Hairstyling While Postpartum
A friend captioned a recent self-portrait saying that her haircut and colour made her feel like a rare and expensive bird. While this tempted me to follow suit, I didn’t get myself to her hairdresser until the first month of life with a new baby. Not only was this first month in the middle of the Australian summer, it was in the middle of several firsts, one among them being a feeling of fading intelligence from sleep deprivation.
It would have to be a bob, I knew — something dramatic but low maintenance; something that subtly but skillfully announced that I still ‘had it’.
I arrived at Meraki fairly sleep starved. A new hip salon in the heart of a cafe strip, the girls sashayed up and down in all black, all legs. I hadn’t had the time to shower and had some spit-up residue lurking in my top, but I didn't let that stop me.
Lauren came to see me in my seat, where I was given a peppermint tea and a magazine with a bikini bodied bella smiling distantly at something no one else can see. “What are we doing with you today?” she asked me spiritedly, something common of the Australian customer-facing demographic.
The question seemed more profound than it was intended. I offered broken sentences and she gathered I wanted a bob, but I couldn’t articulate anything beyond that.
Having a new baby is a lot like being jet-lagged and being in a foreign country, say Japan, where you don’t know the language, barring a few commonly used phrases you picked up from a generalized manual. You’re trying to decode addresses and the quizzical stares of locals. You’re struggling with what to order for dinner and what the important public service announcement is trying to say. Beautiful as it is, Japan can be confusing and paralyzing.
I left it up to her to decide the length and the colour, offering grateful nods each time she offered her a suggestion. It felt appropriate to let Lauren and the universe have their way.
She was kind, that Lauren. Perhaps around 22, her hair was a nuanced medley of all shades of blond, made so, I assumed, by a bevy of hairstylist friends that she has on speed dial.
“We’ll start you off with a wash”, she said, “something to tame this..
She left the sentence unfinished, kind Lauren. I obeyed, following her to the posh washing stationed where she indulged me in luxurious secret scents and potions. Coddled and buffed, I don’t clearly remember how I got back to my seat.
Once tucked back in, I retreated into a David Sedaris paperback and power meditated alternatively, both survival essentials I’d recommend to anyone romanticizing child rearing.What may seem like small patches of time seems like a lot to someone working around a 3-hour feeding schedule. 30 minutes or so later when Lauren moved onto weaving a chestnutty brown into my hair, I moved on to examining my bare toenails and mourning the absence of nail color. Then I decided that negative self-talk was for losers, finally settling on eavesdropping to pass time.
The girl with the long black hair next to me was saying that she’d just broken up with her philandering boyfriend recently, to which her stylist promptly offered suitable backing up.
“Well done, you!”
“I’ve just moved into an apartment in the city. Fraser Suites, it overlooks the river,” She said as proof of her continuing to do well.
They then proceeded to have a conversation about how it was to live in an apartment the city and not a house in the suburbs.
“It was alright,” her stylist was saying, recalling the time she rented out a pad in the city, “except when I went food shopping. Then I hated making multiple trips carrying all my shopping bags up to my apartment.”
They laughed and empathized with each other.
Back near the washing stations, the girl with the high ponytail and band-aid on her arm was discussing details of her weekend.
“I was down south in Margaret River this weekend. My wedding planner showed me a couple of venues for my wedding”
“Liked anything?” her client and temporary friend asked, scalp plastered in anti-frizz treatment.
“Yeah, we did like a couple of them.But weddings are so expensive!”
“You must share your planner’s details with me. I’m getting married too.”
Giggles and tips were then shared, promises to send pictures of flower arrangements were made.
Eavesdropping has always been a great pastime of mine and I practice it like a sport. It is great fodder for my writing, and right now it was helping me engage with the outside world in small installments— through the shelter of my long black cape, through the anonymity of my head foils. People are having weddings and apartments in cities, and dilemmas other than colic and the proper hygiene of neck rolls, I thought to myself. People are simultaneously having other seasons while I was in the full throttle of mine.
Right now my season was of nurturing, though I do periodically take shower breaks to Macklemore playlists, sometimes Adele. I flicked through pictures of my infant daughter— a gummy yawn, a theatrical exhibition of her new tear glands, recent offshoots of dark, paintbrush eyelashes. These seemed important to me, surely less important to some, of abysmal interest to others.
All we can do really, is be as involved in our current seasons as possible. Harvest mangoes in the summer, build fireplaces in the winter. Take great pleasures in our everyday, and while different from another’s, have gratitude for sleep starvation and dirty nappies; philandering boyfriends and weddings for shaping who we are. I sunk deeper into the comfort of the salon for now.
I may be getting my rare and expensive feathers, but I’ve got an hour to go until baby bird’s next feed.