“Just go feral. What you trying to do, shame a sista?”

sarah m preggo belly-fixed

Comedy writer and new mother, Sarah Morgan, on the struggles of post-pregnancy beauty.

The first time I put on make up, it was Christmas, I’d had the baby in November, and it was too soon. The lipstick sat on my face in a slightly shrill way, gritted-teeth-fine. It was a lie – goopy pancake polyfilla’ing over cracks I didn’t think needed filling. “Yes I look tired – I should look tired. I’m running ten marathons a day here, just loving her. Don’t you know, the only thing powering her breathing is me thinking about her? So no, I don’t care if my eyebrows are bushy or I haven’t eaten or my legs are on fire.”

My post-baby grooming expectations were fairly low. I’d rolled my eyes at the NCT  ‘what to take to the hospital’ list (dried apricots, a poo-sieve for the birth pool, “and mascara for the photos – you’ll be grateful later!”) and figured I’d just put a brush through before anyone came at me with a camera. (In the end, what happened was, at some point during labour, I punched myself in the face, so in all my daughter’s birthday photos I’ve got Rocky Balboa’s nose.)

“Go feral”, my friend Jojo advised. “Housework, washing… just let it go. Get very small.” I liked that. “I’m so feral, I’m Will Ferrell,” I muttered frequently, and that’s the only joke-adjacent thing I could muster for a month. I got white-person dreadlocks. Before the birth, I’d done my nails (OPI’s “Designer Da Better!” from the Muppet collection, to draw strength from the Goddess Piggy). As the weeks passed I watched the varnish slough away, ‘til there were just tiny silver specks in the centre of each nail. I didn’t pick them. “They are the last grains of my old life”, I thought, melodramatically, “like the magic sand in the Neverending Story…” I was really tired. One sleepless dawn, I came across an old Facebook photo, taken on a New Years Eve. I’m tarted up all nice like. Seeing colour on my face was so alien, it looked mental – like a child’s drawing of a nightmare about Lily Savage, a clown face painted on an egg.

The first rule of Breastfeeding Buddies is no hacky Fight Club references. The second rule of Breastfeeding Buddies is no make-up. Well, it’s more of an understanding than a rule. Even if you’re in ‘that place’, other women may not be – what you trying to do, shame a sista? Much better to be bare-faced, puffy, raw, together. We are women, we are broken, we are buddies. I remember sneering at a newbie who’d shown up wearing what I felt were rather-too-fashion-conscious socks. “Get you, Anna Wintour,” I thought, “Surely no one has time to coordinate an outfit AND look after a baby. Your neglected kid will be on the pipe, the pole, or both before her mock GCSEs.”  I was really tired.

The second time I wore make up, I felt a roaring guilt, as if while I was painting myself like a tuppenny whore, the baby would neck a bottle of Cillit Bang. I stopped thinking about her for twenty seconds, long enough to pop on a bit of blusher – Nars Orgasm, the blusher I got married in. In the mirror, I looked like me. Then I thought about her again. I checked, and she was still breathing. Nailed it.

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Earth Friendly Lavender Bath Bubbles, £5.99

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For bathtimes in the Tummy Tub, which is sort of like a pot noodle for babies – fill to line, add baby, baby sits up to the shoulders in a clear bucket of totally immersed joy. Like most baby things (onesies, hats with ears) I want a grown up version. My girl likes to eat the bubbles (adorbz) so I prefer a mild, organic product.

Nars Orgasm Blusher, £21.50 and Estee Lauder Daywear BB, £32.00 

NARS double eye shadow box summer 2004

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Changes pain-in-the-arse do-gooders’ comments from “ohhh, it’s HARD, isn’t it?” to “Oh you DO look well, considering…”

 

 

Children’s Olbas Oil, from 3 months old, £3.79

Olbas for Children

Babies get about eleven million colds, as do I. The surprisingly pleasant, lemony smell of Children’s Olbas is the olfactory soundtrack to my baby’s early months.

L’Oreal Wild Ombre, £6, available in 3 shades

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You may be a mother, but you can still be WILDLY ombre. If you don’t have time/money for full head blondness, dip-dye is your friend (and it’s meant to look a bit messy)

Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter, £2.89

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Newborns don’t need anything fancier on their skin than a rubbing with vegetable oil (like a tiny baked potato), but this stuff is really nice for grown ups, and smells like cake.

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