Getting back into shape.

PUBLISHED: 12:18 04 December 2001 | UPDATED: 10:58 03 March 2010

IT was eight weeks ago but I can remember him saying it as though it

were yesterday.

There I was, lying on the labour room table, virtually unable to speak

and being stitched up after that gargantuan effort of delivering Henry.

IT was eight weeks ago but I can remember him saying it as though it

were yesterday.

There I was, lying on the labour room table, virtually unable to speak

and being stitched up after that gargantuan effort of delivering Henry.

My better half was cock-a-hoop, jigging around the room, ecstatic about

having a son, cracking jokes and rejoicing about the size of Henry's

wedding tackle.

It was as though his life had suddenly become complete, the end of his

film, the "happily ever after" bit just before they ran the closing

titles. Laughter filled the room. Had it been a West-End musical the

delivery team would have acted out some song and dance routine, led by

the consultant, the midwives providing backing vocals.

Hubby left the hubble of giggling, euphoric, smiley people on the other

side of the room and arrived about two inches away from my drugged-up,

unfocussing face.

He stood poised, to deliver his final lines in the script before the

camera pulled away and the closing titles began.

And then he said it.

It followed some idle chatter about how - although he had a son -

everything would soon be back as it once was. And the final line I can

remember him saying was:

"And I'll soon have my wife looking back to normal again."


Of course, what he meant, was this: my wife won't be fat after the nine

months of blowing up like a balloon.

"Unfortunately he's going to have to wait, I think, for that," I found

myself telling Henry while he kicked on his colourful activity playmat.

In response Henry just gave me one of those heart-melting grins which

makes me practically wobble with love, and talked back gobbledegook.

(We've graduated from the bright lights of the bathroom and the

Winnie-the-Pooh changing mat at last.)

"I get the impression it was something daddy didn't really mean to say."

I added.

Henry smiled away, transfixed either by a snail hanging from some

brightly-coloured thread hanging from the hoops above him, or at me,

directly behind it in his line of sight.

(Like to think he may even have raised an eyebrow, unable to work out

adult obsession with reducing their weight when he had to increase his

all the time.)

I picked him up to stand in front of the mirror. Henry gurgled first at

seeing himself. Then he let out the most infectious peal of laughter

when he realised there might be another person in the world who looked

like his mummy.

I dictated, sternly: "Daddy probably wishes he could claw those words

back into his mouth because it's just not something you say to a woman.

Let that be a lesson to you."

But he'd said those words, you see. In my memory they were written a bit

like they are in a comic book. There's a huge bubble coming out his

mouth, and "I'll soon have my wife back to normal again" is etched in

black and white.

And of course once he'd said it, the words were out there. And now every

time I look at a calorie-packed chicken, bacon and mayonnaise sandwich,

every time I see a roast lunch or a sticky toffee pudding sitting in

front of me, it seems to be mocking me with: "Ha! You'll never be thin


I mean, it's not even as though I was anything special in the first

place. I was never a slip of a girl who found size 10s too big. I was

never someone who would have been happy standing next to Geri Halliwell.

I was a size 12, plain as plain as that.

Somehow though, I suspect amnesia has clicked in since having Henry. I

held Henry out an turned on my side in front of the mirror, sucking my

tummy in. A glossy vision jumped into my head of how flat it really was

a year ago.

I blame one thing, I thought: Feeding a baby. (It's nothing to do with

eating just that little bit extra while pregnant and therefore it's not

my fault, you understand.)

Forgive me if you're squeamish and you don't want to think about it. I

can understand where you're coming from. But just bear with me.

They say breastfeeding gets your figure back to normal and I was really

happy to believe that in the first place.

I mean, what a bonus! If you can get away with not doing any hard work

but can lose pounds by slouching around watching telly and feeding a

baby yourself then I'm all for it.

If it means you can cling to the remote control rather than a set of

stairmaster handlebars and no counting fat or calories, then that's


But welcome to the real world. Breastfeeding might help you get rid of

the first few pounds but anything after that is just a load of

propaganda put about by the people who know. |, as usual, didn't read

the small print.

The myth that feeding helps you get your figure back completely is a

whopper of a lie, right up there with the "cheque's in the post".

Rosy-rimmed specs about what I looked like before, or not, there is

still a wobbly, stretch-marked tummy down there which ain't going to

leave without considerable effort. "From now on it'll be days of writing

down everything I eat and evenings of low-fat ready-meals," I told

Henry, who was looking bored with the conversation in the mirror by now.

And I know hubby didn't mean to say it. I kind of know where he was

coming from in a way. If there's no baby inside your tummy then you

should look like you did before, by my reckoning.

Only I don't. I am not one of those people who could put their jeans on

again to wear on the way home from hospital

Bless him, though. Even though he said those words, he's tried hard to

obliterate them again. He's taken the scales away so I can't weigh

myself, he comments religiously every day about how nice I look, and he

tells everyone that I'm looking lovely, even though I think I look like

a banshee.

And I suppose I know - when I hold this little boy up in front of the

mirror - that HE doesn't mind what I look like. He'll continue to smile

at his mummy regardless of whether she's a size 12 or well beyond it.

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