I remember the first time I breastfed you around anyone other than the midwives and your dada – We were all sat around the sofa during the first visits from family, and I knew I would need to do something I’d never done before. I unclipped the cup of my nursing bra to feed you. And it was fine.
I remember the first time I breastfed you in a public place. You were two weeks old and I went to a cafe to meet up with my NCT group. We’d been having major troubles in getting you to stay latched. You’d cry, I’d need to expose my whole boob in order to see what I was doing, and without fail we’d both always end up soaked with milk. I was REALLY nervous about doing this whole routine in public, drawing attention in front of friends I was only just starting to know. You cried, I got milk on my jeans. I looked at the other mums, I listened to their stories, and realised that EVERYONE was ‘learning’ the breastfeeding thing too. And it was fine.
I remember the bundles of pashminas I would carry with me everywhere, and the ‘privacy curtain of fabric’ that friends would help hold up for me. Of course, this made it all the more obvious, but at the time it was what I felt most comfortable with.
I remember wandering round and round a shopping centre, deliberating over where to stop and breastfeed. Weighing up which spot would be the comfiest, least conspicuous place.
I remember when it stopped feeling odd to breastfeed in front of my friends and family.
I remember the point when I realised that breastfeeding in public had become second instinct – sitting down to breastfeed you on the benches where people try on shoes in Clarks. On a busy Saturday. In front of teenage shop assistants who might well have been quite baffled by this. But I hadn’t even thought about it when I did it. The move to respond to my baby’s hunger signals was now a usual part of my every day.
I remember the time I fed you in darkness, in a sling, during a tour of a cave. In fact, I think you’ve breastfed in every single prehistoric cave in France.
I remember the times I breastfed you on buses, trains, and tubes, elbow to elbow with other passengers.
I remember breastfeeding you on a delayed train. I had stopped feeding you in public because it felt awkward now that you were over one. But you were fractious and I was at a loss. And it was fine.
I remember feeding you once at a toddler group, for similar reasons. I assumed I was the only one of the group still breastfeeding, as I hadn’t seen anyone else doing it. But that day, I discovered that THREE mums still were too. And they were glad to find people they could talk to about it.
I remember when you had just turned three, and you liked to tell EVERYONE about breastfeeding, at every opportunity you got. (#awkward)
I remember when your younger brother was born, and I got that apprehensive feeling about breastfeeding in public again.
But I remember how quickly it all came back, how quickly it became a standard part of every day life once more.
I remember the amazing kindness of a woman at Britmums Live 2013, who went out of her way to bring me a glass of water, because she had noticed I was feeding 4 week old Rory.
I remember that this time round, I barely even think about what I’m doing when I breastfed in public.
I remember every time I see someone breastfeeding a toddler in public, because it makes me pleased to know I’m not alone.
And I remember to smile at every breastfeeding mother I catch eyes with. Like a weirdo.