Women wearing trousers was a milestone for feminism and equal opportunity. I know the struggle because I had to fight for the option to wear trousers at school myself and that was in 2001. (We won by the way). Although my reasons were purely of comfort, it became more of a symbolic fight. But jeans, jeans were not designed for women.

Originally intended as men’s workwear during the gold rush, they were highly durable and hard-wearing. But that was until they met me.

It takes me weeks of Saturday afternoon shopping to scout out the perfect pair to fit my un-uniquely feminine shape coupled with my apparently unusual short leg length. According to my measurements I am a perfect square and as rare as good dust. It takes so many weeks, I commit to a brand until they discontinue the design. I buy multiple pairs at once. Stockpiling to avoid going through the traumatic search again. Each failure to fit examined in the changing room mirror with criticism and frustration. They may look great, but I can’t try and sit down in them. They may fit on my bum, but my legs are hanging like jumbo sausages.

Fluctuating weight changes the quality of the fit several times within the month. Any woman will know the fickle nature of jeans. Synthetic materials required for the perfect fit compromise the strength and durability. My thighs can burn through what I would consider a heavy-duty pair in as many weeks as I took to find them. I have had enough.

I am sick of paying for a product I know will only last a few months regardless of the amount of money I have spent on them.

I am sick of poor fitting styles I have to keep pulling up over my hips if I dare to bend over, try to sit down or even walk.

I am sick of sewing patch upon patch on my worn out thighs to try to hang on to a pair I have made as comfortable as my own skin. RIP "Mom jeans, September 2018-June 2019".

I am sick of tears and holes in worn out knees and buttons that just fall off under the strain of movement.

I am sick of washed out greys, gradients radiating from the knees.

I am sick of trying to fit my body into a piece of clothing designed by men, for men.

It’s time to realise that my lumps, bumps and curves deserve better.

I am giving up jeans and I have never felt more free.

Anxiety peaked weeks before we moved out of our pokey one bed flat. It had become clear our house purchase would not be completed by the time we would have to leave Wandsworth. The moving bit we had sorted. I had scavenged strong cardboard boxes destined for recycling, the van had been hired, the storage unit booked, we just didn’t have anywhere to go; at least not a home.

Our final destination was a block of Hotel apartments a few miles from where we hoped we would be living in the coming months. We had hoped, before our baby would arrive.

The apartments were hidden on an abandoned high street behind a relatively new retail park, the railway track towering above. Beautiful arch brickwork reminded me of suburban London; I missed it already. A gateway opened onto a bare courtyard, displaying an array of ground floor apartments. All apparently being lived in; unmade beds and dirty laundry all on show through the large windows. It was such a strange place for a hotel, only one of two in the whole town. We still wonder now who else was living there. Perhaps there were others like us.

Naturally, it was decided that a young and unmarried couple booking in the peak summer season should be housed at the very back and top of the apartment block, away from the young families or disabled customers requiring easy access. My then pregnant self wasn’t best pleased with the amount of stairs I would have to negotiate daily, but once we had checked in it was a relief to know we were sorted. Atleast for a month.

The room was smaller than we were used to, but we had expected that. One room had everything we needed. A bed, kitchenette (microwave included, hob not included) a television (crucially) and an en suite with shower. We even had a tiny dining table, but with only one chair. Even so, I had thought the space could rival some London bedsits I had heard about.

Going to work everyday gave us the structure we needed. We were both busy heading in early and leaving late. We synchronised our journeys into work, walking the few minutes to the station together, to then get separate trains heading into the same city. It was important for me to get a seat, so I took the slow train, whereas for Stephen it was important that the journey didn’t take an hour and a half. I always tried to spot his silhouette as his train overtook mine, somewhere around Bromley, but I never saw him.

We tried to make the weekends as normal as possible. We’d go for breakfast, do the washing, walk around a few shops, taking advantage of the shopping centre for its air con and sweet baked goods. We found comfort in re-watching Friends. I had only just seen the ten seasons for the first time, but when we got back to where we started, we let it roll round again. It was another thing we could keep familiar.

Life was strange, but we made it ours. Microwave meals eaten across from each other with the laptop streaming in the background. Trips to the storage unit to top up on clothes that could fit over my growing bump: every time wishing we had been more organised searching through boxes and bags to find sunglasses, flip flops and sun hats. Every trip around the shops punctuated by the need to check in on the washing machine, stored in a cupboard under the stairs. Fear and uncertainty didn’t stop us laughing as we could hear the couple next door to us having their best holiday sex.

The phrase you would use now is that it was our new normal. On the brink of so much more change, we clung to the normality of our pre-baby life. With all the strangeness of pregnancy, wild hormones and an ever-changing body, alongside the stress and uncertainty in the attempts to secure our own home, this room had become a comfort to us. It was home.

Postpartum, sex is non-existent when you are at the mercy of a body you no longer understand.

Periods return with a vengeance. Punishing you for their time away. So heavy and unpredictable, you are afraid to leave the house.

Stitches and scars mark a body you no longer recognise as your own. Deflated breasts that once marked the anticipation of life no longer stand proud and perky, instead they remind you of the struggles of breast feeding; a screaming child, toe-curling pain and tears.

So many tears.

You wonder if it reminds him of your failures too.

Stretch marks line your tummy, purple and pronounced, they are still fresh. Rippling across a spongey looseness that are your abdominal muscles. You miss the blossoming of pregnancy. The ever-rising bump, taut and proud. Marks will fade and your tummy will tighten, until you have the next one. Battle scars layer one on top of the other.

Laughs, coughs and sneezes all now to be approached with caution. Trousers dark to avoid embarrassing leaks. Counting and holding, Kegel exercises rule the day but you can’t even feel the pelvic floor. You are convinced it left your body with the baby.

Bravery is what he calls it, but you know it as pride.

Pride in a body, which is powerful and strong. It knows just what to do, adapting and growing, producing life.

Human life.

You can’t understand it, even though it happened to you. You felt it; every wave of sheer force rippling through your abdomen, you felt the cord cascade after the mass left your body. You felt the relief.

But still months later when the haze of hormones sustaining you has cleared, you are in awe of the body that created your baby boy.

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© 2020 Kylie-Ann Homer.