Emma Bartley's battle with post-pregnancy weight loss all comes down to one word - but why is it so hard to say no?

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Never mind “sorry” – since becoming a mother I’ve found that “no” seems to be the hardest word. Last night I had a proper meltdown that began with me picking a fight with my husband over whether he was supportive of my work, and ended in a fit of violent, clichéd weeping that “I’m not doing ANYTHING properly and I don’t want to let anything drop!”

Still, as it has been such a long time since my last Size 13 column, let’s start with a sorry. Sorry is a pretty easy word for me, tripping off my lips every ten minutes as I arrive late/forget birthdays/growl at family members. But it has been a source of great regret that I haven’t found the time to share the ups and downs, pumps and dumps of these first four months of my daughter’s life with Get the Gloss. There is a lot I’ve wanted to tell you about, from pram-based exercise classes to postpartum aches and pains (“is anyone else going to the loo like this?” asked one of my NCT friends, miming pressing her hands against the walls of her bathroom and gritting her teeth through the pain from her piles – answer, from everyone but the C-section mums, yes, oh God yes).

Obviously, I’m doing too much: working from home, working from work, meeting my new mum friends, meeting my old friends, looking after the house, trying to find five minutes a week for my husband, oh and of course there’s the baby too, over there in her door bouncer. Mothercare says you can only use the door bouncer for half an hour at a time; I do hope they’re being overcautious.

I can’t say no to the work because they’ll find someone else, plus I need the money, and I love my work and goddamnit nobody makes the man feel he has to justify working. And I can’t say no to meeting up because it’s the only thing that keeps me sane, being able to rant to people who get it (the new friends) or will make vaguely sympathetic noises and say that they know how you feel, they’re exhausted too, they’ve been out so much lately that they wouldn’t care if they never saw another cocktail again (the old friends). It’s too late to say no to having a baby, obviously. So I keep calm and eat cake.

That poster is so white noise-y that I never really thought about the meaning until now but I do eat more cake when I’m stressed. Like Napoleon with champagne, I eat cake when I win, to celebrate, and I eat cake when I lose, to console myself. Since having a baby I’ve added several new categories: I eat cake when I’m breastfeeding, to get the 500 extra calories a day I supposedly need. I eat cake when I’m tired, to get the energy to make it through the day. I eat cake when I’m stressed, because it’s in front of me and I just sort of grab it and chomp it down manically, robotically, cake-cake-cake, right, on to the next thing. And guess what? Everything has gone squidgy: my tummy, my arms, the tops of my thighs.

Perhaps it was seeing the picture of Kate Middleton playing volleyball that brought it home. My immediate thought was that she must have known that her loose top would billow up, displaying her already-flat stomach ( as predicted, famously, by OK! ). But of course the fact that I’m jealous doesn’t mean that K. Middy is smug.

Neither, probably, is my new mum friend who eats like a horse and is already back in her size 6 jeans, while I had to go out and buy some with a 33in waist – an actual Size 13, although even these don’t seem to fit properly, being tight on the hips and gaping around the stomach. And if Kim Kardashian wants to be smug about losing three of the three-and-a-half stone she put on during her pregnancy with the hilariously-named-but-probably-not-for-her-when-she-starts-school North West, well, let her. In the  current issue of People magazine  Kim reveals that she is on Atkins and has cut out all carbs and alcohol. If she wants a snack, she eats turkey meat. She’s also doing bootcamp and Pilates. She deserves to be thin.

Personally I manage to exercise about once a week, either dashing to the gym when I can get someone to stay with the baby or by doing one of those pram-in-the-park type things. These are OK but very gentle, mixing short walks or runs with circuits of things like push-ups, tricep dips and lunges. It’s a far cry from the three to four gym sessions a week I managed right up to the end of my pregnancy, and fitness-wise I can feel the difference because when I do proper exercise I go bright red and sweaty after about five minutes.

But with no more time for exercise, what I really need to do is start saying no to cake.

*Looks at bit of cake in hand.*

*Puts down bit of cake.*

*Sneaks look at bit of cake.*

Does anyone know how you do this?

Week 20 post baby


Waist: Ugh

Haemorrhoids: Gone! Finally. Just thought you’d like an update on that.

M&S Chocolate Mini Bites consumed since I started writing this column: 3.

Oh lovely, another one, yes please: make that 4.