Dear 18-year-old Rachel,
Over the next few years, your life will change more than you could ever imagine. You know you planned to be owning your own home, married and a teaching career by the time you were 30, before even considering children? Yeah. That goes out of the window. By the time you’re 31, you’ll be a mum of three, a full-time writer and living in Wales. You won’t be married, but you’ll still be with Graham, the bloke you met last year.
You will qualify as a teacher, and you’ll do it for a couple of years before you fall pregnant, quite unexpectedly, at the age of 24. You give birth to a beautiful little boy called Harrison, and then end up having two more children in really quick succession. They’ll both be boys – Alexander and Benjamin. You’ll never be a mum of a little girl, but that’s ok, it hurts less than you thought it would. Your three boys are more than enough to keep you busy and fill your heart!
When Alex is born, you’ll jack teaching in. Even though it’s what you thought you wanted to do forever, it really isn’t. You love teaching but hate the crap that goes alongside it. For a year or so you’re ‘just’ a stay at home mum. It’s the hardest thing you will do and you’ll feel so lonely, and start to feel like you’re going crazy. In November 2013, just after Alex turns 1, you’ll start a blog, and that’s the beginning of your new life.Your blog goes from strength to strength, and eventually, you’ll earn enough to be able to call it your job. It supports you when Graham loses his job, and more importantly, it keeps you sane.
You move to North Wales, fulfilling that lifelong dream of living by the sea. You miss your mum and dad of course, but you realise you’re an adult and can do it. You won’t regret it, I promise. It will be, hands down, the best decision you ever make.
Your relationship with Graham will of course change – with three children, it has to. No longer can you just go out for a meal or to the cinema, no longer can you spend all day in bed watching DVDs. You always have little people around you, and ‘date nights’ are more likely to happen with a takeaway and a film when the kids are asleep. You go through some really bad patches, almost splitting up a few times, but you keep working at it, and in the end come out stronger than ever.
One of the biggest changes that will happen to you is your body. I know you hate the way you look now, but when you’re 31, it will be the biggest worry of yours. You’ll pile on the weight, going from a tiny size 10 to a size 20. If you can, do something about it earlier, when it’s easier. You can’t blame it all on having babies – you become a bit of a comfort eater, and the bigger you get, the more you eat. It’s a vicious circle, and you won’t know what to do about it. It’s something that you will try to work on, though. Hopefully, your 35-year-old self will come back and tell you that you manage to slim down! Luckily, you have a good bloke, and he loves you – flabby tummy, stretch marks, cellulite and all.
Your body changes in other ways you really don’t expect. Who would guess your feet would grow? Seriously – you go up a shoe size after Benjamin, your youngest is born. No one warned you about that one! Things also change down there – three natural births, three lots of being stitched up – things aren’t quite the same! Again, no one talks about that, and you really wish you knew it was normal before it happens. Thankfully, Vagisil do a range of products that can help you out, after 5 years of research and clinical testing.Their prohydrate external hydrating gel (RRP £8.50) eases dry skin and makes it a little bit more comfortable, whilst the internal gel (RRP £12.00) works from the inside to relieve dryness and makes things a bit easier on the rare occasion you get the chance to ‘have a cuddle’.
Vagisil have released an infographic that shows some of the results of research they carried out about British women’s attitudes towards intimate health. More than 66% of women wish that they had been told about some of the changes that can happen – you are one of them.
Look after yourself, and talk about things with your friends – it happens to them as well. You’re all in the same boat, and really, it is something you should be talking about.
Take care of yourself, and enjoy the next few years!