Léonie is 3 and a half months old. And on cue, just like when Tommy was 3 and a half months old, my hair has started to fall out. Everyone loses around 20 hairs a day. When you get pregnant, you no longer lose any hairs whatsoever, which is why pregnant women are renowned for having such thick, luscious hair. But once you’ve given birth and the hormones start to plummet, your scalp decides not only to go back to the shed-20-hairs-a-day régime, but also to let go of all the hairs you would have shed over the past year. That’s 9 months of pregnany + 3 months of baby = 12 months of Pantene-advert hair. So when the hair hits the fan: 365 days x 20 hairs = 7300 hairs to shed. It’s a lot. It’s quite scary. Especially when it all happens so fast. When I started shedding my pregnancy hair following the birth of Tommy I was performing at the Paris Odéon, playing the young virgin roles in three Molière plays. I had huge breasts which would leak milk onstage through my white dress and sometimes even jet-squirt my fellow actors. I also had streams of long hair trailing behind me. I found them everywhere – on the floor, in my book, all over poor Tommy, in my salad, I couldn’t stand it. I was too cowardly to go the whole hog so I got my hair cut into a halfway house bob, which didn’t really solve matters, but at least the hairs I found in my lettuce weren’t so long. I lazily let my hair grow back, got pregnant again two and a half years later, and here I am again at the hair-exodus stage. So yesterday I went to see my lovely French hairdresser Vincent in his salon (Le Salon it’s called) and asked him to crop it short short short. A pixie cut please. Many hairdressers would balk at the idea of chopping off long blonde hair of below bra strap dimensions. Vincent merely said I would look fantastic with REALLY short hair but that I had to be sure of my decision as there would be no going back. I wasn’t sure. I really wasn’t. I hesitated. I looked at my Cinderella locks in the gigantic mirror. I asked him how many years worth of hair-growing it would take to have hair that length again. Four, he replied. I was about to back down and ask him to just trim up the ends before scuttling home again, but basic instinct kicked in and I looked him in the eye. “Chop it off” I said. Or rather “Coupe-les” (in French hair is plural : les cheveux, as in hairs … to be honest it makes more sense once you manage to stop thinking about what we term ‘hairs’ as in leg-carpets and the short-and-curlies). “Tu es sure?” he asked. Oh yes baby, I was all of a sudden oh so sure. Vincent held my hair back in a ponytail, picked up his scissors and CUT. There was my long ponytail in someone else’s hands, looking at me from a metre away. I had a jaggedy bob. I looked like a dishevelled Makepeace. “Keep cutting” I said. And so he did. Shorter and shorter and shorter and shorter. And I just sat there and grinned throughout the process as my face came into sharp focus after years of being curtained. I have cheekbones! I have huge eyes! I have a long neck! Tommy stood watching and asked if he could also get his hair cut just like Mummy’s. One of the girls had fifteen minutes free so she shampooed his scruffy hair, sat him down and snipped away. L’Homme came back, pushing a sleeping Léonie in her buggy. He peered through the salon window and didn’t recognise me. Vincent pointed down at me and L’Homme’s eyes popped out of his head. He didn’t really think I was going to go for the big chop. Does he like it? I wondered. Or does he hate it? Will he sit across the table from me looking disappointed for the next 6 months? Will we ever have sex again? He likes it. He loves it. Everyone loves it. As Sister One says, I look “gamine”. As Doctor Power says, “chic”. And her husband Doc Gandamou “comme une top model” (I fear he is going a little over the top seeing as I am a) short, b) 38 and c) look like Tom Sawyer). Tomboy. “Garçon manqué”. I feel great.
The only people who don’t like my short hair are, as predicted, my two dads. Step and sperm. Ooh, they won’t like that. Nature and nurture. They won’t like that either. Well, my father who got my mother pregnant (Dad Genes) and my father who taught me how to ride a bike (Papa Le Bike). Neither of them can understand my choice. Total madness in their opinion. In reply to the photos I sent them, Dad Genes sent me an email just saying “Why?”. Even when I told him why, I could hear in his voice that he was thinking “poor girl, clearly suffering from hormonal disruption and/or mad cow disease”. And Papa Le Bike hasn’t responded at all. I assume he has either keeled over and died from shock or has just simply disowned me and is busy with his lawyer cutting me out of his will. It was only to be expected. Daddies love their daughters to have long hair. Hey Dads! It grows back! It will grow back thicker and more luxurious! I can still be Cinderella/Rapunzel/Sleeping Beauty if you want me to! But in the meantime I am keeping my hair pixie short for a while (maybe a very long while) and enjoying not having to brush it, dry it, tie it back, tuck it behing my ears, despair as the front bits get lank and greasy just two days after a shampoo, pull strands out of the apple crumble, unfold Léonie’s tight little hands as she grabs on and rips clumps out while feeding, de-hair my hairbrush … hell, I don’t even NEED a hairbrush.