Today, I hate breastfeeding

There are times I hate the fact I’m breastfeeding. Times like just now, when I’ve just stuck my hand into my handbag and found that my stored, expressed, precious, breastmilk has leaked all over my make up bag. Times like earlier, when I was in a meeting and had forgotten my cardigan and so was convinced that I was leaking through my dress but couldn’t check (I wasn’t). Times like ten minutes after that meeting, when I finally got a chance to express and hung my dress on the door so it wouldn’t get milk on it and then it fell in some sort of toilet-floor puddle. Times like last night, when I was once again tasked with dealing with a can’t-sleep-won’t-sleep baby because “she only wants milk”. Times like last night when baby didn’t in fact want milk, but instead wanted to bite things. Hard.

And there’s the rest of it. The humility of having your baby slap you in the chest when you’re trying to talk to someone or pointing at your nipple and saying “that” over and over. Being drawn into discussions on how long I intend to breastfeed for (no idea, probably not much longer if today is anything to go by); also see discussions on why “breast is best” (yes I’m breastfeeding but that doesn’t mean I necessarily hold an opinion on what other mothers do or don’t do! Live and let live, people!!)

And, also, if we are on the subject of breastfeeding. I also really hate all those ‘normalise breastfeeding’ posts. I love what they stand for - I mean essentially if you need to feed your baby, you should feed your baby, that’s basically where that dialogue should begin and end - but I hate the fact they are all of women breastfeeding beautifully and successfully and not of the 'real’ side of it. Of a bleary faced new mum trying unsuccessfully to get her baby to latch, or of a close up of a chaffed, bleeding sore nipple. Of a mum wincing as the newborn latches and goes for its life, of a breast pad hanging out of a sick-milk stained (repulsive, by the way) bra and t shirt. Of mastitis. Of that purple tube of balm that you rub on yourself about seventeen thousand times a day. Of a chair with no arms and the despair that entails. Of all the hunched and sore backs and dead arms and of all the failed “rugby ball” positions. Of sitting in a restaurant, stripped to the waist and feeding. These images would normalise breastfeeding, seeing Giselle feeding in a ball gown with her lovely flat stomach and placid, non-flailing, baby does not.

I do think that along with all these positive affirmations of breastfeeding people should be more honest about the fact that sometimes it’s a bit shit.
For me, expressing is hands down a really shit experience. I hate it. I hate how it makes me feel, I hate how little I produce, I hate all the bloody sterilising and storing and labelling and hiding and the boredom. I wish I didn’t have to do it.

And the thing is, I know there are women who wanted to breastfeed and couldn’t and I know there are women who could and decided not to and I know, or at least think I know, that these women could interpret this moan as ungrateful/silly old cow syndrome. And I’m sorry, but sometimes I just hate breastfeeding and today is one of those days. I’m not even going to write something like “oh but it’s so good for my baby” blah blah blah, because frankly we’ve been hit over the head with that message time and again and this is exactly why women put themselves through the mill trying to do something even if their body is screaming “NO! I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS”. Anyway, I’m off to clean my make up brushes for the first time in ever.

Flights bullshit

One thing about being a mother is that now my bullshit indicator is permanently set to high. I just don’t have time to listen to it and I’m not scared to walk away from the perpetrators.
It’s honed well. If I pick up the phone and hear a call centre in the background; I hang up. I don’t need PPI, accident claims, life insurance, or any new products American Express happen to be offering.
If I see someone waving a clipboard with an earnest smile while I’m pushing my buggy; I cross the road. I give money to charity and commend you for your passion, but I just don’t have the time mate.
And, finally, (and the inspiration for this post) if I’m getting on a plane with my baby I can weed out exactly who I don’t want to be anywhere near. This will come as a shock to those without babies, I can imagine the shock: “what, you mean YOU don’t want to sit with us?! But we don’t want to sit with YOU!” Yup, turns out we mums (and dads) also have several people we REALLY don’t want near our baby during a flight.

1: The disgruntled businessman. This guy ignores us as soon as we approach and makes no effort to help with bags. Baby is smiling and waving and clapping and still this shithead refuses to even raise a fucking smile. He motions to the air hostess that he would like to move AWAY FROM THE BABY and is forever pissed off that he hasn’t been accommodated in first class. This guy will ignore you to the point of awkwardness, but will finally look over when the baby decides to pull off your breast and look around.

2. The snarky middle England, middle aged couple.
She’s decked out in M&S’s finest and he’s wearing those trousers that turn into shorts. This pair, like the businessman, will ignore you but will talk among themselves about you and your baby. You won’t hear all of it but you catch the disapproving glances when she throws her rattle on the floor for the twentieth time and when you feed without covering. As soon as your baby makes any noise whatsoever you’ll be treated to more eye rolls and grumbles. They’ll also be arseholes to the cabin crew.

3.The backpacker.
The inspiration for this post and a bit unfair to include as generally these are friendly people who are completely unaware of the bullshit they are spouting. Worse of it is, we’ve all been this person, maybe.
But, still. Nothing will sink my heart harder than this over-friendly, annoying lot. They have anecdotes about everything and anything. They say things like “I’ve been awake for ten hours!!” And they are saying it because they think it’s a lot. They will tell you story after boring story about the last three festivals they’ve been to and will even continue once you’ve shut your eyes. They say things like “the coach back to mine is £5, but I’m going to hitchhike for the experience”. Fuck off. They will, just as your baby is trying to sleep, launch into an anecdote about how babies go to sleep in Nepal. But mostly, this person will remind you how old you are, and how different you are now. And that is too much for any flight.

4.The “expert”.
Normally an old woman. In fact, always a woman. I’ve had seventeen babies and I can tell you: You’re settling the baby wrong, she isn’t hungry, she’s definitely hungry, aww is mummy starving you? She’s teething, oh what a horrible cough! She wants to sit up, she wants to lie down, she needs a brush through that hair, you need to cut her nails, you need to bite her nails, you should give her tea, ooh some cooled boiled water for that eye!

6. The lads.
The drinking, the swearing, the loudness. No, just no. But then one of them will spot you and be super polite and helpful and you’ll feel bad for inwardly complaining.

7. The hungover teens.
You hear it as you come up the aisle. “Oh GOD a BABY”. For the whole flight they ignore you, much like the businessman, only they pepper their obvious disproval with loud “URGHs” and you can see them posting about you on Facebook and sending snapchats of their sad face with you in the background before the plane takes off.

That’s my list, although it’s not exhaustive… Who are your worst nightmares when travelling?