It’s a tale as old as time, isn’t it? Woman has baby, everyone else has something to say about the woman, or the baby, or both. And nobody comes under the microscope as much as women in the Royal Family. From consorts having their bedsheets inspected to see if they were menstruating or were going to provide an heir, to the tabloids dedicating a startling number of column inches to Kate Middleton’s choice in prams, the level of scrutiny is just shy of laughable and the outpouring of opinion over Meghan Markle and her post pregnancy body this week is a bridge too far.
Everyone went mental about Harry and Meghan didn’t they? Her career, her nationality, her family, her melanin. As for me, I’m not a big fan of the royals but I am a fan of letting people get on with their own lives as long as they’re not hurting anyone. So I couldn’t fathom some of the comments I saw on social media after Meghan Markle appeared with Prince Harry and their new son Archie something-or-other, complete with proud smiles and her now unoccupied baby bump. The vitriol about Markle in general, which seems to have stepped up a gear on seeing her post pregnancy body, that’s coming from accounts that appear (at any rate) to be actual grown women is as nonsensical as it is horrible to read. You know the type – these ones who live their lives via reality TV and Loose Women and think that tapping angrily into the void is a victimless pastime.
But even ostensibly normal, sensible people were taking to Twitter too, to express how shocked and disgusted they were that a public figure would have the effrontery to appear in public after a fairly public pregnancy to make a public fucking statement and still look a bit pregnant. That still having a visible post pregnancy bump a couple of days after the birth was “weird”.
Now, you know me, I’m not one to pull the “You don’t have children of your own so you wouldn’t understand card” (and in fact rather frighteningly some of these idiots were actually mothers themselves) but comments like this are horrible for women and mothers to witness let alone be on the receiving end of, when we already face a constant barrage of unrealistic post pregnancy pressure from the tabloids and online media who are so insistent on telling us who “bounced back” after giving birth.
Basically, if you’re not doing handstands on a beach in Barbados in a bikini showing off your post pregnancy body (which must be a lithe as a twelve year old boy but with perfect non sagging tits) within a fortnight then you have failed at motherhood, womanhood, and life on planet Earth.
You’re also not alone. I can’t afford the the things a lot of celebs have access to in order to dodge the appearance of pregnancy having taken its natural toll on their bodies. I can’t afford glamorous holidays, I can’t afford a personal trainer and nutritionist, I can’t afford a round the clock nanny so that I can look glowing and refreshed every morning. I can’t afford a stylist. And I’m not sure that even if I could afford all those things, that it would be the right thing to do.
Let me tell you about my post pregnancy body. I mean, there was the bit where I lay in bed for 2 days in nothing but bloody surgical stockings and a bra, having haemorrhaged and nearly bled to death, that was nice. There was the bit where I had nightmares like the opening scenes of Apocalypse Now and thought my arms had been sawn off, that was kinda fun too. How, as well as the linea negra (dark line from your belly button to pubic mound) that pregnancy had given me, I had additional lines running vertically underneath my breasts as well, making my nipples look like two rusty rivets. How the fluid following pregnancy and my c-section made my legs and ankles swell up and I couldn’t wear socks for the first month after the birth which was great stuff in the middle of December. How the baby developed thrush in his mouth which had transferred to my nipples, half of which then fell off. But that was fine because they were about 75% bigger and an entirely different colour to the nipples I’d had before giving birth so I had some to spare. How I bled so heavily for eight weeks that I had to wear two night time towels at all times, and take daily iron supplements just so that I had enough energy to get up and down the stairs at home. That the relaxin which had flooded my body to prepare me for childbirth left me unable to open bottles and tins for months afterwards and that I’ve only recently built up the strength to open my own drinks five years later. That I had no sensation from my stomach downwards after my c-section for three years after my nerves had been cut through. How I now have a permanently flesh bumbag which only expensive surgery would ever get rid of.
It’s a good job I’ve got that Big Knicker Energy isn’t it. Cause while I tuck all my leftover pregnancy body parts into my big knickers – and yes, even bikinis – I realise that I wouldn’t ever want to be one of these role models who ‘bounces back’ anyway. My body did a very demanding job and no matter what someone’s body looks like before, during, or after pregnancy is nobody else’s business. And anyone who says otherwise really is weird.