Diary of a Mum part eight: Getting my body back

As baby Robin begins sleeping through, Martha Alexander is on a mission to ditch the baggy shirts

I’m ready to exercise again. I don’t really want to. I feel like a car that’s failed its MOT. I’m knackered. I know I have to try; to just put one foot in front of the other and run. Or do a sun salutation or two. Or join my husband in his 6am HIIT sessions in the sitting room, which sounds like a herd of baby elephants doing the Gay Gordons. But I just can’t be arsed. I really can’t.

I wish all of those Instagram witches with washboard stomachs 3.5 seconds after giving birth would stop posting pictures of their waistlines: in order to satisfy their own egos they make so many other women feel like human flotsam – then have the cheek to say they are trying to inspire others. Yeah. Inspire others to lie down in the road and await oncoming traffic. I probably should be reaching out or leaning in or whatever, but I’d settle for just standing up.

I shouldn’t complain: I’ve had a lovely time posting beige carbs into my face all day, every day for six months, but all good things must come to an end. Firstly, I have to stop shopping as if I’m a nine-year-old whose mother has allowed her to have complete autonomy in Sainsbury’s (Party Rings, Frosties, Nutella). I don’t want Robin to grow up in NW10’s answer to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Also, I no longer want to wear shirts so huge they resemble the covers people use to protect their cars outside the mansion houses of St John’s Wood.

But seriously, when am I meant to be exercising? Any time I’m not changing nappies or singing Old MacDonald, I want to have a bath or sleep or look at pictures of people I don’t know on the internet. Not plod around the park like Jabba the Hutt, wheezing. Not going to yoga, where I am always the person the instructor needs to manipulate back into downward dog. I hate the plank. I could not possibly do a class that requires any type of jumping because, to be totally frank, I was lazy when it came to my pelvic floor exercises.

My first run was not a success. Two women in head-to-toe Lululemon bounded past like nubile springboks while I lumbered along like a dray horse. But I’ve done it. This moment has, unfortunately, also come at exactly the same time as my being ready to go on a night out again. To be honest, a bottle of Picpoul and a voluble gossip is far more on brand for me than deep squats.

I can do this because Robin is sleeping through and has been for some time now (I know mothers aren’t meant to gloat about this but allow me a smidgen of smugness). How did that happen? Well, I lost the plot when one day Robin didn’t shut her eyes all day long – literally 10 hours – and hired Heidi Skudder, aka The Parent and Baby Coach, to come to the house and help Robin settle herself to sleep. There were a few tears and a lot of hand-wringing from me, but now she sleeps for 12 hours each night and is a clockwork baby. And we’re all so much happier. I’m back in the driver’s seat.

I met my best friend Mary for cocktails in the city. It was the first time we’d had a drink together in 18 months – practically the moment she gave birth to my goddaughter Mika, I became pregnant with hers.

There was no monitor, no steriliser, no pieces of singing plastic driving me insane. Gin and tonics, flutes of champagne, espresso martinis – by 9pm I was roaring about childbirth to a table of terrified male strangers. Tequila, salt, lime – by midnight I had taken off my boots and was undulating like Baloo to How Will I Know by Whitney Houston, having repeatedly asked a group of embarrassed teenagers if I was a MILF.
The good news is, I wasn’t sick on the street, I didn’t cry and no one had to ring my husband for assistance. Sure, I fell asleep face down on the sofa having not brushed my teeth, sweating inside pleather trousers. I woke up nose to nose with my cat and cursed with a boil-washed hangover. I was going to pay for my fun.

My husband took Robin out for the day (“Mummy has had a party time, party time, party time” he sang to the tune of Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush, as I shuddered in my dressing gown) not because I didn’t want to see her, but because I didn’t want her to see me like this (if you have had one too many and feel guilty, do not Google ‘mums who party’ as it will make you want to bury yourself alive in the back garden).

I do need to pull myself together. Less Picpoul, more push-ups. Right, then.