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For days I walked slowly, wincing at the pain in my abdomen, my legs and arms didn’t move well, I couldn’t hold my own child, my arms would give out without notice. My husband helped me into the bathroom, brought our son to me, when he needed to feed, he stroked my hair when I whimpered at the pain I had ever time I had to nurse. I have no idea how he managed to keep it together, he took care of our newborn, a broken wife, and a dog, while attempting to keep up with demanding career.

I didn’t have cancer, to our family’s I was fine once I got back from the hospital. No one offered to cook for us or just clean for us. My brother offered to go grocery shopping and for 4 days we waited, he didn’t call, so we had to arrange everything ourselves. We timed it, so that he left the moment I finished feeding, and put our son down in his crib. My husband got stuck in traffic, and was 10 minutes late, our son was crying, I attempted to pick him up and failed, I felt like an utter failure. Andrew calmly picked him up, kissed me, and said “it is all going to be fine, you will be able to do this.”

In reality, we felt completely abandoned and very alone. We were living in a city far from family (except for my brother), and we were living in a tiny space that had no room for anyone to stay with us. So, being independent and fully knowing that our family didn’t really want to help (sorry, but useless lines like “call us if you need anything” doesn’t do anything), our little nuclear unit, was it. I guess it was us against the world.

For a week I was home with my family, but my husband had to return to work. The first day I was left alone with our son, was the most frightening day. I was terrified I would drop him, afraid I would pass out, terrified that this little being would be completely disappointed by his mother. We got into a rhythm, everyday my dog needed to go for a walk, and everyday I set out to go a little further than the last. I was determined to get my life back.

The mirror became my enemy, a reminder that I did not look like I used to. I had gone from a size 2 fit, to a pregnant fit, to a massive blob of completely unfit. For the first couple of months I was so sore around my abdomen that I could only wear sweats. I perspired so much from managing the smallest tasks that I no longer wore makeup. Going for a walk meant a complete wardrobe change and shower. I felt like I couldn’t catch a break. My hair a month after coming back from the hospital turned an ash colour. I was miserable and my self-esteem was at my lowest.

I grew up in a world of pearls and tartans, one did not wear dangling earrings, revealing clothes, paint their nails, dye their hair – or for the most part, exercise to become skinny (they just starved themselves). So, the fashionista in me remained suppressed and caged. I thought as a mother I was supposed to look motherly, I was supposed to sacrifice my body and my likes for my child. My individual passions had to become more focused on my son. My body was no longer what it used to be, my wardrobe consisted of a closet full of suits, I didn’t even own more than one pair of jeans.

Picture courtesy of Joe Jeans – Awesome jeans, want all of the above.

After losing so much blood, my once fast metabolism, worked at a snail’s pace. In my head, my goals were clear, but my body wasn’t catching up to it. At that point I still would have mouthed that fashion was frivolous, that buying a few good things was useless, I didn’t need them. But in reality, there is nothing wrong with trying to better yourself. For the first time, I dyed my hair. As I started to exercise more and more and I began to regain my strength, I began to admire my strength, not my physique. I started to spend days outside, walking and chatting with my son, and playing with my dog. I started to paint my nails for the first time in my life. I began to feel more me than I had ever felt.

My suppressed fashionista, the one that I intellectually poo pooed, I now embrace and am proud of. I am now unapologetic for wearing neon pink nails, or wanting to wear skinny jeans. Being a mom doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice my own body or fashion sense for my child. Looking good and feeling good as an individual actually makes me be a better mother and human being. Be free to be your own fashionista!

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