Ever since I became pregnant people I know have been telling me how well I look.
It has been almost six months since I had my daughter and even though I know I have dark circles under my eyes and haven’t washed my hair for several days, the compliments about my appearance keep on coming.
“Don’t you look well?!”, they remark. “You’re blooming!”, others gush.
Now, I am not ungrateful to my close friends and family for offering me a kind word, not to mention tearing their eyes away from my baby for a few seconds to consider me. But the more I hear these phrases, the more I have cause to question how genuine they are.
At first I gladly accepted them and allowed my self confidence to take a boost.
While I was pregnant my hair grew thicker, my skin got clearer, and, as I was being very healthy, I could believe that maybe I did have that special glow.
Even after giving birth, with the gruesome experience of labour behind me and high on that wonder hormone oxytocin, I was still willing to believe that perhaps I had been doing myself a disservice by piling on make up all those years, and I was actually radiating a natural beauty I had been suffocating until now.
But after months of spending the day at home with my little one being sick on me and dribbling in my hair, not to mention pulling it out in fistfuls, my appearance has certainly taken a downturn.
I try to force myself to make an effort in at least getting dressed… before midday. But I see little point in wearing anything other than the same black leggings and breastfeeding T-shirt I have been wearing all week.
Make-up seems pointless, and when I do look in the mirror to slap on a bit of mascara, a tired and drawn face blinks back at me.
And, as relatives want live video footage my daughter, I am subjected to the horror of seeing myself in HD on FaceTime on a daily basis.
I can only pray that I do not look as hideous to the naked eye, as I do to the all-seeing camera of the iPad, which seems to highlight every flaw and enlarge every pore.
But when people tell me how well I look, I know they are just trawling out the generic line one is supposed to throw at new mothers.
Worse still, perhaps I look so bad they feel they must overcompensate to make me feel better.
The other frequent observation is how slim I am looking.
While some people struggle to lose their baby weight, it is true that I have ended up thinner than I was before I fell pregnant.
However, I know the reason for this is that as a pregnant woman, and now a breastfeeding mother, I consume far less alcohol than I used to. And if I had the choice between having a large glass of wine whenever I fancied it, or dropping a dress size, I’d choose the wine every time.
When people go on about my weight loss I just hear the subtext, “You are not as fat as you used to be.”
I accept these supposed compliments through gritted teeth, and feel even more in need of a stiff a drink.
So, while it is the done thing to tell new mothers how blooming marvellous they look, personally I’d rather hear the truth or nothing at all.
So keep your niceties to yourself. Or just save them for the baby.