Then last Summer, for the first time, I found myself looking around at other women and comparing. I felt conscious of every little lump and bump - three kids in five years can do that. Discussing this with two friends some months later, I expressed how uncomfortable I had felt wearing a bikini last Summe...
This loss of everything I took for granted in my adult life was much more overwhelming to me than the love I felt for my baby. I know, I said it, shoot me world - and what a world we live in when it comes to 'views' on mothers. How we should feel, how we should look, how we should react... the expectations are real and they are fired at a new mother like arrows from a bow.
For any first time mum to be, currently being subjected to hours of unwanted advice and comments on how they should be handling their pregnancy, what they should or should not be doing and what type of mum they should be aiming to be, here is a list for you to pin up in your consciousness to remind you that when it comes to parenting no one is a God damn expert.
Thirteen years ago today my mum died. It all feels like a lifetime ago, and actually I can't really remember what life looked and felt like with her in it. I wish I had been given the chance to get to know her, to appreciate her and, of course, I would do anything to thank her for all the things I can now see she did for me and my sister, and all the little ways in which she showed us that she loved us.
Sometimes it feels like the cracks are growing across the surface of our lives, creeping slowly into the foundations and threatening to force a crumbling. Sometimes it feels like I don't have a firm hold on all the pieces and if I stop concentrating, they'll fall apart. Sometimes I feel like I don't want to wear the smile anymore.
My dear friend, you're going through a really rough patch, I can see it in your eyes. As a newly-minted Mum, you're still rocked to the core by the brutality of a difficult birth. You still feel like you are watching it over and over again as a third person, suspended from the ceiling in the delivery suite, no longer an active participant in the choices that may affect you for years.
And as I negotiated peeling her vomit-soaked clothes off her, Jasmin clung to me. I balanced her on one hip while also trying to wipe down her car seat. It was already starting to smell. This was when you looked away. Maybe you were really busy and distracted, waiting for someone in the carpark outside the shops.
"You didn't know him. I hate this; when people get upset about somebody they didn't know", I didn't argue. I couldn't really hear what my friend was saying above the sound of my heart beating. I'd agree with him, usually. It's hard to understand how you could feel such grief for somebody you'd never known... and yet I did.
As a mother myself, I feel very strongly that my children are part of me. To be able to absorb your babies back into your body rather than give birth to them in a place which is unsafe or where food and water is scarce would be the best option, if only it were possible in humans. So in that sense, isn't abortion the most maternal, selfless, protective act a mother can do?
You tentatively get out of bed and as you take each ritual step into the nursery you realise that your steps are a little lighter and the quick sand you feel yourself walking through most days is now more like a muddy puddle. Your head feels, dare you say it "clearer" and the morning routine not as daunting.
We all have a role to play in doing this for our girls and boys. The media of course is key, but we cannot underestimate the roles of parents, teachers, sports coaches, advertisers and all of us as consumers. We must continue to tell our girls they can play any game they want. They can be anything they want. They can do anything they want.