Being a new mother can be overwhelming at the best of times, with little time to spare for old pastimes like manicures and shopping, as APRIL DREW, together with her back and feet, is finding out.

April and Colum in Cape Cod at the Zooquarium.
How many firemen does it take to pick a Kerry woman up off the floor?
Answer? Four, but we’ll get to that later.

We’ve all heard the term “she let herself go.” It may actually be an Irish saying used by men (any shape or size) or women (usually skinny) to imply that a specific person used to be prettier/thinner/more athletic/had better skin/dressed nicer/fatter/lazier/she has bad skin and did she borrow that dress from her grandmother?

And it’s rare, if ever, that would you hear the utterance “he let himself go.”

It’s often been said that women sometimes “let themselves go” when they have a child.  They simply don’t have enough time on their hands to look after the new addition and continue to keep up the highlights, fit in a weekly trip to the nail salon and shop for new clothes.

We do try, but it certainly isn’t the same level of upkeep we were accustomed to in our pre-baby world.

As I write this I’m well overdue a trip to the hair salon (my roots -- now grey -- are truly scary) and I’m walking around with eight out of my 10 toes manicured.  I could get away with that if it was the winter, but not in June. I will be removing my own toe polish again this week, I guess.

And as for even attempting to make a fashion statement after having a baby – well, I’m not bothered at this stage.

I’ve put little effort into losing the baby weight (a few trips to the gym and a new diet every Monday) so I know deep down that I’ll never fit into my black leather skirt, skinny white jeans or silky summer blouses ever again. And let’s face it, who really wants to see Mama Drew in a black leather skirt again anyway!

However, I certainly didn’t realize the extent of things until a few weeks ago.  I was attempting to take Colum, my sixth-month-old, into the city to visit friends one Tuesday afternoon.

At the best of times I’m not very organized or punctual, but this particular day I must have been way off my game.

It takes approximately 10 minutes (sans baby) to make it up the hill to the train closest to my home, so by giving myself a generous 15 I thought I’d be all right.

I chose to wear a simple outfit, a pair of jeans, a baggy top and my favorite black and silver flat shoes. I was right on schedule when I locked the front door and began my journey to the train.

Colum was snuggled up in his stroller. As I briskly walked towards the train something felt off. Had I left something switched on? Had I forgotten my purse?

I assured myself everything was okay so I continued on my journey. I was about three minutes from the train station -- about to attack the hill -- when the sun glistened off my favorite shoes.

The light caught my attention so I automatically glanced down, and thank God I did.  My right foot was aglow in my shiny shoes, but unfortunately for my left foot it was still in the dark.

And why was that? Because I wasn’t wearing a matching left shoe. I had an old brown suede flat shoe on my left foot and I didn’t even notice the difference.

Oh how I cursed my stupidity and lack of focus.  I ran the numbers in my head. If I turned back I would have to wait another 45 minutes for the next train, but if I proceeded I would certainly be the talk of the train and the New York fashionistas.

And although a tough decision (yes, I nearly went into Manhattan wearing two completely different color shoes) I doubled back and took the next train.

Before having Colum I had an orderly shoe closest and this mistake would never have happened. Now I’m too distracted and too busy to be worried about such trivial things. But it’s obvious I need to be.

So that said, it’s Monday again and I’ve yet to put a piece of chocolate in my mouth, I’ve a list a mile long of chores that need to be completed in the house and have a mountain of laundry to put away.

Here’s hoping that I’ll get a few days at least out of this week’s “attempt” at making things semi normal again.

Colum is now nearly six and a half months old and getting cuter by the day. He is eating loads, demanding more attention than ever before and piling on the pounds.

And as much and all as I’d like to blame his weight for the following mishap it was, yet again, my lack of preparation that landed me in the emergency room last week.

We were on our first family vacation to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and we were having a wonderful time.

Colum had his first dip in the pool and enjoyed having Mammy and Daddy all to himself everyday.
On the fourth day I was frantically rushing around so we could catch the 9 a.m. ferry to Nantucket.  It was a little after 8 a.m. Colum, my 18-pounder, was chilling on the sofa.

In an attempt to keep to the planned schedule I quickly made my way across the living room floor, stepped over baby toys and bent down to lift up my little man. What I didn’t do was bend correctly (use my knees and all that).

Halfway down I felt something pop in my lower back and I immediately keeled over onto the sofa, missing Colum by an inch.  Anyone that has suffered back trouble, the excruciating painful kind that doesn’t allow you to move an inch, will understand what kind of pain I felt at that very moment.

After a few minutes of screams and tears I managed to lay flat on the couch, and that’s where I remained for the following 15 hours. I was forced to crawl to the bathroom on all fours, and that in itself was an experience.

I had contemplated all day going to the emergency room or calling in a doctor, but being the stubborn sort I kept telling my husband it would get better soon.

It wasn’t until 11 p.m. that night when the pain became unbearable that I agreed to go to the hospital. Unfortunately I couldn’t move and the possibility of even crawling to the car wasn’t an option -- we were on the second floor with no elevators -- so an ambulance had to be called. 

Not wanting the drama of flashing sirens waking up everyone, we asked the man on reception duty to quietly call the hospital.  He may have followed our request but it didn’t stop a fire truck and an ambulances arriving within 15 minutes, lights and sirens ablaze.

Oh God, this was embarrassing. I was flat on my back, half dressed, when all of a sudden our small rental apartment was buzzing with six-foot firemen and burly paramedics.

The place was overrun with officials and I was a little embarrassed to say the least. I kept thinking if only I had been more organized and wasn’t rushing around I would be fine.

After a few minutes of asking questions four of the firemen, accompanied by two paramedics, heaved me off the floor and into a chair. When we made it to the first floor I was shuffled onto a bed and into an ambulance.

The pain was something else, but I had to be on my best behavior while in company of such fine authoritarians. What would they think of me if I moaned and groaned like I had been doing the previous 15 hours to my husband?

Colum didn’t know what was wrong with his mother. But at times when I would let out a yelp of pain he thought it was hilarious and laughed hysterically, which in turn made me laugh somewhat and that certainly didn’t help my pain.

After three hours in the emergency room of Cape Cod Hospital (frequented by the Kennedy family when in town) I was discharged, all drugged up and ordered on bed rest for a few days.

It turned out I had sprained my back just like an ankle sprain and I couldn’t have any weight on it for some time. And here I am a week and a half later still trying to get back to normal.

Lifting Colum is somewhat of a struggle but thanks to my wonderful hubby, my friends Marion, Gerry, Kerman and Katie, I’ve struggled through.

Of course my mother back home in Ireland keeps saying, “If you were living here now I’d be able to look after Colum and you’d be fine by now.”

So I’ve got about 48 weeks before we pack up our lives in New York and head for the rainy shores of Ireland.

It is my grand plan to be a super organized mother who has everything where it needs to be, who plans in advance (by that I mean putting aside the shoes I plan to wear the night before) for outings and spends a little bit of time trying to get my pre-baby figure back.

I’m setting myself the challenge and I’m adamant I’ll do it. And then maybe they’ll utter the words “She got herself back.”

April and Colum in Cape Cod at the Zooquarium.