Hair

Can we talk about something frivolous for a minute? I realize in the grand scheme of things my hair is not exactly a pressing matter but I need hair help. I need suggestions. I need advice. I need someone to tell me what to do.  

This is my hair: 

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This is also my grumpy morning face.  

My hair is very fine and is also thinning thanks to kids and cancer and wonky hormones. I haven't had it cut in 8ish? months. The last time I had it coloured was April of 2016. 

I have a hair appointment scheduled for Saturday. Normally I would just show up and my amazing stylist would tell me what she was going to do, she'd do it, I'd love it, end of story. But my amazing stylist has left the hair world (SADNESS) and I'm going to someone new. Cue panic.  

I had virgin hair when I started seeing my old stylist so she was able to do my foils using "high lift" (I don't know anything about hair but this excited her). Do I continue highlighting my hair? Do I go darker? Do I chop it all off and start new? Tell me what to do. 

I wear my hair up in a messy bun pretty much every day. I have a lot of postpartum regrowth creating a fuzzy halo around my face and nape of my neck. The regrowth is about 50% grey because bodies are the worst. My hair is wavy and gets curlier the shorter it gets. The picture above is after I blow dried it without product. If I let my hair air dry it's a frizzy, wavy mess. 

I am not adverse to longer, sideswept bangs but my hair can't do blunt bangs. I cannot do a lot of layers or the frizz gets out of control. I am toying with attempting the Curly Girl Method to see what happens (but I'm also so very tired so probably I'll attempt it in 2019).

So! What should I do with this mop? Bonus points for links and pictures.  

How To Get Your Body Back

I am newly postpartum, not quite awake, standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, shush-shushing a 4-litre jug of milk and rocking it back and forth, soothingly, the same way I've been rocking a screamy baby for what feels like a week straight. Through bleary eyes, I read the headlines jumping out at me from the glossy magazine covers featuring impossibly beautiful women.

"How to Get Your Body Back!" Like I've disappeared so far into motherhood that I am no longer here. My body grew a tiny, furious human. It laboured for two days and birthed nine and a half pounds of gumption and tenacity. But now, as my belly is no longer satisfyingly rotund but instead soft and sagging, I have ceased to exist. How to Get Your Body Back. How to Erase the Parts of You We Don't Want to See. How to Look More Visually Appealing so We'll Acknowledge Your Existence. 

I'm in the shower. The temperature of the water is one degree below skin melting but still my bones feel cold. It's as though my body is so tired from lack of sleep and operating at Threat Level Eleven for so long, it lacks the ability to warm itself. Itself, not myself, because who am I and how did I end up in this vessel? I bend over to shave my legs (in some sort of bizarre act of defiance like "you can take my freedom, but you'll never take my smooth legs") and my deflated midsection droops forward. Without the pucker of my belly button, I think my middle may actually pool around my knees and the thought makes me laugh until I'm crying, laugh/sobbing mirthlessly while I scoop up handfuls of skin and attempt to mold it back in place. 

I'm introduced to a new group of parents. I'm not Hillary, I'm "Grady's mom and this is Poppy, how old is she now, is she walking yet?" I go out for an afternoon and when I'm reunited with the baby she hugs me close and I melt as I think "she really missed me!" And then she sticks her hands down my shirt while saying "num num num" as she searches for her prize. I remember to slather the baby twice a day with two different lotions to try to combat her eczema, I remember to sign permission slips and send a dollar to school for the frozen treat fundraiser and can recite the names and alter-egos of all the characters in the Marvel Universe, but I cannot remember to refill the prescription of the pill I take every day to literally keep me alive. I am reminded daily of the many different ways I've disappeared. 

I can count calories and do squats and give up sugar completely and probably, maybe, society would view me as having my body back. I could do all that if it mattered to me, I mean. I could erase the evidence that my body grew actual human beings and then delivered them into the world, full of rage and possibility. But I don't want to. My pendulous breasts and flaccid flank and hips that have been admired by more than one medical professional as "birthing hips" are my mementos, my babies my ultimate prize. To wish away the proof of how they came to be feels treacherous. 

I don't want to get my body back. At least, not in the way the glossy magazines tell me I should. I want to feel strong again. I want to feel confident and well-rested and clear-headed. I want to stop prefacing every suggestion I make with "this might be stupid but I got no sleep last night so it's the best I could come up with." I want to stop apologizing for being a disaster. I want to stop feeling like a disaster. I do not want to get my pre-baby body back. I want to get my self back.

