced the night away sucking gin and tonics through willy straws!! Another amazingly written post Stephie. Mwah xxx

  20. Katie says:

    I’ve been waiting so long I’ve realised that I’m now officially past it and a comeback would just be embarrassing. It’s ok I’m fine, but I can’t shop in topshop anymore, that was a bigger hurdle.

    Loved the bit about you and your friend pumping in bed 🙂 great post lovely xx

  21. PottyMouthedMummy says:

    Oh Steph – YES! I always feel like this, that describes me on every night out. Every single one. It’s taken a while, I’m still not quite there – to feel comfortable in this new (and saggier) skin. I am different, just a bit, but I am trying to embrace that and the new friendships I’ve forged (rather than looking back at the ones I have lost through being pre-occupied!). Amazing post lovely xx

  22. mardykerrie says:

    This is all so true. I don’t really get out with the girls anywhere near as often as I would like. I think I have lost confidence somewhere in that regard, but when I do go out I like to think that I have still ‘got it.’ I probably haven’t but still, it’s good to think that ha ha.
    I remember one of the first nights I went out with my husband after having Alice, I felt old. So very old. And I was upset and wanted to go home after a couple of hours, but I chalk that down to hormones and just the massive change really – now I feel fine when we go out. Which again, is nowhere near as often as it could be! xxx

  23. Alison (A Fine Piece & A Blether) says:

    Did laugh at the mental picture of you and your friend sitting in bed expressing!! First time around I was happy to stay in, although i kind of had to be as hubby worked abroad for pretty much the first 5 months B was around. Probably took me til she was about 18 months before I properly started enjoying a night out again. Swore I would be quicker to bounce back after A was born, but he is a terrible sleeper and isn’t keen on bottles, so that has somewhat scuppered my plan! Just telling myself it’s not forever….!!

    • Steph says:

      It’s really not, and it’s taken me longer after Mabel. Weird isn’t it, as I thought it would be easier, but I guess basic maths is two kids = double the potential wakes ups, sick bugs etc. It WILL come though, and it’ll taste even sweeter x

  24. Amy Ransom says:

    I live in the baby bubble for a good 18 months. Just how it happens for me. Third time round I have no expectations of myself and have taken it easy. There’s no way I could get out in the evening at the moment. I need Mad Men or Orange is the New Black and zero conversation. Because I can’t usually speak by 7 pm. Or midday in fact. That’s not to say there hasn’t been the odd HORRENDOUS hangover with #1 and #2. Or a romantic night away with THE BREAST PUMP. Now I just can’t be bothered. That disco ball will have to wait. For about 15 years probably. Great post Steph x

    • Steph says:

      Yep, it’s definitely taken longer second time, so I would guess by the third it’s a struggle to get out of your pyjamas for a while! Sounds like you’re wise to it though, which is probably the key. Less torturing of yourself x

  25. Jules says:

    This blog post us v timely for me with my first girly night out tonight. I have to admit that I had a panic yesterday about sleep and the fact that I’d lose at least a couple of precious hours. I’m now trying to work out how I can have a quick kip today although I’ve got both kids. Any suggestions welcome!
    I’m also stressing about having to express when I get home (pump and dump) and having to get up to warm a bottle for that first night feed rather than flop out a boob.
    On second thoughts, I might just stay in…..

    • Steph says:

      You can do it Jules! My motto is hit it hard and early – it’s the lack of sleep that kills me over the booze! Have a fab time, enjoy xx