There are lots of firsts to look forward to when you have a baby – first smile, first giggle, first gurgle. There are other firsts you approach with a little more trepidation – first night at home, first big car journey, first supermarket trip, first immunisations… And then there’s your first trip to the hairdresser as a new mum. Eek.
I’m an unnatural blond embroiled in a seemingly lifelong pursuit to nail the perfect bob. There’s little I haven’t tried when it comes to this particular haircut. The graduated variety that Victoria Beckham made famous (do I remember it getting labelled ‘the pob’?) was a particular favourite. I’ve gone super short. With a fringe and without. I dabbled with the long and layered look last year (my least favourite in retrospect). And I’m currently seeking hair happiness in the form of a jaw length blunt style and trying (with varying success) to get the knack of creating that unnaturally dishevelled look that Alexa Chung and Sienna Miller manage to make look so, well, effortless.
You’re probably getting the impression that my hair is a bit of an obsession. Correct. And pregnancy and childbirth only seem to amplify this. Growing a baby seems to go hand in hand with spurting huge amounts of (in my case unrequired) extra head hair causing my mop to go crazier than ever and wreaking havoc with my perfect bob aspirations. And it’s not just nine months of hairiness. The period after having a baby inevitably involves losing clumps of hair whilst gaining annoying baby hair regrowth that stubbornly refuses to play ball however vigorously you try to blow dry it into submission. Forget pummelled pelvic floors and painful perineums, pregnancy and childbirth spell follicle catastrophe.
And the result is, maintaining my locks to any level of decency calls for regular two hour plus long visits to the salon. Taking this kind of time out of a new mum schedule is somewhat of a challenge. It’s a frivolous luxury that feels impossible to justify when you have a baby relying on you for their very survival. (My skills at justifying the unnecessary things in life are unrivalled, yet the post-birth haircut is something even I struggle to explain away.)
However, justified or not, by six weeks post-birth I’ve found I’ve grown tired of trying to ignore my roots and covering the unsavoury aroma of baby sick in my hair with dry shampoo. It’s the point I start craving my escape from the newborn haze. It’s time to pay a visit to the hairdresser. However impossible a feat it feels.
Sorting out my barnet was for me one of the most unexpected milestones of early motherhood. That first trip is a mission. Post-Milly it’s no exaggeration to say, the task required more planning and coordination than a family holiday. It took a lot of effort. And considerable manpower. With Mr J working away, one set of grandparents was roped in to entertain Poppy, whilst my mum paced around the salon waiting area and immediate vicinity with Milly. I breastfed whilst having foils in and worried she was unsettled whenever she was out of my sight. If I’m making it sound like a chore, I’ve got it spot on. The job got done but it was far from being a relaxing or pleasurable experience.
In fact the whole palava made me seriously tempted to go au naturel. But I didn’t. Because ironically that wouldn’t be me. I’m blonde, bobbed and high maintenance.
However much effort that first trip to the hairdressers was, it was necessary. Yes, it felt selfish and I felt guilty the whole time. But it worked out. Despite my paranoia that she would be screaming, starving and scarred for life, Milly weathered the experience relatively unperturbed. I got to look in the mirror without obsessing about dark roots. And everyone else rejoiced at not having to hear me moan about the state of my unruly mop for at least another six weeks.
And the good news is, it gets easier. In fact, I actually enjoyed my latest salon visit (number three post-Milly) last week. I relaxed. I got pampered. And I feel I made some further progress with my aforementioned pursuit of bob perfection thanks to the amazing Abby at Tim Scott-Wright at The Hair Surgery. So much progress in fact that I’m thinking of moving on from the bob finally. Maybe it’s time for the chop… Claire Underwood of House of Cards (we’re just starting Season Two so no hair spoilers please) is set to become my new hair muse. What do you think?