On Ice Cream and Bras and Very Little Sleep

It is difficult, at times, to not feel like I've disappeared in motherhood. We're in the trenches of fragmented sleep, where needs outnumber the hours in the day. I am grateful for my messy, noisy life, and my messy, noisy kids, but it's a struggle to find myself amid the chaos sometimes. I used to have hobbies and interests and a full social life (and one day I will again) but right now I have motherhood. I say that with love. Frustration. Elation. Despair.

My babies are not low maintenance. Last night Penelope screamed at me, and then held her breath until her eyes rolled up into her head and her lips turned blue. Grady's independence has developed a lot since he started kindergarten but he's a sensitive kid; his emotions and big feelings require daily attention. To be clear, I'm not complaining about their bold personalities. I wouldn't change a single thing about them (that's a lie; I'd make Poppy more receptive to sleeping long stretches). But it can be a struggle on the days when both need extra attention from me. I find myself collapsing into bed, worn out from the demands of two tiny dictators, without having had a moment to just be me, Hillary, without being mommy or mamamamamamamamama. 

I'm lucky. Shawn is an attentive, engaged dad. He works hard and then comes home and builds Lego and sings songs and goes to the park. We have oodles of family support and a network of generous, supportive friends. My life is full (of love, of support, of options, of so much). And yet I feel lost sometimes. And invisible. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be. I'm not sure who I'm supposed to be. Shawn asked me what my favourite flavour of ice cream is and I answered, "vanilla?" tentatively, like a question. I can tell you what Poppy's head measurement was at her last doctor's appointment, I can tell you the names of Grady's teachers and his division number, I can tell you when both kids are due for vaccinations, dentist appointments, and new shoes, but I can't tell you what flavour of ice cream is my favourite. I used to know things, definitively, instantly. Maybe I was wrong, but that was okay. At least I had confidence in my decisions and could go from there. Now I choose the safest, easiest way out and I don't even do that with fervour or intent. Vanilla? 

I'm shopping for bras. My breasts have been through a lot and slapping on a light-support yoga bra every morning isn't doing them any favours (nor is it helpful for the non-nursing bra to be yanked down 87 times a day by a demanding Poppy). I don't need investment bras, not right now while I'm still breastfeeding and my body is changing, but I need something. It seems I have two options when it comes to nursing bras: sterile or sexy. That's it. I can be beige or buxom. And I don't want to be either. Neither feels like it fits me.

And that's the crux. Nothing feels like it fits me anymore. Or rather, I don't fit anything. This is sounding a lot more dramatic than I mean it to. I don't mean to sigh and wail at the skies that nothing is right and I'm not right and woe is me, the first mother to ever feel lost in the tumult of motherhood. It's more a realization of sorts. I need to acknowledge that this is where I'm at, and I want to be on the other side, so I need to figure out how to make that happen. I need to figure out what fits me. Maybe vanilla ice cream is my favourite. That's cool. There's nothing wrong with vanilla ice cream (except, maybe, that it's not chocolate ice cream). But I want to know that vanilla ice cream is my favourite, not just pick it because I'm exhausted and defeated. Vanilla ice cream shouldn't be a consolation prize. It should be a choice. 

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A Harried Mom's Skin Routine

I don't have much of a skincare routine because I'm fortunate enough to be a natural beaut-haaaaa, sorry, I can't even finish that sentence. I'm fortunate enough to have inherited my mom's skin. My mom has amazing skin. My mom is a natural beauty. And so far, I've been able to float through life without a complicated skincare regimen.

Until now.

Hormones, lack of sleep, anxiety (picking!) and forgoing drinking my usual buckets of water and replacing with coffee have taken a toll on my skin. Not to mention that my current skincare routine looks something like this:

  • Wake up. Shower, if I'm feeling fancy (and the kids allow it). If no shower, splash cold water on my face to wake up.
  • After Poppy's last diaper change of the evening, use a (CLEAN! I'm not an animal) baby wipe to wash my face. After her eczema cream application, smear whatever's left on my hands over my face.

That's it. I truly am that gross.

Funnily enough, my skin has suffered.

I need to make a change before I go from just feeling frumpy to feeling absolutely terrible about myself (true beauty comes from within, I know, but sometimes a gal just wants to look good, okay?). I've cut back on my coffee intake, and replaced it with water, and it feels like a positive start. I need to start taking better care of my skin though, especially as we head into summer and there's a possibility (slim as it may be) the sun will make an appearance.

What's your skincare routine? Do you love specific products? My skin is: sensitive and somewhat dry so moisture is a big concern for me. I also try to keep my products as "healthy" as possible (I use this as a guide when choosing products). I use the kids' sunscreen on my face and body but I think I should probably start using a face-specific one to prevent the pore congestion I notice every summer. What I need is someone to tell me exactly what I should buy and how I should use it. Help?